Human rights: H. Hichilema in Zambia, Dr Gudina in Ethiopia, South Sudan
The European Parliament expresses concern about arrests of opposition leaders in Zambia and Ethiopia and calls for an end to the war in South Sudan, in three resolutions voted on Thursday.
- Fair trial needed for opposition leader Hichilema in Zambia
- Ethiopian authorities should release Dr Merera Gudina
- EU should step up humanitarian aid in South Sudan
Zambia: MEPs worried by arrest of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema
Parliament expresses concern at the arrest of opposition party leader Hakainde Hichilema, which is considered to be politically motivated by the opposition and has caused a wave of protests in Zambia. Mr Hichilema was arrested in April after allegedly blocking President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade and charged with treason, an offense punishable with a maximum sentence of death penalty.
The Hichilema case is taking place in a context of increased political tension and acts of repression against the political opposition following the August 2016 elections, MEPs note. They insist on the need to apply the law fairly and in a fair justice process and further urge the Zambian government to guarantee full media freedom and take measures to prevent political violence.
Ethiopia: Parliament calls for release of Dr Merera Gudina
MEPs call for the immediate release on bail and dropping of all charges against Dr Merera Gudina, the Chairman of the Ethiopian Oromo Federalist Congress opposition party. He was arrested upon his return from a visit to the European Parliament on 9 November 2016, where he joined a panel with other opposition leaders and was thereafter accused of, inter alia, ‘creating pressure against the government’ and ‘threatening society through the means of violence’.
Parliament further reiterates its call for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the killings of hundreds of protesters in 2015 and into human rights abuses against members of the Oromo community and other ethnic groups perceived to be in opposition to the government.
MEPs urge the Ethiopian government to refrain from “using anti-terrorism legislation to supress legitimate peaceful protest” and to lift restrictions on free expression and association.
South Sudan: MEPs call for ceasefire and for more humanitarian aid
Parliament calls for a ceasefire in the civil war in South Sudan, which broke out in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused former vice-president Riek Machar of plotting a coup d’état, and has caused famine and forced over 3,6 million people to flee their homes. The resolution states a “total disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law and a lack of accountability for violations” in the conflict. It condemns the use of rape as a weapon of war, the recruitment of children by all parties and attacks against humanitarian aid workers.
The UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) should be strengthened with European capacities and the EEAS should launch a new political process towards full implementation of a 2015 peace agreement, urge MEPs. They also ask the EU and its Member States to increase humanitarian aid and assist in providing basic education and long-term rehabilitation.
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