Amnesty International has strongly criticized the human rights record of Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi, who died today.


In a reaction signed by Claire Beston, Amnesty International's Ethiopia researcher, the group said that Zenawi’s 21-year rule was characterized by ever-increasing repression and widespread human rights violations. 


“His government stamped out dissenting voices, dismantled the independent media, obstructed human rights organisations and strangled the political opposition," the group said.


"Ethiopia’s jails are packed to the seams with suspected political opponents - from urban intellectuals to rural farmers. Torture and ill treatment are commonplace. State resources, assistance and opportunities have been broadly used to control the population. Tens of thousands of Ethiopians were forced to flee the country during his rule."


The group described the succession of Meles Zenawi as a significant opportunity, which the government and the next Prime Minister must use to change the course of the country, towards ushering in an era of greater respect for the rights of all Ethiopians.


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