Subject: Joint Communique of ICFTU and EI Regarding Dr. Taye's Detention

Amsterdam, October 13, 1996

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and Education International (EI) Condemn the Fabricated Charges Against the Leader of the Ethiopian Teachers' Assoccation (ETA) and the Suppression of Independent Trade Union Movement in Ethiopia.



Brussels, September 25, (ICFTU On Line) :

The ICFTU (International Confederation of Trade Unions) has accused the Ethiopian government of having fabricated charges against a teachers' leader in a renewed attempt to suppress independent trade unions in the country. Taye Woldesemiate, the internationally respected president of the Ethiopian Teachers' Association (ETA), a once 120,000 strong group, is soon to appear in court accused of conspiracy and attempts to assassinate minsters.

But both the ICFTU and Education International, the world's largest teachers' body, say the government accusations are totally groundless and are linked to the authorities' attempts to crush the influnential teachers' association. Mr. Woldesemiate was first arrested in May 1995 after the government refused to recognise the elected leadership of ETA and helped set up and sustain a break-away group. The offices of ETA have since been closed and its bank account frozen, depite a court injuction in favour of the elected leaders. The ETA President was then released and rearrested in May 1996 upon his return from Europe where he attended international trade union meetings. He was held in solitary confinement until August this year. Union sources say Mr. Woldemiate is in good health despite the harsh conditions of his detention.

Since he took power in 1991 after the collapse of the Mengistu dictatorship, Ethiopia's prime minster Meles Zenawi has adopted a confrontational course with the opposition and democratic trade unions. The country's national centre, CETU (Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions), was delegalised in 1994 and has since been unable to function. An appeal lodged by CETU leaders is still pending in Addis Abeaba's High Court. In a letter to Meles Zenawi, the ICFTU has called for the release of Taye Woldesemiate and for the restoration of tradie union rights in Ethiopia.

For more details contact : ICFTU Africa Desk: tel. 32-2-224 8223

or Education International: tel. 32-2-224-0611