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Categories: Politics


Ethiopia government continues to target peaceful Muslim protest movement says Amnesty International


2 November 2012
AI Index: AFR 25/016/2012

Ethiopia: Government continues to target peaceful Muslim protest movement
The Ethiopian authorities are committing human rights violations in response to the ongoing Muslim protest movement in the country. Large numbers of protestors have been arrested, many of whom remain in detention. There are also numerous reports of police using excessive force against peaceful demonstrators. Key figures within the movement have been charged with terrorism offences. Most of those arrested and charged appear to have been targeted solely because of their participation in a peaceful protest movement.

Tens of thousands of Muslims have participated in regular peaceful protests throughout 2012, opposing alleged government interference in Islamic affairs. Protestors accuse the government of attempting to impose the teachings of the Al Ahbash sect of Islam on the Muslim community and of interference in elections for the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs.

Ethiopia’s Constitution prohibits state involvement in religious affairs. The Constitution also contains an expansive provision on the right to peacefully protest, which is routinely flouted by the authorities.

Allegations of excessive use of force by police

An incident that occurred in Gerba town, in the South Wollo zone of the Amhara region, on Sunday 21 October -during which police officers fired on civilians, killing at least three people and injuring others - raises serious questions about the use of deadly force against protestors. In speaking about the incident to the media, the government confirmed the three deaths but claimed that protestors had attacked a police station armed with machetes and hand guns to try to secure the release of another protestor who had been arrested earlier in the day. The government also stated that a police officer was killed in the alleged attack. However, the protestors report that they had peacefully demanded and secured the release of the arrested person during the morning of 21 October and the protest had subsequently dispersed. Later in the day federal police, called in as reinforcements, arrived at the mosque in Gerba town and opened fire, targeting people coming out of the mosque as well as others in the vicinity. One man told Amnesty International that he had seen a police officer killed in the ensuing violence. Other witnesses said they could not confirm any police deaths. An unknown number of arrests are reported to have taken place during the incident on 21 October and more arrests reportedly occurred in the aftermath of the incident, including the arrests of people who spoke to the media about events.

Amnesty International has previously reported on similar, incidents of police allegedly using excessive force. In July Amnesty International called for an investigation into two incidents – at Awalia and Anwar mosques in Addis Ababa – in relation to which numerous allegations were made about excessive use of force by police, including firing live ammunition and beating protestors in the street and in detention, resulting in many injuries among protestors. However, no investigation has taken place to Amnesty International’s knowledge.

Amnesty International is also calling for an independent investigation into an incident that took place in Asasa town, Arsi district, Oromia region in April in which the police reportedly shot dead at least four people. Reports about the incident from the government and from those involved differ widely. The violence is reported to have occurred when the police attempted to arrest an Imam from the mosque. In statements to the press after the event, the government stated that supporters of the Imam attacked the police station to try to secure his release. However, local sources told the media that the police had opened fire in the town when supporters tried to prevent the man’s arrest. The government claimed the Imam had been preaching extremist ideology. However the protestors claim that the attempted arrest was because the Imam had refused to undergo ‘training’ in Al Ahbash ideology, which the government had made obligatory for Muslim preachers.

Use of Anti-Terrorism legislation against leaders of peaceful protest movement

On 29 October, 28 men and one woman were formally charged with ‘terrorist acts’ and ‘planning…, incitement and attempt of terrorist acts’ under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (2009) in relation to their involvement in the protest movement. Two Muslim organisations were also charged under the same law with ‘rendering support to terrorism.’ Those charged include nine members of the committee selected by the Muslim community to represent their grievances to the government, and one journalist, Yusuf Getachew, who works for the publication Ye’Muslimoch Guday (Muslim Affairs).

These individuals appear to have been arrested and charged solely because they exercised their human rights to freedom of expression and to participate in a peaceful protest movement. Since its introduction in 2009 the excessively broad Anti-Terrorism Proclamation has predominantly been used to prosecute dissenters and critics of the government, including journalists and members of political opposition parties.

