Ethiopia. At the beginning of the year, Human Rights
Watch (HRW) reported increasing repression against
independent media in Ethiopia. HRW talked about a systematic
attempt to silence critical votes ahead of the May
elections. Journalists and even their families were exposed
to threats and harassment. According to the report, many
journalists and bloggers in recent years have been
prosecuted and imprisoned with the help of anti-terrorism
legislation. Many have fled the country, and independent
newspapers have been closed. The regime rejected the
report's details and claimed that the arrested had committed
COUNTRYAAH, many Ethiopians were among a group of at least 28 people
who were murdered by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group
in Libya in April, after refusing to convert from
Christianity to Islam. Ethiopia announced three days of
In May, it was reported that the authorities arrested
about 200 people suspected of smuggling people into Europe.
Another 80 people were asked to participate in human
trafficking across the Mediterranean.
Before the May elections, Amnesty reported that many
members of registered parties had been arrested. Of the 547
MEPs, only one was in opposition to the ruling party's
Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF),
the others belonged to the party or loyal groups. The EPRDF
had a strong grip on the social apparatus and there was no
forum for open criticism of the regime. In the election,
EPRDF received 500 seats, and the others went to support
parties. As a result, there was no longer an opposition
member in Parliament. The regime was accused of electoral
fraud, which was rejected.
In June, 75 km of new railway was opened from Addis Ababa
to Djibouti on the coast towards Aden Bay and the Red Sea.
The railroad is built with Chinese assistance and greatly
simplifies transport to the strategic port city. During the
year, the first line of a commuter train system in the
rapidly growing capital of Addis Ababa was also inaugurated.
The project was symbolic of macroeconomic growth of about
10% per year, driven primarily by large construction
projects. The pendulum was built with Chinese help and
financing, and the trains are operated by Chinese companies.
In July, US President Barack Obama came to Ethiopia.
Prior to his visit, the regime released six jailed
journalists. In October, four journalists and bloggers who
were accused of terrorism were released. The regime claimed
that they planned attacks together with opposition
Ethiopians in exile.
A Swedish doctor, Fikru Maru, who has been imprisoned in
Ethiopia for over two years, appealed during the year to the
Swedish government for help in being released. He was
charged with bribery after taking medical equipment into
Ethiopia. At least 75 people were killed in December when
police opened fire on regime-critical protesters, according
to Human Rights Watch.