Rights group accuses Ethiopian government of crackdown on opposition supporters

The Associated Press
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: Human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Ethiopian government of a new crackdown against opposition supporters.
Amnesty issued a statement late Friday saying that more than 40 opposition supporters had been seized in mass arrests by Ethiopian police and that those held may have been tortured. Senior Ethiopian government officials said the report was baseless.
"This is a fictitious report and basically it is doesn't reflect the situation in Ethiopia," said Bereket Simon, the special adviser to the prime minister.
The rights group said many of those detained have been held incommunicado since mid-December without charge, and that one was believed to be a U.S. citizen.
A police spokesman said the detainees were being held not because they were opposition supporters but because they tried to overthrow the government by force.

"After the investigation is finalized, their case will be sent a prosecutor and he will file a case against them in court," police spokesman Cmd. Demsash Hailu said.
The detainees are said to be supporters of the opposition group, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, who in May 2005 won unprecedented support in elections. They were defeated at the polls but accused the ruling party of rigging the vote. EU observers said the polls were marred by irregularities.
More than 100 opposition leaders, journalists and aid workers are currently on trial accused of treason and attempted genocide after protests over the vote. Security forces killed 187 demonstrators during the protests. Most were shot dead.
Six policemen were also killed.
In January 2006, Britain withheld US$87 million (€68 million) in aid because of concerns about the central government's handling of the unrest. The money is to be redirected through humanitarian agencies or local officials.

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at8:42 PM


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