Published On: Wed, Nov 9th, 2016

Is A Solution To Stay On Power By Hurting Innocent People ?

Relatives of Ethiopian-Australians arrested in Retaliation for Protest

On June 12, members of Australia’s Ethiopian community protested against the visit of an Ethiopian regional government delegation to Australia. Shortly thereafter, protesters originally from Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State received information that their relatives back in Ethiopia had been arrested due to their involvement in the protest. Ethiopian Somali protesters were particularly angry at the visit of Abdi Mohamoud Omar, commonly known as Abdi Iley, the president of Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State (SRS) who has been implicated in serious human rights abuses. Worryingly, his visa application did not raise any serious concerns from Australian government officials. The Australian government should ensure that relatives of Ethiopian Australians arrested in Ethiopia following a June protest in Melbourne are released immediately.

Transcript

Shukri
Former Somali Regional State Judge

I was a judge in the supreme court of the region [Somali Regional State, Ethiopia]. Abdi Iley and the military personnel, they arrested me and they tortured me. Abdi Iley came into the room. He was saying, “You’re not doing enough. You’re not hitting enough.” And taking… that stick and hitting me and hitting again and again until I became unconscious.

Elaine Pearson
Australia Director

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
For years, Abdi Iley has led a campaign of violence and repression in the eastern Ethiopian region of the Somali regional state. Back in 2008, when Abdi Iley was head of security, Ethiopian security forces were involved in crimes against humanity, torture, rape and killings. Instead of being demoted for such crimes, Abdi Iley became the president of the region.
In June 2016 Abdi Iley visited Australia. He was received by senior government officials in Canberra. But Australian citizens from Ethiopia some of whom have been personally tortured by Abdi Iley and his regime organized protests against him.

ANONYMOUS 1
The reason we were protesting was because we were trying to show solidarity to our people back home. We want to be the voice for them, since they have no voice, since they can not speak against the government because they’re scared or they’ll be killed.

Elaine Pearson
Australia Director
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

This is the site in Melbourne where the protests occurred. There were numerous pro-government supporters who were taunting the protests, taking their photographs.

ANONYMOUS 2
And after that they know our face. They know my name. They know my family. Everything they know then.

ANONYMOUS 1
They were telling us they were going to arrest our people back home if we don’t stop protesting. They say, “You’ll see what’s going to happen to you. Your family’s going to be arrested.”

Elaine Pearson
Australia Director
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

The result was immediate

ANONYMOUS 1
I found out the next day. All our family got arrested over there. All our family got arrested over there. Family friends call us and say, “All your family, they got locked up.” “Why do you guys protest against Abdi Iley in Ethiopia?”  “You shouldn’t do.”

Elaine Pearson
Australia Director
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

According to our research at least 30 people, all relatives of Ethiopians-Australians protesters have been detained and only a small number have been released.

ANONYMOUS 1
They took them. Nobody knows where they are. They don’t know whether they are dead or alive. Nobody knows.

Elaine Pearson
Australia Director
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

It’s horrifying that Australians citizens are now too afraid to participate in protests in Australia. They are too afraid to speak out about what is happening in Ethiopia because they are terrified that their relatives may be rounded up or in worst cases even killed.
The Australian government needs to pressure the Ethiopian government to release these relatives of Australian citizens immediately. Second, Australia should not be granted visas to individualizes implicated in serious crimes. The relatives of Australian citizens are paying a heavy price because of his visit.

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Is A Solution To Stay On Power By Hurting Innocent People ?