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Rights Group Criticizes Continued Suppression Of Dissent In Ethiopia

The U.S.-based watchdog Human Rights Watch says Ethiopia’s government continues to violently suppress dissent. Human Rights Watch says the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi uses intimidation, arbitrary detentions and excessive force to suppress protests and potential dissent against the disputed results of last year's parliamentary elections.

Human Rights Watch’s Africa researcher, Chris Albin-Lackey, told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje the latest report is based on the findings of a research team the group sent to Ethiopia recently. Mr. Albin-Lackey says the findings indicate “local and regional officials throughout Ethiopia seem to have been empowered to unleash revenge on people perceived as being opposition supporters.” He says all signs point to such actions representing “a broad, nationwide phenomenon – and not something just confined to a few discreet areas.”

Mr. Albin-Lackey says the charges leveled against the detained opposition leaders are “extremely serious.” He says his group’s position – and increasingly the position of the donor community – is that the government “should provide proof to substantiate the charges and bring the accused to a speedy and transparent trial.” “If the government can’t do that, he says, “it should release the detainees immediately.” Mr. Albin-Lackey expresses hope that donors, who wield considerable leverage, become more vocal in raising human rights issues with the Ethiopian government.