||THE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY
COMMITTEE FOR||ETHIOPIAN PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE (ISCEPC)
Dr. TAYE's IMPRISONMENT & HIS CONDITION IN EPRDF's NOTORIOUS JAIL
Ethiopian Information Service Network In Holland (SHINE)
Paper prepared for the Human Rights Week Organized by
ISCEPC and EEDN, From 3-8 March 1997
Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". This is taken from the UDHR which has been adopted and incorporated in the July 1, 1991 Charter and subsequently included in the 1995 Constitution of the incumbent EPRDF government.
I - Introductory Note
The following report has been compiled by piecing together information which we have gathered from various sources including individuals and groups who are close to the prisons in which Dr. Taye has been held so far. With the help of this report we hope to bring to the attention of the international community the deplorable conditions obtaining in the prisons and dungeons of Ethiopia under the newly ensconced "democratic government" that enjoys support (material, moral and political, etc ) from the major democracies of the west. It is an account of the punishment meted to gutsy and brave leaders of professional organizations like ETA, etc who have the effrontery or audacity to stick out their neck and defend the rights of the civil society in Ethiopia. It is an account which documents the kind of punishment meted out to alleged "enemies" of the incumbent government. Dr. Taye is not a member of any political organization as is alleged by the Tigrean government nor is he in any way connected to any of the opposition political organizations in or outside Ethiopia. He has just been serving the members of his organization - the Ethiopian Teacher's Association (ETA) in his capacity as president of this organization since he was democratically elected to lead this organization in 1992.
II - Brief Biographical Sketch of Dr. Taye
Dr. Taye was born and grown in the town of Nazereth which is located some 90 kms south of Addis Abeba. On completion of his high-school, he moved to USA where he studied political science. In the late 1980's he returned to his country and joined the Department of Political Science and International Relations of Addis Abeba University where he served as professor until his illegal dismissal in March 1993 along with some 42 lecturers and professors by the incumbent regime. The dismissals were politically motivated . In addition to his service as a teacher in the university, Dr. Taye has been serving as president of the Ethiopian Teachers' Association (ETA) since his election to this office in 1992.
III - Background to Dr. Taye's Imprisonment - the Facts
ETA has been promoting the cause of education and the teaching profession in Ethiopia. In its drive to promote these goals, ETA came on a collision course with the incumbent government which, among other things, sought to deconstruct and dismantle ETA on ethnic lines; adopted a divisively deconstructive ethnic policy that led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people thereby directly or indirectly forcing hundreds of thousands of school children to drop out of the educational system . The divisive policy of the incumbent government and the inter-ethnic conflict it engendered caused the abduction and death of teachers  (see the other report on ETA); led to displacement of thousands of teacher; and resulted in the lay-off of many teachers. All these draconian measures by the incumbent government have been met with the resistance of teachers and their legal organization ETA. Hence the incumbent government's labeling and characterization of ETA as its enemy. This forms the backdrop against which we have to see the incarceration of ETA's leaders such as Dr. Taye Woldesemiat, Ato Abate Angore and Ato Kebede Desta and scores of others who have been abducted (16 in total) and imprisoned (10 in total) . The trumped-up charges about Dr. Taye's involvement in "a terrorist armed underground movement determined to topple the incumbent government and target government officials and westerners" is ridiculous to say the least (for a detailed coverage of the frame-up of Dr. Taye by the incumbent regime, I refer readers to the Ethiopian Register magazine). The US State Department's echoing of EPRF by unabashedly saying that "The government's case against Taye is not linked to his activities on behalf of the ETA" clearly shows where the American government's position lies in the conflict between ETA and the incumbent government. What we infer from this statement is that the American State Department is convinced about the veracity of the "terrorist" charges brought against Dr. Taye and his colleagues.
IV - ETA's Legal Battle Against the Incumbent Government
ETA has been engaged on many legal battles to defend its organizational existence and integrity in the face of the repression by the omnipotent EPRDF behemoth currently riding roughshod over Ethiopia. The lengthy legal battle between ETA and the incumbent government was won by ETA when in December 1994 the court recognized the legitimacy of ETA and ruled in its favor. However, the courts rulings were not respected by the government and the EPRDF government illegally blocked the realization of the court's rulings and injunction. Thus neither ETA's bank account was defrozen and released nor the reopening and normal functioning of ETA's hitherto closed branch offices (131 branch offices of ETA have been closed out of its 133 offices) made possible. Dr. Taye traveled to Europe to present his organization's case to sister organizations in Holland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, etc and seek international support for the embattled ETA of which he was a leader. While he was touring Europe to promote the cause of ETA, the incumbent government soldiers illegally broke into the head office of ETA in Addis Abeba and Dr. Taye's private home and conducted illegal searches and imprisoned Ato Abate Angore, executive Committee member of ETA who insisted on the soldiers to show him the court order that warrants their action . Earlier on similar illegal searches were made in the home of Dr. Taye's father (82 years of age) at his residence in Nazareth town.
