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HRW urges Ethiopia to release opposition leaders


September 3, 2011 (LONDON) — Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday urged Ethiopian authorities to immediately release two ethnic Oromo opposition leaders detained on alleged links to outlawed rebel group.

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive Director Kenneth Roth (AFP)

Bekele Gerba, deputy chairperson of the opposition Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) and Olbana Lelisa of the Oromo People’s Congress party (OPC) were arrested on Saturday following a meeting they held with delegates from Amnesty International rights group.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Amnesty International said their delegates, who were in contact with the opposition officials, were also ordered by the government to leave country the same day the arrests were made.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticised the arrests saying they are politically motivated.

However Ethiopian officials claim they have evidence linking those figures to Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a rebel group recently designated as terrorist organisation by Addis Ababa.

“The arrest of these Oromo leaders appears to be a prime example of the government using the anti-terrorism law to silence the opposition” said Ben Rawlence, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"The authorities should immediately release Bekele Gerba and Olbana Lelisa unless there are credible charges against them."

The group said the two opposition politicians appeared in court and are being held without charges under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and have had no access to lawyers or family members.

Adopted in 2009, Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, with broad definition of terrorist acts, was criticised by international rights groups as a repressive law aimed at suppressing dissent, further curtailing press freedom and freedom of speech.

Opposition political parties mainly ethnic Oromos accuse the Ethiopian government of using the law as a weapon to cripple their political role. According to opposition leaders, many of their party members face arrests after being accused of having links to the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

Human Rights Watch further said that “as many as 20 other Oromos who were picked up in Addis Ababa and the Oromia region over the weekend are also being held”.

"The Ethiopian authorities’ increasing use of the overbroad terrorism law to detain and intimidate the peaceful opposition is alarming," Rawlence said.

"Filling up Ethiopia’s jails with political prisoners is not the solution to dealing with legitimate criticism."

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is Washington’s closest ally in the Horn of Africa but has been criticised by rights groups for crushing dissent. Zenawi says "terrorists" are using political party membership to hide their activities.

Oromia produces most of the coffee in Africa’s biggest grower, along with oil seeds, sesame and livestock, which are all major exports.


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  • 4 September 2011 06:27, by belle loboi

    Human right Watch should also investigates the death of former Rebel LT Gatluak Gai in Unity State,south Sudan, after he signed a peace agreement.

    repondre message

  • 4 September 2011 08:13, by Dinkanuer

    All the criminals must be held accountable for their crimes against humanity. Especially murderers of the Sudanese people during the war, civilians were killed for now reasons. I hope Human Rights Watchdogs will investigate the 1991-Bor Massacred, almost halve of million people were killed during the Black death of one man.
    The death of dictator Sadaam and terrorist leader Ben Laden will be good examples to the world.

    For those who are still using Ngundeng ideologies, please be inform! Ngundeng had shameful things to be said about him. First,

    He was not a Prophet but a profit to his royalist in Nuer.
    He had many names according to his activities in many parts of South Sudan.
    He was a Cannibal animal according to Nuer man who doesn’t need to be mentioned
    His first name was Ngundeng-meaning that he was send by God.
    After he gone wild and ran away.
    His name changed to be Gatluakmanguel in Nuer dialect.
    He ate many Nuer men and women in Nuer Land
    Dinka. His name was Manyang e Juet.
    He ate many children, animal claviers and cows’s bulls in Dinka Land.
    Equatoria with different languages including English and Arabic
    His name was Tiger

    The Nuer man who refused to be target by Ngundeng’s salves pointed out that. Ngundeng had no father or mother but the Devil who came out in the River Nile in a form of fish, when the Nuer boys want for fishing. They fish for so many hours and they caught nothing, when the boys get tied and ready to go back home. One of them told other guys that there was a fish ate his hook lastly, the boy convinced other friends to tried one more time! Shortly after he putted on snail body on the hook, he had thrown it into Nile River. Immediately, Ngundeng was caught. The boy was attempting to pull the Fish Ngundeng out in the river but it was difficult for him to do so, then he called his associates to pull Ngundeng on the shore. They brought it out and they were smile some of them were told to go and collect firewood in order for the young men to roast their fish.

    Unfortunately! The Fish Ngundeng changed into big snake! And the boys ran away from it, the boys thought that they were dreaming and they came back for the second times. The Snake Ngundeng light it body and become bright as well as electricity light. They ran home and they spread the news to the community, when the Nuer elders came to the place where Ngundeng was pulled. It was still there as snake with it light. People gather together around it and started asking question how did this happen? The Snake Ngundeng changed into human being and told people not to run away. All of them were shocking and scary to death except Human Ngundeng who perform such witchcraft. things "Come down, come down now!" The Human Ngundeng said. Who are you? The Nuer elders asked him. I am Nyajok_ which mean woman devil! The Human Ngundeng answer! She knew her own physical appearance as she is a hermaphrodite. (A person with both the organs of a man and a woman) Wow! Brothers and sisters of Nuer I am sorry for your Profit. Nyajok Ngundeng was not a Prohet? It was your profit to cheat people for his power but It was not a Prophet? It was a Satan?

    Cie liel du dem e mac!

    repondre message

  • 4 September 2011 08:25, by belle loboi

    NOBODY KILLED Bor, Dr Garang, Koul, KILL and many others were the one that killed a lot of Nuer in the name of SPLA/M which was formed by Nuer Naath Kingdom in the first place.

    repondre message

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