Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In Ethiopia, opposition is treason

Earlier in the year, the Ethiopian government held a fixed election in which they naturally won a clear majority. This led to an opposition boycott of Parliament, and eventually to violent public protests in which 46 people were killed. Now, the Ethiopian government has charged 131 opposition leaders, journalists and aid workers with treason, conspiracy and genocide for their role in the protests.

This would be funny, if it wasn't so serious. Genocide? Why not just charge them with "bigmay, sodomy, and fnord" and be done with it? But the charge carries the death penalty, as does treason, and the laying of such ridiculous charges clearly shows that the government doesn't give a damn about truth or credibility. Instead, they simply want their political opponents out of the way - permanantly.

It is one thing to prosecute people for incitement to riot. It is quite another to equate opposition to the government with treason and seek to punish politicians for contesting an election and demanding that democracy be upheld. Ethiopia deserves to become a pariah for this. Unfortunately, I don't see too many countries speaking up about it.