V - From Frankfurt to Bole Airport and then to Maekelawi Prison
After his tour of some European countries, he returned to Ethiopia on May 30, 1996. Traveling with him to Ethiopia were Mr. Andre Dumont (from the Dutch National Teachers' Association ABOP) and two other professional colleagues (one from the national association of German teachers and another one being his colleague from the continental African teachers' association). "We have just passed the immigration office; so I thought nothing will happen. But after we have just made some steps, security men descended upon us from all sides. These men arrested Dr. Taye. All this happened in a matter of seconds. Then I went to a hotel to alert every body that Dr. Taye was arrested ". These were the words the Dr. Taye's Dutch colleague by the name of Mr. Andre Dumont who graphically described what happened to Dr. Taye when he arrived at the Bole international airport where Dr. Taye was surrounded by security policemen and taken away to Maekelawi prison . He was arrested without any court warrant or any prior criminal charges . He stayed in solitary confinement at the notorious Maekelawi (Central Investigation Centre) for three and half months. In all this time he was able to talk to his lawyer only once i.e., in the middle of July 1996. Even that was for a brief moment at which security police was present thereby denying Dr. Taye the right to at least talk to his lawyer alone. His lawyer's request to talk to Dr. Taye privately without the presence of a security personnel or prison guards has been refused.
While he was at the Maekelawi prison, his family member were allowed to bring him in food but were not allowed to see him or talk to him during all this time. On his own admittance, here at Maekelawi prison he was not physically tortured but did admit that he was mentally tortured by being kept alone in solitary confinement. No books, newspapers, any other reading materials or radio were allowed during his three and half months of solitary confinement at the Maekelawi prison.
Around the end of July 1996, Dr. Taye was brought to court. On three occasions, his court case was adjourned. This adjournment is the now familiar tactic or time-honoured method that is being employed by the incumbent TPLF regime to deny a speedy and just trial to what it calls its "enemies and opponents" like Dr. Taye. By so doing TPLF is able to prolong the unjustifiable suffering of innocent individuals whom it cannot legally keep in prison had there been an accountable system of justice to settle such court cases. And at last Dr. Taye appeared in court on October 12, 1996. After having been exposed to three and half months of solitary confinement at the notorious Maekelawi (Central Investigation Centre), Dr. Taye was transferred to the Kershele prison around the middle of September 1996. Kershele is the largest prison in Ethiopia that is located in the southern part of Addis Abeba city.
VI - Dr. Taye's Condition at the Kershele Prison
This is the largest prison in the country. Prisoners are crammed into rooms. The room in which Dr. Taye is held currently is believed to house up to 200 prisoners. It is very over-crowded; the ceiling is short and as such the room is very suffocated. There are no windows or openings which let in fresh air. The room is so over-crowded that inmates are forced to sleep in such a way that the feet of one inmate is made to lie on the head of the other inmate that sleeps in the opposite direction. Thus the head of one inmates comes to lie on or rest on the foot of the other inmate and vice versa. This is known as SAGA - a term coined by inmates since this way of sleeping resembles the traditional manner in which pieces of splinter of wood are inserted between an already standing structure of a thatched house or hamlet .
VII - Prison Conditions in Kershele
Unlike in Maekelawi where he was kept in solitary confinement, at Kershele books and radio are allowed. There is a library where he can at least read books and other reading materials. These are the positive changes for Dr. Taye as a prisoner in Kershele compared to his solitary confinement at Makelawi prison.
