Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ethiopia: World Bank Translator and Activists Face Trial -

Activists Heading for Food Workshop Charged with Terrorism
The Oakland Institute and five other international development and human rights groups are calling for Ethiopian authorities to immediately drop all charges and release a former World Bank translator and two other local activists charged under Ethiopia’s repressive anti-terrorism law after trying to attend a workshop on food security in Nairobi. 

Pastor Omot Agwa. (Image © Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas/WG Film)
On September 7, 2015, the authorities charged Pastor Omot Agwa, Ashinie Astin, and Jamal Oumar Hojele under the anti-terrorism law after detaining them for nearly six months. The charge sheet refers to the food security workshop, which was organized by an indigenous rights group and two international organizations, as a "terrorist group meeting." The three were arrested on March 15 with four others while en route to the workshop in Nairobi, Kenya. Three were released without charge on April 24, and a fourth on June 26.
“Ethiopia should be encouraging debate about its development and food security challenges, not charging people with terrorism for attending a workshop organized by respected international organizations,” said Miges Baumann, deputy director with Bread for All. “These absurd charges should be dropped immediately.”
Pastor Omot of the evangelical Mekane Yesus church in Ethiopia’s Gambella region was an interpreter for the World Bank Inspection Panel’s 2014 investigation of a complaint by the Anuak indigenous people alleging widespread forced displacement and other serious human rights violations in relation to a World Bank project in Gambella. He had raised concerns with workshop organizers about increasing threats from Ethiopian security officials in the weeks before his arrest. Omot now faces between 20 years and life in prison.
All three detainees were recently moved to Kalinto prison, on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa, after spending more than five months in Maekelawi, the Federal Police Crime Investigation Sector in the city. Human Rights Watch and other organizations have documented torture and other ill-treatment at Maekelawi. Omot, and possibly the other two activists, were held in solitary confinement for three weeks upon their arrest, and all have had limited access to family members. Jamal and Omot have reportedly been in poor health.
The detainees were held 161 days without charge, well beyond the four months allowed under Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, a period in violation of international human rights standards and among the longest permitted by law in the world. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for October 22.

Read more

The organizations seeking the release of Omot, Ashine and Jamal are:
Human Rights Watch
Bread for All 
Anywaa Survival Organization
Oakland Institute
Inclusive Development International

The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank, bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.


Like OI on Facebook:

Follow us on Twitter: @oak_institute

No comments:

Post a Comment