UN calls for probe into Ethiopia protesters killings

 

Ninety deaths in Oromia and Amhara regions must be investigated by international observers, UN human rights chief says.
But Ethiopia says UN Observers not needed (See 2nd headline story below)

By Reuters
August 11, 2016
The UN human rights chief has urged Ethiopia to allow international observers to investigate the killings of 90 protesters in restive regions at the weekend.

Zeid Raad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Wednesday that allegations of excessive use of force across the Oromia and Amhara regions must be probed and that his office was in discussions with Ethiopian authorities.

“The use of live ammunition against protesters in Oromia and Amhara of course would be a very serious concern for us,” Zeid told the Reuters news agency in an interview in Geneva.

He also said that his office had “not seen any genuine attempt at investigation and accountability” since January when the killings of protesters first began.

Unrest continued in Oromia for several months until early this year over plans to allocate farmland surrounding the regional capital for development.

Authorities in the Horn of Africa state scrapped the scheme in January, but protests flared again over the continued detention of opposition demonstrators.

In the weekend, protesters chanted anti-government slogans and waved dissident flags.

Some demanded the release of jailed opposition politicians. Information on the reported killings has been difficult to obtain, Zeid said.

He added that any detainee, who had been peacefully protesting, should be released promptly.

The state-run Ethiopian News Agency said on Monday that “illegal protests” by “anti-peace forces” had been brought under control. It did not mention casualties.

Ethiopia says UN observers not needed as protests rage

Addis Ababa – Ethopia has dismissed a plea from the United Nations that it allow international observers to investigate the killing of protesters by security forces during a recent bout of anti-government demonstrations.

Getachew Reda, a government spokesman, told Al Jazeera on Thursday that the UN was entitled to its opinion but the government of Ethiopia was responsible for the safety of its own people.

Reda’s comments came after the UN urged the government to allow observers to investigate the killings of at least 90 protesters in the Oromia and Amhara regions over the weekend.

Zeid Raad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said allegations of excessive use of force must should be investigated and that his office was in discussions with Ethiopian authorities.

Reda, however, told Al Jazeera that it was not necessary to send observers to specific parts of the country since the UN already had a massive presence in Ethiopia.

He said the government would launch its own investigation into whether security forces had used excessive force and would do so in consultation with local people.

He blamed what he called “terrorist elements” for stoking the violence from abroad, without giving further detail.

At the weekend, an opposition leader told the AFP news agency that up to 50 people were killed as security forces suppressed the protests. Amnesty International put the death toll at 97.

Oromia, an area which surrounds the capital Addis Ababa, has seen several months of protests, sparked by plans to allocate farmland in the region for development.

Authorities scrapped the land scheme in January, but protests have flared again over the continued detention of opposition demonstrators.