Subject: ETHIOPIA: MORE ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM, FREE EXPRESSION

18 May 1994

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE

HUMAN RIGHTS ACTION NETWORK (AAASHRAN)

ETHIOPIA -- UPDATE OF ALERT ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION --

DISMISSAL OF 42 PROFESSORS INCLUDING SOCIAL SCIENTISTS, PHYSICAL SCIENTISTS, ENGINEERS, LINGUISTS AND ECONOMISTS, ARREST OF STUDENTS, AND RECENT ARREST OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE ETHIOPIAN CHEMICAL ASSOCIATION, BERHANE MEWA.

CASE NUMBER(S): ET9315TEFERRA and ET9413MEWA [Note: A previous Alert was

distributed on this case on 17 November 1993.]

ISSUES: Dismissal of a significant number of professors in the social and physical sciences, including the immediate past president of the University, and former dean of the Faculty of Technology, Dr. Alemayehu Teferra, the arrest of Dr. Teferra and a number students, and the arrest of the Chairman of the Ethiopian Chemical Association, Berhane Mewa. Relevant Human Rights issues include: Guarantees of security of the person, prohibition against arbitrary arrest, the right to be informed of charges and to be tried within a reasonable time or released, and the right to be presumed innocent and to be tried without undue delay.

FACTS OF THE CASE: The 42 professors that were dismissed on April 9, 1993, received a form letter from the newly appointed President of the University, Dr. Duri Mohamed, informing them that their applications would not be considered because their services were no longer needed. This occurred during the term of coverage of valid contracts, without prior notice and without a hearing. The professors involved had written a letter of protest against the government's violent reaction to a student demonstration in January 1993. There is concern that the professors were dismissed because of their political affiliations, although there have also been claims that the dismissals were ethnically motivated.

In an atmosphere of fear, the professors faced difficulties in retaining a lawyer to represent them, they are currently being represented by a lawyer who was among the 42 dismissed. A suit has been filed in court. There was a court hearing in January 1994 to ascertain to what extent there was a case to pursue. The relevant government authorities claimed that the dismissed university professors had not been legal government employees. They claimed that earlier contracts were not legal, and that the teachers were simply not required for the new contract, so the government had no case to answer as the teachers were neither government employees nor former government employees.

The court summoned the minister of education and the commissioner of the Commission for Personnel Affairs (CPA), or at least their representatives, to appear in court in March. No one turned up from the CPA. The court has now summoned the Minister of Education and the Commissioner of the CPA to appear in court personally. The lawyers have not yet raised the issue of pensions. None of the professors have been reinstated.

AAAS has received no information concerning the status of the 18 students arrested after the student demonstration. In addition, the immediate past president of Addis Ababa University, the only President to be voted into office by the faculty, Dr. Alemayehu Teferra, was arrested in April 1993. Although he was reportedly absolved of any crime by the new authorities in 1991, Dr. Alemayehu has been accused of involvement in the "red terror" activities of the previous regime while chairman of a local urban-dwellers association in Addis Ababa during that time. We have received reliable reports that Dr. Alemayehu is suffering from a chronic duodenal ulcer for which he needs medical attention. He has been imprisoned without charge for over one year.

We have also received reports that Berhane Mewa, Chairman of the Ethiopian Chemical Association, was detained on February 9, 1994. Dr. Berhane is a respected businessman and owner of "Netsa Gazetta," an independent newspaper. The court ordered the release of Dr. Berhane, but he was rearrested immediately apparently in connection with an article he published containing a statement by a group called the Ethiopian Unity Brigade, which claimed responsibility for an attack on a US Diplomat. He has been accused of belonging to the group on which he reported. The Committee to Protect Journalists ranks Ethiopia second to China in its Annual Report, "Attacks on the Press in 1993." Although the Ethiopian Government has committed itself to freedom of expression in the Transitional Period Charter of Ethiopia, in effect the interim constitution, through intimidation, harassment, and arbitrary arrests the TGE is clearly violating Article One of the Charter which provides that "individual human rights shall be respected fully in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," and specifies that everyone shall have the "freedom of conscience, expression, association and peaceable assembly..."

