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33rd Special Report: Repeated Violation of the Freedom of Expression

“As much as man has been endowed with the ability to think, the right to freely express the product of his thought is a natural and inalienable right. The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) believes that the stifling of the free expression of thought is harmful more to society in general than to the individual human being whose right to that freedom has been violated. As a result, EHRCO has repeatedly condemned the illegal actions of government officials with respect to the freedom of thought and expression. In providing its advice repeatedly, EHRCO had hoped that those bodies that suppress the freedom of thought and expression would realise that their illegal actions violate the natural and fundamental rights of citizens and would, consequently, refrain from such actions. The recent violations of this right of elders in North Omo, students and residents of Ambo, students and teachers in East Wellega attest to the fact that citizens’ freedom of thought and expression in the country is under a serious threat. In its 27th special report issued on December 13, 1999 and titled ‘’Human Rights Violations in North Omo’’, in its 31st special report issued on April 20, 2000 entitled ‘’Human Rights Violations in Ambo’’, as well as others, EHRCO had shown that using various pretexts, government officials and armed security officers have taken different illegal actions against citizens and especially students and teachers who had tried to express their thoughts peacefully.”

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32nd Special Report: A Dispute Over Land Demanding an Urgent Attention

“Members of Sama Qebele Peasant Association in Minjar Shenkora Wereda, Semen Shewa, Amhara Administrative Region, live adjacent to members of Amecha Jawis Peasant Association, Misraq Shewa Zone, Oromiya Administrative Region. A dispute over land that arose between the two neighbouring people has created serious problems. The Amhara and Oromo peasants living in the above-mentioned weredas have long been bonded by marriage and culture. Over the years they have been settling their misunderstandings and disputes through their respective elders as dictated by cultural heritages. Recently, however, the border dispute in which they found themselves as of recent years is diverting their hitherto amicable relationship into a dangerous direction. By magnifying the differences between the two neighbouring people, ethnically biased government officials and cadres are leading them toward a potentially dangerous ethnic conflict.”

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30th Special Report: An Urgent Call for Peace

“The current conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea is now close to two years old. In that period, thousands have been killed, disabled, and displaced.

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Considerable private and public property has been destroyed and development efforts have been disrupted. What is even more worrying now is the fact that the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea are preparing

for yet another all-out war. EHRCO feels that should such a full-blown war be allowed to recur, the consequences will be even more devastating. Consequently, EHRCO would like to make this urgent call to all concerned to help bring about a peaceful and fair resolution of the conflict.”

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Special Report No. 31: Human Rights Violations in Ambo

“On March 9, 2000, students of Ambo Comprehensive secondary School had a meeting in the school compound and delegated four students from their midst to present their petition, requesting the government to facilitate their participation in efforts to extinguish the wildfire that was destroying the country’s natural forests. However, when the four students went to present the students’ demand to the local authorities, they were arrested. Since the student delegates tried to present to the authorities their fellow students’ demand peacefully, their arrest was unjustified and illegal. This measure was also provocative since it instigated the other students to decide to take to the streets demanding the release of their representatives and a satisfactory response to their earlier demand for participation in efforts to extinguish the wildfire.”

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