EPRDF at odds with everyone else By Girma Kassa

May 10th, 2013 Print Print Email Email

The government of Ethiopia has continued its brutal crackdown of opposition political leaders, reporters and human right activists; and shown its utter disregard for the rule of law and human rights. Authorities in Ethiopia are saying they are arresting “terrorists”; however no-one agrees with their baseless assertions. Please refer below for reactions of governments, human right organizations all over the world. (Girma G. Kasha)

“The recent sentencing of 20 Ethiopians, including prominent blogger Eskinder Nega, journalists and opposition figures, under the vague anti-terrorism law has brought into stark focus the precarious situation of journalists, human rights defenders and Government critics in the country. The very harsh sentences handed down to journalists and other Government critics in recent months, coupled with excessive restrictions placed on human rights NGOs in the country have had the effect of stifling dissent and seriously undermining the freedom of opinion and expression in Ethiopia” [1]

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

“The United States is deeply disappointed that Ethiopia’s Federal Supreme Court upheld the conviction and harsh sentencing of journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition politician Andualem Arage under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Penal Code. Today’s decision further reinforces our serious concern about Ethiopia’s politicized prosecution of those critical of the government and ruling party, including under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation…The United States believes that upholding freedoms of expression, association, and other human rights is essential if Ethiopia is to realize its stated goal of being a democratic state. We continue to urge the release of those who have been imprisoned in Ethiopia for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”[2]

US acting deputy State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell)

“In response to your government’s use of the 2009 Anti-Terror Proclamation against journalists and opposition leaders, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and five United Nations Special Rapporteurs—including the Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights—have all expressed alarm at this worrying trend. As some have noted, the use of vague anti-terror legislation to silence legitimate expression threatens to seriously undermine the credibility of efforts to address real security threats to the region….You now have the unique opportunity to lead Ethiopia forward on human rights and bring the country fully within the community of nations. As such, we urge you to take all measures within your power to facilitate the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Nega.” [3]

18 MPs of EU Parliament, in a letter written to Hailemariam Desalegn.

“The EU attaches great importance to human rights (i.e. in Ethiopia). Success of socio-economic developments depends on the participation of a strong and open society and on the respect of fundamental freedoms”
The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy

“Ultimately economic growth (i.e. in Ethiopia) can only be sustained if it is achieved in an open society respectful of fundamental rights and also freedom, from freedom of expression to freedom of the press.”
José Manuel Durão Barroso, the European Commission President.

“The journalists who have been detained and convicted have one thing in common – they were all exercising their right to freedom of expression, a right guaranteed by the Ethiopian constitution and international law … As a recently appointed member of the UN’s Human Rights Council, Ethiopia should take swift steps to improve the media environment in the country … These include immediately releasing all journalists imprisoned under the anti-terrorism law, amending the law’s worst provisions, and ending the harassment of what little independent media remains in the country.” [4]

Deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, Leslie Lefkow

“This is a dark day for justice in Ethiopia, where freedom of expression is being systematically destroyed by a government targeting any dissenting voice. We believe that Eskinder, Andualem and Nathnael are prisoners of conscience — convicted solely for their legitimate and peaceful activities. They should be released immediately and unconditionally.” [5]

Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher.

“This ruling trivializes the serious crime of terrorism, upholds a politically motivated travesty of justice, and lessens Ethiopia’s international standing…As a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council; Ethiopia should comply with its obligations under international law and its own constitution and release Eskinder unconditionally. The persecution of Eskinder and other journalists is the hallmark of a regime fearful of the opinions of its citizens.” By upholding the sentence, the Ethiopian government has missed yet another opportunity to respect its freely undertaken obligations under international law,”

CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita

“The Ethiopian government cannot continue to use anti-terrorism legislation to muzzle the work of independent journalists, even when it does not like what is being reported. The targeting of journalists by resorting to overly broad anti-terror laws is a violation of the internationally protected right to free expression and undermines international efforts to address real security threats.”[6]

Freedom Now Executive Director Maran Turner.

“By misusing anti-terror legislation to stifle the peaceful work of journalists like Mr. Nega and his colleagues Reeyot Alemu and Woubshet Taye, the government has, unfortunately, demonstrated that it is willing to disregard the legitimate rights of the Ethiopian people and undermine the credibility of international efforts to address real security threats in the region, all in an attempt to silence critical voices in the country. It is time for the international community to make it clear to the government in Addis Ababa that such violations will no longer be tolerated.”

Group that consists of Freedom Now, Amnesty International, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation Committee to Free Eskinder Nega, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Electronic Frontier Foundation, English PEN, The International Press Institute, The International Women’s Media Foundation, Media Legal Defense Initiative, The National Press Club, PEN American Center, PEN Canada, The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

[1] http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12365&LangID=E
[2] http://nazret.com/blog/index.php/2013/05/02/state-department-briefing-united-states-slams-political-persecution-of-critics
[3] http://www.freedom-now.org/news/for-immediate-release-16-members-of-the-european-parliament-call-for-the-release-of-imprisoned-ethiopian-journalist-eskinder-nega/

[4] http://nazret.com/blog/index.php/2013/05/05/ethiopia-terrorism-law-decimates-media

[5] http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/news-item/ethiopia-conviction-of-government-opponents-a-dark-day-for-freedom-of-expression

[6] http://ethioforum.org/outrage-as-ethiopia-lays-down-jail-term-for-eskinder-nega/

  1. Kenaw
    | #1

    Girma, Girma All you try is to educate people who don’t know what is going on in Ethiopia, and as a reader I am one of your admirer. People push you to the limit even to join the woyane but you didn’t give them your ears. Thank you for staying put and become the voice for voiceless.
    Keep up the good work and fight for the freedom Ethiopian people.

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