HRW Urges Europe to Take Strong Action Against Ethiopia

October 12, 2016

Marthe van der Wolf
FILE - Ethiopian soldiers try to stop protesters in Bishoftu, in the Oromia region of Ethiopia.
FILE – Ethiopian soldiers try to stop protesters in Bishoftu, in the Oromia region of Ethiopia.

At a European Parliament subcommittee meeting on human rights and development, Human Rights Watch called on the European Union and international community to take strong action against Ethiopia.

The international community has largely looked the other way when it comes to human rights abuses and limits to the freedom of expression in Ethiopia, according to international human rights groups.

HRW senior researcher Felix Horne says he believes there is an unwillingness to address hard issues with Ethiopia because it has strong relationships with its international allies on development, migration and security.

“The European Union should be taking much stronger action on Ethiopia, should be pushing for an international investigation; it should be pushing for special U.N. investigators to be allowed into the country – 11 of which have outstanding invites,” Horne said. ” And it should be pushing Ethiopia to release all of those arbitrarily detained during the protests.”

Protests for wider political freedoms have been ongoing and led to the Ethiopian government’s recent declaration of a six-month state of emergency for the first time in more than 20 years. Ethiopia is the largest recipient of EU assistance. The European Union adopted a resolution last January condemning violence used by Ethiopian security forces.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, is welcomed by Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, as she arrives at the national palace in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 11, 2016.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, is welcomed by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, as she arrives at the national palace in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 11, 2016.

Merkel visit criticized

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Ethiopia this week. Although she refused to speak at the Ethiopian parliament for its lack of opposition members, she urged the government to open up the political space.

EU Parliament member Ana Gomes led an observer mission during Ethiopia’s contested and bloody 2005 elections. She describes Merkel’s decision to go to Ethiopia as regrettable.

“It was important the message she passed that indeed there must be dialogue and open space for opposition and activists and critics of the government to exist,” Gomes said. ” That is a weak message nevertheless, because of course Germany has tremendous responsibilities in the position of the EU toward Ethiopia.”

People in Ethiopia’s Oromia region started protesting an urban expansion plan last year.

The demonstrations have spread across the country and led to more than 500 deaths, according to rights groups. Ethiopia said this week foreign groups are stoking unrest in an attempt to overthrow the government.

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One Response to HRW Urges Europe to Take Strong Action Against Ethiopia

  1. Yehararworke

    October 15, 2016 at 1:55 PM

    Quick Facts and History; TPLF fighters/leaders rolled in most cities and towns without a bullet fired at them some 26 years ago, people were so fed up with Derg and hunger for peace accepted them in open harm. Ethiopians were hoping finally the Derg era is over and the new beginning is insight. But TPLF’s leaders careful calculation and strategies for lasting survival coupled with their profound belief that Oromo and Amara must be powerless, diminished or controlled otherwise could threaten their existence. TPLF regime is neither country builder nor care for Ethiopians except their desert town. They made laws, controlled the economy and military to destroy any legitimate attempts by any ethnic groups in particular Amara. They ensure Oromo and Amara cities are controlled economically and politically and planted distrust among ethnic groups. These strategies served TPLF very well for the past 25 years.
    In 1970s well known party mostly dominated by Amara intellectuals, Ethiopia People Liberation Front (EPRP) fighters and leaders went to join TPLF believing they would have stronger front to fight Derg despite their differences. But little they know TPLF’s agenda; in thousands killed by Tigray fighters in the dessert of ASAMBA while they were in their sleep. They never had a chance to realize their dream to see a peaceful Ethiopia. TPLF beliefs, principle and agenda would be in jeopardy including giving up two ports and Eritrea would not be possible. The next 25 years they created and destroyed everything to benefit them. They accumulated a great deal of wealth and richen their associations and extended family. In this day and age, amount of monies and proprieties each TPLF, current rulers obtained for the past 25 years can be traced to US, Europe and China.
    It is laughable how this regime sees itself accusing the so called “foreign powers” and to compare its brutal state of emergency with other countries. In early 1980s TPLF helped to create Ogden Liberation Front (OLF) and collaborated with Egypt and with foreign entities interest to destabilize Ethiopia. OLF is a child of TPLF founders.
    It is an insult the regime calling unity while killing many hundreds innocent young people just because they are expressing their discontent. The regime is terrorizing its citizen by responding with bullet and imprisonment for their demands. Comparing the regime’s dangerous state of emergency law with advanced economies, it further completed the unrest and won’t bring peace.
    Déjà vu all over again; Haile Selassie, Derg now TPLF have never understood the people’s anger and discontent. Each time they had to be forced out. Currently, many said forcing this regime out could destabilize and creating division and endless conflict between ethnicities. It is not far from the truth, since the regime never allowed civic and political organizations to form and mature. IT is very true for most African countries
    It is obvious many groups may take advantage of the current situation in Ethiopia; but the people of Ethiopian have spoken loud and clear. They want change!