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Ethiopia government confirms election protest deaths, insists security response legal

[JURIST] The government of Ethiopia [JURIST news archive] has confirmed a report [JURIST report] made last week that its security forces killed 193 people during election protests in May and in November [JURIST reports] last year. Mekonnen Disasa, a member of the inquiry board charged with investigating the government's response, told reporters Thursday that government forces used reasonable force to deal with the protesters. According to the report, the security responses to the protests "were legal and essential on the basis of defending the new system of government, as well protecting the country from endless violence." Nevertheless, the report acknowledged that some human rights violations occurred and that 30,000 people were arrested during the unrest.

In the original report released in July, the majority of the inquiry board concluded that the government had used excessive force during the May and November protests. Vice-chairman Judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha maintained this position before reporters on Thursday, stating that security forces shot unarmed protesters and beat them to death. Meshesha left Ethiopia after the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi [BBC profile] pressured the board to change its findings. AP has more.

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