Ethiopia: Human Rights, Repression, Carrots, and Sticks

Despite fleeting statements expressing “concern,” Washington has shied away from condemning the regimes brutal killings to its own people. Such silence from the EU and US is really deafening.
Despite fleeting statements expressing “concern,” Washington has shied away from condemning the regimes brutal killings to its own people. Such silence from the US and US is really deafening.

By Fikrejesus Amahazion,

AS U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits Ethiopia, the recent spate of harsh crackdowns in the country has raised serious questions about the U.S. and international community’s ongoing support for the Ethiopian government.

Days ago, Ethiopian authorities arrested nine journalists and bloggers, subsequently denying them access to lawyers, family, and colleagues. They are held on allegations they work for foreign human rights groups or used social media to incite violence. [i] Such allegations have become common-place, as Ethiopia’s highly-controversial anti-terrorism laws allow the government to hand down 20-year sentences to anyone who “writes, edits, prints, publishes, publicizes, [or] disseminates” statements the government considers terrorism. [ii] 

The arrests were shortly followed by a mass non-violent protest led by students in the central Oromia region. [iii] According to information from BBC Africa’s Twitter account, security forces opened fire on students; killing and wounding several, [iv] while BBC reports that between 9 and 47 people have been killed. [v]

These troubling recent developments are just the latest in a long pattern of similar activities. In 2005, following national elections widely believed to have been rigged, the Ethiopian government, under the late, authoritarian leader Meles Zenawi, “massacred” approximately 200 protestors, many of them teenagers. [vi] More recently, in the last several years, massive protests by the Blue Party opposition group and Muslim groups, have ended in deaths, repression, and state violence. [vii]

Further, in an ongoing counter-insurgency against the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), it has been reported that the Ethiopian army has engaged in executions, rape, torture, arbitrary arrests, and various other abuses. [viii] Ethnic groups residing within and around the region have endured arbitrary detentions, torture, and mistreatment in detention, as well as severe restrictions on movement and commercial trade, and minimal access to independent relief assistance. Effectively, such abuses constitute direct threats to their survival. [ix]

Notably, the harsh nature of Ethiopia’s counter-insurgency has been paralleled by Ethiopia’s persecution of homosexuals. In a Newsweek report titled Ethiopia’s War on Homosexuals, Katie J.M Baker vividly details how draconian laws and criminalization have led to large-scale marginalization, fear, and violence for Ethiopia’s LGBT community.[x]

State violence and repression in Ethiopia also extend to national development programs. For example, a vital component of Ethiopia’s national agricultural development strategy is “villagization,” a program that entails the relocation of millions of people from locations reserved for industrial plantations. [xi] Dating back to the days of the brutal Communist regime, led by the Dergue, villagization has long been condemned by international organizations. [xii] Currently, issues arising from the program have led to greater food insecurity, a destruction of livelihoods, and the loss of cultural heritage of ethnic groups. Additionally, the program, which frequently utilizes forced evictions, has been plagued by a plethora of human rights violations. A variety of human rights groups have documented beatings, killings, rapes, imprisonment, intimidation, and political coercion by the government and authorities. [xiii]

Finally, Ethiopia has continued to occupy sovereign territory of its northern neighbor, Eritrea, in direct violation of international law, and in blatant contravention of the rulings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission. [xiv] The 12-year-long military occupation has frozen any possibility of developmental cooperation or economic partnership between the two countries, and the military occupation is seen as an influential factor to much of the instability within the Horn of Africa region.

During his visit, Secretary Kerry “raised concerns” about Ethiopia’s recent mass arrests. [xv] However, the Ethiopian government’s persistent and flagrant disregard for human rights and international norms calls for more than another simple verbal censure from the international community or Secretary Kerry. More needs to be done to change the deplorable human right violations by Ethiopia.

Last year, U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) announced that the “Ethiopian Human Rights Act” would be reintroduced, arising from the “unacceptable political and human rights environment in Ethiopia.” [xvi] A potentially more effective response was recently recommended by the renowned international economist, William Easterly. Last week, in an interview with PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley, Easterly suggested that the international community “should stop financing tyranny and repression” in Ethiopia. [xvii]

For decades, Ethiopia has been highly dependent on external economic assistance. Speaking in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Secretary Kerry stated, “the United States is already providing – we’re investing hundreds of millions of dollars here in Ethiopia, and we’ve been deeply involved.”  [xviii] In 2011, Ethiopia was the world’s fifth largest recipient of official humanitarian aid and received $3.6B in total assistance, [xix] the latter figure representing between 50-60 percent of its total budget. [xx] Additionally, Ethiopia’s 2011 share of total official development assistance – approximately 4 percent – placed it behind only Afghanistan.

With such a critical dependency on foreign aid, threats to end assistance unless Ethiopia changes course may provide a viable mechanism toward improving Ethiopia’s various actions and transgressions. Effectively, the world has appeased the Ethiopian government for far too long, blandishing it with carrots, while witnessing little improvement in the country’s human rights record. Thus, a different approach, wielding the big stick, is overdue.

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23 thoughts on “Ethiopia: Human Rights, Repression, Carrots, and Sticks

  1. In Eritrea we don't exercise US type od democracy . We have our own home grown democracy. The word democracy is not a US word it is a greeck word. The US doesn't have a monopoly on democracy.

