Da Mail & Guardian del 19/10/2006
Originale su http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=287098

Ethiopian government blocks report of massacre

An official inquiry into the killing of 193 unarmed protesters during the Ethiopian election has found that the victims were shot, beaten and strangled to death in a "massacre" by the security forces.

But the government is trying to suppress the report on the killings, according to a senior member of the inquiry team. Scores of teenagers were among the dead. Wolde-Michael Meshesha, an Ethiopian judge and the vice-chairperson of the inquiry, said the assault by security forces on demonstrators during two waves of protests about the 2005 election had been indiscriminate.

"This was a massacre. These demonstrators were unarmed yet the majority died from shots to the head ... There is no doubt that excessive force was used."

The judge's assertions and a leaked copy of the report will add to pressure on Meles Zenawi's government, which has been accused of increasingly authoritarian tendencies and rigging the election. Britain cut aid to Ethiopia this year because of concern about Addis Ababa's handling of the killings.

Wolde-Michael fled Ethiopia last month after receiving death threats. He was claiming asylum in Europe and would not disclose his whereabouts out of fear for his safety, the Associated Press said.

A draft of the inquiry's report obtained by the Associated Press (AP) says that among those killed were 40 teenagers, including a boy and a girl, both 14, who were shot. Six policemen were also killed. Ethiopian officials have accused demonstrators of trying to overthrow the government.

The draft report was to have been presented to Parliament in July but two days earlier Meles demanded that the inquiry team reverse its findings. When the team refused, the report was suppressed. After hearing the evidence from the prime minister, police officers, witnesses and government officials, eight members of the 10-person team agreed that excessive force had been used.

In a video of the vote and comments of team members obtained by AP, the inquiry's chairperson and supreme court judge Frehiwot Samuel, who is also believed to have fled Ethiopia, said "many people were killed arbitrarily."

"Old men were killed while in their homes, and children were also victims of the attack while playing in the garden."

An Ethiopian Orthodox priest, Estatiose Gebrekristos, said in the video: "Based on my eyes, ears and knowledge, the actions taken were 100% wrong."

But two of the inquiry's members said the government responded had appropriately. "I consider the motives of the protesters was to overthrow the government," said Elias Redman, vice-president of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Council. "I therefore fully support the action taken by the police."

Ana Gomes, the European Union's chief observer during the May 2005 election, said the report "exposes the lie" that the government was moving towards democracy. "It is time the EU and US realise that the current regime in Ethiopia is repressing the people because it lacks democratic legitimacy and is actually weak," she said. "It is driving Ethiopia to more poverty, conflict and war."

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