Ethiopia ratified the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on June 11, 1993. Their first report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee is due on June 11, 1994. Having ratified the covenant, Ethiopia has a legal obligation to guarantee the security of the person and prohibit arbitrary arrest (Article 9 of the Covenant), must inform individuals of the charges against them and individuals must be tried within a reasonable time or released (Article 9 of the Covenant), must presume individuals innocent until proven guilty and individuals must be tried without undue delay (Article 4 of the Covenant).

On October 30, 1993, AAAS received a fax from Chief Special Prosecutor Girma Wakjira confirming that over 1,000 individuals are languishing in prison without formal charge. Although he confirms Ethiopia's "moral and legal obligation" to process the cases the current policy of the Special Prosecutors Office is that "once the detainees and target defendants are categorized, analyzing the evidence available, the present political situation, the capacity of the courts and our international legal obligations related to fair and speedy trial, and our moral and legal obligations to the victims, charges will be readied and submitted to the court." This policy, which in some cases takes years, is clearly in violation of Ethiopia's legal obligations under the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition, in some instances judicial orders are not carried out by local law enforcement agencies. Individuals are either not released or if they are released they are immediately rearrested as in the case of Dr. Mewa. Unless these prisoners are either freed or brought to trial the AAAS will make a submission to the Human Rights Committee pointing out serious violations.

The AAAS has written five appeal letters to the Ethiopian government on behalf of Dr. Alemayehu, the 42 professors, and students arrested after the student demonstration. AAAS has also requested that the individuals be released from prison immediately if they are not formally charged with a crime.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams, telexes, faxes or airmail letters:

o expressing concern regarding the dismissals and arrests;

o indicating that these actions are inconsistent with standards of academic freedom, freedom of expression, security of the person and other human rights standards, including those contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Ethiopia has approved;

o requesting updated information on whether those professors who have been dismissed have been (or will be) reinstated, and whether Dr. Teferra and the arrested students have been made aware of the charges against them, brought to trial, provided with adequate legal assistance, and (hopefully) released; and

o suggesting the reinstatement of the dismissed professors, and the release of Dr. Teferra and the students still detained.

[Source of information on this case: Amnesty International Urgent Action Appeal Number UA 147/93 and subsequent updates.]

APPEAL MESSAGES AND LETTERS SHOULD BE SENT TO:

President Meles Zenawi

Office of the President

Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA

(Telegrams: President Meles Zenawi, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Africa)

(Telexes: 9976-21050 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs))

(Faxes: 011-251-1-514300 c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs))

[Salutation: Your Excellency]

Her Excellency Genet Zewde

Minister of Education

Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA

(Telegrams, telex and fax as above)

[Salutation: Your Excellency]

COPIES OF APPEALS SHOULD BE SENT TO:

Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos

Ethiopian Embassy

2134 Kalorama Road, NW

Washington, DC 20008

Duri Mohamed, President

Addis Ababa University

P.O. Box 1176

Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA

The Honorable Thomas Johnston

Subcommittee on Africa

Committee on Foreign Affairs

816 O'Neill House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

M. David Shinn

Department of State

Director of Office of East African Affairs

2201 C Street, NW, Room 5240

Washington, DC 20520

Mr. George E. Moose

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs

US Department of State, Rm. 6234A

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, DC 20520

Dr. Theodros Solomon

Addis Ababa University Faculty of Science

P.O. Box 1176

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Addis Ababa University Teachers Association

P.O. Box 1176

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Edward V.K. Jaycox

Vice President, Africa Region

The World Bank

1818 H Street, NW

Washington, DC 20433

Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation with Developing Countries

P.O. Box 16140

Klarabergsgatan 23

S-10323 Stockholm

SWEDEN

Reference can be made to the AAAS Human Rights Action Network and the AAAS appeal letters (attached) if you with, although appeals written in your own professional capacity or on behalf of your own organization tend to be given greater weight. The keys to effective appeals are to be: courteous and respectful; accurate and precise; impartial in approach; and as specific as possible regarding the human rights standards and instruments that apply to the situation. For further information on the case or on the AAASHRAN network, contact:

Morton Sklar, AAAS Science and Human Rights Program, 1333 H Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005, tele: (202) 326-6799; fax: (202) 289-4950;

E-Mail: MSKLAR@AAAS.ORG on the Internet system. Between May 18 and 25, if you

need an immediate response, please send your E-Mail messages to NEVAGELI@AAAS.ORG. Please send us copies of any appeals you distribute.

