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An appeal on the crisis in Ethiopia

10 June 2005

Joint letter from World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia and All Africa Conference of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr H. Mvume Dandala to Ethiopian prime minister H.E. Meles Zenawi
10 June 2005

The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) are deeply disturbed by the recent events in Ethiopia.  Over twenty people have lost their lives and several hundreds were injured, as a result of action of the security forces against peaceful student demonstrators. The demonstrations were staged to protest against alleged voting irregularities in the parliamentary elections of 15th May.  The security forces not only blocked the demonstrations, but also intimidated and beat up the people including opposition candidates.  The protest demonstrations are now in their third day, and emotions and tensions are running high.  It is imperative that the authorities in Ethiopia exercise utmost care and understanding in handling the present crisis so that the situation is not allowed to further deteriorate.

The WCC and AACC call on the government of Ethiopia to ensure that the security forces exercise maximum restraint in handling the protesters and refrain from using excessive force. We have received reports of large numbers of arrests made by the security forces without due process.  Consequently, we request that those held in detention should be properly treated and not held incommunicado, tortured and/or beaten. 

Given the tense situation in the country we appeal to the government of Ethiopia to enter into a dialogue with the opposition political parties and civil society groups in order to find an amicable settlement of the present crisis.

We call on the churches of Ethiopia to play their prophetic and pastoral role in helping to bring the situation to normalcy, and assure them of our readiness to support their efforts towards bringing peace, justice and reconciliation.

We pray for the people of Ethiopia and hope that peace and calm will return soon so that people can get back to their normal lives. 

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Samuel KobiaGeneral Secretary - World Council of Churches

Rev. Dr H. Mvume Dandala
General Secretary - All Africa Conference of Churches