By Tesfa-alem Tekle
January 13, 2008 (ADDIS ABABA) – The opposition Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ) urged the federal government of Ethiopia to respect constitutional rights of opposition parties in the country.
In a statement sent to Sudan Tribune, the opposition force said that the “recent mass arrest, intimidation and all kind of persecution against opposition leaders, members and supporters is a deliberately stretched ill-policy of Meles government to systematically weaken the political roles of the legally established opposition parties who are peaceful struggling to bring democratic rule in the country.”
The party has strongly condemned the recent detention of its leader, Birtukan Mideksa who was rearrested two weeks ago, after she was released from prison one year ago on amnesty along with 37 others who all were sentenced to life in prison for an alleged crime of post election violence that left nearly 200 protesters killed in 2005.
She was given only 3days of ultimatum period while the law clearly states that twenty days are given to a pardoned citizen to confirm denial of such a case, the UDJ says.
Birtukan’s pardon has been revoked and she has began a life sentence in prison following her refusal to confirm or deny to the statement she made in her recent visit to Europe saying she didn’t ask government for pardon it is rather the government who released the oppositions in fear of a possible instability that could arise.
The opposition party has called on all human right groups and all concerned bodies to put maximum pressure on Ethiopian government to halt violating the legal rights of opposition groups.
The group has also called on all Ethiopians at home and abroad to stand by opposition groups in a struggle to curb undemocratic rule and oppression against opposition groups.
Mean while the group said that efforts to release Birtukan are under way.
“Elders and human right groups have jointly began talks with government officials for her release” Hailu Araya, the man in charge of Public relation within the UDJ told Sudan Tribune.
“No one has visited her except her child and mother as it not allowed.” He said adding “we asked the Red Cross to visit her but it refrained because its activity is made restricted at this point.