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. The Persecution of Opposition Party Members’ Relatives in Ethiopia: A Look at the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (Kinijit)


PublisherCanada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
AuthorResearch Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date4 January 2008
Citation / Document SymbolETH102699.E
Cite asCanada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ethiopia: Treatment of relatives of members of opposition parties, especially the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) (2006-2007), 4 January 2008, ETH102699.E, available at: [accessed 21 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to the London daily newspaper The Independent, human rights groups allege that “Ethiopia is conducting a systematic campaign of intimidation, detention and torture against political opponents of its … government” (9 Feb. 2007). The Washington Post states that “[o]pposition supporters still complain of being menaced in the capital” (21 July 2007). Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006 gives several examples of members of opposition groups and relatives of members as well as people affiliated to opposition groups who have been ill-treated for “participating in opposition political rallies” or suspected of supporting the opposition (US 6 Mar. 2007, Sec. 1.d, 1.e, 1.f, 2.b).

In a report on the situation of human rights in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) provides details of abuse and harassment suffered by members of and people suspected of links to opposition parties (EHRCO 20 Sept. 2007, 5, 6, 14, 15). In one case, a man was detained and deprived of his pension benefits after his father-in-law attended an opposition party meeting (ibid., 5). In another case, police detained a member of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) without charges for 40 days (ibid., 6).

In July 2007, 38 detainees, including several CUD members and leaders, were released after having been in detention since the elections of 2005 (The Washington Post 21 July 2007; EHRCO 23 July 2007; AI 11 Sept. 2007; ibid. 23 July 2007). They had been charged and/or sentenced for various crimes, including treason, “outrage against the Constitution” (AI 2007; US 6 Mar. 2007, Sec. 1.e), “attempted genocide” (ibid.; FIDH 12 July 2007) and “inciting rebellion” (AFP 16 July 2007; see also FIDH 12 July 2007), after violence broke out in the wake of the 2005 elections (AFP 16 July 2007; FIDH 12 July 2007; US 6 Mar. 2007, Sec. 1.e). The president granted pardons to the detainees after they signed a letter of apology acknowledging they had made “mistakes” in the events of the 2005 elections (AI 11 Sept. 2007; AI 23 July 2007; ENA 18 Aug. 2007; BBC 18 Aug. 2007; see also The Reporter 20 July 2007). More specifically, the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) adds that in order to receive the pardon, the detainees had to accept responsibility collectively and individually for the chaos following the 2005 elections and had to agree to respect and abide by “constitutionally organized governmental institutions” (18 Aug. 2007).

The CUD is also known as Kinijit (Europa 2007 2007, 1717; Kinijit 27 Oct. 2005). The Secretary of the Kinijit chapter in Toronto stated in correspondence to the Research Directorate that “relatives of members of CUD are treated as ‘enemy’ of the government of Ethiopia” (14 Dec. 2007). The Secretary added that relatives of members of the CUD are subjected to treatment such as job discrimination, unlawful dismissal, refusal of business licence applications or loss of existing business licences, and denial of university admission or grants (Kinijit 14 Dec. 2007).

The Independent reports that the CUD alleges that some supporters were shot dead in apparent extra-judicial killings, but does not provide further details (9 Feb. 2007). In January 2007, an active organizer with the CUD, who had been allegedly harassed by security forces after having being released from detention, was killed (Ethiomedia 21 Jan. 2007). The article indicates that he was the sixth CUD organizer to be murdered in Addis Ababa in the space of one week (ibid.).

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), relatives of suspected members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a Somali separatist movement in Eastern Ethiopia, have been arbitrarily detained by security forces and “at least 20 families who were suspected to have relatives in the ONLF had their camels confiscated” (4 July 2007).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France-Presse (AFP). 16 July 2007. “Ethiopia Slaps Life Sentences on More Than 30 Opposition Figures.” (Factiva)

Amnesty International (AI). 11 September 2007. “Ethiopia: Political Repression Must Stop.” (AFR 25/013/2007) [Accessed 11 Dec. 2007]
_____. 23 July 2007. “Prisoners of Conscience Set Free in Ethiopia.” [Accessed 11 Dec. 2007]
_____. 2007. “Ethiopia.” Amnesty International Report 2007. [Accessed 11 Dec. 2007]

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 18 August 2007. “Ethiopia Opposition Members Freed.” [Accessed 14 Dec. 2007]

Ethiomedia. 21 January 2007. “Ethiopian Police Reportedly Murder Opposition Activist in Addis Ababa.” (Factiva/BBC Monitoring Africa 23 January 2007)

Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO). 20 September 2007. The Human Rights Situation in Ethiopia: 28th Regular Report. [Accessed 14 Dec. 2007]
_____. 23 July 2007. “The Release of Prisoners Is a Commendable Start.” [Accessed 14 Dec. 2007]

Ethiopian News Agency (ENA). 18 August 2007. “31 CUD Leaders, Members Granted Full Pardon, Released from Prison.” [Accessed 14 Dec. 2007]

The Europa World Year Book 2007. 2007. 48th Ed. Vol. I. “Ethiopia.” London: Routledge.

Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’homme (FIDH). 12 July 2007. “Deep Concern at Prosecutor’s Request for the Death Penalty Against 43 Opposition Party Members and Human Rights Defenders in Ethiopia.” [Accessed 13 Dec. 2007]

Human Rights Watch (HRW). 4 July 2007. “Ethiopia: Crackdown in East Punishes Civilians – Warring Parties Must Respect Laws of War, Ensure Humanitarian Access.” [Accessed 20 Dec. 2007]

The Independent [London]. 9 February 2007. Steve Bloomfield. “Ethiopia Is Accused of ‘Torturing and Illegally Jailing Opponents of Regime’.” [Accessed 12 Dec. 2007]

Kinijit. 14 December 2007. Correspondence from the Secretary of the Toronto chapter.
_____. 27 October 2005. “Kinijit for Unity and Democracy in Ethiopia.” [Accessed 18 Dec. 2007]

The Reporter [Addis Ababa]. 20 July 2007. Namrud Berhane. “38 CUD Leaders, Journalists Released.” (AllAfrica) [Accessed 10 Dec. 2007]

United States (US). 6 March 2007. Department of State. “Ethiopia.” Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006. [Accessed 13 Dec. 2007]

The Washington Post. 21 July 2007. Stephanie McCrummen. “Ethiopia Pardons 38 Opposition Leaders.” [Accessed 12 Dec. 2007]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: A researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW) did not provide information within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including: Addis TribuneEthiopian Review [Annandale], European Country of Origin Information Network (, Freedom House, Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Kingdom Home Office Country of Origin Information Service, World News Connection (WNC).

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