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Ethiopia

    August 08, 2016

    At least 97 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Ethiopian security forces fired live bullets at peaceful protesters across Oromia region and in parts of Amhara over the weekend, according to credible sources who spoke to Amnesty International.

    Thousands of protesters turned out in Oromia and Amhara calling for political reform, justice and the rule of law. The worst bloodshed - which may amount to extrajudicial killings - took place in the northern city of Bahir Dar where at least 30 people were killed in one day.

    “The security forces’ response was heavy-handed, but unsurprising. Ethiopian forces have systematically used excessive force in their mistaken attempts to silence dissenting voices,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “These crimes must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and all those suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials before ordinary civilian courts without recourse to death penalty.”

    June 03, 2016

    Authorities in Ethiopia should immediately stop the ill treatment of political opposition members and human rights defenders who were beaten in detention and then forced to appear before the court inadequately dressed, Amnesty International said today.

    The 22 defendants, including political opposition leaders Gurmesa Ayano and Beqele Gerba, Deputy Chief of the Oromo Federalist Congress, were brought today before the court inadequately dressed. According to complaints lodged with the court by Beqele Gerba, some defendants were beaten while in detention, and prison officials confiscated all the defendant’s black suits, which they intended to wear to court. The rest of their clothes were taken by other prisoners.

    “Aside from the beatings they suffered in detention, degrading the defendants by making them attend court in their underpants is a new low in the behavior of the prison authorities and a total outrage,” said Michelle Kagari Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes.

    June 02, 2016

    The Ethiopian Government must end its escalating crackdown on human rights defenders, independent media, peaceful protestors as well as members and leaders of the political opposition through the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP) says a group of civil society organisations (CSOs).

    “The government’s repression of independent voices has significantly worsened as the Oromo protest movement has grown,” said Yared Hailemariam, Director of the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE). “The international community should demand the end of this state-orchestrated clampdown and the immediate release of peaceful critics to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.”

     

    May 06, 2016

    The Ethiopian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a prominent opposition politician facing a possible death sentence on trumped-up terrorism charges over comments he posted on Facebook, said Amnesty International.

    Yonatan Tesfaye, the spokesman of the opposition Semayawi (Blue) party, was arbitrarily arrested in December 2015 and held in lengthy pre-trial detention for comments he posted on Facebook. The government says his posts against a government plan to extend the capital’s administrative authority to the Oromia region were in pursuit of the objectives of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which it considers a terrorist organisation.

    “The Ethiopian authorities have increasingly labelled all opposition to them as terrorism. Yonatan Tesfaye spoke up against a possible land grab in Oromia, which is not a crime and is certainly not terrorism,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “He and many others held under similar circumstances should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    December 16, 2015

    Protesters have been labelled ‘terrorists’ by Ethiopian authorities in an attempt to violently suppress protests against potential land seizures, which have already resulted in 40 deaths, said Amnesty International.

    A statement issued by state intelligence services today claims that the Oromia protesters were planning to “destabilize the country” and that some of them have a “direct link with a group that has been collaborating with other proven terrorist parties”.

    “The suggestion that these Oromo - protesting against a real threat to their livelihoods - are aligned to terrorists will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression for rights activists,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “Instead of condemning the unlawful killings by the security forces, which have seen the deaths of more than 40 people in the last three weeks, this statement in effect authorizes excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.”

    October 16, 2015

    The acquittal of three bloggers by an Ethiopian court after 539 days in detention must not be dressed up as a victory for freedom of expression, said Amnesty International today.

    Natnael Feleke, Atnaf Berhane and Abel Wabela, who were tried on terrorism charges, were acquitted by the federal court today in Addis Ababa but have yet to be released. The fourth, Befeqadu Hailu, was also acquitted of terrorism charges but trial hearings on an incitement charge will continue. A fifth blogger, Soliyana Gebremichael, in exile in the USA, was also acquitted.

    “The imminent release of three bloggers must not be dressed up as a victory for freedom of expression in Ethiopia. It is shameful that the Ethiopian authorities arrested them in the first place, subjected them to a sham judicial process and incarcerated them for nearly a year and a half,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    July 09, 2015

    The Ethiopian government’s decision to release four journalists and two Zone 9 bloggers, jailed simply for expressing their views, is a positive move. But if this is to be more than a token gesture to clean up Ethiopia’s image ahead of US President Barack Obama’s imminent visit, Ethiopia must release all its imprisoned journalists and bloggers, said Amnesty International today.

    Over the last two days Mahlet Fantahun and Zelalem Kibret, both bloggers from Ethiopia’s Zone 9 collective, and the three journalists being tried alongside them for terrorism offences – Edom Kassaye, Tesfalem Waldeyes and Asmamaw Hailegiorgis – were released from jail after all charges against them were dropped. They had been in detention for over one year. Journalist Reeyot Alemu, detained in 2011 and serving a five-year jail term for terrorism offences, was also released.

    “These releases, while a positive step, are long overdue. Ethiopia has a terrible record of jailing journalists,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    July 01, 2015

    Ethiopian authorities must stop harassing two men and two women linked to the opposition Semayawi (Blue) Party, and immediately release them from detention, Amnesty International said as they were expected to face fresh charges in court today in the capital Addis Ababa.

