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Ethiopia: Muslim Protesters Face Unfair Trial
Source: Human Rights
Open Hearings to Family, Independent Monitors, Media
The prosecution of 29 Muslim protest leaders and others charged under Ethiopia’s deeply flawed anti-terrorism law raises serious fair trial concerns. The trial is scheduled to resume in Addis Ababa on April 2, 2013, after a 40-day postponement.
The case has already had major due process problems. Some defendants have alleged ill-treatment in pre-trial detention. The government has provided defendants limited access to legal counsel and has taken actions that undermined their presumption of innocence. Since January 22 the High Court has closed the hearings to the public, including the media, diplomats, and family members of defendants.
“There seems to be no limit to the Ethiopian government’s use of its anti-terrorism law and unfair trials to stop peaceful dissent,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “The government’s treatment of these Muslim leaders bears the hallmarks of a politically motivated prosecution.”
The defendants include Muslim leaders and activists arrested and detained in July 2012 following six months of public protests in Addis Ababa and other towns by members of Ethiopia’s Muslim community over alleged government interference in religious affairs. Others on trial include Yusuf Getachew, former managing editor of the now defunct Islamic magazine Yemuslimoch Guday, and two Muslim nongovernmental organizations, allegedly managed by three of the defendants. Solomon Kebede was arrested and is being held under the anti-terrorism law.
According to official figures, Muslims make up approximately 30 percent of Ethiopia’s population. The protest movement began after the government insisted that the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs accept members from an Islamic sect known as al Ahbash and tried to impose its teachings on the Muslim community. The government also sought to influence the operations of the Awalia mosque in Addis Ababa.
In January 2012 members of the Muslim community created a committee to represent it in discussions with the government. Nine of the 17 members of this committee are among those on trial: Abubekar Ahmed, Ahmedin Jebel, Ahmed Mustafa, Kamil Shemsu, Jemal Yassin, Yassin Nuru, Sheikh Sultan Aman, Sheikh Mekete Muhe, and Sheikh Tahir Abdulkadir. They were arrested as the Ethiopian security forces began a major crackdown on the protests at Awalia and Anwar mosques in Addis Ababa and on protests in other cities as well, arresting and assaulting hundreds of protesters. Although the government has not released numbers, credible sources told Human Rights Watch that as many as 1,000 people were arrested in July alone.
Journalists attempting to cover or report on the protests were also detained or intimidated. Despite these arrests, weekly protests have continued throughout the country.
As in Ethiopia’s earlier terrorism trials of journalists and opposition leaders, the current trial has been marred by serious due process violations.Defendants have had erratic access to lawyers and relatives, and a number of the defendants were initially held for almost two months without access to legal counsel.
Lawyers for the defendants have repeatedly complained to the courts about the treatment of their clients, and alleged that the Muslim committee members and Getachew were mistreated during their pre-trial detention at the Federal Police Crime Investigation Department, known as Maekelawi prison, in Addis Ababa, which is notorious for torture. The complaints do not appear to have been appropriately investigated. Both the first instance court and the higher court have claimed not to have the jurisdiction over these matters.
The defendants have all been charged with “terrorist acts” under article 3 of Ethiopia’s 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, and with planning and conspiracy to commit terrorist acts under article 4. Descriptions of the charges in the initial charge sheet do not contain the basic elements of the crimes that the defendants are alleged to have committed.
Human Rights Watch, other human rights organizations, and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have repeatedly raised concerns about the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation’s overly broad provisions, which have been used to criminalize legitimate free expression and peaceful dissent. Thirty-four people, including eleven journalists and at least four opposition supporters, are known to have been sentenced under the law between late 2011 and mid-2012 in apparently politically motivated trials.
The government has also undermined the defendants’ presumption of innocence by broadcasting inflammatory material and accusations against them on state television. In February state-run Ethiopian Television (ETV) broadcast a program called “Jihadawi Harakat” (“Jihad War”) that included footage of at least five of the defendants filmed in pre-trial detention, including Muslim committee members Kamil Shemsu, Ahmed Mustafa, Abubekar Ahmed, and Yassin Nuru, and the activist Nuru Turki. The program equates the Muslim protest movement in Ethiopia with Islamist extremist groups such as Somalia’s armed al-Shabaab militants, and casts the Muslim protest leaders as terrorists. The High Court granted an injunction prohibiting the broadcast but ETV ignored the court order.