At least 24 of those charged on 29 October were arrested in mid-July and have been held on remand under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which allows for up to four months of investigative detention without charge. The defendants were detained illegally for the last five days before the charges were brought, after the police and prosecutors failed to turn up to a hearing on 24 October at which they were required to present charges and evidence, causing the judge to declare the case closed, according to one of the lawyers for the defendants. However, the judge did not order the release of the group, who were then brought to court on 29 October and charged.

A senior representative of the government told Amnesty International that the arrested individuals instigated violence and were trying to undermine the Constitution under the guise of religion. Similar statements from other senior members of the government have also been reported in the media. Amnesty International is concerned that, in a country where the government has significant influence over the courts, these comments may undermine the right of the accused to presumption of innocence.

The government has repeatedly attempted to paint the protest movement as violent and terrorist-related in statements to the media and in parliament. However, the vast majority of the protests are reported to be peaceful, and peaceful tactics have repeatedly been used by the protestors, including silent demonstrations and holding up white material, paper and ribbons as a sign of peaceful intent. While a few isolated incidents of violence have occurred, these have taken place during episodes where excessive police force is alleged. According to the accounts of the protestors, it was the actions of the police that triggered a violent response. Independent investigations are required to establish the course of events during these incidents.

Continued arrests and detention of peaceful protestors

Since July, when large numbers of arrests took place and incidents occurred at Awalia and Anwar mosques in Addis Ababa, protests have continued to take place in several regions, including in the towns of Dessie, Jimma, Harar, Shashemene, Adama, Bati, Kemise, and Robe. In addition to the original grievances of the movement, the protestors also demonstrated against the continued detention of members of the committee chosen to represent the Muslim community’s grievances to the government. Arrests, arbitrary detention and harassment of protestors are reported to have taken place in a number of locations.� Many of these reports have included allegations of police beating protestors, and the use of tear gas against peaceful demonstrations has been alleged in at least two locations.
Many demonstrations occurred in advance of elections for the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, which took place on 7 October. Although the long delay in holding the elections was one of the central grievances of the movement, the protestors raised several serious concerns in relation to the elections, including: the fact that the elections took place while their chosen representatives remained in detention; the level of control the government had over the poll; and the rejection of the protestors’ long-standing demand that the elections should be held in mosques instead of in kebele (local administration) offices. Demonstrators also allege that the government was coercing voters in advance of the election, threatening the withdrawal of access to state resources and other repercussions for those who did not vote. In statements made to Amnesty International and to the media, members of the protest movement have reported that a significant proportion of the Muslim community boycotted the poll, although the government declared the elections a success.

It is not known how many protestors are now in detention. Hundreds of arrests have been made over recent months. Of the large numbers who were arrested around the two July incidents, as reported by Amnesty International on 25 July, many were detained for a few days and subsequently released. However, an unknown number remain in detention, in Maikelawi, Ziway and other detention centres.

Efforts to prevent reporting on the government’s response to the protests

The government has sought to prevent reporting on the protest movement. Two colleagues of Yusuf Getachew from Ye’Muslimoch Guday fled the country after Yusuf was arrested and their own houses were searched. Neither Ye’Muslimoch Guday nor two other Muslim publications - weeklies Selefiah and Sewtul Islam - have been published since the July events. A correspondent for Voice of America was temporarily detained on 5 October in Addis Ababa while reporting on protests against the Supreme Council elections, and was told to delete any interviews she had recorded with protestors.

The response of the Ethiopian government to the protest movement has involved widespread violations of human rights. There has been almost no effort on the part of the authorities to engage with the protestors on their grievances or to put in place mechanisms for dialogue.

Amnesty International believes that the majority, if not all of those arrested, have been detained for exercising their right to peaceful protest, as protected under the Ethiopian Constitution and international law. The organization is calling on the Ethiopian authorities to release immediately and unconditionally any individuals who have been detained for their participation in protest actions. All detainees who remain in detention without charge must be brought swiftly before a judicial authority. Where credible evidence of a criminal offence exists people must be charged promptly, or should be immediately and unconditionally released. All detainees must have their rights in detention upheld, be provided with full access to legal representatives, medical care if they require it and to family members.

