THE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE FOR ETHIOPIAN PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE (ISCEPC)
North American office: P. O. Box 53022, Medford MA 02153. U. S. A

UNRAVELING HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN ETHIOPIA: WAYS AND MEANS OF ALLEVIATING THE PROBLEM

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.

Human Rights Week and Electronic Mail Conference
Closing Remarks
by
Minga Negash
Chairperson, ISCEPC

Your Excellencies,
Members and Friends of ISCEPC
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The human rights week observance and the electronic mail conference has been successfully conducted on EEDN and Ethiolist networks, between 3 and 8 March, 1997. Thank you very much for participating in this important conference.

On balance the papers and biographical sketches presented have been informative, educational and thought provoking. A total of seventeen pieces have been submitted. Fourteen of them in a paper form while three were information notes provided by individuals and institutions. On behalf of myself and ISCEPC I thank Dr. Assefa Negash (Amesterdam), Professor Getachew Haile (Minnesota), Woizero Berhane Yeras Work (Geneva), Professor Theodor Vestal (Oklahoma), Professor Adeno Addis (California/Australia), Ato Girma Bekele (California), Professor Awetu Simesso (Stanford), Ato Wondimu Mekonnen (Scotland), Woizero Sara Amsalu (Philadelphia), Dr. Araya Amsalu (Ohio), Ato Amha Asfaw (Missouri) and Woizero Alem-Tsehai Gebru for addressing this conference, submitting their pieces or providing information.

During the week, various on and off-line messages of support, suggestions and commentaries have been received from Switzerland, Canada, Germany, Michigan, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. This shows that the conference was indeed global. Thanks.

The ISCEPC together with other sister institutions, and above all you, will continue its efforts to get all prisoners of conscience released. There is no other choice, except intensifying the effort.

As you know this is a monumental task. It needs the full co-operation of not only Ethiopians but also the international community. In this line, several ideas are being considered. I have summarized them as follows.

(a) In due time, ISCEPC publishes the proceedings of this conference, with some editing and insertions, in a booklet form. The booklet should be circulated as widely as possible.

(b) Request Ethiopian professionals to assist in the preparation of a video about human rights abuses in Ethiopia.

(c) Request the Ethiopian media (Newspapers, radios and magazines) and international media to give a greater attention to the plights of Ethiopian prisoners of conscience in their programmes and publications.

Please note that biographical sketches are now available for the following prisoners of conscience:

- Dr. Taye Wolde Semayat, Assistant Professor of Political Sciences Addis Ababa University and President of the Ethiopian Teachers Association;

- Professor Alemayehu Teferra, President of Addis Ababa University;

- Professor Asrat Wodleyes, Dean of Faculty of Medicine Addis Ababa University and President of All Amhara People Organization;

- Ato Abera Yemaneab, Secretary General of the All Ethiopian Socialist Movement and Deputy Chairman of the Coalition of Ethiopian Democratic Forces;

- Ato Tsegaye Gebre Medhin, Senior Member of the Ethiopian People Revolutionary Party;

- Fitawrari Mekonnen Dori, Deputy Minister of Information and Deputy Chairman of the Southern Ethiopia Peoples Democratic Council;

ISCEPC will endeavour to get the biographical sketches of other prisoners of conscience. Any information in this regard is welcome.

(d) Request Ethiopian professionals in computing and information technology to create, update (the existing ones) and maintain a permanent presence on the Web, that detail human rights abuses in Ethiopia.

(e) Call on the leaders and the clergy of the Ethiopian Churches world-wide to mention the names of prisoners of conscience during the forthcoming EASTER prayers. Urge them to communicate with the Vatican so that the Pope will include human right issues in his Easter Message, if possible in the context of Ethiopia.

(f) Call upon the organizers of the Ethiopian Soccer Tournament in North America to observe a minute of silence before the start of the July 1997 games.

(g) Urge Ethiopians to establish contacts with human right monitoring groups and NGOs so that the services of professional psychologists would be cheaply available, for the healing of the psychological wounds of the victims of violence.

(h) Establish a fund and/or search for scholarships so that the children of the prisoners continue with their education.


Finally, I would like to thank members of the editorial board of of this conference. Special thanks goes to Dr. Samuel Kinde and Dr. Tsehai Berhane Selassie for bringing this conference to a successful conclusion.