The ETV broadcast was the latest in a series of television programs – many of them produced by the government’s Communications Ministry in collaboration with police or security services –that try to smear the defendants in terrorism trials. In November 2011, ETV broadcast “Akeldama” (“Land of Blood”) during the terrorism trial of 24 people, including prominent members of the political opposition and journalists. The program, which included film of several of the defendants in pre-trial detention, apparently under duress, described the defendants’ alleged involvement in a “terrorist plot.”
Two Swedish journalists were the subject of another similar piece in 2011 after they were arrested in Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region. They were subjected to a mock execution during the filming.
“The unfair trial of the Muslim protest activists is compounded by the government’s TV program that demonizes them as ‘terrorists’ and threatens to raise suspicion of all Muslims and their ongoing protests,” Lefkow said. “The Ethiopian government is prosecuting people who are simply trying to protect their rights to religious freedom and free speech.”
The government has also continued to use the anti-terrorism law to silence the media.
Kebede, Getachew’s successor at Yemuslimoch Guday, has been held for more than two months in pre-trial detention without charges. Heis being held in Maekelawi prison, withoutaccess to legal counsel, which heightens concerns about his treatment and safety.
On March 15 the first instance court granted the police an additional 28 days for further investigation in Kebede’s case. The Anti-Terrorism Proclamation permits pre-trial detention for up to four months without charge, one of the longest periods in anti-terrorism legislation worldwide,in violation of Ethiopia’s international legal obligations. Under the Ethiopian constitution detainees must be charged or released within 48 hours.
“Rather than jailing peaceful protesters and critical journalists, the government should amend the anti-terrorism law and stop these politically motivated trials,” Lefkow said. “The government should be reaching out to the Muslim community and discussing their grievances rather than silencing their voices and leaders.”
Human Rights Watch, HRW, “Hyenas Running Wild” on the above article sounds more like a diaspora Ethiopian opposition, rather than a neutral entity. What a shame!
These days, as we can see, the last hope and political card of the FOOLS & IDIOTS of the diaspora opposition camp has become, muslims this and muslims that, crocodile tears and deafening crow.
Paying tribute for terrorists and showing a solidarity to muslim extrimists has become a trend for Ethiopian enemies in the diaspora oppo camp, Which has nothing to do with our muslim brothers and sisters back home in Ethiopia, who btw are enjoying the freedom and equality brought by our govt EPRDF.
HRW, meanwhile never said a word when talliban and alqaida terrorist group kept terrorizing and abusing men, women and children of Afganistan and Pakistan, indiscreminately, by bombing, hanging and decapitating, gruesome act of barbarizm and torture. but cried foul whenever a terrorist is detained and tried in a court of law.
So I say, HRW is a legalized terrorist group which must be put out of business ASAP!
The latest survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, conducted among more than 17,000 people in 17 countries last winter finds that while many Muslims believe that radical Islam poses a threat, the majority surveyed support for suicide bombings and other acts of violence in defense of Islam. Now, yes we all are against Woyane’s destructive policy against our people however what is the motivation for the recent Muslim dissatisfaction? Is it the global trend of Muslim fundamentalism and Jihad movement or is it really in search of a Socio – Economic and political justice? If that is the case why this movement is categorized based on a religious line?
I know you are not Muslim.. so leave this for us . We know those Wehabis what they are trying to do. Torontos yewred ayilim Wehabii angetihin new yemkortew new yemilew. You are G7 cyber fighter who is using this opportunity for your interest. Birhanu Nega has realised that he has Muslim family now. Enshe Allah their true picture will be revealed more than the past. We Mislims have no problem living with our christian brothers.
HRW shame on you those radical islamist are not innocence they are well known and connected TERRORIST cell their objective is only distraction in the name of religious. And that will not happen on Ethiopian soil they fail and your plan to destabilize this nation progress also fail too. The dirty is game is over we are one step ahead of you.
As always Addis Ye Wushet Zemen, aka resident Woyane cadre, aka Konjit is the first to comment.
