While demonstrators were being shot, journalists and opposition members locked up, and peaceful activists punished, the EU was silently signing the checks.

By Felix Horne (EUobserver) |

In January, the European Parliament passed a 19-point resolution condemning the Ethiopian government’s brutal crackdown on protests that had left more than a hundred dead. Many Ethiopians rejoiced at the resolution. I read it to some Ethiopian friends, who cried.

They had assumed Ethiopia was part of an international order in which no Western institution would dare criticize a trusted ally despite the government’s brutal repression.  They hoped the resolution would be a watershed in Europe’s relationship with Ethiopia.

But in the nine months since, the European Parliament’s outrage has not been matched by the European Union or its member countries. This despite the hundreds more Ethiopians killed throughout the country, the detention of tens of thousands, and widespread torture in detention, as we have documented.

ALSO READ Australia Urged to Stop Rwanda-style Genocide in EthiopiaInstead, on the sidelines of EU Development Days in June, High Representative Frederica Mogherini and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn worked on a joint declaration “Towards an EU-Ethiopia Strategic Engagement” that proclaimed business as usual. While demonstrators were being shot, journalists and opposition members locked up, and peaceful activists punished, the EU was silently signing the checks.

EU officials are quick to point to rare but tepid statements expressing concern for Ethiopia’s human rights situation but it’s not enough. The October 12 European parliamentary hearing on Ethiopia could be the catalyst for much stronger action —built on a willingness to use the considerable leverage that comes with providing various forms of support to the Ethiopian government, including €745 million in European aid for 2014-2020.

Continue reading this story on EUobserver
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