Ethiopia slams EU call to free opposition politicians

Ethiopia rejected Friday a European Parliament resolution calling for the release of “all arbitrarily detained persons” including prominent opposition politician Merera Gudina.

Although Thursday’s resolution commended Ethiopia’s role in regional stability, it opposed the detention of opposition political figures and handling of human rights in the country.

“Though this resolution underlines the role of Ethiopia in stabilizing the region and the improvement of the economic situation of the population, it lacks some understanding of the situation in the country on topics such as the state of emergency, the human rights and the arrest of Dr. Merera Gudina,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Gudina was arrested on November 30, 2016 on the claim that while in Europe he met with the leaders of an Ethiopian organization dubbed by the government as a “terrorist” group.

The statement said Gudina “exceeded the rights of political opposition by allegedly meeting with the leader of an Ethiopian armed group at the European Parliament”.

By meeting with the leader of Ginbot 7 between Nov. 7 and 9, 2016, the opposition politician “…deliberately violated the state of emergency” that was imposed on October 9, 2016 for six months and later extended by four months, it added.

The Foreign Ministry also responded to criticism of Ethiopia’s handling of human rights.

“It can only be hoped that the European Parliament will find ways to positively support the Ethiopian Parliament and other Ethiopian government institutions,” it said.

Ethiopia is under a Martial Law since last October after violent anti-government protests spiraled when an annual Oromo public festival at the central town of Bushoftu turned into a riot and caused the death of hundreds in a stampede that followed security forces firing tear gas and bullets into the air.

In April, an Ethiopian Human Rights Commission released an investigation report saying that 669 people were killed in the anti-government demonstrations that began in November 2015 in the restive regions of Oromia and Amhara – the most populous regions in the country.