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Friday, October 20, 2006

Ethiopia: Regime's Silence on Report Speaks Volumes - Rep. Chris Smith

also in the news:Fear of Torture or ill-treatment: Yalemzewd Bekele , European Union condemns Ethiopian government , a letter to Mr. Clarke, Mr. Delphin, and Mr. Michel, Ethiopian human rights lawyer arrested and more of today's top stories

Ethiopia: Regime's Silence on Report Speaks Volumes - Rep. Chris Smith

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) today expressed outrage at the Ethiopian government's continued silence about the report linking their security forces to nearly 200 deaths during two waves of protests over election results in 2005, and called for immediate passage of his bill to promote human rights and democracy in Ethiopia when Congress reconvenes.

Smith-who is the Chairman of the Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Operations Subcommittee and author of the "Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006" (H.R. 5680)-said "Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's silence speaks volumes. The regime refuses to comment on the report, most likely because they never expected it to see the light of day. We have a responsibility to hold them accountable for their brutal actions as well as their subsequent efforts to suppress this inquiry."(More...)

Ethipoia: Fear of Torture or ill-treatment: Yalemzewd Bekele (f)

Amnesty International

Yalemzewd Bekele, a lawyer working for the European Commission in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, was arrested on the morning of 19 October by the Ethiopian authorities, while trying to cross the border to Kenya. Amnesty International is concerned that she is at high risk of torture or other ill-treatment.(More..)

Tim Clarke, Head of Delegation to Ethiopia
Hervé Delphin, Member of the Cabinet (oversees EC programs in Ethiopia)
Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid

Human Rights Watch, attn. Peter Takirambudde, Executive Director (Africa Desk)
European Union Office, Amnesty International
Charles Schaefer, Country Specialist for Ethiopia, Amnesty International
European Union Delegation to Ethiopia
Horn of Africa Division, Voice of America
The Guardian newspaper

Dear Mr. Clarke, Mr. Delphin, and Mr. Michel:

I am deeply troubled by the information recently learned that an employee of the European Commission in Ethiopia, Ms. Yalemzewd Bekele has been arrested yesterday by Ethiopian government authorities close to the Ethiopian-Kenyan border. She is being accused of having helped to distribute a calendar calling for nonviolent civil disobedience against repressive practices by the Ethiopian government. Amnesty International recently reported on Ms. Bekele's case and expressed the concern that she is at risk of torture. AI also reported on the confirmed case of severe torture of Mr. Alemayehu Fantu, as well as the deaths resulting from grave torture of three individuals -- all related to the same charge levied against Ms. Bekele. Please see the following links for the above mentioned Amnesty International reports:

I am gravely concerned for Ms. Bekele, a woman lawyer and professional employee of the European Comission for over two years. I strongly urge you to use the full power of your office to ensure that Ms. Bekele be released immediately and unconditionally. I also expect that you will do your utmost to prevent that she be tortured or otherwise ill-treated.

As a major international institution, the European Commission has the moral and legal responsibility to protect its staff from violence committed against them by governments of countries in which it operates. In addition to this responsibility that I hope you take very seriously, I believe that if Ms. Bekele continues to be held in detention of if she in any way is mistreated by government forces, the EC as a whole will incur damage, as the institution may lose the trust of its staff that they would be ensured that their employer will do what is in its power to protect them from physical harm and violence by governments with which the EC conducts business. Furthermore, I believe that the EC will also lose the trust of European citizens, the vast majority of whom would strongly condemn anything other than strong and decisive action by the EC to ensure the physical safety of its staff.

Hewan Zerfu

Ethiopian human rights lawyer arrested

International human rights groups are on high alert as their Ethiopian colleague Yalemzewd Bekele was arrested on Thursday morning, while trying to cross the border to Kenya. According to Amnesty, there are serious concerns that "she is at high risk of torture or other ill-treatment," as others involved in the same affair reportedly have been killed in detention.

Ms Bekele, a women's rights campaigner and lawyer working for the European Commission in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, was arrested on Thursday morning by Ethiopian authorities, while trying to cross the border to Kenya, Amnesty said in an alert today, adding that the group feared she may be tortured while in detention.(More...)

Ethiopian Opposition Claims Prime Minister Threatening to Withhold Jobs From Non-Supporters

The opposition United Ethiopian Democratic Forces party of Ethiopia says Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government is threatening to withhold jobs from civil servants and students if they did not support the ruling party. The party describes the alleged tactics as coercive. But the Ethiopian government has denied such tactics. Berhan Hailu is Ethiopia’s minister of information. He tells VOA’s English to Africa reporter James Butty the government is simply following its own civil service guidelines.

“My comment is that their accusation is baseless and unfounded. They don’t have any facts to support such an accusation. We are doing to the level of our best, and the civil servants or other new graduates are employed in the civil service based on merits, based on our laws and regulations,” Hailu said.

Hailu says whether those seeking employment with the Ethiopian government take a test or not depends on the kind of job they are seeking, and whether they get those jobs or not has no relationship to their party affiliation. (More...)

Today's top stories

-European Union condemns Ethiopia expelling two EU Diplomats
-EU anger over Ethiopia expulsions :BBC
-Inquiry Says Ethiopian Troops Killed 193 in Ballot Protests: New York Times
-Expel UN envoy, Sudan army says