The UN human rights chief has urged Ethiopia to allow international observers to investigate the killings of 90 protesters in restive regions at the weekend.
Zeid Raad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Wednesday that allegations of excessive use of force across the Oromia and Amhara regions must be probed and that his office was in discussions with Ethiopian authorities.
“The use of live ammunition against protesters in Oromia and Amhara of course would be a very serious concern for us,” Zeid told the Reuters news agency in an interview in Geneva.
He also said that his office had “not seen any genuine attempt at investigation and accountability” since January when the killings of protesters first began.
Unrest continued in Oromia for several months until early this year over plans to allocate farmland surrounding the regional capital for development.
Authorities in the Horn of Africa state scrapped the scheme in January, but protests flared again over the continued detention of opposition demonstrators.
In the weekend, protesters chanted anti-government slogans and waved dissident flags.
Some demanded the release of jailed opposition politicians. Information on the reported killings has been difficult to obtain, Zeid said.
He added that any detainee, who had been peacefully protesting, should be released promptly.
The state-run Ethiopian News Agency said on Monday that “illegal protests” by “anti-peace forces” had been brought under control. It did not mention casualties.
— Herman J. Cohen (@CohenOnAfrica) August 11, 2016
Ethiopia’s Regime Has Killed Hundreds. Why is the West Still Giving it Aid?
By Washington Post / Editorial Board,
Over the weekend, Ethiopia reminded the world of how it treats those who dare demonstrate against the government. At least 90 protesters were shot and killed by Ethiopian security forces in the regions of Oromia and Amhara. As demonstrations unusually reached into the capital of Addis Ababa, the regime censored social media posts and blocked Internet access.
This fresh outburst of repression follows months of unrest in the Oromia region over government plans to expand the Addis Ababa capital territory into the lands of the Oromo, the country’s largest ethnic group. According to Human Rights Watch, Ethiopian security officers have killed more than 400 people in clashes over the Oromia land dispute since protests broke out in November. Tens of thousands more have been detained. The clashes represent the worst ethnic violence that Ethiopia has seen in years. That the unrest is spreading to regions beyond Oromia underscores the depth of anger against the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front party.
The weekend’s bloodshed should prompt the West to reconsider its aid to the regime. Ethiopia has been hailed as a model of economic development and touts its progress on global anti-poverty indicators as proof that its “developmental democratic” style is working. But the repeated use of force to silence dissent threatens development by sowing seeds of future unrest.
The United States has long relied on Ethiopia as a partner in the fight against al-Shabab’s terrorism in Somalia and sends the country tens of millions of dollars in development assistance, tiptoeing around Ethiopia’s human rights abuses and resistance to democratic reforms. On Monday, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa remarked that it was “deeply concerned” and expressed its “deep condolences to those who suffered as a result” but stopped short of explicitly urging the Ethiopian government to refrain from using excessive force against its citizens. The Obama administration should encourage a credible investigation into the killings and publicly make clear that Ethiopia’s continued crackdowns are unacceptable.
Europe is on the verge of helping to provide Ethiopia with even more aid. Ethiopia is one of the key countries to which the European Union is offering “cash for cooperation,” meaning aid and trade incentives in exchange for helping to keep refugees and migrants from reaching Europe. Now Ethiopia is providing a litmus test of the stated E.U. commitment to human rights. If Ethiopia continues its pattern of abusing its citizens and stifling dissent, and if it fails to credibly investigate the recent killings, the European Union should make clear to the regime that it risks being dropped from the migrant agreements.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said in response to criticism of the regime’s human rights record that “building democratic culture will take some time. But we are on the right track. It’s improving.” That’s hard to square with the continued killing and jailing of protesters.
@washingtonpost criticism of Ethiopian govt repression is warning that negative view of regime is expanding rapidly in US political circles.
— Herman J. Cohen (@CohenOnAfrica) August 10, 2016