return agreement with Ethiopia
Freedom of expression, not forcibly return for Ethiopian regime's critics in exile
Norwegian PEN is concerned about the possible consequences of Norway, the only country in Europe, has agreed to forcibly returned to Ethiopia. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has for 20 years controlled its own population through extensive use of surveillance, arbitrary arrests, prolonged detention, torture and violations of basic human rights.
EPRDF leader Meles party coalition controls 545 of 547 seats in parliament. Human Rights Watch concluded after the election in May 2010 with the Ethiopian government was behind the "coordinated and sustained attack" on political opposition and journalists and that this had created a "climate of fear" throughout the campaign.
There is currently no real independent, critical media regime in Ethiopia. For years, Ethiopia has been the countries in Africa that most journalists have fled. No Ethiopian media confronts Zenawi with his propaganda on national economic growth, while 40 percent of the population still live in extreme poverty. UN Ethiopia ranks among the states in the world located at the lowest indices for life expectancy, education and standard of living. Mr. Zenawi's regime, China's economic growth model as a model and rejecting a model of society based on liberal democratic principles. Since 30-40 percent of government budgets are covered by international assistance, the conditions for a much stronger international pressure on Zenawi and his regime than we see today.
Recently, two journalists from Sweden, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for espionage and terrorism in favor of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). The Swedes had taken illegally in Ethiopia to report on the human rights situation and Lundin Petroleum's interests in the area.
Ethiopians to the rejection of their asylum applications have been given until 15 March to return voluntarily. The deadline is set just weeks before the long-announced White Paper on what solutions the government is too long remained undocumented children. Among these there are a large group of Ethiopian children. Norwegian PEN regret that Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and the coalition government believes it is important to be forcibly returned some 400 asylum seekers than to put pressure on the Ethiopian government for democratic reforms and to ensure long current Ethiopian children in Norway a secure future.
Norwegian PEN is concerned about the Ethiopians not legally resident who has been critical regime activity from Norway. Several of them have rejected their applications for asylum which neither takes into account the critical activity during the later has been responsible for the exile, or the last few years intensified the harassment and oppression centrally and locally by the Ethiopian regime's critics, journalists, liberation groups and human rights activists. Many asylum seekers arriving in Norway after being tortured and abused, raped and otherwise persecuted in their homeland. Either because they were politically active, or because family members were politically active. Now they stand in danger of being forced to return to the same authorities.
Norwegian PEN therefore urge the government to:
1. submit a white paper on displaced children before 15 March
2. provide signals for a new treatment of the cases referred to asylum seekers who have been critical of regime activities after final rejection.
3. open for humanitarian stay for the longest time remaining Ethiopian paperless.
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