Amnesty International (Urgent Action Program Office, Nederland, CO 80466- 1270)

UA 147/93 Fear of Ill Treatment/Legal Concern 30 April 1993


Dr. Alemayehu Teferra, former president of Addis Ababa University and 18 university students arrested two weeks later:

Anteneh Aregaw (psychology student), Anteneh Ewnetu, Bahru Temesgen, Berhanu Mulunesh, Gite (second name not known), Getaneh Aberra (Law), Habtamu Alebachew (political science), Hailu Berke, Hizb-Adam Gela (Languages), Marye Aberra (Management), Tadesse Zemamen (Economics), Teshome Bimerew (Languages), Tesfaye (second name not known), Yehualashet Girma (Electrical enginnering), Yohannes Negash (Library Science), Yohannes Seifu (Law), Zelalem Mulatu and one other student.

Amnesty International is concerned about the treatment and legal status of Dr. Alemayehu Teferra of , former President of the Addis Ababa University and a former professor and dean of civil engineering, who was arrested on about 9 April 1993 in Addis Ababa. He is detained without charge and is held incommunicado in Maikelawi security prison in Addis Ababa. This was a notorious detention and torture center under the previous government of President Mengistu Haile-Mariam. The present government of President Meles Zenawi is now using it to hold political prisoners, including members of the former government, and also opponents of the current government, some of whom have allegedly been tortured. Conditions in the prison are harsh.

The government has reportedly accused Dr. Alemayehu Teferra of involvement in the "Red Terror" campaign by the former government of President Mengistu Haile-Mariam in 1977-78, in which the authorities extrajudicially executed some thousands of "anti-revolutionary" government opponents and detained and tortured tens of thousands of more elsewhere. Dr. Alemayehu Teferra had at that time been chairman of a local urban-dwellers association (kebelle) in Addis Ababa but he was apparently exonerated of human rights crimes by the new authorities in 1991. On 18 January 1993, he was dismissed from his university post, to which he was elected in 1991, when the government closed the university after an anti-government demonstration at the university on 4 January, in which at least one student and reportedly several others were killed by the security forces. The real reason for his imprisonment seems to be his criticism of the present government over the security forces' action at the 4 January demonstration.

The 18 students were arrested on 22 April 1993 for demonstrating against the dismissal of 41 university professors and lecturers and 11 other students, apparently on account of their opposition to the government concerning the university demonstration issue (when the staff association issued a critical letter). They are detained without charge or further explanation, and are probably also held in Maikelawi security prison.

Background Information:

Amnesty International had already expressed concern about the 4 January shooting of the student demonstrators (UA 01/93, 5 January 1993 with follow-up of 10 February). The demonstrators were expressing their opposition to the independence referendum on Eritrea, which took place as schedule on 22 April 1993, with a vote overwhelmingly favorable to Eritrea (already de facto separate from Ethiopia) becoming an independent state in late May. The government stated that one student, later named as Tesfahun Worku, was killed and 13 others were wounded in the demonstration. Unofficial sources have put the figures much higher. The government in late February set up a commission of inquiry into the incident, to be headed by the President of the Supreme Court, and to report its findings to the Council of Representatives (parliament) within three months. It has apparently not yet taken evidence from the university community. The university was re-opened on 5 April under close government control, with a new president, Dr. Duri Mohammed, who is also Minister of Planning and Development. Before classes start, students must re-apply for registration and faculty staff must apply for new two-year contracts for their previously permanent jobs.

Recommended Actions:

Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters:

- expressing concern at the recent arrest of Dr. Alemayehu Teferra, former President of Addis Ababa University, and 18 students, apparently all for their peaceful criticisms of the government;

- appealing for their immediate and unconditional release, if they are not to be charged with recognizably criminal offenses;

- in the meantime urging that they be treated humanely in custody, and allowed immediate and regular access to their access to their families, lawyers and medical doctors, if necessary.


1) President Meles Zenawi, Office of the President, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

2) Mr. Mahteme Solomon, Minister of Justice, PO Box 1370, AA, Ethiopia


1) Mr. Hassen Shifa, Head of Police and Prison Administration, Ministry of Internal Affairs, POBox 2556, AA, Ethiopia.

2) Dr. Duri Mohammed, Acting President, AAU, POBOX 1176, AA, Ethiopia.

3) Ms. Genet Zewde, Minister of Education, PO Box 1367, AA, Ethiopia

4) Mr. Kamal Bedri, President of the Supreme Court, Minister of the Supreme Court, Minister of Justice, PO Box 1370, AA, Ethiopia.

5) Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos, Embassy of Ethiopia, 2134 Kalorama Rd., NW, Washington, DC 20008.