    1. Yeah in North Korea too, they don't exercise US type democracy but they have their own "democracy" , that is why the country is called Democratic republic of Korea
      By the way they are the first to preach "self reliant" aka pariah or isolation
      they convinced the public the west is against them
      the leader is the savior and the messiah of the country(personality cult)
      They insult the south as puppet, chaotic and fragile
      the similarity is endless

      1. Horn, you stupid Woyane beggar. You don't make any sense at all.
        Don't repeat trash because you can lap your gums.
        Eritreans are not North Korean nor North Korean are Eritreans.
        What the heck are you talking about?

        1. The west for ethiopia are the saviors what the hell are your talking hom or israel or agame
          your are the dependant of the US-ofcourse you must defend for, for israel US pays taxpayers
          money-$20ml. a day,does the american public knows this and the two-nations are the most disturbed. but you should remember ethiopia is the tail poorest nation and now you are beging
          for 10 million hungry people , and your are selling their land sorry for the ethiopian people
          but one day they will swallow the agame regime, ,long live the ethiopian people and they will
          collect the money stollen in foreign banks and from where they invested it will not be long
          just wait and see.

      2. Why are you against self relience? Isn't it the most common of human beings? You are born, come of age and you were expected to be self sufficient. The temporary aid you recieved from your parents is not meant to last a life time. Of course in the simplest form is what i am saying. Those countries you mentioned have not ceased to exist and have a measurable achievements registered,and if left untampered with, its achivements will be many folds. No one is afraid of its any one but its intentions. As an African and as an Eritrean at it, i can confidently tell you my forfathers introduced democracy to the world over and is still practiced at home before it became barenaked tool of the west.when you canfeed yourself people will not throw crams at you, and mr. Kerry is telling you like it is, they have invested deeply and you are in debted to us,i.e.u.s.a.

        1. yeah you are right , but you should have a long term economic plan to achieve self reliance, its not an overnight political decision to hide your crime from the international community. Now after 50 years south Korea is the 1oth biggest economy in the world and net aid donor while half north Koreans live in daily ration food donated by international community.

          1. You do know that South Korea started off with a dictatorship that put them on the path to their current state. Ironically the current president is actually the daughter of the late dictator. Same goes for Singapore, Taiwan, China, etc. By the way, all nations that have some form of military service. Study history so you may understand how the future will be paved.

  2. In mine opinion there is nothing wrong with supporting a party that does not allow any other political party in its country. Even being against free press can till some extent be supported by the claim that it could compromise national security.

    There is only one thing that you can not than and that is condemn a neighbouring country for doing the same. That would be hypocrite and would weaken the arguments that claim Eritrea does not need free press and pluralism.

  3. John Kerry, is insulating the murdered orom school children. while he was given press conference about his tower of Addis Ababa and its progress the oroms was mordered in the same day in broad day light. _Yes, Kerry is not in Ethiopia to sympathy's with Ethiopian people but to save his puppet the Weyane.

    1. Tell me where you live, then i can tell you what you are.Otherwise eat your Cheesburger and drink your coke, politics are only for intellectuall, not for idiot like you.
      Stupid ne99er

      1. Does calling your self ThomasD make you feel like a political intellectual or does it make you feel less of a Woyane beggar? It hurt to finally see the writing on the wall that your Ethnocentric Woyane beggar regime is on its final days.

        You can call yourself ThomasD today but tomorrow you have no choice but either go back to your old habits of begging in the streets or change your name to Abba Nafisa from Oromia to camouflage yourself and live peacefully amongst the people your ethnocentric regime is murdering today. Eating cheeseburger and drinking coke is meal only fit for a Woayne beggar.

        1. Behind PC you feel strong man, but you're sewer rat.
          Go home and fight against your stupidity and misery.
          ne99er, proud askari of Mussolini lol…

  4. At the moment ethio/us relations can be viewed as Master/slave relation, as history shows as us need servant in east Africa the only who is doing it willingly is ethiopia, but we know also that this might end soon as americans uses thing and through once the accomplish their business like condoms (use and through)

    1. An Eritrean who proud himself in being colonized by Italy, who were a proud askari of Mussolini and now an Arab tool, calling Ethiopian salve`? that is joke right?

      1. Ghebretsadque the Woayne Horn
        Do you know how much money your Woayne regime gets in handouts from the west? First of all this begging and begging is slavery. Do you think there are not strings attached to the handouts? Everyone knows that your ethnocentric regime is a hired mercenary regime for its Western donors and that is the only means of survival it has at its disposal. Once you don't their interest, you are easily disposable. That is Bellih's message to you but if you prefer a disposable paid peddler to a beggar salve, then so be it. Your are a disposable hired mercenary then 🙂

        Essentialy that is what Belih said but if your prefer a "hired mecenary" to a

      2. How is Eritrea an Arab tool? If I recall Ethiopia's richest man happens to be an Arab. Most of the land and investments in Ethiopia come from Arab nations. So please don't throw rocks at others when you yourself live in a glass house.

  5. Poor Kerry -are your looking money of courtesy, the regime in ethiopia will pay you from the aid you
    ask to your government, Jendaye colleced the sum of US$…….? and a villa granted from legese who
    died a year ago, stallen from the eritrean family-this criminal jendaye freizer must know when
    a democratic-regime established in ethiopia, can take their villa. you B….

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