The Canadian government has issued a statement calling on the Ethiopian government to halt the killing of protesters. The statement came the day after an analyst and Ethiopian refugee advocate told Fox News that Canada is soft on communist Ethiopia and was throwing money at the problem without demanding change.
The analyst, Karma Nabulsi, said that past Canada policies towards Ethiopia have been toothless, that several presidents supported by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have enjoyed only “absent or slow response” from Canada over human rights abuses and that Canada has gone over the heads of the U.S. with Prime Minister Trudeau to deal with issues in Ethiopia. He also said that the Trudeau administration’s focus is on Asia instead of Africa, but that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Trudeau government tries to “spice things up” by treating Ethiopia better than the U.S. and other countries.
Canada has failed to hold the previous Ethiopian regime accountable for past human rights abuses by failing to hold a referendum on the death penalty, the repression of religious minorities, and the persecution of the gay community.
Criticism has been leveled at Canada for failing to impose sanctions on the regime and its perpetrators, especially those in the security forces. In December 2017, former Canadian ambassador Paul Heinbecker told reporters that Canada’s response to Ethiopia has been “simply neglect.”
The UN Human Rights Council has accused the government of infringing on freedom of speech, religion, and assembly. The UN has documented grave human rights violations against a wide array of groups including the LGBTI community, political opponents, and journalists. In late January, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the government was using its “systematic and widespread” attacks against social media users to “silence criticism of its policies” and to prevent the population from expressing views on controversial issues.
Canada continues to provide $525 million in foreign aid to Ethiopia, up 44 percent from 2013, the most recent year it’s been reported. The announcement came before public hearings about Canada’s cap on non-permanent resettlement places for refugees in Ethiopia. The cap means the government can legally only offer 12,000 refugee spots annually to Ethiopians, despite the massive humanitarian crisis in the country.
Canada has led the way in declaring genocide, persecution, and war crimes when it comes to Southeast Asia. By comparison, the UN has made far fewer similar declarations when it comes to Africa.
Canada should start demanding reforms in Ethiopia and be stronger in its relationships with Ethiopia’s most unlikely allies. The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) did not provide comment on the matter when contacted by Fox News. However, an Ethiopian government spokesperson told Fox News that the Canadian statement was “constantly manipulated” by Eritrean groups looking to “malign Ethiopia.”
Canada should stand up for the Ethiopian people, whom it has always supported, and make sure that the money and political support it sends to Ethiopia don’t fall into the hands of those oppressing their people.
Shahien Nasiripour is a Fox News contributor. Follow him on Twitter @ShahienN.