PM Hailemariam Desalegn will not be an honorary doctorate at the Finnish university

Hailemariam Desalegn

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Picture: EPA / MATE

Tampere University of Technology in Finland was about to appoint Ethiopia's controversial Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn an honorary doctorate in May at the university. The press release on the appointment has been removed from the website, and the president of the university said there will be no appointment - as the prime minister cannot come.

Yle News was contacted by an exile Ethiopian journalist in Finland was very upset at Tampere University of Technology was going to appoint Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn an honorary doctorate by the University. Hailemariam is former student of the University, and an honorary doctorate is the highest recognition that a university can give to a person.

Ethiopia declared a state of emergency in October last year after several months of anti-government protests. The two largest ethnic groups in the country, Oromo and Amhara are oppressed by the regime, which mainly belong to minority ethnic group called Tigre.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegns governing coalition EPRDF has 500 of Parliament's 547 seats, the rest is held by its allies.

Hundreds were killed and tens of thousands were imprisoned during the protests, according to several human rights organizations.

"An insult to all Africans"

Muluken Tesfaw fled to Finland from Ethiopia in May last year. He ran an opposition newspaper in the capital Addis Ababa and was afraid for his life in what Ethiopia has been under Prime Minister Hailemariam.

"As Ethiopians who actively follow the events in Ethiopia, it is an insult that they plan to honour the leader of a brutal undemocratic regime. Not just an insult against me, but against all Africans, and especially all Ethiopians," writes journalist Muluken Tesfaw.

"To honour the Ethiopian Prime Minister means supporting the killing of more than a thousand Ethiopians in the regions of Amhara and Oromia by the regime's security forces brutality. It means that you accept the imprisonment and torturing of more than 30 000 people of the Amhara and Oromo. That you think it’s okay that the state is controlled by the military during the state of emergency regime has declared. That you do not care about millions of Ethiopians leave the country for fear of torture and imprisonment," he continues.

Also including Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam from California State University have expressed their dismay over the plans to honour Desalegn with an honorary doctorate.

Headmaster: We cannot appoint him if he is not in place

The only press release on the appointment of the university site was dated September 20, 2016, but had been removed from the website. It is still remains in the cache.

Screenshot
Screenshot of the press release that has been removed from the university's website. (Image: YLE)

We have been contacted by Ethiopians who are upset about your plans to honour Hailemariam Desalegn with an honorary doctorate. You still have removed the press release about it from your web pages. What is the position with the appointment?

- We will not appoint him, says Rector Mika Hannula by telephone.

Why not?

- He told us a week ago that he cannot come, and we cannot appoint him if he is not in place.

Were there other reasons?

- We cannot appoint him if he's not here.

What were the reasons that you were going to appoint him in the first place?

- He is renowned academics who have done commendable work in water technology.

Why have you removed the press release about the appointment?

- I cannot say anything about it. I do not know.

Source: YLE

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