Shortly after he came to Kershele prison, Dr.Taye was hand-cuffed with a heavy chain. The chain is some 30 cm long and locked around his two wrists with the help of a heavy pad-lock. Initially the hand-cuffs were removed from his hands twice a day for just 15 minutes so as to allow him change his clothes during the morning the night. Later he lodged his complaints with the court in protest against his ill-treatment and hand-cuffing when he appeared in court during a hearing on his case that was held on October 25, 1996. The same day, upon his return from court to prison, the prison authorities took two severe measures against Dr. Taye so as to teach him a lesson and show him that they can do anything to him irrespective of the court's rulings. The following measures were taken against Dr. Taye :
1 - Before his protest against his hand-cuffing, the hand-cuffs were inserted around his wrists in such a loose way that they used to slide back and forth around his two wrists. But after his protest at the court, the hand-cuffs were tightly inserted and screwed around his wrists so as to maximize his pain to the point of scarring his wrists.
2 - Dr. Taye was told that the previous arrangement in which the prison authorities allowed him to be unchained twice (2X15 minutes) was reduced to just 1X15 minutes. For many months he had to walk around with the heavy chains with which both of his hands were chained or hand-cuffed. One can understand his difficulty of having to eat with the help of chained hands. Imagine also the difficulty of leafing through the pages of a book or a reading material with the help of chained hands every time you finish a page. Dr. Taye is an avid or prolific reader who always travels with several books when he is even on a journey. This I have personally witnessed when he was here in Holland on a work visit. He normally wakes up early in the morning (around 5:30 or 6 A.M) and embarks upon reading books before breakfast. This he told me was his usual habit. One can imagine the difficulty of such a person when he is forced to leaf through a book with chained hands every time he reads a book. From my own personal experience in Ethiopian prison, I know that prison life is a very boring one and books are about the only things which may serve one as pass time and diversion and offer some kind of solace. Readers of this report should also try to imagine the difficulty Dr. Taye encounters sleeping in such an over-crowded room together with 200 inmates while being hand-cuffed for nearly 24 hours every day. Since December 10, 1996 the hand-cuffs have been removed from his hands  after concerted appeals from the international community (EI, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, the General Secretary of Trade Unions of UK, etc who called on the incumbent government to halt its maltreatment of Dr. Taye).
Normally prisoners stay for a maximum of two weeks at this section of the Kershele prison where Dr. Taye is currently held. No prisoner is held in this section of the Kershele prison for more than two weeks . In Dr. Taye's case, he has been forced to stay in this section of the Kershele prison for months on end. This is the most insalubrious section of Kershele which is infested with fleas, lice and bugs as it is the most verminated section of the Kershele prison.
VII - Psychological Torture In Prison And Restriction of Movement
The aim of any dictatorial government in imprisoning its critics is to silence such critics by breaking them psychologically and force them into obmustescence. More often than not prison guards and security personnel of the incumbent government come to Dr. Taye's prison cell and provoke him with all kinds of insults, humiliating remarks, jeer at him, scold him, etc. All this is meant to break Dr. Taye mentally, frustrate him and provoke him into ill-tempered reactions or tantrums or petulance. Dr. Taye, an otherwise cool and softly spoken gentle and highly mannered person, has not given in to their provocation till now and it is my hope he will not do that in the future too. In addition to the psychological pressure to which he is subjected, unlike other prisoners of Kershele, Dr. Taye's movement outside his prison cell is restricted to such an extent that he is not allowed to make physical exercise - something which is normally allowed to other prisoners.
IX - "Gimgema" or Evaluation - in the Kershele Prison
One of TPLF's new, if novel, contribution to the Ethiopian prison system is Gemigema, something which was hitherto unknown even under the notorious defunct military regime of the Dergue. Gimgema is a new phenomenon in prison through which prisoners are allowed to subject a fellow prisoner (who is dubbed dangerous by the incumbent ethnocratic regime) to a barrage of false accusations by branding him as an arrogant, asocial, contemptuous prisoner that looks down upon other prisoners. As is known, in the Kershele prison of today, all kinds of prisoners running the whole gamut from political prisoners, prisoners of conscience, to common criminals, etc are all kept together. The incumbent government bribes or forces common criminals or its own agents who are occasionally sneaked  into the prison for such purposes to accuse people like Dr. Taye by alleging that he is "arrogant" or "contemptuous" (by virtue of being an educated man, etc). They play upon the low social background of some of these common criminals some of whom would be more than ready to attack those whom they perceive come from a better social, economic and educational milieu. Even TPLF is alleged to sneak its own cadres as inmates for some times in order to orchestrate and organize such campaigns of accusations invectives or denunciation and subsequently humiliate the government's perceived "enemies" such as Dr. Taye . Thus at the end of the Gimgema the criminal and lumpenish elements in the prison pass verdict on the allegedly "arrogant and contemptuous" individuals such as Dr. Taye and demand that he be punished by the prison authorities. After having run the gauntlet of all these orchestrated accusations and invectives, people like Dr. Taye are asked whether or not they agree to the accusations levelled against them. They are advised to admit their crime. Should they refuse to admit being "criminals and offenders", they are then condemned by the prisoners who have already been selected for these task of criminalizing Dr. Taye and his likes. Thus the alleged offender or person such as Dr. Taye is condemned to being hand-cuffed or chained as a punishment for his alleged misbehaviour or misconduct vis a vis his inmates or forced to clean the common toilet for weeks on end or wash all dishes, etc. This is how the incumbent regime uses marginalised members of society (common criminals, thieves, etc) as instruments in attacking respectable figures of the Ethiopian civil society such as Dr. Taye. Here one sees the inexhaustible, if "admirable" resourcefulness of the incumbent ethnocratic and dictatorial regime to mobilize its own victims (victims of the the socio-political and economic system such as common criminals and thieves) against innocent and highly revered public figures that are looked up with deference by the Ethiopian society.
