EU Subcommittee Chair Calls for Independent Investigation Into Irreecha Massacre

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Irreecha massacre
The Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), Elena Valenciano, calls for an independent investigation into the death of protesters in Bishoftu at Irreecha festival.

By European Parliament,

Extremely concerned about the death of protesters in Ethiopia, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), Elena Valenciano (S&D, ES), made the following statement calling for an independent investigation:

“On 2 October at least 50 people died after police in Ethiopia fired teargas and warning shots to disperse anti-government protesters at the religious Irreecha festival in Bishoftu, triggering a stampede. Opposition groups have even estimated the deaths at 600 or more.

I deplore the deaths of these civilians and stand together with Ethiopia and all Ethiopians in mourning the victims.

Since the end of 2015 excessive use of force against protesters has been used time and time again. Before this week’s tragic events, just a short while ago, in August 2016 around 400 protesters were killed by security forces.

The European Parliament adopted an urgency resolution on the violent crackdown on protesters in January 2016, calling on the Ethiopian government to respect the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and association.

I reiterate the Parliament’s demands and also the call of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights for access for independent observers to the country to assess the human rights situation.

Moreover, I invite the Ethiopian government to allow an independent investigation to examine what happened on Sunday in Bishoftu and whether unlawful government crowd control measures triggered the stampede.

The repeated government clampdown on peaceful protesters has led to rising tensions in several Ethiopian regions including Addis Ababa, and the situation in the country risks becoming even more inflamed.

In order to avoid further escalations of violence, security officers guilty of abuse of power must be held to account.”

The European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) will hold an exchange of views on the human rights situation in Ethiopia at its next meeting on 12 October 2016.