Torture is widespread in Ethiopian prisons, and for those detainees who have expressed political dissent, it is virtually guaranteed.

By Graham Peebles (CounterPunch) |

Usually the 11th September, or 1st of Meskerem on the Ethiopian calendar, is a day of celebration. It is the Ethiopian new-year. However, this year there was a distinct shortage of happy gatherings or collective jubilation to mark the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, either inside the country or amongst the diaspora.

The country is in crisis and the majority of Ethiopians believe there is little to celebrate, instead many people spent the day in quiet reflection, dressed in black. Prayers were said at church services in Ethiopia and abroad for those who have been killed protesting (a constitutional right), by security forces of the ruling regime.

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As the movement for democratic change grows, the government continues to try to put it down by violent means. Security forces indiscriminately shoot peaceful protestors in the streets, beat and intimidate others. Human Rights Watch (HRW) says they receive “daily accounts of killings and arbitrary arrests”, and estimate that up to 500 protestors have been killed since November 2015, although many inside the country put the figure higher.

Thousands have been arrested and falsely imprisoned; young people – who are leading the charge for democracy – are being specifically targeted. Torture is widespread in Ethiopian prisons, and for those detainees who have expressed political dissent, it is virtually guaranteed. Witnesses have told ESAT News (an independent broadcaster based in Europe and America) that some detained protestors have died as the result of torture, and are buried in the prison grounds.

Continue reading this story on CounterPunch
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