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UN calls for 'urgent' access and release of detained protesters in Ethiopia

UN calls for 'urgent' access and release of detained protesters in Ethiopia


The United Nations has called for the release of detained anti-government protesters in Ethiopia as well as “urgent” access into the country to assess the situation.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Zeid Raad Al Hussein has requested the Ethiopian government to grant access to international observers in the parts of the country that recorded about 90 deaths during last weekend’s protests, his spokesperson told AFP.

“We urge the government to give access to international observers in the affected areas to establish what really happened,” he said, adding that the High Commissioner is also calling for the “release of all those detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

“The government must ensure that any use of excessive force by security forces is subject to rapid and transparent investigation and that those responsible for these violations of human rights are brought to justice,” he added.

Zeid told Reuters in Geneva that his office had “not seen any genuine attempt at investigation and accountability” since January when the killings of protesters first began.

There were nationwide anti-government protests which were met by violent police reaction. At least seven people were killed during Saturday’s clashes with the police in the Oromia region while dozens were arrested.

Hundreds of chanting protesters in Addis Ababa trying to access the historic Meskel square were beaten up by the police who tried to stop them.

The protesters accuse the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) led government affiliated to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of marginalising the poor largest northern regions of Amhara and Oromia. They also demand the release of arrested activists.