Souce: Ethiopian Information Service (SHINE), Amsterdam (Holland) - May 30, 1996

Dr. Taye Wolde Semayat president of the Ethiopian Teachers' Association (ETA) has been imprisoned this morning at the Bole International Air Port in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. Dr. Taye has been incarcerated as the he got off the plane which just arrived from Frankfurt Germany this morning. Dr. returned to his country after having stayed stayed here in Europe on a work visit. From reports that we have received from Ethiopia, we have confirmed that Dr. Taye is currently held in the notorious Makelawi (Central Investigation Police Center) prison in Addis Abeba. No charges have been brought aginst Dr. Taye nor his arrest been made by court order. Arriving at Addis Abeba together with Dr. Taye were the president of the Dutch National Association of Teachers and a representative of the African Teachers' Association.

Background :

The Ethiopian Teachers' Association ETA is one of the oldest professional organisations in Ethiopia. ETA was set up 46 years ago by dedicated teachers which sought to promote the interest of Ethiopian teachers and education in Ethiopia. ETA has some 120,000 members and it is the second largest trade union in Ethiopia after the Confederation of Ethiopian Labour Union. ETA has been one of the few highly vocal organisations in Ethiopia that made part of the civil society. It has tried to defend the cause of the collective interest of Ethiopian teachers and accordingly paid paid huge sacrifices. In 1974 ETA was one of the few organisations that was in the forefront of the struggle against the ailing imperial regime and ETA's struggle had contributed immensely in shaking off the imperial regime. Following Dergue's assumption of power, ETA initially pressed for the institution of basic democratic rights and emergence of a pluralistic political order. However the brutual Dergue regime cracked down on ETA and all other trade unions and ETA has been severely weakened druing the Dergue era.

ETA Under the EPRDF Regime

Following EPRDF's assumption of power, ETA reorganized itself and began to assert its independence. EPRDF did try to hijack ETA by subjecting this organisation to different pressures. Even former ETA leaders like Mr. Kasahun Bisrat (who was seretary of ETA in 1974) and has later lived in USA in exile following Dergue's assumption of power were rushed to AA to convince ETA work with the EPRDF government. * Mr. Kasahun Bisrat's disruptive mission meant to compromise the independence of ETA was rebuffed by the current ETA leadership. Thus the first attempt of EPRDF to use a former ETA leader Mr. Kasahun Bisrat was frustrated by the current ETA leadership and Mr. Kasahun has to pack and leave for Dallas, America where he currently resides.

EPRDF's Attempt To Create A Puppet Rival Teachers' Association

EPRDF's attempt to streamline ETA did not stop at using former ETA leaders like Mr. Kasahun Bisrat. EPRDF has, on various occasions, tried to split ETA by trying to create a rival teacher association. Six such attempts were made so far in an attempt to create a puppet rival teachers' association on a national level. All these efforts have failed to produce the desired effect i.e the liquidation of the legitmate ETA which is led by courageous leaders like Dr. Taye Wolde Semayat, Mr. Gemoraw Kassa, Mr. Abate Angore, etc. At the beginning of May 1996 an attempt was made by EPRDF to set up a rival ETA and this attempt failed too. This was the sixth attempt by EPRDF to set up a rival ETA or teletafi (puppet) as they are popularly known in Ethiopia. Teletafi is a word used to depict the mercenary character of such EPRDF spawned puppet organisations. EPRDF's sinster attempt to depict ETA as a political opposition group did not convince any body both within Ethiopia and within the international community nor EPRDF could substantiate such allegations against ETA. EPRDF's attempt to freeze the bank account of ETA, killings of ETA's members, incarceration etc did not slacken the resolve nor suppress the indomitable spirit of ETA's members. EPRDF's frustration finally led to its current attempt to incarcerate ETA's leader Dr. Taye. We would like to remind readers that the recent illegal searches in the premises and office of ETA in Addis Abeba and in the private homes of ETA leaders and their relatives were part of a broader design to silence ETA's leadership and wipe out any trace of an independent teachers' movement in Ethiopia. It is against all this background that we strongly protest against the illegal incarceration of Dr. Taye and call upon the international community to bring pressure to bear upon the ethnocratic EPRDF government so that it releases Dr. Taye unconditonally and stop its witch-hunt campaign against members and leaders of ETA. We call on all Ethiopians and Ethiopianists reading this message to appeal to all appropriate governmental and non-governmental bodies in the area of their residence. SHINE will update you with incoming information about Dr. Taye's ordeal in the dungeons of EPRDF.


Ethiopian Information Service Network In Holland (SHINE).


* By the way Mr. Kasahun was also behind the so-called "Peace Committee" under the chairmanship of Dr. Ephrem Yisshac. This has been a group which was very sympathetic to the EPRDF government and composed of people like Dr. Haile Selassie Belai, Dr. Yacob Haile Mariam (a lawyer from USA). Dr. Yacob Haile Mariam was eulogizing EPRDF and its policies when he presented a paper here in Driebergen, Holland in Septmeber 1991 about his assesment of the July 1, 1991 conference in Addis Abeba which he attended as a honorary observer representing this peace group), etc. This so called "peace" group never uttered a single word while all those atrocites were perpetrated against Ethiopians following EPRDF's effort to inflmae inter- ethnic and inter-communal conflicts in areas south of Tigrai. It was a group which was trying to cover up the ugly undemocratic face of EPRDF and was accordingly rejected by the Ethiopian people. The emergence of this phony "peace" group was part of an international effort by some pro EPRDF western institutions and churches to put a democratic face on the EPRDF government. This "peace" group was financed by western insitutions which are sympathertic to EPRDF.