Press release in connection with Meles Zenawi`s participation in the Oslo conference, energy for all: financing access for the poor. Organizers

October 2nd, 2011 Print Print Email Email

We highly value and support Norway’s good wills, commitments and contributions in all areas of development including the improvement and promotion of universal accessibility of energy to the poor. However, improving the lots of the poor requires partnerships which are committed to the rule of law, (more…)

We highly value and support Norway’s good wills, commitments and contributions in all areas of development including the improvement and promotion of universal accessibility of energy to the poor. However, improving the lots of the poor requires partnerships which are committed to the rule of law, human rights and represent the aspirations and will of the people. The track records of the rule of the dictator Meles Zenawi prove that he is not the right partner for this noble goal. The available ample experience and knowledge show that dictatorships hamper development and progress because they are inseparably linked to rampant corruption, nepotism, absence of accountability and transparency.

As you know the ethnic dictator Meles Zenawi has seized power by sheer military force overthrowing the Marxist military dictatorship of Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam. Despite his official pledges of significant economic and political reforms, Meles Zenawi has not been willing to commit himself to the rule of law and good governance. All his pledges have proved to be hollow, and meant for the political consumption of donors. The reality on the ground shows that he has concentrated on consolidating his dictatorial and repressive rule in the country.

The periodic farce elections he holds have proved to be simple shows meant to satisfy some of the conditions for continued western aid. In fact, the last few years have seen backslides in the so called democratization process and closure of the political space even to the legal opposition groups operating in the country. It is known that the regime of Meles Zenawi is the biggest recipient of western aid in sub-Saharan Africa. Different sources indicate that the west have provided between 40-45 billion dollars in aid in the past 20 years. Despite this generosity, the regime has failed in addressing and improving the economic conditions for the poor. The clear economic picture in the country shows hyper inflation, increasing gap and inequality in incomes, poverty and famine.

Meles Zenawi has enacted draconian, repressive media (press) and anti-terror laws aimed primarily at stifling freedom of expression and penalizing dissent. His media law has in effect banned the free media and lead to the persecution, imprisonment and exile of journalists. The regime is blocking access to the free media through blocking access to websites, jamming radio and TV broadcasts from abroad. His laws governing the permission and operation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country also forbid participation of the NGOs in issues related to human rights and democracy.

The regime of Meles Zenawi has one of the worst and repugnant human rights records in the world. Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI) and the United States Department of State do all document and report the widespread and serious violations of human rights in Ethiopia. The reports also mention arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killings and intimidations of the members and supporters of the opposition parties. Genocide Watch has also called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) to initiate an investigation into the genocide committed by the regime of Meles Zenawi. Besides, HRW and the BBC`s investigative journalists have uncovered the regime’s widespread abuse of humanitarian aid as a political weapon against the needy and victims of drought. The reports reveal that the regime deliberately denies humanitarian aid to citizens suspected of voting for the opposition. More over, the farmers` access to land and fertilizers is determined by their loyalty to the regime.

Despite the media blockage and blackout the regime has imposed in the country, citizens are able to follow and monitor developments in the Arab World. The so called Arab Spring is inspiring Ethiopians but has created unease in the regime. The past few weeks have witnessed the escalation of Meles Zenawi`s repression and the arrests of some members of the leadership of the opposition parties, journalists and prominent public figures. The regime of Meles Zenawi has arrested these citizens under its bogus charges of terrorism, the common pretext it uses to intimidate and silence the public. His escalation of repression and crackdowns on the opposition and voices of democracy and freedom will only inflame the situation and contribute to more dissent and instability in the country and region as a whole.

We kindly request the Norwegian government to reassess its cooperation with the regime of Meles Zenawi as it is not in the interest of democracy and human rights. We urge the Norwegian government to use the occasion to press Meles Zenawi to release immediately and unconditionally all political prisoners in the country. We also kindly request the Norwegian government to attach aid to the internationally accepted principles of human rights and the rule of law.

With regards.

The October 10 2011 Demonstration in Oslo

Task Force

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