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Ethiopia Dismisses Human Rights Watch Report

  • James Butty

Food distribution

Food distribution

Government communications minister Bereket Simon says food distribution in Ethiopia is based on humanitarian needs not political

Ethiopia’s government said the distribution of international food aid is done based on humanitarian needs, not political consideration.

In a report this week, the private Human Rights Watch accused the government of denying food and other aid to opponents to suppress political dissent.

Government Communications Minister Bereket Simon told VOA Human Human Rights Watch is a frustrated, self-appointed kingmaker institution in the United States that has failed to bring about regime change in Ethiopia through elections.

“This is a report by some highly frustrated and self-appointed kingmaker institution in the U.S. Just because what they dreamt of in Ethiopia didn’t take place, they are doing whatever they can to tarnish the image of the country,” he said.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

The report, released Tuesday, said local Ethiopian government officials denied opposition supporters access to seed, fertilizer, agricultural land, credit, food aid, and other resources.

Human Rights Watch said the report was based on interviews with more than 200 people in 53 villages between June and December 2009.

But, Simon said the report is based on hearsay because Human Rights Watch has no offices in Ethiopia.

“In the first place, Human Rights Watch doesn’t have presence in Ethiopia. Usually, they do such work from remote, and the fact that they don’t have a base in Ethiopia tells you that they have accumulated heresies,” Simon said.

He denied the Ethiopian government has refused opposition supporters access to seed, fertilizer, agricultural land, and loans.

“This is a government which has created the biggest micro-finance institution in Africa; this is a government which has created so many local banks that are taking care of the financial demand for investment; this is a government which is working hard to improve agricultural production,” he said.

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