For Immediate Release
September 6, 2012
A CALL FOR PEACE AND RECONCILIATIONS IN ETHIOPIA
The death of Ethiopia’s long-time ruler, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, has created uncertainty in the country. The Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW), a peace and human rights organization created to promote the rights of Ethiopian women worldwide, expresses its concern about the current situations in Ethiopia. We would like to encourage all concerned parties to use this crucial juncture in our history to pave the way for better political and economic conditions and ultimately improve the lives of the Ethiopian people.
Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Developing Index, Ethiopia ranks 174 out of 187 countries with comparable data (UNDP, 2011). Women and children are the main victims of poverty, wars, and conflicts. Since employment opportunities are limited in the country, thousands of Ethiopian women migrate to the Middle East countries and work as domestic workers in slave-like conditions. The economic opportunities available are for the very few. The gap between the haves and the have-nots has widened extremely.
Currently in Ethiopia, basic human rights are not respected. There is no freedom of speech, press and peaceful assembly. Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) and Amnesty International have documented the massive human rights violations in Ethiopia by the EPRDF government for the last twenty-one years that it has been in power. According to numerous reports by these credible human rights organizations, opposition leaders, human rights activists and journalists are jailed or exiled. The Anti-Terrorism and the Charities and Societies Proclamations that were enacted in 2009 have crushed and criminalized any dissent and abated the work of many civic society organizations. In order for the country to have sustainable peace and development, these repressive measures have to be abolished. The rights of people must be respected and the country’s economic system should benefit the majority of the people and mitigate poverty. There must be an end to oppression.
CREW appeals to the international community to urge the new Prime Minister to promote peace and reconciliation and to start dialogue with opposition groups and civic organizations. CREW recommends the following:
• Under the new Prime Minister governance should be peaceful and democratic, and every measure must be taken to avoid any circumstances that might lead the country into turmoil.
• Even though the regime has indicated that there would be no change of government policies, given the level of poverty and the suffering of the Ethiopian people, the government should be urged to change the political climate and be accountable to the people.
• Repressive laws such as the Anti -terrorism and the Charities and Societies Proclamations should be repealed. All political prisoners and journalists who have been imprisoned should be released.
• The government should open the political space and dialogue should start with opposition groups and civic organizations. No one ethnic group or no one party alone can solve Ethiopia’s problems by itself. A peace and reconciliation conference that is free and all-inclusive, including those in the Diaspora, should be called as soon as possible.
• The role of women in all the negotiations for the future of Ethiopia is very important. Women-focused civil society groups must participate with their gender-specific agendas in all discussions that pertain to the fate of Ethiopia. We stress the full participation of Ethiopian women in Ethiopia’s political, economic and social developments as being crucial for the growth and development of Ethiopia.
The Executive Committee
Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW)
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