September 25, 2011

German MP alarmed over spate of arrests in Ethiopia

Press Release Ethiopian Human Rights Committee (Germany)

Thilo Hoppe, member of the German parliament, is deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Ethiopia.

It is extremely alarming that, in Ethiopia, leading opposition politicians and independent journalists are hit by a fresh wave of arrests. There is strong suspicion that the Ethiopian government seeks to systematically muzzle critical voices.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has repeatedly and randomly accused the Ethiopian opposition to engage in terrorist activities.

This March, 370 oppositionists had already been arrested, among them 217 members of the “Oromo Federal Democratic Movement” (OFDM) which is known for being critical of the government. At the beginning of September, following a meeting with representatives from Amnesty International, opposition members Bekele Gerba and Olbana Lelisa were arrested.

Wednesday [September 14] also saw the arrestment of Eskinder Nega, independent journalist and former Amnesty “Prisoner of Conscience”, as well as that of Andualem Arage, Secretary General of the largest opposition party “Unity for Democracy and Justice”(UDJ), the party of BirtukanMideksas. Also Debebe Eshetu, a well known artist and spokesperson of the UDJ, who had previously been detained following the 2010 elections, was arrested last week.

The German government has to send a clear signal to the Ethiopian authorities by strongly condemning the recent wave of arrests. It has to urge the oppositionists’ release and explicitly state that human rights violations will affect development cooperation between the two countries. Otherwise, the ongoing human rights dialogue would turn into a mere travesty.

German MP denounces media ban in Ethiopia

July 31, 2011
According to reports from journalists at Voice of America and Deutsche Welle, the Ethiopian government is keeping a “blacklist” of names of “undesirable” journalists and “subversive” critics. In this context, Thilo Hoppe, a Member of the German Bundestag who is himself amongst those listed, has made the following statement:

“The attempt to ban foreign media broadcasting in Ethiopia from conducting interviews with opposition activists and critical observers demonstrates once again the sorry state of freedom of expression in Ethiopia.

“According to information provided by the Committee to Protect Journalists, Ethiopia has one of the highest rates of exiled journalists in the world. Under the guise of an anti-terrorism law adopted in 2009, newspapers are being shut down and journalists arrested. The radio frequencies of Deutsche Welle’s Amharic programme are frequently systematically jammed.

“After the intergovernmental negotiations with Ethiopia in June, German Development Minister Niebel stressed the importance of human rights dialogue in German-Ethiopian development cooperation.

“If more than lip service is to be paid to this human-rights dialogue, these new cases of violation of press freedom must also be clearly and firmly raised in discussions with Ethiopian partners.”

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