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ETHIOPIA : Hailu Shawel (m) and hundreds of others

Prisoners of conscience/fear of torture or ill-treatment/health concern

lundi 14 novembre 2005

Hailu Shawel (m), member of parliament and president of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), aged 70

Professor Mesfin Woldemariam (m), aged 75, former chair of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council

Birtukan Mideksa (f), CUD Vice-President, lawyer and former judge

Dr Berhanu Negga (m), CUD member of parliament, Mayor of Addis Ababa and university professor (economics)

Getachew Mengiste (m), senior member of CUD and member of parliament

Gizachew Shifferaw (m), member of CUD executive committee

Dr Hailu Araya (m), former editor of Press Digest and CUD member of parliament

Dr Yacob Hailemariam (m) CUD member of parliament and former UN Special Envoy

Debebe Eshetu (m), CUD public relations officer

Muluneh Eyual (m), CUD secretary general

Daniel Bekele (m), policy director of ActionAid (a non-governmental organization)

On 7 November 2005 On 7 November 2005, police in Addis Ababa brought 24 people, including those listed above, to court and distributed a « wanted » list with the photos of 34 others. The court ordered the 24 in custody to be detained for a further 14 days for police investigations into suspected violent conspiracy in connection with the previous week’s demonstrations, although no one has yet been formally charged with any offence. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on 5 November that all 58 would be charged with treason, which carries a possible death penalty. (making a total of 58),Amnesty International considers the 24 detainees in custody to be prisoners of conscience who have not used or advocated violence and that the other 34 would also be prisoners of conscience if detained.

The complete list of 58 includes seven members of parliament, 11 journalists, Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), and civil society activists, lawyers, aid workers, two Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) investigators and two Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA) leaders, some of whom were in hiding or were abroad.

Amnesty International fears the detainees may be kept in prolonged pre-trial detention in harsh conditions and at risk of ill-treatment, and may not receive a fair trial according to international standards. Amnesty International remains deeply concerned about the health and treatment of the former chair of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, who suffers from a painful back complaint. His family were reportedly denied access to him up to his court appearance on 7 November.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

In Addis Ababa between 1 and 4 November, police shot dead 42 demonstrators and wounded 200 others. CUD had called for a stay-home strike in protest against alleged election fraud but demonstrations erupted into violence when police began shooting. CUD denied any violent conspiracy. CUD subsequently called for a further strike and boycott of government businesses for the following week.

Smaller protests occurred in other towns, but with fewer deaths and arrests than in Addis Ababa. More than 4,000 people have been detained, including many unemployed youth protesters in Addis Ababa, and taken to remote prisons in rural areas where conditions are harsh. Some 285 have been released but others are held without charge. Arrests in Addis Ababa and in other towns are continuing.

RECOMMENDED ACTION : Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language :

- expressing concern that opposition party leaders and supporters in custody since 1 November (naming Hailu Shawel, Professor Mesfin Woldemariam and others listed above), including at least seven members of parliament and several journalists, who have not used or advocated violence, may be charged with treason or violent conspiracy ;

- appealing for their immediate and unconditional release as prisoners of conscience detained because of their political beliefs ;

- renewing calls for Professor Mesfin Woldemariam to be transferred to a hospital immediately and given all necessary medical care ;

- urging the authorities to allow all the detainees immediate access to their families, legal counsel and any medical care they require ;

- calling for all detainees arrested in the protests, numbering over 4,000, to be treated humanely and either charged without delay with a recognizable criminal offence or released.

APPEALS TO :

[Please note : It may be difficult to get through to fax numbers in Ethiopia. Please keep trying.]

Prime Minister :
His Excellency Meles Zenawi

Office of the Prime Minister, PO Box 1031, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Fax : + 251 11 552020/ 552030

Salutation : Your Excellency

Minister of Justice :
Mr Assefa Kesito

Ministry of Justice, PO Box 1370, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Fax : + 251 11 517775/ 520874

Email : ministry-justice telecom.net.et

Salutation : Dear Minister

Federal Commissioner of Police :
Mr Workneh Gebeyehu

Ministry of Federal Affairs, PO Box 5068, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Salutation : Dear Commissioner

COPIES TO :

Minister of Foreign Affairs :
Mr Seyoum Mesfin

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PO Box 393, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Fax : + 251 11 514300

Email : mfa.addis telecom.net.et

Ambassade de l’Ethiopie

av. de Tervuren 23

1150 Bruxelles

fax : 02/771 49 14

email : etebru brutele.be

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.

Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 22 December 2005.

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