It is clear the whole world start to see the daily lie and deception of Bereket Bekt and the rest of ETV and Ministry of misinformation gangs
Important observation there. The people of Ethiopia bear the brunt of Woyane’s repression and injustices regardless of their faith. But, if the comments by Ethiopian Muslims anything to go by, they scream bloody murder whenever the issue involves Muslims. It’s partly a question of allegiance.
They have a duty to defend their religion from gov’t interference but the gov’t interferes in all aspect of life & dictates its rule. The non-Muslim Ethiopians protest with them against the regime’s heavy-handedness but they stay mute whenever the issue is not about Islam. It might be “ሃራም". The global trend surely plays a major role in shaping the direction the Muslims would like to follow.
The gov’t, repressive & intolerant as it is, has a duty to see that no radical elements are allowed to hijack the just demands of the majority of Muslims and to use it for their own darker motives.
What the protestors fail to realize is that the regime is not used to take no for answer. It is what authoritarian regimes do: total control of a society.
You commented first and there you go ruining everyone’s day. Doing your job.
The issue here is about Muslims in Ethiopia. It’s not about Afghanistan & Pakistan. Muddling the issue doesn’t take you anywhere. Join the debate and try to come up with pro or con arguments worth your salt, cadre.
HRW used to be the darling of Woyanes when they were at the receiving end of injustices. The tables have been turned against Woyanes and HRW is accused of being in league with terrorists. hypocritical.
Why does every thing has to be about your wounded ego? Whether I commented first or last, does it change the content of my comment? What an asshole!
Go back to my comment and read it again. You don’t seem to understand whatever I wrote, so long you said, I ruined your day because I commented first.
Try to concentrate on the issue instead of showing your moral idignity which is turning you to a jealous b!tch. Loser!
So called human right is a misleading name to cheat the international community by name while it is not created by any international body such as UN, AU or the likes.
It is a misleading trade mark for private company just to make money. Their job is not about the truth and facts but working for the interest and benefit to anyone pays them more. Who are they after all talking about other nations personal/internal maters? If really they do care about human right and doing the right thing approaching the situation objectively, why don’t they first and long times ago started doing anything to protect it in the Wahabi Saudi and Gulf nations where the worst ever human right abuse with great magnitude and high proportion is going on in the name of religion in front of the international community for so long?
What about women right, Christian’s right; disallowing them even to worship at home and wear the dress they do like and is appropriate with that deadly desert hot weather. What about the guest workers right? What about the slavery, exploitation, rape and so many inhuman crimes going on against the guest workers? What about democracy, the rule of law, free press and so on in the biggest desert?
There is no democracy even by name in the desert nations? yet, the Anglo-Americans that are preaching worldwide about democracy, human right, rule of law, election, free press and so on, are calling the Saudi and the rest of oil and Gas created desert creatures friends and allies. They even don’t fell shame and at least be modest about it, when they are criticizing others nations election, rule of law, free press and the likes despite they are saying or do nothing about the desert people that have no what so ever laws and rights for the citizens in any form.
They attacked them brutally while calling “Allah akbar” with the worst ever gruesome terrorist attack in human history and crashed their economy and civilization where especially Europe will never recover from it. Yet, still they are calling them friends and allies. KKKKK. 15 out of 19 terrorists were Saudis where the al Qaida leader himself was a Saudi. The rest were/still are Egyptians, the from the desert/Sunni Arabs where Wahabi Saudis are taking the lead including financing Sunni terrorists in Mali.
Some western Individuals and companies have no conscious and shame at all if/when they get money. Oil and gas money is like swamp of locust because of they are getting it without any effort and as a result they don’t value it and they don’t know how to use it but for Satanic acts using the Anglo-American private or state owed institutions including this private company so called Human right.
No one is fool. Everyone knows about the nature of this company seems created to make money while serving others interest using misleading trade mark.
Is human right became part of the terrorist Sunni wahabi working for their interest in exchange of money comes from oil and gas? Western individuals mainly companies including so called Human right can do anything to anyone if they get money. This is what they are doing under the cover of human right which is a self appointed/created business/ private company.
