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Friday, April 27, 2007

Report: Update in the Ethiopia trial against human rights defenders, political opponents

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[Congressman Donald Payne: Mogadishu, Another Darfur in the Making?]
[AAU: Food Poison Sends About 90 Students to Hospital ] - [UNICEF condemns shelling of Mogadishu hospital, calls for full access for humanitarian aid] - [Freed hostages return to Addis Ababa] - [Somalia govt. claims victory; diplomats are skeptical]

[Analysis: Dems Keep It Cordial in Debate] - [Putin steps up missiles warning] - [Saudi police arrest 172 terror suspects ] - [France's Sarkozy in furore over axed TV debate] and more of today's top stories!

Freed Ethiopian captives, Yonas Mesfin (L), Debash Baye (2nd L), Hussain Ali (2nd R) and Ashenafe Mekonnen (R), celebrate with their friend Samson Teshome (C) at Bole international airport in Addis Ababa April 26, 2007. Eight Ethiopians made a tearful return to Addis Ababa on Thursday, two months after being kidnapped at gunpoint with five Europeans in the country's remote northeastern Afar region. REUTERS/Andrew Heavens


Coalition for H.R.5680, renamed Coaliton for H.R. 2003

Press Release

Kinijit DC Metro Board


Report: Update in the Ethiopia trial against human rights defenders and political opponents

(by The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders)

The Observatory recalls that it sent two international missions of judicial observation to Ethiopia in order to observe this trial in February and October 2006.

In view of its findings, the Observatory considered the charges to be arbitrary and disproportionate to the nature of the events that occurred in the aftermath of the May 2005 elections.

The Observatory also expressed its deepest concern about the fairness of this trial, as it believed it to be a way to silence any political criticism of the current regime.

The Observatory also condemns the continuing repression of human rights defenders and expresses its particular concern about the situation of members of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO).

Indeed, since the second crackdown on mass protests, several of EHRCO's veteran staff have been forced into exile for fear of their lives. Besides, several EHRCO members have been arrested arbitrarily and held in detention for various periods of time in 2006 (See Observatory Annual Report 2006).

Therefore, the Observatory reiterates its recommendations to the Ethiopian authorities urging them to:(More...)

Also see:
-Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual report: AFRICA

Congressman Donald Payne: Mogadishu, Another Darfur in the Making?

Congressman Donald Payne
For Immediate Release
April 27, 2007

Innocent civilians in Mogadishu are being killed and maimed by Ethiopian security forces and the militia of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

The atrocities being committed against innocent civilians in Mogadishu are war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is shameful and criminal to use tanks and heavy artillery against civilians.

Mogadishu is another Darfur in the making. It is sad to see that no one seems to care about the untold suffering of the helpless in Somalia. Unfortunately and sadly, the people of Mogadishu are not even allowed to bury their dead relatives and neighbors. We must not turn a blind eye to the suffering of innocent civilians.

Since the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, thousands of civilians have been killed and maimed and more than 320,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

The abuses that are being carried out by the TFG and the Ethiopian security forces are worse than during the dreadful days of the warlords. Instead of working towards peace and reconciliation, the TFG and the Ethiopian forces are engaged in collective punishment of innocent civilians.(More...)

AAU: Food Poison Sends About 90 Students to Hospital

AAU Students expressed anger on Tuesday after doctors of the Menelik II hospital allegedly took out some parts from the body of a student.

The deceased Ahmed Abdurrahman, a third year physics student from Harar, fainted in class while he was doing a presentation, before he died later.

One of his class mates told The Daily Monitor on conditions of anonymity that, after he died , Ahmed's body was taken to the hospital for autopsy and the doctors there "took his brain, his eyes and his kidneys." "The students demended that was outrageous, that it was inhuman, and that they wanted those who did this to be brought to justice," the student said.

According to the same source, the University's student community went to the University President's office the same day to demand that those responsible for the inhuman act on their colleague be named and brought to justice.(More...)