X - The Court's Attitude Regarding Dr. Taye's Protest
Readers of this report may ask "what was the court's attitude regarding Dr. Taye's protest against the fact that his two hands are hand-cuffed for nearly 24 hours ?" What was the judges' response to the protest made by Dr., Taye and his lawyer? Mr. Hagos Woldu, who happens to be the central judge presiding over the case of Dr. Taye, stated that he has no power of jurisdiction over the prison administration and added that he would make an inquiry into the matter. Then following Dr. Taye's protest at court, the court said that it would enquire into the matter. Actually there was nothing to enquire about as the prison officer who enforced this harsh regime on Dr. Taye was there and the court could have asked him why he did that there and then.
Dr. Taye's lawyer, Ato Abebe Werke, has protested against his client's maltreatment and hand-cuffing of his hands. After all Dr. Taye has not committed any criminal offence that warrants such extreme measures as hand-cuffing his hands. Secondly he is not held in a maximum security prison where dangerous criminals whose criminal records have been established by court of justice are held for fear that they may escape. According to the prisoner officer Ato Negussie Tesfaye, disobedient and dangerous prisoners are treated that way. And according to this prison officer, Dr. Taye is such a dangerous prisoner and as such he deserves this kind of treatment.
It should be clear to readers that when ever Dr. Taye is brought to court by a police van, his hand-cuffs are removed just before he steps into the court room so that the public attending his trial may not see his handcuffs. Although the judges could have done something about the hand-cuffs, they did not want to do anything that contradicts the government's implicit wish of punishing and breaking down Dr. Taye. The judges who preside over Dr. Taye's case are Mr. Hagos Woldu (central judge), Mrs. Abrehet and Mr. Woldemikael. On the 7th of November 1996, Dr. Taye's lawyer Ato Abebe Werke visited him and reported that Dr. Taye's prison condition has not changed for the better. Then Dr. Taye was still hand-cuffed. According the latest information which we in SHINE received from ETA, the hand-cuffs were removed as of December 10, 1996. On a related note, on January 16, 1997 (at which Dr. Taye's case should have been heard in court), the court adjourned or postponed Dr. Taye's case till February 28 by saying that not all the judges were present to preside over Dr. Taye's case. Adjourning court cases of alleged "enemies" of the incumbent regime is a well established tactic of the present government and this is meant to prolong the suffering of its alleged "enemies" such as Dr. Taye, etc.
XI - Visits by Family Members and Friends
Family members and friends are allowed to visit Dr. Taye twice in the week and for some 30 minutes on each visit. Normally other prisoners are allowed more time to talk with their families.
