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Ethiopia protest against human rights crackdown

Rainbow Ethiopia logo
Rainbow Ethiopia logo

Ethiopia is trying to silence human rights groups there, including LGBT rights supporters, says the gay rights group Rainbow-Ethiopia In Exile.

The group states:

The restrictive Charities and Societies Proclamation, adopted in 2009, continues to threaten/effectively silence Ethiopia’s LGBT and other human rights advocates and severely hamper basic human rights monitoring and reporting activities.

Two former leading rights organizations, the Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association (EWLA) and the Human Rights Council (HRCO, formerly EHRCO), have had to shut down their operations and some of them are exiled to Europe, US and Canada. Their bank accounts, which the government arbitrarily froze in December 2009, remain frozen.

We call upon the international community to object to the implementation of this repressive law and to use all possible measures to persuade Ethiopia before it totally destroys the nascent community of MSM HIV prevention and LGBT human rights defenders in the country.

The Sudan Tribune reported on Feb. 20 that Ethiopian authorities recently banned three civic organizations for violating the 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation law by engaging in “illegal religious activities.” It also reported:

Rights groups argue that the law not only contravenes fundamental human rights guaranteed by international law and Ethiopia’s constitution, but also restricts civil society groups from accomplishing their work as the law has introduced a web of bureaucracy. Breaking the law carries criminal penalties.

Ethiopia, however, says the law will improve the transparency and accountability of civil society organisations and enhances government duties to regulate the activities of both local and foreign NGOs.

Since the law was introduced, dozens of non-governmental organisations have been banned and over 100 civic organisations are under strict warnings, sources told Sudan Tribune.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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