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par Graham PEEBLES
Wrapped in dishonesty, arrogance and paranoia, Ethiopia’s ruling regime is following a nationwide policy of violent suppression and constitutional vandalism.
It was 24 June –mid-summer’s day– in the adopted homeland of Andargachew Tsige, when he was detained by Yemeni officials (state heavies in suits) while transiting through the capital Sanaa to Eritrea. A British citizen and leading Ethiopian political activist, he was quickly and quietly extradited to Addis Ababa where he was imprisoned on spurious charges of treason or some such trumped up, paranoid twaddle. Andargachew had been unfairly tried in absentia in 2009, when Amnesty reported (1) he was “sentenced to death for an alleged coup attempt. He was prosecuted in absentia again in 2012 on terrorism charges, alongside other prisoners of conscience, and sentenced to life imprisonment”. Incarcerated he remains, hidden, abused and tortured by Ethiopian military thugs. His “detention in Ethiopia means that his life and physical integrity are in great danger… his incommunicado detention in an unknown location increases this risk”, says Member of the European Parliament Anna Gomez in a letter to British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. In keeping with Britain’s consistent abdication of donor duty in the face of the Ethiopian government’s unbridled abuse of its people, the Hammond and his lieutenants have done nothing of substance to support Andargachew.
The false arrest, imprisonment and mistreatment of Andargachew Tsige is but the most high profile recent example of a strategic policy of control and suppression enforced by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). A range of weapons are employed by the regime to stifle dissent and create an atmosphere of fear, including extrajudicial executions, arrest, imprisonment and torture. Human Rights Watch (HRW) states (2) that the government “regularly use[s] abuse to gather information… Ethiopian authorities have subjected political detainees to torture and other ill treatment at the main detention centre [Maekelawi Police Station] in Addis Ababa”.
Journalists who challenge the government are intimidated (so too are their families) and silenced. Many have been arrested, and, as the Committee to Protect Journalists reports (3), “are languishing in Ethiopia’s prisons on trumped up terrorism charges for doing their jobs”. In its thorough report, “They want a confession” (4), Human Rights Watch documents “serious rights abuses, unlawful interrogation tactics and poor detention conditions in Maekelawi since 2010. Those detained… include scores of opposition politicians, journalists, protest organizers and alleged supporters of ethnic insurgencies”.