January 21, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – The European Parliament condemned in strong words the recent use of excessive force against protesters as well as increased number of cases of human rights violations and other forms of abuses including arbitrary arrest and torture in Ethiopia.
Since November, Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, has been hit by a wave of anti-government protests over a controversial “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan” aimed to expand the capital into parts of the region.
At least 140 ethnic Oromo protesters, most university students, are killed and many more wounded in clashes with the security forces during the two months long unrest, the worst crisis to hit Ethiopia since 2005 when post-election violence in the capital led to deaths of nearly 200 protesters.
Concerned by the current development in Ethiopia, the EU Parliament on Wednesday tabled an urgent motion to vote for a resolution on the current situations on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
According to a tweet by Ana Gomes, member of the EU Parliament, the resolution was voted by all, except the “extreme right wing” who make up less than 100 votes of the 751 seats in the Parliament.
The motion is expected to be debated soon by the entire European Parliament
Adoption of the resolution comes only few days after ethnic Oromo Diasporas in Europe gathered at Place du Luxembourg, outside the European Parliament in Brussels, to express their condemnation against the recent killings of protesters by security forces across Oromia region.
The Oromo communities who also staged demonstrations in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany urged on the European Union to withhold financial aid to Addis Ababa until the Ethiopian government complies with its human rights obligations.
They stressed Addis Ababa must be held accountable for the “crimes and violations” of international law.
The motion adopted by the EU parliament calls for an immediate release of all jailed students, farmers, opposition politicians, academics, bloggers and journalists for exercising their right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
It urged authorities in Ethiopia to carry out a credible, transparent and impartial investigation into the killings and other alleged human rights violations of protesters.
The EU lawmakers further asked the Ethiopian government to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on human right and other UN human rights experts to report on the situation.
The motion stresses that any financial support to Ethiopia from the EU should be measured attending to the country’s human rights record and the degree of which the Ethiopia government promotes reforms towards democratization and to effectively monitor EU development assistance is not contributing to human rights violations in Ethiopia, particularly programs linked to displacement of farmers and pastoralists.
The Ethiopian government last week announced that it has abandoned the controversial “Addis Ababa Master Plan” after the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO) party which is the regional ally of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) decided to withdraw its support to the expansion plan.
Ethiopian opposition politicians however doubt on whether the government would be committed to permanently abandon the plan.
Ethic-Oromo protesters and politicians argue that the plan which would expand Addis Ababa’s boundary by 20 times its current size would lead to a forcible eviction to millions of Oromo farmers from their ancestral land.
The capital’s previous enlargement has reportedly displaced millions of Oromo farmers and trapped them in poverty, an accusation the government denies.