For the second time this year, Ghennet Girma has attended the UN Human Rights Council 20th meeting in Geneva that started on June 18. At this meeting the regime of Meles Zenawi has been condemned resoundingly for its gross violation of human rights (read the reports). Ghennet spoke also on the session dealing with the disappeared (watch video: AAED, GD Thematic reports of the SG and HC, 17th Meeting ) and as a member of the ASAFED group she also addressed the assembly on general African rights issues including the repression against Albinos in several African countries.
UN, Geneva, 21st of June 2012
Human Rights in Ethiopia: A very rare occasion at the UN Human Rights council there was an afternoon meeting entitled Human Rights in Ethiopia with the presence of Mr. Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur of the UN on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association on the stifling of civic society sponsored by CIVUCUS with the participation of Amnesty International and the presence of Ato Endalkachew Molla from ERCHO who came from Ethiopia as a panelist.
The resolution on the human rights situation in Ethiopia passed in Banjul, The Gambia in May 2 2012 was among the documents that were made available. The starting points of the discussion were on the laws that restricted NGOs and human right organizations, the reduction of funds from donors and other institutions to only 10%. The freezing of assets of EWLA and ERCHO that has incapacitated their activities introduced the debate on repression in Ethiopia.
Many Ethiopians in Geneva participated along with two embassy representatives. The input of members of ASAFED and other accredited participants was significant. Many aspects of the repression and human rights abuse in Ethiopia were raised:
The constitution had no value and cannot really be a reference
- Ethiopia was a closed dictatorial regime, like that of Kimilsung
- The 99.6% at the election was enough proof of how bad things were
- Double standards were applied since few chosen government linked NGOs could do as they pleased
- Ethnic preference prevails and is a major problem within all sectors
- That there are secret prisons in Ethiopia
- Torture is rampant
- There was no accountability as to the disappeared
- Families of the disappeared cannot have closure
- Journalists are being repressed totally, no free press
- The internet, radios etc. are jammed
- Social media repression has escalated with Skype users facing 15 years of imprisonment
- The dispersion of Ethiopians all over the world says a lot
- Whereas many organizations and movements had never had legal existence
- Today even those NGOs who were working legally are being targeted and repressed
The incompetent representatives of Meles Zenawi accused all participants were conspiring against Ethiopia, and read used and stale written statements that meant nothing. One of ASAFED’s members said that they sounded like the Ethiopian television! The organizers reacted by saying everyone present cared for Ethiopia and were there in solidarity.
Participant dispensed advice to the representatives of the regime about the dangerous trend of not accepting differing views of the opposition which in turn brought about anger and a situation that was more costly and untenable for the long run.
UN, Geneva, 22nd of June 2012
The shrinking Space of civil society: Civicus, FIDH and many other Human rights defenders convened a meeting during the 20th session of Un human rights council on the shrinking space of civil society with the Special rapporteur, Mr. Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur of the UN on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. Human rights defenders from different countries participated. The director of CIVICUS Netsanet Belay was among the panelists. Points raised:
- Governments share their bad practices
- How to share best practices amongst human rights defenders
- Learn from experiences on how to go about defending activists increase the influence of civil society in global governance solidarity among human right defenders.
Saba Kidanemariam was among the panelists June 20 UN, Geneva
The meeting was sponsored by the Canadian permanent mission, on Criminal law and women’s right to health. We were surprised to see such a participation by an NGO functioning in Ethiopia whereas others are curtailed, repressed % and cannot have funds more than 10% from foreign land. We discussed the issue and asked how it was possible. Unabashed the lady explained that all one needed to do was follow the instruction that advices NGO’s not to use the words “rights, lobby, advocacy” since they went against governance! Her NGO receives millions and it functions in many areas. She said she had a way of protecting her funds. Evidently hers was one among many government linked NGO’s, chosen in a selective manner through ethnic preference.