[JURIST] The Ethiopian government is responsible for the deaths of thousands of student protestors and demonstrators over the past 15 years, Judge Teshale Aberra told the Guardian in an interview Wednesday. Aberra, who was president of the Oromia Supreme Court and a judge in Ethiopia [JURIST news archive] for 12 years, defected to the UK in October and is seeking asylum. He reported that approximately 15,000 to 20,000 people have been killed in the Oromia region, under the regime of current Prime Minister Meles Zenawi [BBC profile], who Abetta said was as bad as former Ethiopian leader Mengistu Haile Mariam [Wikipedia profile]. Abetta reported that tens of thousands of people were arrested after protesting the May 2005 elections and that the government detains "people without court orders. They detain people even after the decision is rendered that they should be released. They persecute people and, in some areas, they kill people. There is massive killing all over. There is a systematic massacre."
Zenawi's government has confirmed a report [JURIST report] made in October that its security forces killed 193 people [JURIST report] during election protests in May and in November [JURIST reports] of last year. The report acknowledged that some human rights violations occurred and that 30,000 people were arrested during the unrest. Judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha, who was Vice-chairman of the Ethiopian inquiry team charged with investigating the violent mass demonstrations, also fled the country after receiving death threats upon the conclusion of the report. Over 100 journalists, lawmakers and human rights activists were initially charged with treason [JURIST report] following the mass protests in 2005, though some may have been granted amnesty [JURIST report] by Ethiopian President Girma Woldegiorgis [official profile]. The Guardian has more. BBC News has additional coverage.