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Call for Solidarity and Action: If one member suffers, all suffer together

Open letter by the CCIA director on political upheaval following the contested Ethiopian election of 15 May 2005

10 November 2005

WCC/CCIA, 10 November, 2005


Dear friends in Christ,

Ethiopia is presently facing a major political upheaval following the contested
election of 15 May 2005. Following his recent visit to Ethiopia, Rev. Dr Samuel
Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, has sent several letters
to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia after the killings of innocent people of 8
June 2005. He also sent a letter to the Prime Minister following the recent killings
and the detention of the political leaders of one of the opposition parties. The letter
is attached for your information.

The ruling party, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Front, has a major responsibility
to stop the current political violence. For this to happen, all individuals
concerned, civil society groups, international organizations, the United Nations,
the African Union, European and North American governments must use their
diplomatic influence on the Ethiopian government.

In this regard, the position taken by the European Union and the US Ambassadors
in Ethiopia is very encouraging. Their suggestions to resolve the current political
crisis are as follows:

1. the immediate end to the use of lethal force, random searches and indiscriminate
beatings and massive arrests;

2. the release of all political detainees;

3. the speedy review and - where appropriate - release of individuals detained
in the recent demonstrations;

4. the immediate lifting of any restrictions currently imposed on those Coalition
for Unity and Democracy Party leaders and members not detained;

5. the immediate access by families, legal counsel and the International Red
Cross and/or other appropriate representatives of the international community,
to jailed Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party, civil society
and media leaders, as well as provision of medicines, food and other humanitarian
needs;

6. the notification to families of names and whereabouts of detainees together
with appropriate access and provision of humanitarian needs;

7. an independent investigation of the deaths and injuries arising from recent
events and the events in June;

8. the review and revision of parliamentary rules and practices to ensure that
all parties represented in parliament can participate on a fair and representative
basis;

9. the re-opening of the private media and promotion of a code of conduct
for the media to ensure a balanced and responsible flow of information to
the public;

10. the appointment of a National Election Board in consultation with the
parliamentary opposition.

As regards the opposition, and without prejudice to their constitutional rights,we call upon them at this very sensitive time, to disassociate themselves from andto discourage all actions that could directly or indirectly incite violence, harmindividuals or lead to the destruction of public and private property.In a spirit of promoting reconciliation, the European Union and US Ambassadorshave urged the re-opening of political dialogue designed to foster peace and tostrengthen democracy based on a commitment to the rule of law and democraticprinciples.The World Council of Churches has two Member Churches in Ethiopia - theEthiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Ethiopian Evangelical MekaneYesus Church.Ethiopia never had the privilege of enjoying smooth and peaceful transfer of powerfrom one leader to another, neither in the earlier days nor in recent times. Crisisif handled honestly brings challenges and opportunities. Ethiopia must be helpedto turn these challenges, however difficult they may be, into opportunities for thefuture generations to come.

A call for action

We urge you to take the following actions:• Request your government to write to the His Excellency, Mr Meles Zenawi,Prime Minister of Ethiopia, urging him to:

fully implement the proposals of the EU and US Ambassadors;
initiate an open and honest dialogue with the opposition parties present
in and outside Ethiopia;
organize an inclusive national reconciliation dialogue to bring a just and
lasting peace for the country.

• Write a separate letter to the His Holiness Abune Paulos, the Patriarch ofthe Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and Rev. Iteffa Gobena, thePresident of the Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church, expressingconcern and solidarity in this hour of crisis. Please address the letters to: His Excellency Mr Meles ZenawiPrime Minister of EthiopiaP.O. Box 1268Addis Ababa EthiopiaHis Holiness Abune PaulosPatriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo ChurchP.O. Box 1283 Addis Ababa Ethiopia Rev. Iteffa GobenaPresident Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church P.O. Box 2087Addis Ababa Ethiopia

Kindly share with us the actions you are taking.

Sincerely yours,
Peter Weiderud
Director