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Ethiopia

    October 18, 2018

    The Ethiopian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a human rights defender and his friend who were arrested and charged for advocating for a more autonomous capital - Addis Ababa, with self-governance similar to other regional states, and for “receiving training from the Palestine Consulate” in Ethiopia, said Amnesty International.

    Henok Aklilu - a lawyer renowned for representing people accused of terrorism-related offences - was arrested at his office in Addis Ababa together with a friend, Michael Melak, with whom he intends to form an association of Addis-born Ethiopians.

    “The arrest of Henok and Michael highlight the difficulties human rights defenders continue to face despite the Ethiopian government’s stated commitment to open up space for dissenting voices.

    “The two must be released immediately and unconditionally as they are being simply held for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association.

    September 28, 2018

    Responding to a statement by Addis Ababa’s police commissioner Major General Degefe Bede that nearly 3,000 youths were arrested in the capital Addis Ababa over the weekend, and that 174 would be charged and 1,200 others would be detained at the Tolay Military Camp for a “rehabilitation education”, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Joan Nyanyuki said:

    “While the Ethiopian authorities have in recent months made a commendable attempt to empty the country’s prisons of arbitrary detainees, they must not fill them up again by arbitrarily arresting and detaining more people without charge. The government must renew its commitment to a new era of respecting and upholding human rights.

    “The majority of people were arrested for perceived offences which are not recognised criminal offences under international law, such as smoking shisha or consuming khat. They must be either charged with a recognizable criminal offence or released. Those arrested for taking part in protests on the recent ethnic clashes must all be released immediately and unconditionally.

    September 17, 2018

    The Ethiopian authorities must thoroughly and effectively investigate the violent dispersal of demonstrators by police in Addis Ababa today in which five people were shot dead, Amnesty International said. Today’s deaths follow a weekend of ethnic clashes in which more than 58 people were killed.

    The demonstrators had taken to the streets of the Ethiopian capital to protest government inaction over ethnically motivated clashes that also wounded and displaced dozens of people. It was the latest incident in a spate of ethnic unrest that has killed hundreds of people and forced 1.5 million more to flee their homes in the past year.

    “There is no excuse for the use of lethal force against people who are peacefully protesting. The authorities must leave no stone unturned to identify and bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for these senseless deaths. The first step is to order an investigation into the conduct of the police force,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    August 02, 2018

    Renowned Ethiopian journalist, Eskinder Nega, has been imprisoned nine times simply for doing his job. He was released earlier this year after spending his longest stint in prison. In this letter to Amnesty International’s supporters, he reflects on his time in prison, how he survived and why the voice of human rights needs to continue…

    Dear Amnesty International supporters,

    I became a journalist by accident. I was in my twenties. For the first time in Ethiopia’s history, we had independent magazines. I knew we had to venture into freedom of expression and push the boundaries, so I wrote articles criticizing the Ethiopian regime’s abuse of power. My newspaper became the first to be charged under the press law; my editor and I the first to be imprisoned.

    June 11, 2018

    Responding to reports that Ethiopia’s notorious Liyu police unit committed another round of unlawful killings, that may amount to extrajudicial executions, claiming at least 14 lives over the weekend, Amnesty International issued a fresh call for the government to immediately disband this police unit.

    “The Liyu police unit must not be allowed to continue operating above the law, carrying out unlawful killings and destroying lives with impunity. This appalling loss of life must be investigated immediately and the killings brought to an end,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    Members of the unit, which was set up by the Somali state as a counter-terrorism special force, attacked three localities - Qobbo Bikka, Ulanula and Walensu - in Chinaksen district, Oromia on 8 June, killing three people and wounding another three.

    Liyu police officers returned the next day and continued their attack on the three localities and then attacked two more - Darbiga and Gololcha - killing seven people and wounding 17.

    June 08, 2018

    The Ethiopian government must intervene to protect thousands of ethnic Amharas who are on the verge of displacement due to violent attacks on their homes by ethnically-motivated youth groups in Oromia Regional State, Amnesty International said.

    Oromo youth groups this week surrounded Amhara homes, beating residents, and looting property in the Siyo District of Qellem Wollega Zone, Oromia State. At least 20 Amharas have been killed in such attacks since October 2017 but residents say the authorities have done nothing to stop them.

    “The Ethiopian government must take action to prevent these brutal attacks on the Amhara community, who have been targeted due to their ethnicity and now face being made homeless,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    An estimated 1,400 Amhara families remain in the besieged Siyo District, but residents told Amnesty International they would soon be forced to flee their homes of more than three decades after being repeatedly targeted by the Qerro and Folle Oromo youth groups.

    May 31, 2018

    The Ethiopian government must immediately withdraw and disband the Liyu police unit of the Somali regional state, whose members are unlawfully killing the Oromo people, Amnesty International said today.

    Members of the unit, set up by the Somali state as a counter-terrorism special force, this week burnt down 48 homes belonging to Oromo families who were living in Somali, forcing them to flee to Kiro in the regional state of Oromia.

    “The Ethiopian authorities must immediately demobilize the Liyu police and replace them with police that abide by international human rights law. These rogue officers must not be allowed to brutalize people at will,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    On 23 and 24 May the unit also attacked four neighborhoods in the Chinaksen district of East Oromia, killing five farmers and burning down around 50 homes. These attacks caused residents to flee their homes looking for safety.

