Amnesty International is concerned over the fate of scores of Muslim protestors arrested inEthiopiaduring July. The arrests took place in the context of ongoing protests against alleged government restrictions on freedom of religion in the country. The detainees are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment, and there have been numerous reports of beatings in detention against those arrested. Some detainees have been held in incommunicado detention since their arrest without access to family members, often in unknown locations.

Amnesty International is further concerned at widespread reports of the beating of protestors during demonstrations, and other examples of excessive use of force by the police during the arrests and the dispersal of protests, resulting in many injuries to protestors.

Those arrested in July include members of a committee of representatives selected by the Muslim community to represent their grievances to the government and at least one journalist.

Amnesty International fears that the arrests of community leaders, protestors and others in the Muslim community, and the pending charges against certain individuals, are based on their lawful exercise of the right to freedom of expression and the right to organize and participate in peaceful protests.

Addis Ababa’s Muslim community has staged regular peaceful protests throughout 2012 over grievances including an alleged government-backed effort to impose the teachings of the minority Al Ahbash sect of Islam on the majority community, and government interference in elections for the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs.Ethiopia’s Constitution prohibits state involvement in religious affairs. The protests have regularly attracted large numbers of people over the last six months.

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