    “On five separate occasions over the course of the last 10 days, three different courts have ordered the police to release these four people,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes. “Their continued detention is blatantly unlawful and in clear violation of their rights to liberty and a fair trial.”

    Woyneshet Molla, Ermias Tsegaye, Daniel Tesfaye and Betelehem Akalework were arrested in April this year and charged with inciting violence during a rally in the capital. They remained in custody awaiting trial. The four were convicted at the Federal First Instance Criminal Court at Kirkos on 22 June 2015 and sentenced to two months in prison. The judge however ordered their immediate release on the basis that they had already served their time, but the police ignored court orders and returned them to Kality and Kilinto prisons.

    June 23, 2015

    The suspicious murder of opposition leaders and wide-spread human rights violations against opposition party members over the past few weeks raises questions about Ethiopia’s elections, said Amnesty International as the parliamentary poll results were announced yesterday.

    The organization has also expressed concerns about the failure of the Africa Union Elections Observer Mission (AUEOM) and the National Elections Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) to properly monitor and report on allegations of wide-spread abuses before, during and after the election.

    “Amnesty International has received a number of reports concerning the deaths of political opposition figures in suspicious circumstances, as well as of a pattern of human rights violations against political opposition parties throughout the election period. These reports must be investigated and perpetrators brought to justice,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Eastern, Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes.

    May 22, 2015

    The run-up to Ethiopia’s elections on Sunday has been marred by gross, systematic and wide-spread violations of ordinary Ethiopians’ human rights, says Amnesty International.

    “The lead-up up to the elections has seen an onslaught on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. This onslaught undermines the right to participation in public affairs freely and without fear as the government has clamped down on all forms of legitimate dissent,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    The Ethiopian authorities have jailed large numbers of members of legally registered opposition political parties, journalists, bloggers and protesters. They have also used a combination of harassment and repressive legislation to repress independent media and civil society.

    October 27, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 28 October 2014

    Thousands of members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, are being ruthlessly targeted by the state based solely on their perceived opposition to the government, said Amnesty International in a new report released today.

    “Because I am Oromo” – Sweeping repression in the Oromia region of Ethiopia exposes how Oromos have been regularly subjected to arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention without charge, enforced disappearance, repeated torture and unlawful state killings as part of the government’s incessant attempts to crush dissent.

    “The Ethiopian government’s relentless crackdown on real or imagined dissent among the Oromo is sweeping in its scale and often shocking in its brutality,” said Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher.

    “This is apparently intended to warn, control or silence all signs of ‘political disobedience’ in the region.”

    July 10, 2014

    The Ethiopian authorities must halt their continuing onslaught on dissent, Amnesty International said today, after the arrest of four more opposition party members this week, who are believed to be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

    All four were arrested on 8 July in the capital Addis Ababa and the northern city of Mekele on “terror” accusations: a charge commonly used as a pretext to put dissenters behind bars in Ethiopia.

    “These latest detentions add to Ethiopia’s ever-increasing number of journalists, opposition members, activists and other dissenting voices locked up for alleged ‘terrorism’ offences,” said Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia Researcher.

    April 26, 2014

    The Ethiopian government is tightening its suffocating grip on freedom of expression in a major crackdown which has seen the arrest of numerous independent, critical and opposition voices over the last two days, said Amnesty International.

    Six members of an independent blogger and activist group and a freelance journalist were arrested yesterday 25 April. Another journalist was arrested this morning. Meanwhile 20 members of the political opposition Semayawi (Blue) party have been arrested since Thursday.

    "These arrests appear to be yet another alarming round up of opposition or independent voices" said Claire Beston, Ethiopiaresearcher at Amnesty International. "This is part of a long trend of arrests and harassment of human rights defenders, activists, journalists and political opponents in Ethiopia."

    April 02, 2014
    By Eskinder Nega, with Kaliti Prison - Originally published on Ze-Habesha Website

    The mistakes of my life. Ah! I could go on and on and on about them. (Warning, I am aiming for your sympathy.) There are the missed opportunities. (God is generous, I squandered them all, literally.) There are the wrong choices (Hey there is at least the adrenaline rush that comes with every wrong move.) There is the conceited self-absorption (Obviously more and more as I rush through middle age.) There is the lack of direction (Bitter to admit, but true.) There is the incapacitating self-doubt. (Question: are you teary-eyed or disgusted?)

    Eskinder's story

    Eskinder Nega is an Ethiopian journalist and human rights activist.

    August 08, 2013

    The Ethiopian government must end its use of repressive tactics against demonstrators, following initial reports of widespread arrests of Muslim protestors during this morning’s Eid al-Fitr celebrations, said Amnesty International today.

    “We are extremely concerned at reports coming out of Ethiopia this morning of further widespread arrests of Muslim protesters. The Ethiopian government’s  ongoing repressive crackdown on freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest has to end now,” said Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher.

    Last week, another incident related to the protests reportedly ended in the deaths of an unconfirmed number of people in the town of Kofele in Oromia region.

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