Saturday, October 22, 2016

"The EU must stand up for the people of Ethiopia

Translated by Google Translate

If Ethiopia continues to oppress its own citizens and stifle dissent, the EU should consider how agreements with Ethiopia to look ahead, writes MP Anders Österberg (S).

In the past two weeks have reminded the outside world about how the Ethiopian senior political and military deals with those who openly dare to protest against the regime. Although the Ethiopian Constitution states that you as citizens have freedom of speech, you are anything but free to express your opinion.

For 11 months ongoing civil protests against the regime in Addis Ababa with hundreds of deaths as a result. The protests have been met with bullets. Especially bloody was there during the festive feast Irreecha two weeks ago. Where anti-government protests were met with tear gas and gunfire. In the panic that arose were trampled many people to death or drowned in water-filled ditches.

A week ago announced the Ethiopian authorities that they face a six months long state of emergency. At a stroke transformed Ethiopia into the world's largest outdoor prison. After the announcement of the state of emergency was given notice Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn that the state is required because "foreign enemies" and "anti-peace forces' trying to destabilize Ethiopia.

The argument, however, is a game for the gallery. The regime chose to blame a vague external enemy as a way to explain away that it is in their own home as discontent ferment. Even before the regime has tightened the freedom of expression in the country, for example: if you like the Ethiopians in social media express anything negative about the government, it can provide up to 25 years in prison. The state risk only increasing unrest in the country even more and there is a risk that it will soon boil over completely.

Sweden has a long relationship with Ethiopia. During the 1850s, Swedish missionaries among the first Europeans to visit the country in depth. During the brutal Italian occupation traveled some Swedish volunteers down and trained Ethiopian forces. Swedish assistance has built many school buildings and institutions in the country. Today, Sweden is among other assistance to Ethiopia to be put on agriculture to more ecologically sustainable, and that more young people will be able to commence postgraduate studies. No Swedish development aid goes directly to the regime.

The crimes in progress of human rights in Ethiopia today can no longer be ignored by major players such as the EU and the US. The EU should call for the right to secure the investigation of the murders which have taken place while the ongoing repression must be condemned. Right now, the EU plans to provide even more support to Ethiopia. If Ethiopia continues its pattern of repressing its own citizens and stifle dissent, the EU should consider how agreements with Ethiopia to look forward.

Recently, both the people and the opposition gathered and shown that they are ready to work together to build a democratic and united Ethiopia. Sweden's commitment to human rights and freedoms is well known by the people of Ethiopia. Sweden's voice has a great impact among the Ethiopians, and even in opposition. With Sweden's help, the good forces in Ethiopia start as a seed that can grow strong and start reaping democracy also in Ethiopia. But Sweden can not work alone, the EU must be able to stand up to the Ethiopians unconditional right to freedom of expression.

Anders Österberg (S), Member of Parliament, deputy of the Foreign Affairs Committee


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