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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Teshome TOGA defends human rights abuses in Ethiopia

Also in the news:

211 Ethiopians on hunger strike at UNHCR gate in Khartoum

Washington Update, The head of Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts said his forces are ready to face Ethiopian troops within Somalia

International:Rwanda recalls envoy to France over arrest warrants, Poisoned ex-spy accuses Putin from beyond grave, Iran agrees to open nuclear books, Chavez has big lead before Venezuela vote and more of today's top stories
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211 Ethiopians on hunger strike at UNHCR gate in Khartoum

Khartoum (22 November 2006): Arresting, deporting and harassing Ethiopians is continued. The house to house search in selected areas of Khartoum is still going on. This has paved the way for crooks, hooligans and all other types of cheats who pretend as authorized search teams. According to reliable sources reaching this reporter rapes, attempted rapes, flogging, entering houses by force, confiscating properties are rampant. (More...)

(Audio) DW radio report on the strike

Teshome TOGA defends human rights abuses in Ethiopia

ETP - The EU-ACP(African, Caribbean, Pacific) Joint Parliamentary Assembly met in Bridgetown ( Barbados) from 20 to 23 November. A resolution was tabled by the European side calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all political detainees. the ACP resisted and rejected this resolution on East Africa which addressed human rights issues. 53 EU Delegates voted for the resolution with one voting against it while eleven ACP states supported it and twenty-seven voted against it. Below is the debate on the resolution concerning east Africa in which Teshome TOGA (Ethiopia's Speaker of the House of Representatives) defends human rights abuses in Ethiopia saying it is in the interest of the people


Michael GAHLER (EPP-ED, DE) one of the sponsors of the resolution recalled that he had visited the country just one month ago and he found an “unsatisfactory situation.” Mr Gahler underlined that lawyers, human rights activists and opposition Members of Parliament had all been brought before the courts. National reconciliation was needed.

Ana GOMES (PES, PT) said that she did not advocate cutting ties with Ethiopia because of human rights abuses. She advocated the opposite approach with full engagement to press the regime to release political prisoners. She said the EU had made a difference in the past in Ethiopia and could do so again. Pressure needed to be put on certain officials and against Prime Minister Meles. It was important, she said, to see the bigger picture and for human rights to be protected and respected. The actions of the Ethiopian government were providing an excuse for the Eritreans to undermine some human rights.

Teshome TOGA (Ethiopia) disagreed with the campaign by some EU parliamentarians. They were acting for an external interest and this interference had contributed to violence after the elections. He stressed that Ethiopia had the right to choose independence and would not kneel down to external pressure.(More...)

Washington Update

Mesfin Mekonen

On Sunday, Nov. 19, Dr. Taye Woldesmiat, president of the Ethiopian Teachers Association and Ato Kifle Mulat, president of the Ethiopian Free Press Association addressed a Town Hall meeting in Washington, D.C.

They provided updates on the situation in Ethiopia and discussed future plans for restoring democracy and improving the human rights situation.

Dr. Taye Woldesmiat emphasized the need for all Ethiopians to work together to use peaceful means to bring about democratic change. He called for a halt to unnecessary fighting among those who are united in their pursuit of democracy. He called for an immediate focus on the release of political prisoners, journalists, and leaders of civic society. He warned that the structure of Ethiopian society is unraveling as the educational system disintegrates, children drop out of school and there are no economic opportunities. Students will continue to play a key role in efforts to bring democracy to Ethiopia, he said. Dr. Taye also stressed the important role that women must play.

Ato Kilfle described the important role the free press played during and after the elections to inform the Ethiopian public. He added, however, that the Ethiopian press has paid a heavy price. Most independent-minded journalists are suffering in jail, although they are guilty of nothing other than reporting the truth. His hands were chained together in remembrance of the Ethiopian journalists who are in jail, as well as those who have been killed. He expressed strong disappointment with the lack of interest in the international community, and the failure of governments and organizations in free countries to intervene to help Ethiopian journalist. Those suffering in Ethiopian jails include Sirkalem Fasil, a journalists who was pregnant when she was arrested and who delivered her baby in prison.

The large number of Ethiopians who attended the meeting applauded Dr. Taye and Ato Kilfle. They also loudly and clearly requested that they work hard to organize a conference bringing together all Ethiopian political and civic organizations to craft unified positions. There was strong agreement among audience members representing a variety of political groups, as well as by Dr. Taye and Ato Kilfle, that democratic change can only be achieved if civic organizations are involved in the effort.

Following a very active question and answer session, Dr. Taye proposed the following basic elements for future action:

Civil society must play an active, constructive role in transforming Ethiopian society from dictatorship to democracy.

All of the political parties must work together.

Ethiopian intellectuals must work for the common good of Ethiopia society; they should network among themselves.

A civil society support committee should be organized.

There should be strong links between those working for democracy inside Ethiopia and those in the rest of the world.

Ethnic and religious conflict must be avoided.

*Orqanized by Addis Dimitse radio, ENC/EAC and other civic groups

The head of Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts said his forces are ready to face Ethiopian troops within Somalia

The Islamic body that controls much of Somalia has reacted angrily to comments by Ethiopia that it is prepared for an attack by its eastern neighbour. The head of Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, said his forces were ready to face Ethiopian troops within Somalia.

On Thursday Ethiopia's PM said the UIC had declared holy war on his country. Ethiopia denies allegations by the UIC that Ethiopian troops are backing Somalia's weak transitional government.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has denied these claims but admits to having hundreds of military trainers in Somalia. On Thursday he told MPs that Somalia's UIC represented a "clear threat".(More...)

Poisoned ex-spy accuses Putin from beyond grave

LONDON (Reuters) - An ex-KGB spy accused Vladimir Putin of his murder in a statement read out on Friday after his death from radiation poisoning, but the Russian president brushed off the accusation as "political provocation".

British authorities said large quantities of polonium 210, a radioactive isotope, had been discovered in Alexander Litvinenko's body. Police were studying how it got there and experts searched for traces of it at several locations.

"You may succeed in silencing one man. But a howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life," the ex-spy said in a statement read out by friends in front of the London hospital where he died overnight of organ failure.
"May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people." (More...)

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