HRLHA – Urgent Action and Appeal
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) would like to express its deep concern regarding the safety and well-being of the victims of the most recent crackdowns against the independent media and political organizations.
The TPLF/EPRDF-led Ethiopian Government has arrested and imprisoned Journalist Eskinder Nega and four Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) political party leaders alleging that they were preparing for committing "terrorist acts” through their links with the Ginbot 7 opposition political party, which the government labels as a terrorist.
It is also remembered that similar arrests have been made based on similar allegations during the whole month of August and the beginning of September. Victims of these earlier extra-judicial actions by the Ethiopian Government include Mr. Bekele Gerba, of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement, a political opposition party in Ethiopia, and Olbana Lelisa of the political opposition Oromo People’s Congress party. The government has announced that both men were arrested on suspicion of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a charge the government often uses to silence members of the Oromo political oppositions.
Whatever allegations the Ethiopian Government is making, the obvious thing as to why these most recent arrests and imprisonments are taking is that most of these targeted individuals have communicated with and spoken to representatives of human rights agencies such as Amnesty International; and to everyone’s understanding, this is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the country’s constitution. But, given its eighteen years history in power especially in terms of freedom of expression, the TPLF/EPRDF Government never tolerates any attempt by individuals, the media, or political organizations to bring its political and economic wrong-doings to the attentions of the outside world.
It has been reported through various media that these suspects, who were instead known to the public for their strong criticism against political and economic maladministration of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF party, are being held at the infamous Ma’ikelawi Central Prison, where torture is at the top in the list of the means of coercions, harassment and intimidation. Ma’ikelawi is also where know political figures and activists are systematically eliminated through those torturous means.
By inappropriately exploiting the global agenda of "war on terror”, and by using the extremely biased, abusive, and repressive "anti-terrorist law” it enacted in 2009, the Ethiopian Government has been severely threatening the already staggering democratization process in the country. The international communities and the Western allies of the TPLF/EPRDF Government are undoubtedly very well aware of the fact that victimization of innocent citizens simply because they attempted to exercise their basic democratic rights, incarcerations, denials of justice, destruction of families and condemnations to destitution, etc. have been the fate of the majority of Ethiopians in the past eighteen years. On the other side of these politically motivated discriminatory experiences, we have witnessed the reigning of a one party dictatorial rule driven by individual and group interests. And these all kinds of harassment and intimidation against groups and individuals who have been critical of the TPLF/EPRDF Government are aimed at ensuring a tight and lifetime grip on power.
HRLHA believes that Ethiopians have already got more than enough of these ill-treatments, gross punishments, and sufferings. It also believes that it is time to say "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” for the international communities in general, and particularly for TPLF/EPRDF’s Western allies who provided PM Meles Zenawi with the global licence of "war on terror”, from which he inappropriately derived his "anti-terrorist law” that he is abusing to punish and silence all political opponents, human rights activists, and free press journalists.
The HRLHA calls upon local, Western Governments, regional, and international human rights and diplomatic agencies to join hands and send a clear message to the Ethiopian Government to, first of all, unconditionally release all political prisoners; and, secondly, honour all the constitutional and other fundamental human rights so that the democratization process would take the right track. Those who do not tolerate the exercising of the freedom of expression, which is the foundation stone of democracy, should not be tolerated.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa/HRLHA is a non-political and non-partisan organization which attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the peoples of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa. HRLHA is aimed at defending fundamental human rights including freedoms of thought, expression, movement and organization. It is also aimed at raising the awareness of individuals about their own basic human rights and that of others. It has intended to work on the observances as well as due processes of law. It promotes the growth and development of free and vigorous civil societies.