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Ethiopia

    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.

    January 03, 2018
    Responding to an announcement by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn that all political prisoners will be released and a notorious detention centre closed, Fisseha Tekle, Ethiopia Researcher at Amnesty International, said:

    “Today’s announcement could signal the end of an era of bloody repression in Ethiopia. For prisoners who have spent years incarcerated on politically motivated and trumped-up charges, this is long overdue.   “Most have been detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights, and should never have been in jail in the first place. We are calling on the Ethiopian authorities to implement today’s decision as quickly as possible by immediately and unconditionally releasing them. The authorities should also repeal or substantially amend the repressive laws under which they were imprisoned, including the draconian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.  
    March 13, 2017

    The death of more than 60 people in a landslide at a vast rubbish dump on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital over the weekend is a clear case of dereliction of duty by the Ethiopian authorities, said Amnesty International today.

    Dozens are still missing since the landslide at the 36-hectare Repi municipal dumpsite in Addis Ababa on 11 March, and many families have been left homeless after their makeshift houses were buried under tonnes of waste.

    “The Ethiopian government is fully responsible for this totally preventable disaster. It was aware that the landfill was full to capacity but continued to use it regardless. It also let hundreds of people continue to live in close proximity to it,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “These people, including many women and children, had no option but to live and work in such a hazardous environment because of the government’s failure to protect their right to adequate housing, and decent work.”

    January 23, 2017

    Spokespeople available for interviews

    The next head of the African Union (AU) Commission must place human rights at the centre of the organization’s operations, said Amnesty International as leaders of the 54-member body prepare to elect a new chairperson at a summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

    “The incoming chairperson must make the promotion and protection of human rights not just a convenient afterthought, but an essential and sustainable element of the African Union’s conflict prevention strategy.” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director for Research and Advocacy.

    The organization reiterates that ensuring accountability for gross human rights violations should be one of the priorities of the new chairperson of the AU Commission.

    "There has been some progress in the last two years, including the historic conviction of former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré for crimes against humanity. But more needs to be done,”

    December 14, 2016

    The Ethiopian government systematically and illegally blocked access to social media and news websites in its efforts to crush dissent and prevent reporting of attacks on protesters by security forces during the wave of protests that started in November 2015 and led up to the state of emergency, a new report released today shows.

    Research conducted by Amnesty International and the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) between June and October 2016 shows that access to WhatsApp was blocked, as well as at least 16 news outlets.

    “It’s clear that as far as the Ethiopian government is concerned, social media is a tool for extremists peddling bigotry and hate and therefore they are fully justified in blocking internet access. The reality, though, is very different. The widespread censorship has closed another space for Ethiopian’s to air the grievances that fueled the protests,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

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