Daniel Bekele

Re: Daniel Bekele

To: PM Meles Zenawi, Minister of Justice Harka Haroye & Ambassador Fisseha Yimer

From: Charles B. Davison

Date: 2005-10-26

I am writing to you at this time concerning the situation of Mr. Daniel Bekele, who is the Policy, Research and Advocacy Manager of Actionaid Ethiopia. I am a member of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, which is a committee of Canadian lawyers dedicated to promoting and protecting the rule of law, and the security of human rights defenders around the world. A key component of LRWC’s work is promoting the implementation and enforcement of human rights by protecting those human rights advocates who defend them.

We understand that on October 16, 2005 at approximately 8:00 p.m. Mr. Bekele was attacked by two unknown armed men. He had just dropped a friend and was starting his car, when the two unknown men stopped him and opened his door at gunpoint. As they struck him with the weapon they said things like “who are you to criticize the EPRDF?”. After a number of blows were struck Mr. Bekele was able to use the horn of his car to call for help and the men ran away. Mr. Bekele lodged a complaint at the closest police station and Actionaid Ethiopia has complained to the Federal Police Commission, but to date it appears that no investigation has been commenced.

It would appear that before the attack, Mr. Bekele had publicly expressed his opinion that irregularities occurred during the May 15, 2005 elections.

We are extremely concerned that this attack upon a public critic of your government has not been addressed, properly or at all, by the police and other authorities in your country. We call for you to ensure the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Bekele and all other human rights defenders in Ethiopia, and that all forms of harassment and efforts to intimidate him and any others, are ended. We call for an independent and impartial investigation of the assault upon Mr. Bekele. Those persons found to be responsible should be brought to justice and dealt with in a fashion which is appropriate where a violent, illegal attack upon a human rights defender has occurred. Finally, we call for your government to conform to the protections and provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the United Nations on December 9, 1998, as well as all other international agreements and conventions upon the protection of human rights.