Freed hostages return to Addis Ababa

By Andrew Heavens

Addis Ababa - Eight Ethiopians made a tearful return to Addis Ababa on Thursday, two months after being kidnapped at gunpoint with five Europeans in the country's remote north-eastern Afar region.

"I am good. I am too happy. The first thing I want to do is have a beer," one former hostage, Ashenafe Mekonnen, told Reuters before being ushered away by government officials who said the eight would make full statements on Friday.

Crowds of cheering friends and family thronged the capital's Bole International Airport long before the eight arrived.(More...)

Somali PM Claims Win, but Battles Linger

MOGADISHU, Somalia Apr 27, 2007 (AP)— Somalis who fled the government's offensive against Islamic insurgents in Mogadishu began returning to the shattered capital Friday, following the prime minister's claim of victory in fierce fighting that killed hundreds.

But some began to question the claim when gunmen attacked a hotel housing government officials hours later.

"I don't think they accept yesterday's defeat," said businessman Abdullahi Kulmiye. "I believe they will restart the war until they get a victory over the government."(More...)

Also see:
-Ethiopia finds itself ensnared in Somalia (Some observers see similarities to U.S. in Iraq)
-Somalia govt. claims victory; diplomats are skeptical

UNICEF condemns shelling of Mogadishu hospital and calls for full access for humanitarian aid to displaced families

GENEVA, 27 April 2007 - UNICEF today condemned the mortar shelling of the SOS hospital in Somalia's capital and called for full access for humanitarian aid to the hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing the fighting in Mogadishu.

"We deplore the indiscriminate shelling of a medical facility," said UNICEF Representative in Somalia Christian Balslev-Olesen, "It is an action that is totally unacceptable and one for which no justification can be given."

"Where is the accountability in this conflict? Every day thousands of displaced people - most of them women and children - are living a nightmare of violence.

Lacking food and shelter; poor water and sanitation they are enduring a perilous and intolerable existence. UNICEF's ability to deliver much-needed supplies is also hampered by the fighting. We cannot access our warehouses in Mogadishu and we cannot effectively reach the people who need our assistance the most," added Balslev-Olesen.(More...)

Looting breaks out in Mogadishu as Ethiopians tighten grip

MOGADISHU (AFP) - Looting broke out across Mogadishu on Friday as Ethiopian forces tightened their grip, a day after taking control of insurgent strongholds in some of the heaviest fighting in the city's history.

Men wearing government army uniforms attacked a Coca Cola bottling plant and looted the property after shelling it overnight, said Ali Abdi Yusuf, the chairman of Somali Human Rights Action group.

They "attacked the factory and stole many things that they loaded into trucks, before fleeing," Yusuf told AFP.(More...)

Also see:-Somalis move bodies after clashes

Analysis: Dems Keep It Cordial in Debate

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL (L) listens to Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) speak at the South Carolina Democratic party's presidential candidates debate at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, April 26, 2007. REUTERS/Jim Young

AP -- It was less of a debate and more like a polite first date where the Democratic presidential candidates wanted to avoid any fast moves that risk turning off voters.

Front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were on the receiving end of a couple jabs, but the Democrats vying for the White House were downright complimentary, calling each other by their first names more like friends than rivals.

Offered a chance to rebut Obama on his plan for Iraq, Clinton said: ``I think that what Barack said is right.'' Asked who else on the stage could win against a Republican presidential candidate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden said: ``I'm looking at a bunch of winners right here, number one. And whoever wishes for Hillary is making a big mistake.''(More...)

Today's Top International Stories

-Global net use makes rapid rise (The net is helping to close the digital divide between industrialised nations, suggests a report)
-Putin steps up missiles warning
-France's Sarkozy in furore over axed TV debate
-Bank officials warn Wolfowitz 'a liability'
-Exiled Cuban Wins Journalism Award
-Iraq Sunni tribes build police force, fight al Qaeda
-Saudi police arrest 172 terror suspects
-Woman, 95, to be oldest college graduate