The reports of police use of excessive force against protestors in Gerba on 21 October, in Addis Ababa in July and in Asasa in April, must be properly investigated through processes that meet international standards in relation to impartiality and credibility. If enough admissible evidence of crimes is found, suspected perpetrators should be prosecuted in effective trial proceedings that meet international standards.

These incidents have been reported in local and Diaspora media, on social media sites, and in information submitted directly to Amnesty International.


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Comment from: Urban Affairs [Visitor]
Urban Affairs

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL the bleeding heat ..

11/04/12 @ 11:12
Comment from: [Member]

Peaceful protest my foot in your where the sun never shines, stupid Amnesty international.
The other day I heard them advocating for the Bokko arram group telling us their rights was not respected. What right? The right to blow up churches everyweekend? A right to blow up and kill innocent children and women?
How do you tell us now medling in our country’s internal issue as if we abuse the rights of the extrimist muslims? Are you telling us to wait untill they turn our peaceful nation a land of blood and terrorism?
Amnesty international for criminals and terrorists, hands off from our peaceful and prosperious nation. A stupid is what a stupid does. That’s all you’re. Losers!!!

11/04/12 @ 11:15
Comment from: Taye [Visitor]

2 days ago Amnesty international issued same type of statement in favor of Boko Haram militants of Nigeria.Both Ethiopian protesters and Bako aram are the same type of fanatic Salafi sect.The only difference between them is that Bako aram is equipped with gunnes and bombs whereas our salafists are not equipped with bomb for the time being.

11/04/12 @ 12:04
Comment from: Mr. Really [Visitor]
Mr. Really
5 stars

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL!!!! Really?! Anyone well read and informed about this pointless organization, how and why this organization established, who funds them … should not be shocked and disappointed by their ’shoot first and ask later’ policy towards Africa particularly Ethiopia! They never do this in the west where lots of human right abusing going on as well.

AMNESTY! Do you know what the different Islamic groups are asking for in Ethiopia? Do you have any data this groups have done in the name of religion freedom in Ethiopia? Do you know how they are funded and who they fund? Most importantly, What is these groups implication for national security of Ethiopia??? Any country has a right to protect its citizens by any means from outside invaders! There is no problem at all with Ethiopian government and Islam or peaceful religion. The problem is AMNESTY and it’s policy towards Ethiopia. FYI: I am not support of the present Ethiopian government!!

11/04/12 @ 12:05
Comment from: Gemech [Visitor]

It has been a long time since I lost faith in Amnesty International’s sincerity and accuracy of reports. \if they can say this about the situation that i know very well, how can \I trust what they say about other countries?
Since when has peaceful demonstration become burning churches, shooting at the police, burning buses and disrupting economic activities.

11/04/12 @ 12:10
Comment from: Assta B. Gettu [Visitor]
Assta B. Gettu

Hateful and failed Amnesty International: Go to Syria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Mali, Egypt, Indonesia, and other terrorist Muslim countries and protect the minority Christians who have been unjustly humiliated, persecuted, jailed, and killed there. Don’t meddle in the Ethiopian Christian affairs: the Ethiopian Christian government has the responsibility to arrest and kill the lawless Ethiopian Jihadist Muslims. These criminal Jihadist Muslims have been plotting to overthrow the Ethiopian Christian government and to establish their own Islamic rule in the Christian land of Ethiopia. We don’t want our Christian country to be ruled by Jihadist Muslims under their barbaric Sharia law. Ethiopia will never accept an Islamic rule, an Islamic government, and an Islamic doctrine of the devil – Muhammad the false Prophet. We refuse to admit the misguided statements of Amnesty International. The Ethiopian Government has never arrested or killed any peaceful demonstrators except the lawless and extremist terrorist Muslims.

We don’t need Amnesty International to tell us what we have done and what we are going to do to our own people. We have the right to detain, to persecute, and to kill if the criminals have rejected to follow our rules and orders. We don’t want to see our country to be like Syria, Pakistan, and Mali because of these outlandish Muslim terrorists. Why doesn’t Amnesty International go to Saudi Arabia and tell the Saudi to stop exporting their Muslim terrorist Wahabbists and sending them to us to destabilize our Christian country? I can understand now Amnesty International has become the main shield of Islamist terrorists, and its main concern is to protect the criminals instead of the peace-loving civilians.

