North American office: P. O. Box 53022, Medford MA 02153. U. S. A


Human rights week observance and electronic mail conference

Dates: 3-8 March, 1997
Dedication: To past and present Ethiopian men and women who gave up their freedom, family, friends and career to struggle for a democratic Ethiopia.

Prisoner: ALEMAYEHU TEFERRA, Professor
civil engineering professor, president of the Addis Ababa University (AAU), former dean of faculty of technology & UNESCO board member, detained without charge and is held incommunicado in Maikelawi prison since 9 April, 1993. 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 where several students were killed and wounded.

Professor Alemayehu Teferra had served his country in different capacities from 1964 until his dismissal from the Addis Ababa University and subsequent arrest in January 1993.

Professor Alemayehu received his B.Sc. degree in Civil Engineering from the College of Engineering in Addis Ababa in 1961. He then left for Israel the same year to pursue his studies at Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. He obtained his M.Sc. degree in Civil Engineering in 1963. He also worked at the Civil Engineering Department of Technion as a research assistant for one year.

Professor Alemayehu returned to Ethiopia in 1964 where he joined the College of Engineering as a lecturer. He served the university in that capacity until 1967. The same year he won a scholarship to what was then West Germany. He joined the Technical University of Aechen after a 6 month language training. He obtained his Dipl.-Ing in 1969. He later obtained a Dr.-Ing degree in 1974. Professor Alemayehu was then appointed as a Scientific Associate in the same institution for a term of one year.

In 1975, he then returned to Ethiopia where he re-joined the Addis Ababa University. In 1978, he was appointed as the Dean of Faculty of Technology. He served in this capacity until 1984. From 1985-89, Professor Alemayehu was member of the UNESCO Executive Board.

Apart from his administrative duties at the university, Professor Alemayehu was also a distinguished teacher and researcher. In civil engineering practice in Ethiopia, he is remembered for his contributions in compiling and editing a code of practice for construction materials. He was also the head of a research group in civil engineering materials.

In 1992, for the first time in the history of the Addis Ababa University, the selection of the university’s president was carried out by a search committee and the university’s Senate. Professor Alemayehu capped his illustrious career at the AAU by becoming the university’s president in March 0f 1992.

Following the demonstration of AAU students on January 4, 1993 protesting the involvement of the U.N in the TGE’s supported referendum in Eritrea, Professor Alemayehu was summarily dismissed from his elected position by the incumbent government. The student protest was met by an armed response by the government security agents where, reportedly, several students were killed and many wounded. Professor Alemayehu, together with other university officials had criticized the governments action and requested for the withdrawal of armed government security agents from the university’s campus.

He was dismissed from his position on January 18, 1993. He was later arrested by the government on April 9, 1993. He is detained without charge and is held incommunicado in Maikelawi security prison in Addis Ababa. This is a notorious detention and torture center currently used by the EPRDF government 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. During his tenure as a chairman of a local urban-dwellers association (kebelle) in Addis Ababa. This is in sharp contrast to the TGE’s public exoneration of Professor Alemayehu’s in 1991 of any involvement in any wrong-doing during that period.

The Amnesty International has declared Professor Alemayehu Teferra as a prisoner of conscience "detained without charge and held incommunicado" for his opposition to the current government’s crime at the AAU campus in January 4, 1993.