XII - The Plight of Dr. Taye's Colleagues - The Alarming Case of Mr. Kebede Desta & Mr. Abate Angore's Detention
Ato Kebede Desta is the other colleague of Dr. Taye who is currently in prison. He was born in Asbe Teferi, western Hararghe. Ato Kebede is an elderly man who heads the veteran wing of ETA. Ato Kebede has served his country as a teacher for 32 years and is currently held in the Kershele prison together with Dr. Taye. Since his imprisonment by the ERPDF government, he has been denied his pension rights for which he has paid during his long years of service to his country . He suffers from two chronic diseases i.e Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension. These are chronic diseases that generally undermine the circulatory system thereby compromising the function of major organs of the body such as the heart, brain, kidney, and also damages other organs such as the eyes, etc. The synergistic effect of these two diseases on the body is devastating. The clinical condition of a patient suffering from these two diseases is exacerbated or complicated by stress which undermines the therapeutic effect of treatments directed at these two debilitating diseases by exacerbating the condition of the patient. Ato Kebede Desta, who is now 59 years of age, has been critically ill and has to be hospitalized at a hospital where prison guards constantly guard him lest he "escapes" from hospital. This, we hope, shades light on the inhuman face of the incumbent regime who falsely accuses such an elderly man and force him to suffer doubly i.e by 1) forcing him to languish in prison 2) exposing him to conditions that would undermine his health and lead to serious clinical complications. In Mr. Kebede's case paralysis caused by stroke (secondary to the synergistic effect of Diabetes Mellitus and hypertension); blindness that results as a complication of Diabetes Mellitus (a condition clinically known as Diabetic retinopathy, etc) and hypertension; or in the worst case a stroke that may punctuate his life or disable him for the rest of his life (the danger of physical paralysis and other neurological complications) are real more than ever (by virtue of being in prison where exposure to such dangerous complications are very great). So it is instructive that all of you who read this report approach groups like Physicians for Human Rights dotted around the western world to clamour for the immediate release of this veteran ETA leader who is currently suffering in prison on trumped-up charges. Particularly those of us who are medical professionals (doctors, nurses, para-medicals, etc.) are better placed to make such appeals to appropriate bodies and campaign on behalf of such prisoners of conscience. Many Ethiopian prisoners have lost their lives in the past few years due to lack of proper medical attention and the stressful material and psychological conditions obtaining in EPRDF's prisons. In 1996 alone, 19 prisoners have died in one prison located at Kaliti (in the outskirts of Addis Abeba city) for lack of medical treatment, unhygienic conditions obtaining in the prison, etc . Unlike its predecessor - the brutal military Dergue regime, the EPRDF government is smart when dealing with what it calls its "enemies". One of the tactics used by this government to physically get rid of its opponents is to force them into prisons where living conditions are terrible and nature can take care of prisoners of conscience thereby absolving EPRDF from any kind of blame. Thus unlike its brutal predecessor - the military Dergue regime - EPRDF does not kill its well-known enemies with bullets. Rather, EPRDF chooses to expose its opponents to the scourges or vagaries of nature (disease, etc.) by allowing the destructive forces of nature (infections, diseases, etc.) to take its toll of its opponents that it has thrown in the various prisons of the country. EPRDF does not spoil bullets to kill famous personalities lest it tarnishes its "democratic image" among its western supporters. As such it exposes its enemies to diseases which eventually run their full course and devour EPRDF's enemies such as Mr. Kebede Desta. Unless we bring pressure to bear upon the EPRDF by the international community (for the immediate release of Mr. Kebede Desta), he may not be able to survive long under such conditions and return to his families alive. Hence the need to call for the immediate release of this man.
The other colleague of Dr. Taye who is held in custody in the southern Ethiopian city of Arba Minch is Mr. Abate Angore who is the Executive Committee Member of the present ETA leadership. Ato Abate Angore is in prison since September 29, 1996 on flimsy charges of refusing to hand over ETA's branch office in Arba Minch (in 1993) to the puppet ETA officials installed by the incumbent government. Ato Abate was imprisoned at Arba Minch (on September 29, 1996) when he traveled to visit his family members who live in his birth place in the Gamu Gofa region of southern Ethiopia. Ato Abate Angore is the head of a family of 10 and the only bread-winner in the family. He moved to Addis Abeba upon his election as ETA's executive committee member on February 18, 1993 at the 14th General Assembly of ETA. Before that he was the leader of the Northern Omo branch office of ETA. Upon his transfer to Addis Abeba in 1993, he refused to hand over the office of the Northern Omo Branch to members of the puppet ETA that was illegally created by the incumbent regime as a rival to the legally founded ETA led by Dr. Taye. He subsequently handed over the office to the legally elected representatives of the north Omo ETA branch office leaders. Later the security forces of the incumbent EPRDF government forcefully broke into the northern Omo ETA branch office and took over this office in July 1993 after they have thrown into prison the legally elected ETA leaders of the northern Omo branch office [20. Today the same government, which has taken all these illegal measures against the northern Omo ETA branch office leaders of ETA, has imprisoned Ato Abate Angore saying that Ato Abate had refused to hand over ETA's northern Omo branch office to its present occupants i.e the puppet government-supported ETA officials. This is very ironic to say the least. Since his incarceration in September 1996, Ato Abate Angore has appeared at the Arba Minch court several times. But to date no decision has been given on his case. His case is still pending court decision and he is deliberately and illegally held in detention to this date. All these ETA leaders have been denied their salaries and pensions. We ask readers of this report to bring the plight of these people to appropriate bodies in their areas of residence. We need to campaign for the release of these people and voice our concerns about the deplorable state in which these victims of human rights violations find themselves in. Unless we support the cause of vocal members of organized groups such as ETA by echoing their plight to the international community and supporting them financially and materially, then our hope of contributing to the democratization of our society would not bear fruit. Hence the need to affirm our commitments for the institutionalization of human rights and democracy in Ethiopia by supporting fledgling members of the Ethiopian civil society like ETA, etc. The task ahead should be exposing the gruesome records of this regime that are sticking out like a sore thumb; and expose its attempt to decapitate the leaderships of grass-root organizations like ETA, etc by incarcerating its leaders and weakening the organizations.
