The Ethiopian Human Rights Council Friday released a report accusing local government and election officials of harassing members and supporters of opposition parties ahead of next month's general elections.
The head of investigation at the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, Birhanu Tsigu, tells VOA his group has documented what he calls "election abuses and irregularities," which he says were committed mostly by low-level government officials operating in local communities.
"Most of these abuses have been committed against members, candidates and supporters of the opposition parties,” he said. “The kinds of violations range from extra-judicial killings, unlawful imprisonments, beatings and eviction from land, and different sorts of abuses. Most of the abuses have been investigated by our investigators who have been deployed to the sites of these violations, and we do have first-hand information, first-hand evidence, on all of these incidents reported."
The most serious incident described in Friday's report occurred in January in the Amhara region, where, Mr. Tsigu says, two people were killed and six others injured by local government officials. Mr. Tsigu says the victims were members of an opposition party and were deliberately targeted.
More on Human Rights Issues in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
SUPPORT H.R. 935 – FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS IN ETHIOPIA
The bill (H.R. 935) introduced in the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress on February 17, 2005 by U.S. Representatives Michael M. Honda (D CA) and Edward R. Royce (R CA) and referred to the House Committee on International Relations urges the Government of Ethiopia to hold orderly, peaceful, and free and fair national elections in May 2005 and authorizes United States assistance for elections-related activities to monitor the Ethiopian national elections.
Past experiences as well as recent developments indicate that the Ethiopian Government would do everything possible to derail and defraud the upcoming national elections and the democratic process. To achieve lasting peace and democratic progress in Ethiopia, the United States and other democracies around the world need to put pressure on the regime to respect human rights, restructure the National Election Board in a manner that makes the Board impartial and independent, allow independent international observers to monitor the May 15, 2005 elections, respect the rule of law, and help ensure a genuine and transparent election process.
Democracy-loving people around the world respectfully request, with utmost urgency, that all efforts be made to ensure the passage of H.R. 935 by the U.S. Congress as soon as possible so that the noble and democratic purpose of this bill is realized and Ethiopia begins a new, fresh path toward peace and democracy.
Please sign this petition and also write to President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. Congress, the House Committee on International Relations, and the Congressional Black Caucus, in support of H.R. 935 (Free and Fair Elections in Ethiopia) and the spread of genuine democracy around the globe.
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