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International affairs, peace
and human security

  • Cuba
  • Korean Peninsula
  • Palestine-Israel
  • Zimbabwe


    WCC 10 November 2005

    If one member suffers, all suffer together… (I Cor. 12:26)

    Dear friends in Christ,

    Ethiopia is presently facing a major political upheaval following the contested election of 15 May 2005. Following his recent visit to Ethiopia, Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, has sent several letters to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia after the killings of innocent people of 8 June 2005. He also sent a letter to the Prime Minister following the recent killings and the detention of the political leaders of one of the opposition parties. The letter is attached for your information.

    The ruling party, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Front, has a major responsibility to stop the current political violence. For this to happen, all individuals concerned, civil society groups, international organizations, the United Nations, the African Union, European and North American governments must use their diplomatic influence on the Ethiopian government.

    In this regard, the position taken by the European Union and the US Ambassadors in Ethiopia is very encouraging. Their suggestions to resolve the current political crisis are as follows:

    • the immediate end to the use of lethal force, random searches and indiscriminate beatings and massive arrests;
    • the release of all political detainees;
    • the speedy review and – where appropriate – release of individuals detained in the recent demonstrations;
    • the immediate lifting of any restrictions currently imposed on those Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party leaders and members not detained;
    • the immediate access by families, legal counsel and the International Red Cross and/or other appropriate representative of the international community, to jailed Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party, civil society and media leaders, as well as provision of medicines, food and other humanitarian needs;
    • the notification to families of names and whereabouts of detainees together with appropriate access and provision of humanitarian needs;
    • an independent investigation of the deaths and injuries arising from recent events and the events in June;
    • the review and revision of parliamentary rules and practices to ensure that all parties represented in parliament can participate on a fair and representative basis;
    • the re-opening of the private media and promotion of a code of conduct for the media to ensure a balanced and responsible flow of information to the public;
    • the appointment of a National Election Board in consultation with the parliamentary opposition.

    As regards the opposition, and without prejudice to their constitutional rights, we call upon them at this very sensitive time, to disassociate themselves from and to discourage all actions that could directly or indirectly incite violence, harm individuals or lead to the destruction of public and private property.

    In a spirit of promoting reconciliation, the European Union and US Ambassadors have urged the re-opening of political dialogue designed to foster peace and to strengthen democracy based on a commitment to the rule of law and democratic principles.

    The World Council of Churches has two Member Churches in Ethiopia – the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church.

    Ethiopia never had the privilege of enjoying smooth and peaceful transfer of power from one leader to another, neither in the earlier days nor in recent times. Crisis if handled honestly brings challenges and opportunities. Ethiopia must be helped to turn these challenges, however difficult they may be, into opportunities for the future generations to come.

    A call for action

    We urge you to take the following actions:

    Request your government to write to the His Excellency, Mr. Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, urging him to:

    • fully implement the proposals of the EU and US Ambassadors;
    • initiate an open and honest dialogue with the opposition parties present in and outside Ethiopia;
    • organize an inclusive national reconciliation dialogue to bring a just and lasting peace for the country.

    Write a separate letter to the His Holiness Abune Paulos, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and Rev. Iteffa Gobena, the President of the Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church, expressing concern and solidarity in this hour of crisis.

    Please address the letters to:

    His Excellency Mr. Meles Zenawi
    Prime Minister of Ethiopia
    P.O. Box 1268
    Addis Ababa

    His Holiness Abune Paulos
    Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
    P.O. Box 1283
    Addis Ababa

    Rev. Iteffa Gobena
    Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church
    P.O. Box 2087
    Addis Ababa

    Kindly share with us the actions you are taking.

    Sincerely yours,

    Peter Weiderud
    Commission of the Churches on International Affairs