N. B. - Please take the pain of reading the footnotes - particularly footnote 17 !!!!
In this report the Ethiopian word Ato is frequently mentioned. It is the equivalent of Mr in the English tradition.
1 - Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted at the 1948 Beneva Conventions.
2 - Recently (December 12, 1997), the World Bank and the IMF group pledged loan and aid equivalent to $2.5 Billion dollars to the incumbent TPLF government. In a related note, the European Community pledged a sum of $470 million just recently (see the January 24, 1997) issue of Addis Tribune newspaper.
3 - See the Indian Ocean Newsletter of April 1993.
4 - for a detailed treatment of the subject, see the book entitled: "The Pillage of Ethiopia, 1996". Also see the USAID report of 1994b.
5 - see the paper presented about ETA at the Human Rights Week of ISCEPC and EEDN, March, 1997.
6 - Paper presented by ETAs general secretary, Mr. Gemorraw KAssa at the 47th Annual meeting of ETA in February 1996.
7 - Ethiopian Register magazine, September 1996 issue.
8 - see US Department of States report entitled "Ethiopia Country Report on Human Right Practice for 1996", released on January 30, 1997.
9 - For details see the Tobiya weekly newspaper issue of March 1996. (Tobiya Vol. III, No 16)
10 - schoolblad - organ of the National Association of Dutch Teachers (ABOP) - June 15, 1996 which published about the arrest of Dr. TAye under the heading "Arrest of Leader of Teachers Association".
11 - EHRCOs Special Report on Dr. Tayes Imprisonment, June 1996.
12 - Personal communication to me by Mr. Teferra Asmare who was editor-in-chief of Ethiopis weekly Amharic newspaper. Ato Teferra spent three years in Kershele prison during the incumbent governments political tenure. Mr. Teferra is currently in Holland where he has sought political asylum.
13 - Memo of ETA to SHINE, December 20, 1996.
14 - ibid
15 - Mr. Teferra Asmares (former prisoner at Kershele) testimony at a public meeting where he disclosed this practice of the incumbent regime when he addressed a conference in Amsterdam, Holland on June 39, 1996.
16 - ibid (Teferra Asmare)
17 - Memo of ETA to SHINE dated 19 December, 1996.
18 - currently there are hundreds of Ethiopian medical doctors working in the western world. In the US alone, it is believed that some few hundred Ethiopians live and work. In Canada and western Europe also one encounters dozens of Ethiopian medical doctors. However, the activities of these professionals on the human rights front is negligible or nil to say the leeast. It is time that some of these medical professionals organize themselves as a group and clamor against the inhuman treatment of their people back home. This is a responsibility which we have failed to shoulder. Barricading ourselves behind professional and academic walls and feigning ignorance of what is going on in the country is morally, intellectually and professionally indefensible.
19 - for an instructive account of such cases, see the Tobiya newspaper, Vol. III, No 49, Nov 96 issue which lists the names of 28 Ethiopian political prisoners who lost their lives while languishing in EPRDF prisons (for more than 5 years and without ever having been brought to court)
20 - Memo of the Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA) to SHINE, dated Dec. 20, 1996.