Posted 6th November 2007
By Ethiomedia correspondent | November 5, 2007
NAIROBI, Kenya – At least 10 Ethiopian university student refugees were killed over the last two weeks in Kenya by security forces loyal to the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in Addis Ababa, Kenya’s Citizen TV announced on Monday.
Earlier on Saturday, unidentified armed men also held four exiled Ethiopian journalists at gunpoint, tied their hands behind their backs, dragged them out of their home when violence-wary neighbors cried out for help and stopped the progress of the crime. Is Kenya another death trap for Ethiopian refugees? asks our correspondent in Nairobi. Details follow:
Is Kenya a lawless domain for Zenawi?
When a government like in Ethiopia declares war on the people to reverse the outcome of an election widely believed to have been won by a popular opposition, civilians escape death by fleeing into neighboring countries.
But for Ethiopians, a risky escape across the border into neighboring Kenya hasn’t saved them from being brutalized by the long arm of the Meles Zenawi government, whose security forces move in and out of Kenya as if that country were another Ethiopian province.
At least 10 Ethiopian university students were killed in the last two weeks alone, Kenya’s Citizen TV announced only a few hours ago. According to the TV, most of the victims were shot dead after they were dragged out of their homes. Four left for dead are being treated at Nairobi’s referral hospital, with one dead and two wounded being brothers from one Ethiopian family.
At around 5:30 AM on Saturday, five armed men entered a home where four exiled Ethiopian journalists were staying. The armed men (two Ethiopians and three Kenyans) held the journalists at gunpoint, tied their hands behind their backs, and dragged them along the dirt floor. The commotion alerted neighbors who cried out for help to save the Ethiopians from their predators. The armed men left the area immediately.
Residents then reported the crime to Kenya police, who said they would investigate the case.
“We live in hell. It is very scary here. We call on all Ethiopians around the world to save us from the savagery of the security forces being sent into Kenya,” a young student told an Ethiomedia reporter in Nairobi.
Ethiopian refugees who held a demonstration today in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) appealed to the UN body to protect them from the death squads the dictator in Addis Ababa frequently dispatches into Kenya.
The UN agency for refugees has been very concerned by our plight, and would like to take appropriate measures to stem the degree of attack from the armed men being sent from Addis Ababa, another refugee, who sought anonymity for fear of government retribution, told EM.
Observers put the blame on the Kenyan government where corruption is so rife it is easy for armed gangs to bribe local officials so that they would walk away with murders in their hands.
Kenya is in the grip of a tense campaign for elections in December, and the chaos in the run-up to the election day is a recipe for disaster for Ethiopian refugees in Kenya.
Earlier last night, gunfire rattled a suburb of Nairobi where Ethiopian refugees sought shelter only a few days ago. One refugee said the gun battle raged from close quarters, “like our doorsteps, and ran for about half an hour, compelling us to duck under our beds where we cried out of fear that we would be killed there and then.”
In fact, some observers say an Ethiopian security group called Amoraw is currently in Kenya, and its mission is to kill, maim or terrorize Ethiopian refugees who are usually seen as supporters of the opposition – Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP), the party that is believed to have won the May 2005 elections in Ethiopia but fell under attack when the incumbent ruling party declared a state of emergency, killed at least 193 civilians, wounded about 700, and arrested over 70,000 citizens in five make-shift concentration camps.
Though Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has been in power since 1991, there are little or no signs he would step down peacefully.
A recent report in Abyotawi Democracy, an Amharic-language organ of the ruling party of Mr. Zenawi, informs its readers that the most organized opposition forces tainting the “good image” of the government in Addis are the powerful Ethiopian Diaspora in North America and Europe, the US-based Ethiopian-American group campaigning for HR 2003 (i.e. a human rights and democracy bill pending US Senate approval), and exiled journalists and other Ethiopians based in Kenya.
The ever-deteriorating situation in Ethiopia has not escaped the attention of the media as well.
“The Ethiopian government’s efforts at political control are supported by a wide network of informers and secret police,” reported The Economist. “Critics say it is exploiting the jihadist terror threat to link many legitimate opposition campaigners and supporters with terrorist groups and take them off the streets.”
Note from the Editor: – Ethiopian refugees in Kenya have no protection other than from the small, God-fearing personnel of the UNHCR. So far, they have been very sypathetic of the plight of our people. Please express your concern for the wellbeing of our folks, and support for the UN Agency, which may pressure the Kenya government for failing UN conventions and protect refugees being targetted by armed gangs. Please call UNHCR at 41-22-739-8111, leave your short message, name and contact information.
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