Is Participating in Peaceful Demonstration Terrorist Act?

by Mizigena A

There is a challenge the constitution versus legal practice in Amhara Regional State. According to the constitution of Ethiopia 1995, article 30 (1), every unarmed person has the right to assemble and demonstrate together with others peacefully and petition. The proclamation number 3/1983.EC that was promulgated during the transition period as a procedure to conduct a demonstration clearly states in article 5/1/3/ and 6/2 the demonstration inquiry should satisfy the following conditions before staging into peaceful demonstration:
1. If the inquiry letter clearly states possible total number of demonstrators.
2. Name, position and signature of demonstration committee or institution leaders that organize and lead the demonstration.
3. If there is justifiable condition not permit the demonstration, a mayor or a town administration official should notify to the demonstration organizing committee within 48 hours clearly prescribing a reason, the demonstration is not permitted on that particular date.
Otherwise, the officials have no any right to totally reject the constitution rights of citizens to undertake open air meeting or demonstration request. If the mayor or city administration where the demonstration planned to take place fail to notify about the postponed of the demonstration it is considered as it is permitted.
With this understanding Kemant people conducted peaceful demonstration in Chilga Woreda (Aykel Twon) and Gondar town on different days by following the procedure of the proclamation number 03/1983 (E.C). On the two occasions alone about 400,000 people took part in the demonstration and finalized peacefully without any conflict. The two town administrators never accused of the organizing committee and the participants as it was the constitutional rights of Kemant people. Following the same procedure Kemant self administration request committee organized peaceful demonstration on March 9, at Metema woreda and about 50,000 demonstrates staged on the street and finalized peacefully.
However, immediately after the demonstration, Metema woreda officials detained 25 people who had a major role in conducting this demonstration and put them under custody. The breaching of the law starts here. In the first place, it is the constitutional right of the any citizen to conduct open air meeting or peaceful demonstration by notifying to the town administration to request for the assignment of police to safeguard and demonstrators from unwanted intruders that could change the sprite of the peaceful demonstration. And at the same time to know whether there are other events in the town that could be disturbed by the demonstration. With all these process Genda wuha town (Metema town) administration had said nothing and as a result the organizing committee took the request as accepted.
The second worst law breach is labeling the demonstration the act of terrorism. And the prosecutors charge 25 of them as terrorists. The most surprising thing is that a North Gondar prosecutor wrote a letter to Federal ministry of justice to give its comment whether conducting or attending peaceful demonstration without permission is an act of terrorism or not.
Look how these officials are blackening the image of Ethiopia. Imagine how human rights of Ethiopians are violated. First of all the government should have efficient professionals that could understand the law of the land. Or else they should resign to those who have the good knowledge about the law in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia passed its ant- terrorism proclamation 652/2009 in July 2009, though this law is controversial and against the constitution, whether the law is need at all.
I really, why Amahara region has continued working to soot the image of the country and how it relates demonstration with terrorism. If the region has no professionals who know the law of the land why it does not liquidate the institutions and be ordered by the central government? If peaceful demonstration is to be considered a terrorism act, then what will be the fate of peaceful struggle in Ethiopia? Where does the Amhara officials driving this country to?

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