July 10, 2017
On 7 July 2017, a letter expressing concerns for the human rights situation in Ethiopia, signed by 38 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), was addressed to European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini. Highlighting the violent suppression of Oromo protests by the Ethiopian State, the letter, in line with the European Parliament resolution passed in May, calls for an independent investigation into the killings of protesters.
During the protests that occurred in the Ethiopian regions of Oromia, Amhara and the SNNPR in 2016, government security forces used aggressive repression against the peaceful protesters, causing the protests to descend into chaos. Besides this violence against demonstrators, the security forces also used systematic sexual violence against ethnic minority and indigenous women across the country and continued to jail political activists without any legitimate ground. One of them, British citizen Andy Tsege, is currently held on death row.
In an effort led by the office of MEP Julie Ward, a letter was drafted and sent around the European Parliament expressing serious concerns over the treatment of Ethiopian protesters by armed security forces during the mobilisations and asking High Representative Federica Mogherini - head of the European External Action Service (EEAS) – to react accordingly.
In the letter, the MEPs call for the EEAS to issue a statement expressing their concern and condemning the violence with which protests have been met in Ethiopia and for an independent investigation into the conduct of the police forces during the protests to be conducted. The letter – signed by thirty-eight MEPs, spanning six different political groups – can be read in its entirety here.
UNPO expresses its gratitude to the MEPs who threw their support behind this letter, taking it as a sign of a growing European concern regarding the difficulties faced by, among others, the Oromo, the Ogadeni and the Amhara protesters and the violations of human rights against minorities and indigenous peoples in Ethiopia in general. Our organisation is committed to pursue its close collaboration with decision-makers to move toward a greater respect and a guarantee of the safeguard of human rights for all of Ethiopia’s peoples and especially the most vulnerable. UNPO hopes that the MEPs’ call will lead to a strong EU response and, in the long run, to significant improvements on this matter.
The MEPs who co-signed the letter are the following:
Fabio Masimo Castaldo
Liadh Ní Riada
María Dolores Lola Sanchez Caldentey
Tania González Penas