March 28, 1995

EHRCO has found it necessary to have a special report on two issues. One is the massacre at the Anwar Mosque, and the other is the censuring of the interview on Ethiopian Television's program "Close-up."

First, the Anwar Mosque Incident
1. The official version of the causes and details of the massacre at the Anwar Mosque on February 23, 1995 was given by the Chief Executive of Region 14. We shall mention on three points in his statement:
He stated that the Muslim community was divided into two antagonistic camps, fighting with knives and arms as a result of which he was "glad" that only nine persons died and over one hundred injured.
The police intervened to maintain law and order and they, too, have suffered injuries. A person by the name of Haji Siraj Musa was shot and killed by the police when he resisted arrest and was attempting to escape.
2. The BBC program transmitted through Ethiopian Television also reported that the massacre at the Anwar Mosque was between Muslim factions.
3. In the private press EHRCO has been criticised for not reporting the incident in time.

EHRCO has examined the points outlined above and feels obliged to report to the Ethiopian people and especially to the Muslim Community the following:

1. EHRCO accepts all the criticism directed at it on the issue of the Anwar Mosque massacre with the conviction that it is made in good faith and with a correct understanding of EHRCO's objectives. When something like the one that happened at the Anwar Mosque on February 23, 1995 occurs, it should be reported at least a week later. This did not happen. It is, nevertheless, necessary to ask "why"?
EHRCO is prepared to cry out on behalf of all persecuted persons without making any kind of distinction. EHRCO does not, however, produce any sound unless it has concrete evidence to back up its statements. To date not a single mother or father, wife or husband, sister or brother has reported to EHRCO deaths, bullet or other wounds, imprisonment of his/her loved ones.
The continued efforts that EHRCO made to gather concrete eye witness accounts and information was not successful because people were not willing to reveal their identities. The effort still continues.
It was painfully sad for EHRCO to realise that among such multitudes of people there is not a single person who dares to defy oppression and tell the truth. There is no doubt that it is such an attitude that makes the Ethiopian people accommodate oppression. How can we combat oppression if the suffering inflicting on another is not felt by all? Those who are afraid ought to know that EHRCO does not reveal the identities of those who report to it unless they expressly desire it.
It is also possible to contribute to the building up of EHRCO's capability.

2. What was shown on Ethiopian television does not correspond with the statements of the Chief Executive of Region 14. It was, on the contrary, an engagement between the police who were already in the sacred grounds of the Mosque, in the area where the believers pray without shoes, and they even seemed to attempt to enter inside the Mosque, on one hand, and the believers who were throwing stones at the police in what seemed to be an attempt to prevent the incursion into the sacred ground. How is it that the police could attempt to enter the Mosque, a sacred place for the believers, by force? Are the provisions on freedom of religions in the celebrated Constitution and in the various international instruments in place? Or are they discarded?
3. From what was shown on television there was no sign of the allegation that the Muslim community was divided into two antagonistic camps. All informants state that the clash which started between one person, one Ato Sa'adu Jemal, and the Muslim community eventually transformed itself into a clash between the Muslim community and the security forces who were heavily armed. Which story is right?
4. Similarly, what we heard from the Chief Executive of Region 14 about the death of Haji Siraj Musa and what his relatives and close friends relate is totally contradictory. Haji Siraj, according to his close friends, weighs more than one hundred kilograms, he is myopic, he has weak legs and walks with the help of a cane. Even at the Mosque he prays sitting down. Secondly, Haji Siraj was taken from his home after midnight. Third, Haji Siraj was shot twice: once on the eye and once on the stomach. Unless he was running backwards with all his incapacity, it is difficult to hold the allegation that he was shot when he was attempting to escape. What is the truth, the official version or what his relatives and friends state? The truth will certainly come out.
As far as the case of the Anwar Mosque is concerned that is all that EHRCO can state now.
Second, Censorship on Television

Recently, the Ethiopian Television Program "Close-up" wanted an interview with EHRCO on the trial of former officials of the Derg regime. A gentlemen's agreement was reached not to censure the views of EHRCO. But when the program was aired it was very much censured. For the record, the position of EHRCO on the trial of former officials of the Derg regime is as follows:
1. EHRCO is aware of the brutalities committed under the Derg regime and, therefore, the former officials ought to be brought to trial unless the Ethiopian people pardon them as pitiable lot.
2. The purpose of bringing these former officials to trial must serve the society's craving for justice, and it should also provide a lesson to those in power. The trial must not be used as an exercise of vengeance. The fact that the accusations range from genocide to crimes against humanity, and the fact that Red Terror is treated as a criminal offence while White Terror is not demonstrate that what is intended is vengeance against a selected group and not justice. Moreover, the fact that as the recent events at the Anwar Mosque show Ethiopians are still victims of extra-judicial killing, of involuntary disappearances, of torture and illegal detention. Those who ought to have learnt a lesson from the excesses and barbarism of the Derg regime have opted to ignore the lesson and act in exactly the same way as the Derg regime. A criminal act does not become criminal only when officials are forcibly removed from positions of power.
3. EHRCO commends the efforts of the United States and Europe in preaching peace and reconciliation in South Africa where charges of genocide and crimes against humanity could have been more appropriate. EHRCO believes the people of South Africa have chosen the right path of peace and reconciliation. Why do the United States and Europe have a reversed policy on similar issues in Ethiopia, manifested by their financing the trial and fanning the fire?