Thursday, December 22, 2005

Leading Ethiopian anti-poverty campaigners on ‘treason’ charges

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Leading Ethiopian anti-poverty campaigners on ‘treason’ charges

ActionAid today expressed its deepest concern over the news that its Ethiopia policy head Daniel Bekele, and close partner Netsanet Demessie of the Organisation for Social Justice in Ethiopia (OSJE) have been formally charged with crimes against the state.

ActionAid has been calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the two men, arguing that they have done nothing illegal, nor been involved in any unconstitutional activities. Yet today, the court ruled that the federal prosecutor could add their names to the list of 131 defendants already charged.

Ramesh Singh, ActionAid International Chief Executive said: “Daniel and Netsanet are not criminals. They have been arrested for their civic activism, for doing their duty as anti-poverty campaigners. Their continued detention since being arrested in early November for engaging in activities that are protected by the constitution violates both Ethiopian and international law.”

Lawyers engaged by the agency on Daniel and Netsanet’s behalf have been prevented from meeting with their clients for more than a few minutes at a time, and both men have been denied their constitutional entitlement to bail.

Fikre Zewdie, ActionAid Ethiopia Country Director said: “Whilst we categorically believe that there is no case to answer and that both men should be released immediately, at the very least they must be granted bail.

“If it comes to a trial, we want it to be fair, open and internationally monitored. Daniel and Netsanet must also be given full access to lawyers to prepare their defence.”

To avoid prejudice, ActionAid says that it is imperative that the men’s trial be separate from those of opposition politicians and their supporters, whom the Ethiopian government broadly accuse of attempting to subvert the constitutional order using violent means.

Daniel and Netsanet appear to have attracted the attention of the authorities by campaigning for civil society monitoring of the national elections in May, demanding amendments to a new Ethiopian law on non-governmental organisations, and helping to organise Ethiopia’s part of the Global Call to Action against Poverty, a worldwide movement supported by the UN Millennium Campaign, of which the UK Make Poverty History campaign is a part. Neither has been involved in violent protest.

ActionAid is grateful to all those around the world who have voiced their support for Daniel and Netsanet and are campaigning for their release.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daniel so cherishes being free that he is willing to risk loosing the freedom dispensed to him in controlled doses in search of freedom that is all his.

There are those who believe that it is utter foolishness for one so smart to expose himself to the wrath that was sure to come when Daniel persisted in the struggle for freedom and the rule of law. I for one know that it takes men and women such as him who are willing to risk it all for all of has to hope to live free of tyranny, poverty and fear.

I will not rest untill I see you get justice.


2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

T.A., right words!

Surely, Daniel and his friends have set the standard so high. I wonder how many other NGOs & CSOs workers would dare say they're serving those beautifully crafted objectives/goals of their respective organizations.
Shame, shame and n-times shame on those, who've compromised their duty and the truth for their bulging bellies.

At last! this is a flicker of hope that coureageous ones are risking their lives, which is precious before the eyes of God, who will reward them mightily by accomplishing the work they've commenced ...



5:30 AM  

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