Ethiopia and Eritrea under United Nations review – By EthioGuardian

December 8th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

Human rights violations in Eritrea are causing great concern all over the world. While world leaders join together this week in Copenhagen for a fight against climate change, the topic in Geneva is of a different, yet even harmful kind. Last Monday, 30th of November 2010, the United Nations Human Rights Council reviewed Eritrea’s human rights record. This Universal Periodic Review is a four-year recurrent process in which all 192 members of the United Nations participate, review and make recommendations on the member countries human rights record.

The three hour session in the Geneva-based Council was characterized by countless appeals to the Eritrean delegation to sign and adhere to the Convention against Torture and other international conventions. Besides credits given for Eritrea’s battle against Female Genital Mutilation, statements by participating members included numerous references to reports of widespread violations of freedom of expression, torture, cruel and degrading treatment by the police and military, and the situation of detained political prisoners and journalists.

Consequently denying human rights violations in Eritrea, the Eritrean delegation came up with excuses for every situation questioned by members, ranging from being a ‘developing country’ to ‘concerning sensitive national security issues’. On freedom of expression, the Head of the Eritrean delegation, Economic Advisor in the Ministry of National Development, Dr. Girmai Abraham, surprisingly admitted Eritrea’s bad reputation, saying “the experiences of Eritrea with free press are negative” and “measures needed to be taken”. Dr. Girmai Abraham was “overwhelmed by the number of questions” and had to postpone answering a number of them to a next session.

Before the Outcome of the Review (the final report) is adopted, within two weeks after the session, Eritrea can make editorial changes to their comments. The draft report is available here. It is mandatory to implement the recommendations that are given by the participating countries and outlined in the Outcome of the Review.

While the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, is making a paradoxical attempt to boost his international image in Copenhagen, his administration and his handling of human rights will be under review this week in Geneva. In the past years, many human rights organizations and groups have condemned Eritrea’s neighbor, the government of Ethiopia, for a crackdown on human rights. On the day of the review, Ethiopian Diaspora members from all over Europe will protest against the Ethiopian regime in front of the United Nations office in Geneva.

  1. Seye Abreha
    | #1

    Dec. 3, 2009
    Ethiopian Despot Hijacks Copenhagen Leadership Role

    By Douglas McGill
    The McGill Report

    ROCHESTER, MN — I’m going to break one of my own writing rules today.

    In the six years that I’ve written about Ethiopian immigrants and politics in Minnesota, I’ve never editorialized directly against the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi.

    Instead, I’ve limited myself to reporting on the experiences, outlooks and opinions of Ethiopian immigrants who live in Minnesota, a hub of the global Ethiopian diaspora.

    Today I’m making an exception, though, because of what strikes me as the exceptional danger posed by Meles’ most recent global political moves — a grave danger for Ethiopians and Africans, and possibly far beyond.

    For once, I’ll offer my personal view.

    I’m talking about Meles’ theft-in-plain-sight of the African leadership role at the United Nations Climate Change Conference that begins in Copenhagen next Monday.

    As the spokesman for the 52 African nations at the conference, Meles holds potentially enormous disruptive power over agreements reached among the 190 total nations represented in Copenhagen.

    Meles has already threatened to lead a walk-out of the African delegation if their demand for hundreds of billions of dollars in compensation payments from developed nations aren’t met.

    Arrest and Torture

    It’s crazy for one of the world’s bloodiest dictators to hold such global power.

    It’s a farce that Meles, whose environmental and human rights polices in Ethiopia are profoundly retrograde, has been given a global platform from which to scold other nations.

    Meles runs his own country by a “divide and conquer” strategy and through the systematic, brutal dispensation of arbitrary arrest and torture – hardly the best model for global collaborative decision-making on the world’s most pressing environmental crisis.

    To be more specific, the Meles regime has held its grip on power the past 18 years through the use of genocide, ethnic cleansing, gulag prisons, a sham court system, medieval property laws and the jailing, torture and lawless execution of civilians and political opponents.

    Why would Denmark even allow this man to step foot in their country?

    Directly to the point of the hypocrisy of Meles’ role as Africa’s chief climate change negotiator, Ethiopia is now facing one of the worst famines in its history as a consequence of his own environmentally disastrous laws and policies.

    Absolute Power

    These include property laws that prevent farmers from owning their own land; that forbid foreign research and aid groups from entering the country; and a governing system that prevents orderly agriculture and environmentalism, because Meles stays in power by keeping his country mired in a permanent state of war.

    The evidence for Meles’ crimes is far too extensive, public, and exhaustively well-documented to summarize in detail here.

    Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Genocide Watch, the International Crisis Group, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, countless other aid groups and even the U.S. State Department have all for years now published report after detailed report on Meles’ crimes – reports stuffed with details of collective punishment, prison torture, slaughter of street protestors, on and on.

    The picture painted is of a shrewd, pitiless tyrant who stays in power through total control of his country’s political, economic, legal, media and military systems.

    The only mystery that remains is why the world appears simply not to notice, to respond, or even to care in the least about the Ethiopia’s abysmal suffering.

    Rule of Terror

    It’s Rwanda and Darfur all over again. And it has been that way, although getting progressively worse, since 1991, the year that Meles took power in a coup and immediately began ethnic cleansing as a central tactic of his governing style.

    Meles’ 18-year rule of terror in Ethiopia has easily earned him a place alongside dictators such as Kim Jong-Il, Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Qaddafi, Robert Mugabe, Omar al-Bashir, Than Swhe, and Ali Khamenei.

    Would any of these despots be welcomed in Copenhagen?

    Would any be given the chance to potentially veto a global climate accord?

    Of course, Meles won’t do that. What he will do, though, is maximize his leverage through every means possible to further secure what for 18 years he has ruthlessly sought and won in Ethiopia, which is absolute power.

    He’d let the world burn to a crisp before he relinquished that.

    Copyright @ 2009 The McGill Report

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