Anything beyond UN is nothing but another western private institute to play their dirty games against nations for their interest. Can you Imagine the Anglo-American citizens become instrumental/friendly to any Sunni Islam let alone to the wahabi Saudi and Arabs in general after they brutally attacked them with the worst ever terrorist attack in human history which is 9/11, 7/7 and everything going on ever since? Yes, if they get money, they can do anything and become anything for the sake of their enemy, too. This is what is going on with the Anglo-American politics, institutions and companies including this so called human right.
The good news is that they are already exposed internationally. Private interest is not allowed to use misleading approaches that has to do with international bodies. Human right is not part of any international body where nations are agree with it under UN umbrella but a private interest for group of individuals, companies of nations. And we know who they are. So, who cares about this private company blind with money where anyone pays can use it as servant and slave.
You’re right about the content of your comment whether or not you are the first or last. Beating the competition by commenting first helps you score points. Stay vigilant & never cede your coveted unofficial spot.
One doesn’t need to go through what you write. your comments and stance on all issues are childishly predictable. They sound like they are prepared in advance.
The same old dying rhetoric of trying to defend the indefensible.
Whether the issue is about Muslims treatment, jailed journalists, political intolerance, economic inequality & embezzlement of public funds, or corruption you go the extra mile trying shamelessly to discredit the authors. Failing that you blame the diaspora and the phantom opposition.
In your view the gov’t is always doing the right thing and is doing whatever it may be in the interest of the people. Who are we to judge? The 99.9% of voters who voted for it gave their verdict.
Addis zemen ,
“the above article sounds more like a diaspora Ethiopian opposition, rather than a neutral entity.”
I agree with you. After I read the above article I ask myself,Is today Monday? Becase it looks like weekly propaganda of Alemayehu
If I am Muslim I will join TPLF… They are going my way….I know I am not a driver…I know I don’t own the car but they are going my way… So I go with them the Amhara offer me to drive the car… While they own the car I wouldn’t mind it but they are going Southbond when I want to go Northbound so I say thanx but no thanx.
I don’t know why any Muslim doesn’t understand Tis simple logic…the Amhara car might be brand new but they going diffrent way then we want the TPLF car might be old and rusty car but it is heading the same way we are going… Yes the car might break down on road, we have to push it sometimes but still going the same derivation that we want so jump in
የ ናዝሬት ድረ ገጽ የ አመቱ ታላቅ ሰው ተብሎ ሽልማት ቢኖር እኔ የምመርጠው ሰው Teddy ነው::
ይሀው በ ሁሉም አይነት ዘገባ ላይ የ ወያነን አጨብጫቢዎች ልክ ልካቸውን ይነግራቸዋል::
ስለዚህ አቶ ቴዲ ምስጋናዬን አቀርባለሁ::
በየቀኑ ስታስታጥቃቸው አንጀቴ ቅቤ ይጠጣል!!!
እነኚህ የ ፍርፍሪ ለቃሚ አድር ባዮች በ ናዝሬት አሰለቹን እኮ!!!
- አዲስ ዝቃጭ
- ሰነፍ ኦብሰርቨር
ወዘተ የመሳስለውን የ ብሎግ ስም የያዙት የ ወያኔ ቅጥረኞች ለ ጌቶቻቸው ጠበቃ ሁነው ውሸቱን እመኑ ሲሉን አያፍሩም ጃል!!
These bunch of opportunistic hooligans have no shame when they try to make us believe the lie manufactured by their “masters”
04/03/13 @ 08:19
Garbage ahmed, the bokkoarram terrorist,…
What rape are you talking about you stupid mozzafakka terrorist? No body is rapist than you and your terrorist mujahdins who are salivating to rape 79 virgines in hell.
Are you the next sucide bomber in line to blow yourself up? Looks like you’re so horny, and can’t wait to go hell and meet those 79 virgins.
Ashish who the hell are you supposing fooling .For your Information even within the Amhara peoples there are also muslims .Your stupid argument trying is to make swallow the lies of your Senile Bandit Leader ,Sebehat Nega ,linking Amhara Peoples with the Orthodox Tewahedo Church ,ploting to creat poletical cahos and inter religious war permeting he and all the Agazi bandits to save their dying regime and their Ethno Mafia Institutions .
As if other protesters face fair trail.
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