By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
The EU Parliament draft resolution discussed in Wednesday’s article on this blog – EU PARLIAMENT: Draft joint motion for resolution condemns TPLF’s massacre of Oromos & human rights violations in Ethiopia; draft to be taken up Thursday – has been adopted by the majority of the EU parliament members.
Not only that this is the strongest ever resolution to be adopted by EU’s major legislative body regarding the human rights situation in Ethiopia. But also it is supported by the majority of members, already co-sponsored by 149 representatives, and a large number out of its 751 members approving it.
In terms of language, it “strongly condemns the recent use of violence by the security forces and the increased number of cases of human rights violations in Ethiopia.”
Too many deaths & Parliament’s 2005 response
If one reads side by side today’s landmark resolution (same text as yester day, see above link) with the one adopted by the same body in December 2005, following the killings of hundreds of Ethiopians who were demanding respect for their votes in the wake of the 2005 election by Agazi forces, that language pales in comparison.
Suffice to remind readers by bringing hereunder the first three power operative paragraphs of the 2005 resolution to enable them see the present resolution’s potency. Also the 2005 resolution did not have as much support as today’s, one reason why the language was weak and probably diluted due to the burden some members felt where the country would be headed after that carnage, as can be seen here from the language used:
“1. Condamne les violences et l’usage de moyens de répression disproportionnés par les forces armées ainsi que les arrestations massives [TEO’s translation: Condemns the violence, the repressive means employed and the disproportionate use of force, including the mass arrests],
2. Calls on the Ethiopian government for an immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners including elected members of Parliament, party leaders, journalists, human rights defenders, youths and NGO workers,
3. Opposes the possible charge of treason against the detainees including Hailu Shawel, president of the CUD, Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, former chair of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO), Dr. Yacob Hailemariam, former UN Special envoy and former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Ms Birtukan Mideksa, former judge and Dr. Birhanu Nega elected Mayor of Addis Abeba.”
None of the 17 operative paragraphs of the 2005 resolution made any reference to the EU aid not being used anymore to the violation of the human rights of the Ethiopian people.
At the time, however, it called [OP 9] on the Commission to take “targeted sanctions against members of the Ethiopian government if the current situation is not significantly improved.” There is also a call [OP 10] on the Commission and the Council to take a coordinated stance in line with article 96 of the Cotonou agreement. This article of the agreement refers to need for establishing consultation procedure and appropriate measures as regards human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. Both these proved ineffectual, since they were half-hearted and inoperative.
EU Parliament responds vigorously
This time, however, the condemnation includes the phrase “strongly condemns the recent use of excessive force by the security forces in Oromia and in all Ethiopian regions…” (emphasis added). Note that it is not only in reference to the Oromia case alone, where mass protest has proved forceful since November 2015. But it also condemns the violation of human rights throughout Ethiopia!
More importantly, the resolution is also forward looking; it expects outcome through an inquiry committee regarding the innocent blood the TPLF shed with impunity.
In that regard, today’s resolution “calls for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the killings of at least 140 protesters and into other alleged human rights violations in connection with the protest movement after the May 2015 federal elections in the country.”
This at any time could become prompter for any EU nation or individual to request United Nations Special Rapporteur or similar mechanism, in the light of the horrendous actions of the TPLF regime!
Furthermore, the resolution also addresses itself to impressing on the TPLF authorities “to stop suppressing the free flow of information, to guarantee the rights of local civil society and media and to facilitate access throughout Ethiopia for independent journalists and human rights monitors.”
Among others, the resolution further reminds the Addis Abeba regime and the Council and other executive bodies within the European Union that “the EU, as the single largest donor, should ensure that EU development assistance is not contributing to human rights violations in Ethiopia.”
The above paragraph is very important for follow up by the Council and non-governmental organizations, many of whose supporters were on board in this resolution.
Given the huge support the resolution has received, the EU would make sure that the direction issued by this resolution is pursued and operationalized by the relevant EU offices, especially should the TPLF revert to its business as usual behaviour regarding violation of fundamental human and civil rights of the Ethiopian people or the use of state violence.
Summing it up
Finally, let me say with this in hand, Ethiopians must realize that this is not something to toast each other. Let us take it as an indication that, like the Ethiopian people, the international community is also signalling to the TPLF regime that it would not spurn its reputation with this ethnic minority regime anymore, which lacks an iota of human decency.
The above, especially the bad behavior of the TPLF often reminds me of what the UK government in the context of the Ethiopia-UK Country Cooperation Programme for 2011-2015, wanting to engage the regime in political fields what it realized shocked it and quitely inserted in the country program:
The Ethiopian government’s “approach to political governance presents both substantive challenges to sustainable development and reputational risks to partners.”
This is the stage the EU parliament has reached now in its relations with Ethiopia, in particular after cobbling numerous resolutions on the human rights situation in the country, often reminding Ethiopia that it had voluntarily undertaken to commit itself and improve its behavior in concert with the Cotonou Partnership Agreement of June 23, 2000 with the European Union.
All resolutions passed on the human rights situation in Ethiopia make reference to that agreement – but not this time. Recall that this is another aspect of the EU position, which in early 2015 told the TPLF regime it would not send observer mission to the May 2015 election. EXPLANATION: What is the point of observation when the TPLF regime at will and repeatedly chose to ignore!
As far as the future of our country is concerned, its salvation lies not in the hands of the European Union. Ethiopians would successfully ensure respect for their human dignity, their freedoms as human beings, equality as citizens, sanctity of their homes, farms and businesses by the degree they commit to take to heart and scrupulously the serious lesson to be had from the peaceful resistance by young Oromo university and high school students.
That must become the model for the continuing struggle in unison and as one people for our individual and collective rights as Ethiopians.
Better day for Ethiopia and its citizens!
*Updated to include video of the debate in EU Parliament and other links
Human Rights? Read this:
Ethiopians continue to bolt out of their country. The world does not want to ask what pushes these people in every direction, including to death trap such as Yemen – the sea & the war over there…!