Amnesty International Says Delegation Expelled From Ethiopia

Posted August 31st, 2011 at 3:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Amnesty International says a group of its delegates was expelled from Ethiopia this week after meeting with two opposition leaders who have since been arrested.

The human rights group said Wednesday that a delegation of foreign members was told by Ethiopian officials August 27 to leave the country, after it held separate meetings with the opposition leaders.

The government arrested the two leaders, Bekele Gerba and Olbana Lelisa, the same day. Both men have been charged with involvement in a banned rebel group, the Oromo Liberation Front.

VOA correspondent Peter Heinlein reports from Addis Ababa that others have been arrested for alleged connections with the group. He reports a government spokesman says at least eight were arrested, while opposition leaders put the number at two dozen.

Amnesty says it is worried Gerba and Lelisa were arrested because they spoke with the delegates. It notes that Ethiopian officials have denied the allegation.

The group says the arrests are an example of the constant harassment that opposition politicians face in Ethiopia.

Human rights groups have complained frequently about abuses and oppression by the Ethiopian government. The party of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has ruled the country since 1991.

Amnesty International says its foreign delegates were under constant surveillance during the 12 days they spent in the country before being expelled.