    May 31, 2018

    The Ethiopian government must immediately withdraw and disband the Liyu police unit of the Somali regional state, whose members are unlawfully killing the Oromo people, Amnesty International said today.

    Members of the unit, set up by the Somali state as a counter-terrorism special force, this week burnt down 48 homes belonging to Oromo families who were living in Somali, forcing them to flee to Kiro in the regional state of Oromia.

    “The Ethiopian authorities must immediately demobilize the Liyu police and replace them with police that abide by international human rights law. These rogue officers must not be allowed to brutalize people at will,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    On 23 and 24 May the unit also attacked four neighborhoods in the Chinaksen district of East Oromia, killing five farmers and burning down around 50 homes. These attacks caused residents to flee their homes looking for safety.

    April 21, 2018

    Amnesty International welcomes the return home today of Canadian Citizen Bashir Makhtal following his release from prison in Ethiopia on April 18, where he had been unjustly imprisoned for more than 11 years.

    “Bashir’s long-overdue release is a triumph of human rights following an 11-year saga of grave injustice,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “On behalf of the thousands of Amnesty International supporters who have campaigned for justice on his behalf, we wish Bashir a warm welcome home to Canada. Our thoughts are with him and his family as they reunite after such a long and indescribably difficult ordeal.”

    March 28, 2018

    March 28, 2018 - Ethiopia’s incoming prime minister must prioritize addressing the deep-rooted human rights crisis in the country, said Amnesty International following the election of Abiy Ahmed as chairman of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party, paving the way for him to become the next premier.

    If approved by parliament, Abiy Ahmed, who also currently heads the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) – an EPRDF member party - will replace Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who announced his resignation in February “in an effort to facilitate reforms.”

    “Abiy’s election could herald a new dawn in Ethiopia if it is followed by concrete steps to implement far-reaching reforms towards respect for human rights in the country,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “If approved as prime minister, Abiy and his government must take urgent measures to address the human rights crisis in Ethiopia, through concrete and genuine reforms.”

    March 26, 2018

    Reacting to news that journalist and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Eskinder Nega was re-arrested yesterday, along with 10 other people in Addis Ababa, Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes said:

    “These arrests, coming only a month after Eskinder Nega and his colleagues were released from prison, are a clear abuse of power by the Ethiopian authorities and serve as yet more evidence that the state of emergency is being cynically exploited for political ends.

    “The current state of unrest cannot be used as a front to curtail human rights and silence divergent opinions in Ethiopia. All of those arrested have done no more than exercise their right to freedom of expression and must be immediately and unconditionally released.

    “There must be an urgent review of the sweeping powers granted to the Command Post, a body created to manage the state of emergency. At present, they are abusing these powers to target and harass those with dissenting voices.” 

     

    March 02, 2018

    Commenting shortly after the Ethiopian parliament approved the state of emergency declaration in full this morning, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty said:

    “It is deeply disappointing and irresponsible that Ethiopia’s MPs have chosen to restrict the people’s fundamental freedoms further instead of listening to their legitimate grievances. At this critical time of heightened political tension and protests, what is needed in Ethiopia is greater respect for human rights, not less.

    “Under the last state of emergency, we documented a series of grave human rights violations including unlawful killings, forced displacement, arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as torture and other ill-treatment of detainees. Aspects of this new declaration abysmally fail to comply with established international human rights principles.”

    Amnesty International’s review of the state of emergency declaration was shared with MPs in an open letter dated 1 March ahead of their debate.

    March 01, 2018

    The Ethiopian parliament must ensure the new state of emergency does not further constrict the already narrowing freedom of expression, assembly and association in the country, Amnesty International said as MPs prepared to debate the new emergency measures on Friday.

    In an open letter to MPs, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty said, “I have noted with concern the recent escalation, in gravity and magnitude, of human rights violations in Ethiopia, especially in Amhara, Oromia and Somali Regional States of Ethiopia.

    “Some aspects of the current state of emergency proclamation tabled before you violate international human rights law obligations that Ethiopia is bound to respect.”

    During the country’s last state of emergency, which lasted for 10 months from October 2016, Amnesty International documented a series of grave human rights violations including unlawful killings, forced displacement, arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as torture and other ill-treatment of detainees.

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    February 15, 2018

    Commenting after Ethiopian journalist and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Eskinder Nega walked out of prison a free man today, as part of a government pardon of 746 prisoners, Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:

    “We are delighted that Eskinder Nega is finally free after close to seven years in jail on trumped up terrorism charges. We hope the release of this courageous journalist, along with hundreds of other prisoners, heralds a new dawn in the Ethiopian government’s handling of political dissent, a dawn of tolerance and respect for human rights.

    “The Ethiopian government must show good faith and free hundreds of other prisoners of conscience who remain behind bars simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    “The authorities must also take steps to reform the legal system under which arbitrary detentions and torture of dissidents have been allowed to flourish. A good place to start would be a review of the sweeping and draconian anti-terrorism law which has been used to unjustly and ruthlessly deprive many dissidents of their freedom.

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