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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid