International Rights Group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), has blamed the Ethiopian government for walking out on its public promise to attempt changes and to address the strained political atmosphere in the nation.
HRW’s most recent position is in a piece written by its Senior Researcher for the Horn of Africa, Felix Horne, in reaction to the latest charge brought against a leading opposition activist, Dr Merera Gudina.
60-year-old Gudina who is chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) was charged with terrorism last Thursday along with two others – Dr Berhanu Nega of opposition group Ginbot 7 and Jawar Mohammed of Oromia TV.
‘‘Instead of taking actions that would demonstrate genuine resolve to address long-term grievances, the government again used politically motivated charges to further crack down on opposition parties, reinforcing a message that it will not tolerate peaceful dissent.
‘‘This raises serious questions regarding the government’s commitment to “deep reform” and dialogue with the opposition. Instead of responding to criticism with yet more repression, the Ethiopian government should release opposition politicians jailed for exercising their basic rights, including Bekele and Merera,’‘ the statement added.
Merera according to HRW was being held at the Maekewali prison where mistreatment and torture are commonplace. Aside Merera, the OFC’s deputy chairman, Bekele Gerba is also presently standing trial along with scores of journalists and protesters charged under a 2009 anti-terrorism law.