Embarrassed by what it has called 'disproportionate' use of force by Ethiopian police, Britain is withholding some £20 million in aid. While the British ambassador declined to be interviewed Clark, himself a Briton, was unusually frank.
The EU has aid projects in Ethiopia that are worth more than €1 billion and Clark warned that those projects were under review subject to the government's response. Clark said: "We've been hearing from Dedesa camp about atrocities taking place. It's extremely worrying. We have not witnessed anything like this in Ethiopia before.'
Secondly, the brutality of the government led by Meles Zenawi is increasingly laid bare for all to see.
Five months after Ethiopia descended into political chaos following a dispute over the country's first democratic elections, details are emerging that give a disturbing glimpse into the scale of human rights abuses taking place. One man who had endured 19 days of almost constant beatings at the hands of Ethiopia's security forces is Dereje. 'The federal police beat us with batons and big sticks,' he said. 'A man was shot in his leg, but he got no medication. People lost their eyes and had their feet smashed. Many people were suffering there.'
He was referring to Dedesa camp, a former military base, in the far west of Ethiopia, where thousands of detainees have been dumped in recent weeks as part of a massive and unprecedented crackdown by Ethiopian security forces. Few are prepared to talk but Dereje agreed to do so. He was picked up by federal police in Addis Ababa in early November, but is not sure why, as he has no links to any political party or protests. He was stuffed inside a truck with 150 other men and wedged under a pile of mattresses. Three men suffocated to death on the way to the camp.
Once there, he says, several men, weakened by hunger and malaria, were beaten mercilessly by the guards even as they urinated. He says he knew of at least 30 who died, their bodies taken away to an unknown location for burial. He discovered from overhearing conversations between two police guards that there were at least 43,000 detainees in the camp.
This is also a result of the organized protests and appeals of Ethiopians all around the world. But we have a long way to go. Now, we hear that there are other such camps where citizens, whose only crime is to support the opposition to EPRDF, are being held. So, we need to continue to inform donor governments, organizations and people of goodwill about the true nature of and the plight of those unjustly imprisoned and have lost their lives at the hands of this government.
I am encouraged by the letter I received from one of my senators in the United States Senate in response to an email I sent him in early November. I intend to send a follow up letter with updated information. It is possible to make headway in winning others to our side because the truth is on our side. I have copied the email from my senator in hope of encouraging others to write their elected representatives regarding the current situtation in Ethiopia. If you do write, please do write factual and courteous letters or emails pointing out the fact that the interests of the United States in the war on terror is best served by a democratic government in Ethiopia and urging them to stand with the Ethiopian people in their struggle for democracy. Be persistent.
Just in case anyone doubts that we have a long and hard struggle ahead of us, this is what the shameless Prime Minister has to say in The Observer article cited above.
Thank you for contacting me regarding U.S. foreign policy toward Ethiopia. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this matter.
Since 1991, the U.S. has provided more than $3 billion in aid to Ethiopia. Among other things, these funds have supported programs aimed at reducing the transmission of HIV/AIDS, combating hunger, reducing poverty, and encouraging economic and social reforms. The U.S. has also provided funds for training the Ethiopian military in areas such as the laws of war and observance of human rights.
As the horrific events of September 11th and the continuing terrorist activities worldwide have illustrated, our domestic security is related to the economic and political stability of other nations. U.S. foreign aid is critical to helping Ethiopia ensure a better future for its citizens.
I am concerned by any reports of human rights abuses by the Ethiopian government. Human rights violations not only harm the citizens they are perpetrated against, they also threaten the development of democratic societies. To prevent these types of abuses, we must encourage compliance with international standards on human rights and consider Ethiopia's record on human rights in our diplomatic relationships and in determining future levels of foreign and military aid.
Thank you again for contacting me. I will continue to monitor the situation in Ethiopia, and I will keep your thoughts in mind as these issues come before the Senate.
'I've always been convinced that democratisation in Ethiopia is not only a matter of choice but of survival. We shall persist with our democratic reforms, no matter the challenges we will face along the way.'
It is not hard to guess whose survival the PM is talking about. He believes his way to democratization is the only way. So, the meaning should be clear to all when he says he shall persist with his democratic reforms. The more the pressure against his rule, the greater his brutality becomes. He will do anything to keep himself in power as he has done in the past.
We don't care about the survival of the PM or his party. We care about the freedom of our people. We don't want a democracy that revolves around one person or party (a.k.a. revolutionary democracy) but rather a democracy that revolves around and respects the voice of the people.
No weapon will defeat a people determined to be free!
We shall overcome!