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

Prisoner: Fitawrari Mekonnen Dori; DOB 1936; Married with seven children, Member of the Central Committee, Southern Peoples' Coalition, Fitawrari Mekonnen was thrown into jail on tramped up charges in 1994, and despite ill health, receives no medication.

Fitwarari Mekonnen was born in Alta in Southern Oro where his father, Ato Dori Wange, was a "paramount chief" of the Hamar. He first went to school through the auspicies of Dajazmach Abebe Awraris, a one-time governor of the region. As a privilage for boys of his background, the Emperor Haile Selassie had him in a boarding school for his primary and secondary education in Addis Ababa. He had a higher edcuation in teacher training and holds a directors' and inspectors' diploma. He also has a post-graduate diploma from Manchester University in the U.K.

HIs long career in government service spans three different governments: the monarcy (which lapsed in 1974), the dergue (1974-91) and the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (1991-) He started with employment as a teacher at the Ministry of Education, followed by positions as director and inspector of several schools. He later developed expertise in adult education and worked in that capacity too for the Ministry. He was administrator in five different districts for a period of time at the Ministry of Interior, which is probably when he was given the title *Fitawrari* by the Emperor. He went to be General Manager of three different factories at the Ministry of Industry, and Manager of the National Theater and the Ambassador Theater at the Ministry of Culture and Sports. He was finally a Vice minister of Information for a brief period in 1992.

These government services were accompanied by social and civic activities. Among his wide ranging leadership in such fields are posts as Assistant Secretary to the Ethiopian Society for Orphans, Member of the Executive Committee of the Ethiopian Boy Scouts Association, and Acting Secretary General of the Ethiopian Teachers' Association (ETA).

Interesting in this regard is also his literary activities. He has authored more than twenty-five plays, all of which are in manuscript. His interests in this field found expression when he acted in a paly translated from the French by Molier. In the 1990's he had began to record Hamar culture and tradition, for whom he was also preparing literacy material.

The political activitis which brought him into clashes with the EPRDF began when he founded and became Chairman of the Omo Peoples' Democratic Front, delegating which he also became the Member of the Central Committee of the Southern Democratic Coalition (SEPDC). It was in that capacity that he chaired the organizing Committee of peace and reconciliation meeting held in December 1993 in Addis Ababa (and out of which emerged the Council of Alternative Forces for Peace and Democracy in Ethiopia (CAFPDE). He joined the SEPDC delegation to peace talks between opposition groups, organized at Atlanta, Georgia, by the Carter Center and later to the talks between the Ethiopian government and the opposition organized by the US Congressional Task Force in Washington DC. His arrest and detention after the failure of those talks was aimed at cracking down the non-EPRDF created parties that had gained visibility within the opposition.

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Note:

The ISCEPC thanks the Addis Ababa office of the Council of Alternative Forces for Peace and Democracy in Ethiopia (CAFPDE) for making available this biographical sketch.