By James Butty – Washington, DC (15 April 2009) The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission says Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government has designed good governance programs aimed at respect and protection for human rights. Commissioner Kassa Gebrehiwot reportedly said the commission has been striving to raise public awareness about human rights through the use of the mass media.
He spoke Monday in Addis Ababa during a seminar on the role of members of parliament in the respect and protection of human rights.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government is denying allegations it committed human rights abuses against the Anuaks in the Gambella region of western Ethiopia and ethic Somalis in the Ogaden. In a letter, the organization “Genocide Watch” has asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to investigate the alleged crimes which it said fit the definition of genocide.
Woindimu Asamnew, spokesman for the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington told VOA his government considers the allegations as lies.
“We don’t take seriously their allegations and fabrications. They are totally unfounded, fabricated lies,” he said.
In his letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Genocide Watch President Gregory Stanton said Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and others in his government were probably aware that they too could one day be brought before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Asamnew said the Ethiopian government does not take such comments seriously. He also said there was no need for an independent outside investigation as was being requested by Genocide Watch.
“We don’t take this kind of idea seriously. We have a parliament; they do take care of these kinds of issues. There is no any need of inviting international body for this purpose because of unfounded allegations. An outside investigation is unnecessary and unacceptable,” Asamnew said.
Genocide Watch said the atrocities allegedly committed in Gambella against the Anuaks in 2005 fit the definitions of genocide and crimes against humanity. But Asamnew said the allegations are false.
“We have investigated the matter and taken corrective measures, otherwise this kind of exaggerated and unfounded lies are not taken seriously by our government,” he said.
He also denied Genocide Watch’s claims of a “culture of impunity” within the Ethiopian government.
“What I’m saying is that any individual can say whatever he wants, but alleging something and the realities on the ground are totally different matter,” Asamnew said.