11/04/12 @ 12:16
Comment from: [Member]

Amnesty international is a joke if it is peaceful demonstration there will not be a problem

11/04/12 @ 12:22
Comment from: C'est moi senait [Visitor]
C'est moi senait

I told you all these western countries new colonial weapon are Amnesty international , Environment activist, Doctors without border etc….all parasites charities….

Amnesty is full of A hom&@xxmo and les&@xxbian org. Invite them to Ethiopia and drop them into Active volcano in one of Ethiopia volcano from helicopter.

11/04/12 @ 12:39
Comment from: elias [Visitor]

we ethiopian muslim winning so far,we are continue peaceful protest,it is very bad time for woyane then we will show red for woyane,we protest very civilized way.

11/04/12 @ 13:07
Comment from: Novel [Visitor]

Gragn Ahmed,

Whenever you or your core values are at risk, you have the right to defend with “relevant” way possible. This applies to all mankind regardless of their religion or race.That’s it! (I am NOT Muslim, or I’m a Christian!). No one has the right to insult you, your religion or core values. Period!

But what’s your point?? Just tell me: what is the NEW and CURRENT problem you (and other Muslims) have? Something new? Just tell me, please?

Let me tell you, what I know. Even if there have been times when religious conflicts boiled in Ethiopia, there were times, as you witnessed in your post, that so called Christians murdered Muslims and Muslims also murdered Christians. If you want to cite such history so as to make your CURRENT point I dont think that’s right since much more of our history embodies mutual respect, tolerance and cooperation (and you know it!).

To be honest, I can say there is NO time in Ethiopian history that all religions, especially Muslims have enjoyed their religious rights (as byproduct of the system, at least). Thousands of Mosques have been built amongst so many Christian neighborhoods! In some parts of the country, there are much more “private” mosques than schools, health centers..etc which the Muslims also need! There has always (increasingly)been media coverage of Muslims holidays than ever before! Be it in Europe, Seattle (where you may live now) or any so called “secular” government, there is NO curfew that all Christians are “forced” to observe in every Fridays because of your “Jum’a"! So many examples I can mention, but I can know it!

Does this mean everything is OK for you Muslims and you shouldn’t ask ask for (more) of your right acc to your own perception? NO! But one way we go forward is through giving merit to what has sofar been achieved! You must have given credits for these, they are also results of your effort!

Still there have been times during the current admin, where Churches have been vandalized and desecrated so were Mosques, and YOU KNOW IT! Many Muslims, as you know it, did NOT make such a strike when the police invaded the G. Anwar Mosque! I still do NOT mean that you should be silent now because you were silent then!

Like as you said there are “copts” who tend to like Israelites than their Muslim Ethiopians, there are also so many Muslims who prefer “their” Arab, Egyptian, Syrian,.. to their Ethiopian Christian brothers and sisters! You know it, but still there are lots of Christians and Muslims who would consider their fellow Ethiopian people more than any others!

But what is NEW? Come on, we know it!

It is all about religious-geopolitics!
1)Now that both the “West” and the “fundamentalist” Islamic “sect” have interest in Africa more than ever before,
2)That “some” people in Egypt think they have their historic conflict of interest with Ethiopia (Nile..),
3) Now that Al Shebab is losing ground in Somalia,
4) That there are Islamic “fundamentalist” movements: revolts in many parts of the world,

There has been a focus on Ethiopian Muslims! This is the underlying cause as we all know it! This is what is something NEW! The current religious-geopolitics! As we (you)can be well aware of it, there have been teachings in many Mosques by “some” sheikhs agitating conflicts between Muslims and Christians, like;

1) Citing historic conflicts (as you also did in your post), goading Muslims for retaliations of the past
2) Comparing Ethiopian Muslims with fellow Muslims in the Arab world and telling them that they are weak to have lived peacefully with their fellow Christians,
3) Even directly declaring Jihad on the Christians and some Muslims

We know what has been happening! Many Christians and Muslims have been murdered, their Churches and homes burnt..! At that time the current system didn’t do much about this, mainly because of the notion that such “conflicts” would draw people’s attention from the government!

