Zenawi Declines to Respond to US Rights Charges By Peter Heinlein, VOA

April 25th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Ethiopia has ended its practice of formally responding to the annual U.S. human rights report, as it has done the past two years. (more…)

Ethiopia has ended its practice of formally responding to the annual U.S. human rights report, as it has done the past two years. A statement said the government views the Congressionally-mandated report with contempt, and has no plans to answer the charges.

The most recent State Department report paints a troubling picture of human rights conditions in Ethiopia.

It depicts a state with a widespread system of paid informants reporting on people’s activities, where criminal courts are subject to significant political intervention and influence, and where non-governmental organizations say hundreds of political prisoners are being held.
The 56-page report documents restrictions on academic and press freedoms, including intimidation and detention of journalists, jamming foreign broadcasts, blocking internet websites, and prohibiting political activity on college campuses.

It also implicitly questions the existence of a multi-party democracy, noting that the ruling party and its affiliates won almost every one of 3.4 million local council seats in 2008 elections and all but two seats in parliament in 2010.

The report quotes what it calls multiple credible sources saying party membership is an important factor in obtaining university admissions, employment opportunities, food aid and other benefits controlled by the government.

Additionally, it notes that a new law regulating non-governmental organizations has sidelined two prominent domestic human rights defender groups, including the only one doing actual investigations and reporting on alleged abuses.

Ethiopia’s reaction to the report, which covered abuses reported in 2010, was furious. A foreign ministry statement charged that 80% of the material was a rehash of groundless and unverifiable allegations from dubious sources contained in previous reports. It said the rest was mostly a few new lies, added to the old ones, and questioned whether the U.S. government’s motive was simply to tarnish Ethiopia’s image.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn dismissed the document as a meaningless “cut and paste” exercise.

“We said this is a methodology failure. So if the United States is worried about the human rights challenge, then it should be critically evaluated. So if it is ‘cut and paste,’ then it doesn’t give any meaning to anyone. So we said, if it continues like this, it has nothing to do with changing and improving the human rights situation in Ethiopia.”

In response to the two previous State Department reports, in 2008 and 2009, Ethiopia published a rebuttal challenging the accuracy of the charges. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi called the pamphlets a sign Ethiopia takes the U.S. criticisms seriously, unlike reports from groups such as Human Rights Watch, which the government categorically dismisses.

But Foreign Minister Hailemariam says the latest U.S. report does not merit a response, and would be treated with what was called “the contempt it deserves.”

“The last two years we have engaged ourselves with the authorities of the United States and discussed several meetings on the human rights situation in Ethiopia. We thought we had convinced each other on many of the issues… If this is not considered at all, then there is no need to accept this report as something that can help us. So that’s why we dismissed the report totally because it is based on unfounded allegations which are baseless.”

Hailemariam made clear, however, that the report would not affect what he called the “cordial relationship” between Addis Ababa and Washington. He said, “we dismiss the report, we have not dismissed the United States.”

Ethiopia remains an important U.S. partner in the volatile Horn of Africa region. The United States is Ethiopia’s largest bilateral aid donor, with assistance totaling roughly $1 billion a year.

  1. nbere
    | #1

    Who dismisses who? you also think of dissmissing The united States which feeds you,keep you in power, gives you the guns to kill the Ethiopian people at will,pampers you as one of the most important leaders in Group8 and group20? Mengistu tried that in the last centuary.But now nobody is ready to embracy you as did the mighty Soviet Union to Mengistu about 40 years ago.

  2. baby
    | #2

    nice report on zenawi!!!

  3. Anonymous
    | #3

    Full Report – Ethiopia’s Human Rights Practices submitted to the Congress by the Department of State.

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/160121.pdf

  4. YEMM
    | #4

    There is no point for Zenawi to bury his head in the sand. the fact is that even his crime collaborators know that he is a liability. At the same time they want him to carry on to do their dirty work in Somalia, in the name of war on terror.
    They will throw him out like a piece of old rag when the time comes.
    However, it is a good job that a record of his crime is being recorded and kept for future investigation that will definitely take place.

  5. Englida
    | #5

    You are right Ato Hailemariam. This is America’s cheap game to have all at the same time. The foreign secreatry says one thing, the president another and the congress still says different things. Therefore, anyone who want to play blame-game with Amercia is destined to lose as America have all the cards and pulls out the one appropriate to the circumstances. America’s double standard came out naked more than ever in the recent chaos in North Africa and the Arab world. Meles knows this very well and hence, no surprise if they held the report in contempt.

  6. ጃኩዚ
    | #6

    እንደ ምንድን ታዎራላችሁ?

  7. mrx
    | #7

    dear sir, the foreign sec want one thing from your master,the plain truth.

  8. Tolagna
    | #8

    Meles Zinawi is a criminal.Does he himslef know he is a criminal? The answer is YES he does.OK;then,what? Justice,Justice,and Justice!

    Melese Zinawi is legally speaking,he is a fugitive;therefore,only when he is captured face the jsutice that he will spill out all sorts of the crimes that he committed against Ethiopians before the criminal tribunal because he committed assortments of weird and dispecable crimes for the last twenty years.

  9. Anonymous
    | #9

    Meanwhile Prime minister of India is coming to Ethiopia to see the land he bought. Source: Aigaforum

  10. DRAMA
    | #10

    PETER. I THINK YOU ARE QUITE AWARE NOW THAT WE THE PEOPLE KNOW GAME THE WEST HAS BEEN PLAYING BEHIND THE SCENE. THIS ARTICLE AND THE U.S STATES REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS MAY BE CORRECT. HOWEVER, IT WOULD NOT DIVERT OUR ATTENTION ONLY TO THE REGIME IN POWER. WE STILL BELIEVE THE HEINOUS CRIMES THAT ARE COMMITED BY THIS REGIME IS SUPPORTED BY INTERNATIONAL DONOR GOVERNMENTS, IMF, WORLD BANK, ETC… WE ACTUALLY SEE THE ETHIOPIAN ARMY BEING EXPLOITED BY THE UNITED STATES TO GO TO WAR WITH SOMALIA. WE ALL KNOW THIS ARTICLE AND THE U.S HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT ARE ONLY WORDS. WE NEED ACTION HERE. IF ACTION DOES NOT FOLLOW THE REPORTS, IT MEANS ZILCH, NADA. OOOOO. AS A MATTER OF FACT, IT ONLY LOOKS LIKE A DRAMA BEING PLAYED BETWEEN THE TWO GROUPS OF INTERESTS ( THE WEST & THE DICTATORIAL REGIME). WE ARE SICK AND TIRED OF THE DRAMA. CAN’T FOOL THE PEOPLE ALL THE TIME.
    REGARDLESS, I STILL GIVE CREDIT TO THE ARTICLE. IT IS STEP ONE. IF STEP TWO DOESN’T FOLLOW, WE ALL KNOW IT IS A DRAMA. PLEEESSSSSSSSASE DON’T TRY TELLING OUR PEOPLE HAILEMARIAM THE KUNTA HAS THE POWER TO FIRE THE UNITED STATES. DON’T INSULT OUR INTELLIGENCE.

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