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Five Years of Human Rights Violations: Somali Community asks Canadian government to do more for Bashir Makhtal

    June 11, 2012

    Canadian citizen Bashir Makhtal has been trapped in a nightmare of human rights violations in an Ethiopian jail for more than five years.  He has been sentenced to a life prison term after a deeply unfair trial.  He has been held in grueling prison conditions, in Ethiopia, and has almost certainly experienced torture and other mistreatment.  His brother, imprisoned at the same time, became ill from what he suffered in prison and died as soon as he was released.  His sister and other family members have had to flee to a harsh refugee camp in Kenya. 

    The Canadian government says it believes in Bashir Makhtal and is working to protect his rights.  But after more than five years, there is very little to show for it.  The Ethiopian government refuses to listen to Canada’s pleas.

    The Somali community in Ottawa has followed Bashir Makhtal’s case closely. Bashir comes from a prominent Somali family who lives in the Somali region of Ethiopia also known as the Ogaden.  Somali-Canadians in Ottawa have met often with Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird.  They have waited patiently as the government has given assurances that they were taking action.   It has become clear to Somali-Canadians, however, that the Canadian government is not doing enough.  On June 12th they will rally with a demand for more concerted and forceful pressure on the Ethiopian government.  The community wants to see Bashir Makhtal return home.

     

    Press Conference:           Room 130-S, Charles Lynch Room, Centre Block, House of Commons
                                              Tuesday June 12th, 11 a.m.
     

    Speakers:                          Mohamed Sofa,  Free Bashir Makhtal Working Group, Ottawa
                                              Said Makthal, Cousin of Bashir Makhtal
                                              Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
     

    Followed by:                     Somali Community Rally, 12 – 1 p.m.

                                              Beginning in front of the Prime Minister’s Office, 80 Wellington Street and  moving

                                              to the Canadian Human Rights Monument, corner of Lisgar and Elgin Streets.
     

    John Tackaberry,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    613-744-7667, ext 236

    Beth Berton-Hunter,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    416-363-9933, ext. 332