The following is a report presented by Mr. Garoma B. Wakessa, Executive Director of the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA), at the 26th Session of United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Palais des Nations, on June 19, 2014.
Ethiopia: Gross Violations of Human Rights and an Intractable Conflict
Introduction: It is common in democratic countries around the world for people to express their grievances/ dissatisfaction and complaints against their governments by peaceful demonstrations and assemblies. When such nonviolent civil rallies take place, it should always be the state’s responsibility to respect and guard their citizens’ freedom to peacefully assemble and demonstrate. These responsibilities should apply even during times of political protests, when a state’s own power is questioned, challenged, or perhaps undermined by assemblies of citizens practicing in nonviolent resistance. If a government responds to peaceful protests improperly, a peaceful protest might lead to a violent protest- that could then become an intractable conflict. Government agents, most of all the police, must respect the local and international standards of democratic rights of the citizens during peaceful assemblies or demonstrations.