Ethiopian opposition accuses EU of "sustaining dictatorship"
Ethiomedia | January 31, 2009
Ginbot 7 leaders, seen addressing a meeting of Ethiopians in Washington, DC relentlessly work to bring Ethiopians together for the ouster of the rogue regime in Addis Ababa (Photo: Ethiomedia; July 5, 2008)

WASHINGTON, DC (Ethiomedia) - An Ethiopian opposition group on Friday accused the European Union (EU) of prefering to sustain dictatorship over the interest of the Ethiopian people for freedom and dignity.

The Ginbot 7 oppposition group, which has vowed to topple the Zenawi regime by any means possible, described EU's $332 million aid to the brutal Zenawi government as a "callous and regrettable act designed to sustain dictatorship in Ethiopia."

"At a time when the regime in Addis is facing a chorus of condemnation from the international community for the increasingly dictatorial measures it is taking against citizens, civic organisations and communities in Ethiopia, EU's financial support to Meles Zenawi shows EU's total disregard to the concerns of credible human rights agencies, a number of legislators in US and EU and the people of Ethiopia," the movement said in a press release to Ethiomedia.com.

Earlier this week, six senior members of the European Parliament (MEPs) backed a January 15 EU resolution which "expresses concern" over the deteriorating human rights conditions and political freedoms in the country. However, Ginbot 7 finds EU's act perplexing.

"The European Union knows well that the surest way to development is enabling citizens to live and work in an atmosphere where their freedom and rights are respected and the rule of law and good governance are established. Seen in this context, what Ethiopians need from the EU is not handoutgiven in the name of the poor that ultimately ends up in the pockets of corrupt officials," the movement said in the press statement.

In power since 1991, anti-Ethiopian tyrant Meles Zenawi has in recent times tightened his grip on power by enacting more draconian laws which Human Rights Watch and Amensty International condemned as measures that outlaw the activities of civil societies in the country.

In this regard, Ginbot 7 warned the EU against the practice of using the "degrading poverty in Ethiopia as a pretext to ignore the need of Ethiopians to live freely in their own country, to use freedom as a means to drag themselves out of poverty, and to stop the dehumanizing effect fo being perennial recepient of handouts."

On Friday, the Zenawi regime once again said at least 4.9 million Ethiopians were in need of emergency food aid, justifying frequent accusations by many scholars that the regime was deliberately recycling poverty and famine as it was the sole beneficiary of whatever aid pours into the impoverished country.

European MPs clash with EU acts over Ethiopia

WASHINGTON, DC (Jan 30) - Six senior members of the European Parliament (MEPs) said on Wednesday they were worried over the deteriorating human rights conditions in Ethiopia but their concern was erased by EU pumping $322 million into the coffers of one of the most corrupt regimes in Africa.

"We are deeply concerned by the re-arrest of Ms. Birtukan Mideksa, leader of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party," the MEPs said in a joint statement, one day before the EU hugged the Meles Zenawi regime with the generous multi-million-dollar aid.

The lawmakers reiterated a January 15 European Parliament resolution which calls for the immediate release of the 34-year-old Birtukan Mideksa, a former judge which Ethiopians consider as a glitter of hope in the ethnically-fragmented country.

Birtukan, who was released from nearly two years of imprisonment in 2007 on grounds of amnesty initiated by traditional mediation of elders, was re-arrested on December 29 on what observers say the measure was politically motivated.

The MEPs also said they regretted that the parliament had enacted a law which in "practice will outlaw the work of NGOs," and criminalizes the activities of even human rights organizations.

The lawmakers who addressed their letter to the European Commission are Josep Borrell Fontelles, Michael Gahler, Glenys Kinnock, Helene Flautre, Ana Gomes and Luisa Morgantini, officials heading various EP committees such as human rights, foreign relations and development.

Human rights conditions remain dismal in Ethiopia, but the deterioration of political freedoms coupled with government corruption haven't deterred the EU and other lending institutions like IMF and the World Bank from releasing funds to Addis.

Recently the World Bank launched a $150 million development project in Ethiopia. Commenting on this act, the critically-acclaimed blogger Dagmawi asked:

"Why is the World Bank providing 'enormous resources' to gov't agencies that have been politicized and degraded by the TPLF [regime] instead of directly to the NGOs? The TPLF/EPRDF created a sham 'autonomous' agency in order to comply with requirements to get foreign aid. Once it got the money it used it in its own way and within its own cadre system, ignoring the local NGOs. The NGOs are, of course, defined by Meles Zenawi as enemies of the TPLF. So why on earth would one expect the TPLF to cooperate with them?"


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