The increase in the number of arrests of dissidents in Ethiopia in recent months has made Norwegian authorities concerned. The regime is becoming more and more authoritarian, says researcher.
Marta Camilla Wright
The Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa expressed concern over the human rights situation in Ethiopia. In recent months, the embassy sent several message home concern to the Foreign Ministry arrests of dissidents.
Among those arrested, according to Human Rights Watch, more than 200 people from the Oromo ethnic group. BBC reports that 35 people were arrested in April, accused of coup attempts. Two Swedish journalists were arrested in July. In August, two members of two opposition parties were arrested after meeting with Amnesty International, then a further opposition member. This past year a large number of local journalists have been arrested.
This is probably one of the reasons that Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg expressed concern over the human rights situation in a meeting with his Ethiopian colleague Meles Zenawi in Oslo 10 October. According to UD was the arrest of two Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson and accusations of murder and abuse of civilians in Ogaden among the topics of conversation. Ethiopia’s longtime head of state does it in his hand clearly that Norway has no right to interfere in the country’s internal affairs. It is stated in an interview with Aftenposten. – Norwegian and other countries ‘organizations believe that they have the right to engage in African countries’ policies. While I have not, an Ethiopian, the right to interfere in Norwegian cases. We have never accepted this double standard, stated Zenawi. He stressed that the country often received financial aid, but that it was not realistic to accept any interference in the country’s own political processes.
According to the magazine The Economist’s Democracy Index from 2010 holds Ethiopia a little glorious 118-space of 167 countries. The country’s government now characterized as an authoritarian regime. Ethiopia has dropped thirteen places in the rankings since 2006. At that time, the country was considered a democracy. Due to that country valleys on the list is that the Ethiopian regime has introduced restrictive laws that restrict media freedom and civil society. In addition, Mr. Zenawi Meles regime struck down hard on opposition activities, media and civil society before the election in 2010. Arrests that occurred in conjunction with Amnesty’s visit represents the Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa as disturbing. It emerges from an internal report from the embassy that Bistandsaktuelt have been granted access. Many of the arrests are justified on terror charges, according to the embassy. Norway has recently taken over leadership of the donor group on human rights in Ethiopia.
More and more authoritarian
Researcher at the Christian Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Aalen, believes that the arrest wave must be viewed in the context of Ethiopia runs in the authoritarian direction. This is a trend we have seen since the great riots surrounding the 2005 elections. – These arrests are a continuation and reinforcement of the events after the elections in 2005, says Aalen. Aalen think that it is about to hinder the opposition to win . – Ethiopian government uses terror law that came after the 2005 elections as an excuse to arrest people who can be accused of having any connection to the organizations designated as terrorist organizations, she said. According Aalen operating authorities with a very broad definition of terror. She believes that it is unlikely that any of these groups have planned specific terrorist acts. – The new discovery is perhaps the most prominent people, like journalist Eskinder Nega and the two Swedish journalists, were arrested. This is a strong signal effect that “we will not tolerate dissident activities”, says Aalen. However, this has shifted since 2005, the Ethiopian government has gradually tightened its grip more and more, she says. Norway gave in 2010 in excess of 196 million in aid to Ethiopia.