An international human rights group says Ethiopian authorities are intimidating and arresting political opponents, and using excessive force to silence dissent over disputed election results.
A Human Rights Watch official, Peter Takirambudde, said the group's investigations have revealed numerous cases of abuse to opposition supporters, often with the backing of local officials.
The New York-based organization is calling for an independent inquiry into the alleged abuses, which the official said are taking place in rural areas, far from international observers in Addis Ababa.
Following protests over May's parliamentary election results, the group said police in the rural Oromia and Amhara regions of Ethiopia raided the homes of opposition leaders, journalists and aid workers, often beating and detaining them. Thousands remain in detention.
Chris Albin-Lackey of the Human Rights Watch Africa Division said the abuses documented by its reserachers in rural Ethioipia may be widespread.
"The number of people who people who have been arrested throughout the country, which numbers in the thousands, certainly seems to indicate that this is a broad, nationwide phenomenon and not just confined to a few discreet areas," Mr. Albin-Lackey said.
Opposition protests in June and November over the election results sparked clashes with police that left more than 80 people dead.
Government officials have expressed regret the loss of life, but have defended their right to maintain public order.