April 5, 1994

Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos

Embassy of Ethiopia

2134 Kalorama Road, NW

Washington, DC 20008

Dear Ambassador Gebre-Christos:

Having received no written response to my letters of May 11, 1993, October 12, 1993, and January 11, 1994, I am once again writing to you on behalf of the AAAS Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility. In my previous letters I requested information concerning the 42 professors dismissed from Addis Ababa University, students arrested for their participation in the January, 1993 student demonstrations, and Dr. Alemayehu Teferra arrested in April, 1993. Not only are these concerns still pressing, but we have received additional information that is cause for alarm to those interested in the internationally recognized human rights of the citizens of Ethiopia.

It has been one full year since the imprisonment of Dr. Alemayehu Teferra, yet he has not been charged with a crime. In addition, we have received reliable reports that Dr. Alemayehu is suffering from a chronic duodenal ulcer for which he needs medical attention. The Committee has now learned that Berhane Mewa, Chairman of the Ethiopian Chemical Association, has been detained. We would like to know what charges have been brought against Dr. Berhane as well as any of the details leading to his arrest.

On October 30, 1993, we received via fax a two-page update on the current situation from Chief Special Prosecutor Girma Wakjira. He confirmed that over 1,000 individuals were being held without charge. He confirmed Ethiopia's "moral and legal obligations" to process these cases quickly, outlined several initiatives that were being taken to obtain expert assistance from the international community for this purpose, and indicated a target date of the first quarter of 1994 for the commencement of trials.

Although we appreciate the concerns you have expressed and understand the complexity of the process of reforms you are undertaking, these factors do not eliminate the necessity to provide basic protections to the accused, as is required under international human rights law. If it has become impossible to do so because of practical reasons, the accused must be released, given the substantial period of time that has elapsed since their arrests.

Later this year, we understand that the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations will be reviewing Ethiopia's first report submitted to that body since you ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Unless these prisoners are either freed or brought to trial by that time, we will feel obliged to make a submission to the Human Rights Committee pointing out serious violations of the guarantees of security of the person and prohibition against arbitrary arrest in Article 9 of the Covenant, the right to be informed of charges and to be tried within a reasonable time or released, also in Article 9, and the rights to be presumed innocent and to be tried without undue delay in Article 14.

Once again, the Committee respectfully requests that both Dr. Alemayehu and Dr. Berehane Mewa, in addition to any students that remain in detention for their participation in the January, 1993 demonstrations, be released from prison immediately if they are not formally charged with a crime. We urge your government to cease the arrests of individuals who are not promptly charged with a criminal offense, and therefore are denied a speedy and fair trial as required under Articles 9 and 14 of the Civil and Political Rights Covenant.

As mentioned in my earlier correspondence, the Committee will continue to work on behalf of these individuals until we are satisfied that their international human rights are protected. In addition, it will be impossible to report favorably on the situation in Ethiopia in our Directory of Persecuted Scientists this year if no information is received from your office concerning these matters. Although you have frequently repeated your commitment to provide more comprehensive information on cases of alleged human rights violations, these promises have not been carried out, leaving us with the impression that no progress is being made on these violations of international human rights standards.

Sincerely,

C.K. Gunsalus

Chair, AAAS Committee on Scientific

Freedom and Responsibility

cc: His Excellency President Meles Zenawi

His Excellency Prime Minister Tamrat Layne

Her Excellency Mrs. Genet Zewde, Minister of Education

The Honorable Marc Baas, US Ambassador to Ethiopia

The Honorable Thomas Johnston, Subcommittee on Africa, Committee on Foreign Affairs

M. David Shinn, Department of State, Director of Office of East African Affairs

Mr. George E. Moose, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Ms. G. Pratt, Ethiopia Desk, U.S. Department of State

Dr. Theodros Solomon, Addis Ababa University Faculty of Science

Addis Ababa University Teachers Association

African Association of Universities

Mr. Edward V.K. Jaycox, The World Bank