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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid