Amnesty International Experts Available to Comment on Death of Ethiopian Prime Minister

August 21, 2012

Amnesty International Experts Available to Comment on Death of Ethiopian Prime Minister

U.S. Must Seize Opportunity to 'Recalibrate' Relationship with Ethiopia

Contact: Alex Edwards, [email protected], 202-675-8761

(Washington, D.C.) -- In response to the death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Amnesty International urges Ethiopia's new leadership and the international community to help usher in an era of greater respect for the rights of all Ethiopians. Adotei Akwei, managing director for government relations at Amnesty International USA and an expert on Africa, issued the following statement in response to the news:

"The 21 years of Meles Zenawi's rule were characterized by ever-increasing repression. Under his direction, Ethiopia stamped out dissenting voices, dismantled the independent media, obstructed human rights organizations and strangled political opposition. Ethiopia's jails are packed to the brim with suspected political opponents -- from urban intellectuals to rural farmers. Torture and other ill-treatment are commonplace. And tens of thousands of Ethiopians have fled the country during his rule."

"Zenawi's successor, along with the Ethiopian government and the international community, must use this opportunity to change the course of the country, ushering in an era of greater respect and accountability. Similarly, the United States must seize this opportunity to recalibrate its relationship with Ethiopia and help to build strong, accountable institutions and respect for the rule of law, lest risk consigning itself to a relationship with yet another "strongman" and depend on the luck of the draw over his longevity."

To speak with Adotei Awkei, please contact the AIUSA media office at 202-509-8188.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.