DEFENDDEFENDERS, a coalition of human rights advocates operational in 12 nations, has held its annual meeting in the capital for two consecutive days at Dessalegn Hotel this week.
Titled – “Re-Building a Strong Civil Society in Ethiopia – while acknowledging the changing landscape of Ethiopia,” the gathering looked at how to reestablish the local civil society of the nation that was neglected for the last decade. The self-described group that seeks “to strengthen the work of human rights defenders,” had a slew of noted delegates from the region, as well as others.
Notably in attendance was Felix Horne, the senior researcher on Ethiopia and Eritrea with Human Rights Watch based in Ottawa, Canada was in the capital after an eight year hiatus.
The controversial figure on the issues of Ethiopia and Eritrea had been a noted author on well-read reports on human rights issues within Ethiopia. He spoke on areas of cooperation, capacity building and African migrants heading to other African nations, and on how to make the issues of Ethiopia more visible in the world.
“Ethiopians assume the world knows much about them,” he said. “The world only has a very general knowledge about the country.”
Since his appointment, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD)has been noted by DEFENDEDEFENDERS for imposing a number of reforms within the country, including ending the prison sentence of political prisoners, for opening up the political space, for inviting the opposition to come back and participate in its democracy and more importantly, for ending the State-of-Emergency.
The group penned an open letter to him, praising him for the “reforms by your administration in favor of greater respect for Ethiopians’ fundamental rights and freedoms, accountability for the past and ongoing human rights violations and abuses.”