Published 02 07 2012 Marielle Leraand
Ethiopia is a military dictatorship that persecutes and kills dissidents. People "disappear", imprisoned without trial and tortured in prisons. But Norwegian authorities close their eyes shut.
Former International Development Erik Solheim stressed the great economic progress Ethiopia has seen in recent years.
Yes, Erik Solheim, it is actually possible for a country to achieve economic growth of 11% a year without democracy. It is possible to see a thriving business, innovation and balance the state budget, while prisons and torture.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International has documented abuses against dissidents increases, and several of those Norwegian immigration authorities have cleared to return, the lists of the Ethiopian intelligence service. Despite these reports of gross violations of human rights and persecution of dissidents, it is unlikely to trouble the Norwegian government to break out of the West "block" and recognize that etparti State Ethiopia is not a leader.
The country's dictator, Meles Zenawi, is just a dictator. Although the Western countries, including the Norwegian coalition government, is allied with this dictator, he is no less dictator of that. Hypocrisy is of course perfectly when we also know that the neighboring country, Eritrea, is regarded as a dictatorship. Any contact with the regime is seen as totally reprehensible. But Eritrea's dictator is a worse dictator than the dictator of Ethiopia?
The answer to this question is no. The difference between them is that one dictator is a friend of the West and Norway, while the other is not.
In this connection I would like to challenge the new certified development minister, Heikki Holmås: Have you the courage to change the Norwegian line vis a vis the Ethiopian government?
I would like to challenge you and your coalition friends on three points:
First, the Norwegian authorities have signed a return agreement with the Ethiopian government to ensure that Ethiopia gets a hold of several dissidents living in exile in Norway. Cancel this return the agreement and carry out a new assessment of the cases of those who are set on the return list, where the protection needs of the opposition is taken seriously.
And why not also put pressure on the country to get it to change terrorism laws since 2009 that they use to pursue every soul who organize themselves into something other than the ruling party?
Second: Require that foreign observers access to detention institutions in the country.
Third, the Norwegian aid to Ethiopia used to encourage the serious human rights violations that regime stands for. We have stepped up aid significantly while the regime has increased its attacks against its own population. This sends a signal that Norway, at best, apart from, and at worst, premieres persecution. Norway should stop all aid to the country until conditions are improved for people who are in opposition.
And finally I want to emphasize this: A dictator is a dictator is a dictator. And Norway and the West has many friends among them. Perhaps our new Development will be so honest that he admit that?
And the next time he accepts one of these our friends, it may be a loud and honest: "Welcome Dictator!"