Finally, this is my opinion:
1) It’s NOT adventure or “holy” to go bitter as you said it in your post (I can imagine you could go bitter because of the insults you mentioned.
2) While making sure that your rights are respected, you (or Christians..anyone) cannot impose any religious ambition in the “secular” system so that we may continue coexisting.

3) ORIGINALLY, we Ethiopians were NOT Jews, Christians NOR Muslims! What makes us different from the rest of the world is that we accepted all these religions PEACEFULLY (as you mentioned it in your post). All other countries have their own bitter history, any “Muslim” country, you name it!Therefore,
3.1)We must NOT disregard our marvelous and unique history AND try to “copy” and “paste” the Middle East..saga! Just give it up, brother!
3.2)We must work to maintain that “holy” legacy rather than declaring death on EVERYONE BECAUSE “Asta Getu, et al” said something wrong! It’s shame!

God be with you!

11/04/12 @ 13:12
Comment from: ali [Visitor]

what i heard woyane try to make another akeldama documentary about our committees,try to get more support from Christians make them fear about current muslim peaceful protest and make conflict two peaceful religions,using by woyane propaganda factory which is etv ..

11/04/12 @ 13:20
Comment from: Extraterrestrial [Member]

There are tangible evidence of a group of brainwashed Ethiopian Muslims are promoting an international jihadest ideology in Ethiopia, many innocent Muslims and Christians been slaughtered and terrorized, the Ethiopian government should abstain its appeasement policy should deal with them with firm hands.

11/04/12 @ 13:24
Comment from: Sorsa [Visitor]  

It looks like this website is hijacked by Woyane thugs. All the comments against Amnesty come from these people. They are virtual prisoners of Woyane demagogy. I think Amnesty can’t free them. Because they willingly put themselves. Shame on you. You don’t even think of great consequences of actions of the Woyane against 50 million Ethiopian Muslims. The country might collapse unless Woyane’s madness is properly checked.

11/04/12 @ 14:00
Comment from: abrzk [Visitor]

thank you doing a such great job thank you …… Off cource weyane use always use excessive force against peaceful demonstration look at their history from the start to now (frome the jungle to now they jungel civilized government ) lets back to their history helping shabya to homicide jebeha ,fooling ormo (olf)army to station one of the country meletery base tellin them this ur station as soon as the all inter surrend and kill all of them unforgateble gonocide three what happen Ogaden ppl , what happen in harer , arsi , welega, moyale, sothern Ethiopia sedama and gedeo ppl 95th election I can bring thoused more but this time weyane get trouble because there is no single tribe in the religion he try to use hadere ppl this plan but I don’t think it work out the ahabash speritual leader is hadere tribe I think that was the big plane to divided Islam by tribe ormo doesn’t like ahabash because ahibash founded by hadere bla bla I think he tried but didn’t work out after 21 years ppl waked up ur dirty tribal rule not acceptable enough is enough we are Muslim and we are Ethiopian period

11/04/12 @ 14:04
Comment from: Josephine [Visitor]

I have suspected for long Amnesty and Human Right Watch to be a neo-colonialist groupings financed by Saudi Arabia and the rest of the evil Arabs. Amnesty accused not long ago the Nigerian army for standing up against the most savage killers called Bokko Haram. The same two neo-colonialist agents were accusing only Serbia in the middel of a civil war not long ago. All Ethiopians should avoid any contact with these fascist groups. They only want civil wars, ethnic or religion, to engulf the whole third world countries.
Amnesty and Human Right Watch pretends as left wing progressives who are for the rights of third world countries but in reality they are the once who are feuling hatrades by supporting this against that with out any proof. Forexample, the terrorist organization ONLF sends e-mails to HRW spies that Ethiopian army is raping and killing Somalis in the Ogaden and this organization began accusing Ethiopia citing the same thing with out any proof. This is in line with the wishes of the Saudis and Egypt.

Now we know what the real agenda of of Amnesty and HRW is. They are pure crooks.

11/04/12 @ 14:22

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