By Tesfa-Alem Tekle | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | Ethiopian News
The Ethiopian government has accused Human Rights Watch (HRW) of waging an open political campaign against country by what Addis Ababa said was using its “blanket allegations and downright lies”.
Last week, the New York based rights watchdog, accused the Ethiopian government of waging a coordinated and sustained attack on political opponents, journalists, and rights activists ahead of the country’s May 2010 elections.
The 59-page report, entitled “One Hundred Ways of Putting Pressure’: Violations of Freedom of Expression and Association in Ethiopia,” documents the myriad ways in which the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has systematically punished opposition supporters.
The Ethiopian government in a statement on Tuesday however dismissed the allegations saying a “brazen attempt to issue strict orders to the government and the peoples of Ethiopia”.
Few months back, Addis Ababa had arranged discussion session held in the capital between the senior executives of the Human Rights Watch and government officials hoping a joint understanding could be reached into working together for constructive objectives with the organization.
Following Human right watch’s new allegation, the Ethiopian government now says that Instead of using the opportunity for constructive purpose, the leaders of Human Rights Watch have rather sided to intensifying the smear campaigns to blow-out country’s image.
“Far from mending their ways, however, HRW’s executives unfortunately have instead chosen to mount an even more vitriolic campaign against Ethiopia.” The Ethiopian government said in a statement.
“The Ethiopian government has thus decided to take this opportunity to clarify its position and unequivocally set the record straight,” It added.
It is to be recalled that Human Rights Watch had earlier released a report alleging that the Ethiopian Defense Forces had committed war crimes in what it called was a secret campaign against the ONLF rebels in the Ogaden region.
“Out of its sincere concern for human rights, the Ethiopian government took it upon itself to launch a thorough investigation into these allegations, the findings of which were immediately made public, the statement said.
“The investigation did in fact find villages that HRW alleged to have been burnt, to be unscathed; people who had been allegedly massacred, to be alive and well; and what orchards said to have been uprooted, to grow and bloom.”
“The government of Ethiopia, rather naively, as it turned out, hoped that by disclosing the findings of the investigation to the public would help the likes of HRW to think twice before engaging in unwarranted campaigns of lies.”
The statement said Human Rights Watch had in fact failed to recognize the positive measures in which the Ethiopian government had taken with the primary objective of creating a good political atmosphere in the country.
The release of prisoners convicted of inciting violence, the wider media access made available to opposition parties and the political debate among contending parties that got live media coverage were some of the positive measures the Ethiopian government had taken in which the Human Rights Watch was adamant not to accept them, it added.
It also said it is obvious that most African NGOs operating with the financial assistance from the neo-liberal extremist forces are the major instrument of the latter in manipulating African politics.
“It is a reality that the neo-liberal extremist forces and their instrument, NGOs, using their financial assistance as a bargain, never refrain from exerting immense pressure on governments of African countries to accept their political agendas and make them fall under their influence or stifle them if their political interest is not given attention by the latter.”
“Since the Ethiopian government believes only popularly elected government has a legitimate right to decide the political fate of the country, it had closed the opportunity of the neo liberal extremist forces-assisted NGOs and Human Rights Watch and the likes to manipulate the Ethiopian politics by promulgating the new Civil Societies and Charities Law.”
Thus, the statement said, the Ethiopian government had closed all the doors in which Human Rights Watch and the likes could manipulate as they wish, which it said has turned them to engage in condemnation campaign against Ethiopia in the form of issuing statements on a weekly basis.
The statement further said that any attempt intended to rock the nation whenever there is an election and any attempt being made to manipulate the country by mercenaries of neo liberal extremist forces would be futile. Despite what amount of external pressure is poured into, the Ethiopian government stressed that no external force could deterred nation from pursuing democratic and development path.
Over 29 million Ethiopians will go to polls to cast their vote in May, the first parliamentary elections in Ethiopia since 2005, when the post-election period was marred by controversy and bloodshed.
Despite growing accusations of harassment by some opposition groups, Ethiopian officials have repeatedly gave their words to conduct fair, free, democratic, peaceful and credible elections.