Information regarding human rights abuses against members of the Ashanti tribe by the government. [GHA3413]

Ethnicity is an important factor in Ghanaian politics, since ethnic attitudes towards the government are defined by the ethnic composition of the ruling coalition, and by allocation policies to various regions. [
George E. Delury, ed. World Encyclopedia of Political Systems and Parties, (New York: Facts On File, 1987), p.411.] There have been allegations that the PNDC and its political leadership are dominated by the Ewe group, to which Rawlings belongs. [Country Reports On Human Rights Practices for 1988, (Washington: U.S. Department of State, 1989), p.140.] Following the takeover in 1981, Akan groups, uneasy over the predominance of the Ewe in the new regime, "resisted the soldiers' authority and in consequence were unduly harassed". [Deborah Pellow and Naomi Chazan, Ghana, Coping With Uncertainty, (Boulder: Westview Press Inc., 1986), pp. 85-86.]

The Akan have persistently claimed that the Ewe dominate the military, giving them an unfair advantage in a country in which the military has played a decisive role in politics. The rank and file of the Ghanaian military, however, are dominated by neither Akan nor Ewe groups, and the Fante (an Akan sub-group) and the Ewe are almost equally represented in the officers' corps. [David Brown, "Who Are the Tribalists? Social Pluralism and Political Ideology in Ghana", African Affairs, 81, No.322, January 1982, p.45.]

The Ewe have been regarded periodically as a threat to Ghanaian politics by alleged attempts to influence the governing bodies. Some sources argue that this "threat" has been manipulated as a scapegoat by various governments. [Rhoda E. Howard, Human Rights in Commonwealth Africa, (New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield, 1986), p.96.] The current government is considered to favour the Ewe, especially by the Ashanti (an Akan sub-group) who dominated the politics of the region during the pre-colonial period. [Delury, p.411.] This favouring of the Ewe appeared to be the case, especially when Rawlings first came to power in 1979 and prosecuted many members of the former government on grounds of corruption. As the majority of these officials were either Ashanti or Brong (both sub-groups of the Akan), there appeared to be an ethnic bias, although many observers feel this was unintentional. [Brown, "Who Are the Tribalists? Social Pluralism and Political Ideology in Ghana", p.65.] Rawlings' supporters claim that this ethnic persecution would be especially unlikely in the case of the Ashanti, as Rawlings himself married an Ashanti.