Movement to “Respect The Constitution” in Ethiopia

A group of young Ethiopian bloggers and activists based in Addis Ababa teamed up with Ethiopian netizens to demand their government to start respecting the Ethiopian Constitution. The #RespectTheConstitution campaign features both on Facebook and Twitter and it gives information about how the Ethiopian government is violating its own constitution.

Facebook banner saying “Respect the Constitution” [amh]. Image source: Respect the Constitution Facebook page.

On Facebook the group created a fan and event page which are growing rapidly. The campaign has called upon the ruling party not to instill fear among Ethiopians rather to inspire citizens to say ‘no to unconstitutional fear’ Befeqadu, a Global Voice Amharic Editor sharedthe following message which has become viral on Facebook:

ፍርሐት ሕገ-መንግሥታዊ አይደለም፤ የአንድን አገር የሰብኣዊ መብት ጥሰት ባሕል እና ታሪክ መንሰራፋት የሚያረጋግጥ እውነታ እንጂ! ፍርሐት አርቆ አሳቢነትን ይገላል፣ ብሎም የተሻለ ነገን የመፈለግ እና የማለም አቅም ያሳጣል። ፍርሐት እንቅፋት ነው፣ ፍርሐት መንፈስን ሰብሮ ሐሳብና ምናብ ያሳጣል፤ ነጻነት ግን ፈቃድ ላይ የተመሰረተ ነው፣ ነጻነት ያበረታታል፣ ነጻነት ሰላማዊ ነው፣ ነጻነት ይታገሳል፣ ነጻነት ፍቅር ያቃል፣ ነጻነት ከሁሉም ይልቃል፣ ነጻነት ማለቂያ የለውም/ዘላቂ ነው፡፡ ራዕይ የሌለው ሕዝብ ይባክናል ይባላል፡፡ ኢሕአዴግ ሕዝቡን በፍርሐት ግድግዳ በማጠርና ሐሳብን በነጻ የመግለጽ ተፈጥሯዊ መብታችንን በመገደብ ሕዝባችንን እያባከነው ነው፡፡ ሕገ-መንግሥቱን በማክበር እና ኢሕአዴግም እንዲያከብረው በመጠየቅ ኢትዮጵያን እናድን፡፡ ሕገ-መንግሥቱ ይከበር

FEAR is unconstitutional and evidence of the entrenched culture and history of gross human rights violations in our country. Fear kills imagination and inhibits the potential to aspire and envision a better future. Fear is limiting and discouraging. Fear cripples the spirit and shatter ideas and ideals. Freedom is allowing, Freedom inspires, Freedom is peaceful, Freedom tolerates, Freedom Loves, Freedom transcends, Freedom sustains. They say without vision people perish. EPRDF is driving the nation to perish by creating a wall of fear and denying our inherent right to freedom of speech and expression. Save Ethiopia by Respecting and Demanding EPRDF to #RespectTheConstitution! ሕገ-መንግሥቱ ይከበር!

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Muslims after Friday’s prayers staged a peaceful protest named after Article 27 of the Ethiopian Constitution which is about freedom of religion, belief and opinion. They have shared their peaceful protest in pictures.

Ethiopians muslims protesting on 7 December, 2012 at Grand Anwar Mosque against government interference into their affairs. Number 27 refers to the freedom of religion article in the Ethiopian constitution . Photo courtesy of Dimtsachin Yisema Facebook page.

On Twitter the #RespectTheConstitution hashtag created a buzz. CPJ’s Africa Media program observed:

@africamedia_CPJ: #Ethiopia's twittosphere buzzes with #RespectTheConstitutionechoing #protests for religious & other freedoms #socialmedia #FF@BillGates

Almost all the Provisions/Articles of the Constitution are being changed into tweets. Kirubel Teshome tweeted:

Freedom of thought, speech and expression are the most inflated and expensive commodities in #Ethiopia today.#RespectTheConstitution!

Daniel Beyene tweeted:

@DanielBeyene: The media have the right to report freely and to criticize any action of the government #FreeMedia #RespectTheConstitution #Ethiopia

KweschnMedia has also tweeted:

@KweschnMedia: Art. 29:5 “media controlled by gov shall b organized in a manner suitable 4 accommodation of differences of opinion”#RespectTheConstitution

Mahlet Solomon tweeted:

@MahletSolomon: Dec8th ,FDRE will mark the 18thyr of the adoption of the constitution while having 1000s in prison for exercising their right #RespectTheConstitution

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