Ethiopia says it is not torturing supporters of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) who are being held in prison. The Ethiopian government also repeated its allegations against bitter rival Eritrea of plotting to bomb Addis Ababa during the African Union summit last week. In a statement late last week, Amnesty International accused Ethiopia of holding CUD supporters in incommunicado. Amnesty also said the prisoners may have been torture.
Bereket Simon is advisor to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. He said the accusations are part of what he called the usual Amnesty International smear campaign against Ethiopia.
“The fact on the ground is that the Ethiopian government is negotiating with the parties on several important national issues. So, we’re not cracking on anybody; we’re not harassing or intimidating. This is simply a baseless report,” he said.
In its statement, Amnesty said all supporters of the CUD opposition party were being held incommunicado at the police Central Investigation Bureau prison in Addis Ababa known as Maikelawi, and that over 40 other young CUD supporters were also being held at the same prison on similar charges.
But Simon said Ethiopia rejects the Amnesty claims.
“This is simply a new fabrication by Amnesty International. They should check their report. The constitution of Ethiopia doesn’t allow torture to be inflicted on anybody. So basically, they are lying, and then we absolutely reject this outrageous report,” Simon said.
Last Friday, Ethiopia accused its bitter rival Eritrea of plotting to bomb the capital, Addis Ababa during the African Union summit. Simon repeated the accusations and said Ethiopia has proof.
“This is true because we have caught those persons who infiltrated Ethiopia from Eritrea, and some infiltrated with mines and the explosives that they were planning to use on this occasion. So basically, we have red handed them,” he said.
Simon rejected Eritrea claims that Ethiopia fabricated its accusations to discredit the Eritrean government.
“I can assure you the Ethiopian government is not engaged in a smear activity. It’s very clearly known to everybody that Eritrea has sunk to the level of harboring every terrorist in the corners. So we are not engaging in any smear campaign, but we are revealing the facts on the ground. We have all the evidence in our hands, and it is there for everybody to see also,” he said.
The African Union has agreed to send its peacekeepers to Somalia to take over from Ethiopian troops who have begun withdrawing. While some countries have agreed to send troops, others are skeptical. But Simon said Ethiopia is not worried that its troops could be bogged down in Somalia.
“We are not worried because there are a lot of countries who have declared that they are going to participate here. So we believe they will stand by their commitment. In the coming future, those who have committed in general have already committed to send their army, and those who have decided to study it are studying it. Definitely we will respond promptly to the situation in Somalia,” he said.