31 March 2009 –Genocide Watch, the international campaign to end genocide, has called on United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Justice Navanathem, to initiate an investigation against the government of Meles Zenawi. Genocide Watch cited the atrocities committed in Gambela against the Anuaks and ethnic Somalis in the Ogaden as examples of the crimes that have not been seriously investigated by the UN body.
In an open letter Genocide Watch President Dr Gregory Stanton wrote to the Commissioner, he commended the International Criminal Court for indicting the Sudanese President, Omar Hassan Al Bashir, but noted that “one of the first leaders to defend Omar al-Bashir and condemn the warrant was Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, whose government has also been implicated in a pattern of widespread perpetration of serious human rights atrocities in Ethiopia and in Somalia.”
“He and those within his government may be keenly aware of their own vulnerability to similar actions by the ICC in the future that could upend a deeply entrenched system of government-supported impunity that has protected perpetrators from any accountability,” Dr Stanton noted.
The Genocide Watch President asserted that a UN investigation was justified due to the culture of impunity that existed within Ethiopia and underlined that “extensive documentation is available to examine the violations, most of which has been compiled in independent investigative reports completed by international human rights organizations.”
“We also believe that the Ethiopian people have been waiting long enough for genuine justice and relief from the harsh oppression and brutal tactics committed by a government that purports to be a partner in the War on Terror, while terrorizing their own people,” the letter noted.
Dr Stanton said that Genocide Watch and Survivors International confirmed that the atrocities committed in Gambela against the Anuaks in 2003 “fit the definitions of genocide and crimes against humanity. Human Rights Watch also conducted two investigations of their own and determined that the crimes against the Anuak meet the stringent definition of crimes against humanity.” He also indicated that Genocide Watch was willing in providing assistance to the Commission in carrying out the investigation.
“We in Genocide Watch, and other human rights organizations are determined to pursue justice, even long after violations have occurred, as part of our mission. Investigative reports, contacts and other information can be provided should you need them,” he said.