Public Rally and Demonstration Banned in Gondar, Ethiopia

In the previous news, wlka reported the Kemants, one of Agaw ethnic groups’ preparation for demonstration in the first week of June, 2013. The aim of demonstration was to promote their eight-years-old self-rule demand. The plan was notified to federal, regional and local government agencies including House of Federation, Federal Police, Regional Government Office, Regional Security and respective local government organs and media. The community’s action is constitutional as laid down in the Ethiopian Constitution, Article 30, 1, stipulates the rights of demonstration without armaments.
According to reliable sources, public rally had been successfully conducted in some woredas one week ago. These woredas are Lay Armachiho, Wogera, Metema, Chilga and other woredas, Quara, Gondar Vicinity and part of Dambya were in a process to join the rally and demonstration in Gondar. As outlined in a steering committee’s schedule, on June 3, public rally was supposed to take place in Gondar City and then demonstration to be held throughout North Gondar including Gondar City on June 10. However, the planned rally on Gondar Square and demonstration was banned by authority in contrast to the country’s constitution. Two officials, Gizat Aby, Governor of North Gondar and Genet Asras, Chief of Gondar Mayer Office, wrote separate letters to the demonstration steering committee/Kemant Self-Rule Promotion Council. Both the local government officials sent letters after negotiation with the steering committee failed. Both letters in Amharic are enclosed with this publication, please find the link at the end of this document. The letters were dated on June 1, 2013 (May 23, in E.C). The chief of office didn’t give any reason for prohibition of the demonstration. But, the governor tried to justify his action against the constitution. For the same reason, he quoted some articles from an untitled transitional government act in the early 1990s, prior to adaption of the current Constitution of Ethiopia. He stated the following reasons for disallowing:
1. Request for demonstration should include clearly identity and number of participants.
2. Signatures on the request letter should not be less than three persons with clear respective responsibility.
3. Because of a change in an administration structure, local government agencies, particularly woredas have no authority to guarantee permission for demonstration.

The governor emphasized inevitable of liability upon violation of the law. Observers thought that possible need of regulations described in Article 30 is on the location of open-air assembly, roots of demonstration and protection of the democratic rights. The rules referred by the governor are out of the context of Article 30. As clearly stated in Article 9, “any law, customary practice or a decision of an organ of state or a public official which contravenes” the “Constitution shall be of no effect.” What is cited is not justification, but violation of the Constitution of the country, observers say.
On June, 2, Saturday, residents of Gondar city were summoned to their respective neighborhoods, known as kebele. The local officials told the residents about ongoing crisis in Gondar due to Kemants unrest. In suburban, called Azazo, the participants in three kebele reportedly walked out as they heard what was meeting about, the meeting dispersed shortly. In other kebels the purpose of meeting was challenged by Kemant residents. The residents asked officials reasons for meeting. One elderly man reportedly said, “Do you know with whom you have held the meeting” and then he walked out and others followed him.

In related information, a source claimed that the officials gave a secrete assignment for street children to throw stones on the public rally in case if the Kemants go ahead with the planned rally in Gondar Square. The children presumably ready to give their testimony on the issue for a concerned body as far their security is guaranteed.
According to a source, the steering committee declared it has not yet scrapped the demonstration entirely, but it postponed to tranquilize the situation. Otherwise, it says it will continue to exercise the constitutional rights. Gondar is Ethiopia, then, the Constitution of Ethiopia should be applicable in Gondar, like Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia. The Blue Party held demonstration in the heart of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa on the same day not Uganda or Kenya, so why not in Gondar? It stated.

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One Response to Public Rally and Demonstration Banned in Gondar, Ethiopia

  1. Addisu Legese (Mr.) says:

    Ato Addisu Legesse, ex- vice prime minister Discussed with Lay Armachiho Qemant leaders and selected Qemant community Members

    Ato Addis made unplanned visit to Lay Armachiho woreda to ease the tension created in side Qemant people on account of unnecessary delay for the quest of self administration. After North Gondar Administration head ato Gizat wrote a letter to ban the planned public demonstration, high tension was created in Armachiho woreda as the people rejected the order from the zone and persist in undertaking the peaceful demonstration planned to take place on June 06/2013.
    In between, Ato Addisu made unexpected visit to Armachiho on June 05/2013 to discuss about the issue with woreda administrator, selected Qemant community and Qemant leaders.
    In the discussion the community complained about all unconstitutional steps that the woreda and zonal officials acted and at the same time the over delay of the self rule quest. In the same manner, Lay Armachiho community leader noted to Ato Addisu about all assaults, harassment and injustices done to Qemant committee in particular and Qemant people in general for the mere reason that we are asking constitutional rights .
    Having heard all the complaints raised, Ato Addisu told to the community that he is aware of all this and regret for the unnecessary delay of the quest. In related to this, he informed to the committee a decision on Qemant quest will be made by the regional parliament very soon. If you are happen not to satisfy by the region’s decision, you can continue your appeal to the House of Federation and its decision will be the last one.
    He told the committee again and over, undertaking peaceful demonstration is a constitutional rights of the citizen. If you are still insist on making the demonstration you can, however, it is advisable if you quit it up as it has already decided to pass a decision by the regional government. He said that this is only my personal advice, the decision is still up to you.

    With this understanding the committee took a brief meeting of their own and decided to postpone the demonstration for undefined period and announce to the people on that same day stating that this particular demonstration has been put off and will let you know its whence in the near future depending on the act of the government on our legal quest.

    Cogra all Qemant people, Agaw brothers and supporter of our struggle!
    Qemant will continue its nonviolence struggle until true freedom is achieved!

    From: Mizigena

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