News / Africa

Ethiopian Opposition Demands Independent Probe Into Activist's Death

Government denies beating Biyanza Daba Gadisa to death for campaigning for opposition candidates in May parliamentary elections

Ethiopia's main opposition coalition is demanding an independent investigation into the death of a campaign worker allegedly beaten to death for his political activities.

Despite strong denials by ruling party officials, leaders of the opposition group Forum say Biyanza Daba Gadisa was beaten outside his home early this month in a small community in western Oromia.  He died several days later in an Addis Ababa hospital.

An executive of the local Forum council, Olbana Lelisa, says ruling party officials in Biyanza's neighborhood followed him home and hit him with a gun butt after he refused to stop campaigning against them.

"The main cause is that he is agitating for Forum, the organization," Olbana told an interpreter.  "They said you have to stop this agitation against the Ethiopia's main ruling party and abide by our order.  And he said, I will not stop. I have to agitate for my party's sake."

A government spokesman Shimelis Kemal called reports of the beating "the biggest lie we have heard."

Speaking to VOA, Shimelis said Biyanza would never have worked for the opposition, because he was a registered member of the ruling party in Oromia.  He said the victim had not been beaten, but had died of complications from malaria and typhoid.

The spokesman described the charges as "part of a series of lies concocted by the Forum to smear the electoral process." He said investigations of previous allegations had always shown the opposition to have been wrong.

But senior Forum leader Beyene Petros questioned the impartiality of previous investigations.  He charged ruling party officials in communities across mostly rural Ethiopia are carrying on a coordinated campaign of harassment and intimidation, and called for an independent probe into Biyanza's death.

"He is our activist who goes around and posts posters, distributes leaflets, campaigns on our behalf," said Beyene. "So we are demanding that an independent inquiry committee be formed to review this case.  We feel it is a politically motivated killing or attack that ended in fatality." He added "Its a very sad case."

Biyanza is the second rural political activist to die since campaigning began for Ethiopia's May 23 national elections.  Last month, opposition candidate for parliament in the northern Tigray region Aregawi Gebreyohannes was stabbed to death.  His supporters called it a political murder, but police concluded the death was the result of a bar fight. A suspect was promptly arrested, convicted within days of the attack, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Another Oromo opposition leader, Bekele Jirata was sentenced in absentia this month to 13 years in prison after being convicted of supporting an Oromo separatist group. 

The European Union is sending an observer mission to monitor the fairness of the election.  Mission press officer Agnes Doka told VOA the observers are following the inquiry into Biyanza Daba's death, and would publish their findings in a final report after the election.

The 200-member EU mission has been criticized for being too small to monitor 30,000 polling stations and an estimated 29 million registered voters.  Of the four major U.S. observation groups, only one - the Carter Center was invited.  It declined the invitation.

The European Union's report on Ethiopia's last election for parliament in 2005 said the poll fell short of international principles for genuine democratic elections - a charge formally rejected by the Ethiopian government.

You May Like

Photogallery Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid