January 18, 2006
The government is using intimidation, arbitrary detentions and excessive force in rural areas to suppress post-election protests and all potential dissent, a global human rights body says.
"The Ethiopian government is violently suppressing any form of protest and punishing suspected opposition supporters," said Peter Takirambudde, director of Human Rights Watch's Africa Division.
"Donor governments should insist on an independent, credible investigation into abuses by federal police and local officials in rural as well as urban areas."
Human Rights Watch carried out research in Addis Ababa and the Oromia and Amhara regions.
At least 40 people died in clashes with police in June and November during demonstrations over results of the May 15, 2005 parliamentary elections, in which opposition parties won an unprecedented number of seats. Thousands of people were arrested and detained in Addis Ababa and the rural areas.
Alongside local government officials and members of local government-backed militias, the federal police have taken the lead in intimidating and coercing opposition supporters, HRW said on January 13.
Residents of Oromia spoke of arbitrary arrests, detentions and beatings by police, HRW reported.
"The government is deepening its crackdown in Ethiopia's rural areas, far from the eyes and ears of international observers in Addis Ababa," Takirambudde said. "People are being terrorized by federal police working hand-in-glove with local officials and militias."