THE ETHIOPIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Tel: ( (251-1) 514489 / 517704

TeleFax: (251-1) 514539 ( 2432 Addis Ababa - ETHIOPIA

EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLING, FORCED DISAPPEARANCE
AND ILLEGAL DETENTION

Special Report 19
December 1, 1997

1. EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLING

The Ethiopian Constitution (Article 15) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 6[1]), which has been ratified by Ethiopia, provide that since every human being has the inherent right to life, no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life. However, in violation of these provisions, the government’s security forces have killed Ato Terefe Qumbi, Ato Tesfaye Kumsisa and Captain Gudisa Insa in the evening of October 8, 1997 in Addis Ababa, near the Vatican Embassy. Ethiopian Radio and Television as well as the State-owned daily Addis Zemen have disseminated to the public the press release issued by Addis Ababa Police Commission concerning the killing. The news story reported by Addis Zemen on October 10, 1997 states as follows:

In the evening of October 9, 1997, Ethiopian Radio and Television broadcasted this same news. Furthermore, they reported that the deceased men were alleged to have raided the town of Jeldu in Wayo Woreda and looted money. This last piece of news was omitted in Addis Zemen. Policemen wearing the regular police uniform arrived at the scene only 30 minutes later and they photographed with a video camera the bodies of Tesfaye Kumsisa and Captain Gudisa Insa as they were lying on the road turning to the Zambian Ambassador’s residence, but they did not take a picture of the body of Terefe Qumbi where it was lying.

According to the information received by EHRCO, there was a knock at the gate of Terefe’s house at 8:15 p.m. Ato Terefe’s mother-in-law opened the gate and found Ato Terefe standing there. Then as he was about to get into his house, a fat plainclothes man appeared from nowhere and dragged him into a vehicle. Another plainclothes man thinner than the first one told Terefe’s mother-in-law to get back into the house.

Ato T. Qumbi’s brother called Ato Ayele Qumbi and the late Ato Tesfaye Kumsisa’s brother, Ato Fiqadu Kumsisa, brought from the hospital the bodies of the two men. When they examined the body, it was clear that Ato Terefe Qumbi was shot on the forehead and killed with just one bullet. Ato Tesfaye was shot on the chest with several bullets. The bodies of both men were buried at St. Joseph’s church at four o’clock on October 10, 1997.

Ato Terefe Qumbi was a 39-year old man living in Addis Ababa, Woreda 23, Qebelie 10, House no. 1866. He was married and was the father of four children called Bereket Terefe (aged 3 years), Daniel Terefe (aged 4 years), Abeba Terefe (aged 11 years), and Worqnesh Terefe (aged 20 years). Until 1992, Ato Terefe was working as a civil servant in the Civil Administration Department of the Ground Forces Headquarters and after that as head of General Services in the Oromiya Supreme Court. that he became the chief of Captain Gudisa Insa, the man with the formal military training, and led the armed band that attacked Jeldu town is just incredulous.

Commenting on the attack on Jeldu, President Negasso Gidada told EPRDF’s Amharic monthly magazine, Ifoyta (6th year, no.1, September-October 1997 issue), that the attack was launched by a local bandit with the assistance of some individuals and not by OLF. However, the Addis Ababa Police Commission had claimed that the attack was carried out by Tesfaye Kumsisa et al. Captain Gudisa had served under the former First and Second Revolutionary armies until their disbanding.

According to the information received by EHRCO, all the three men were killed after they had been captured. None of them were carrying fire arms at the time and there was no shoot-out. It had been claimed by the police press release that one policeman had been wounded during the shoot-out. However, it was checked at the Police Hospital if any policeman wounded in a shoot-out in Mekanisa had been admitted there or received medical treatment and it was found out that there was no evidence indicating such a case at the Hospital. In the press release by the Police, it was claimed that when the three
persons were killed, two others were taken into custody and that the investigation was continuing. Nevertheless, the attempt to verify this claim by checking with the Addis Ababa Police Commission’s Information and Crime Investigation Departments showed that there was no record of the detention of such persons on that day in the daily crime reports and prisoner registration books.

However, information received by EHRCO shows that Private Hailemariam Challa, a soldier who served in the army from the time of Emperor Haile Sellassie until the disbanding of the former army when the EPRDF took power, was taken into custody on the day of the incident and his whereabouts is still not known. Pvt. Hailemariam lived in Woreda 23, Qebelie 13, House no.1571. Pvt. Hailemariam’s house was made of walls of corrugated iron sheet and he made his living as a simple carpenter.

2. FORCED DISAPPEARANCE

2.1. Whereabouts Unknown

On November 6, 1997, at 9:30 a.m., Ato Mulatu Qeneaa was arrested by security men while he was walking in Addis Ababa, Woreda 25, Qebelie 16. Neither the reason for his arrest nor his present condition and whereabouts is known yet. Ato Mulatu was a resident of Addis Ababa, Woreda 8, Qebelie 35, House no. 871. Ato Mulatu was a member of the former police force and was transferred to Flight Security Unit where he was serving until the end of 1983 Eth. C.

2.2. Whereabouts Known After Their Disappearance

The following persons were taken into custody by the security forces and their whereabouts was unknown for sometime. Now they have been located at the Central Investigation Coordination Department.

2.2.1. On September 27, 1997, at 10:00 p.m., Ato Agesa Lemesa, who is an employee of Qaliti Cooking Oil Factory, was taken away by the police from his home in Addis Ababa, Woreda 19, Qebelie 57, together with his wife Wro. Saqittu Derbaba, Wrt. Misgana Derbaba, Teacher Dinqa Beqele and Ato Mulugeta Kussa. Their condition and whereabouts had not been known until November 24, 1997, on which day they were taken to the Federal First Instance Court, 2nd Criminal Division, and were remanded for investigation.

2.2.2. On September 27, 1997, at 10:00 p.m., Ato Tekle Qinattie and his guest Ato Getachew Beqele were taken away from their home in Addis Ababa, Woreda 7, Qebelie 17, House no. 121. Their condition and whereabouts had not been known until November 24, 1997, on which day they were taken to the Federal First Instance Court, 2nd Criminal Division and were remanded for investigation till December 3, 1997. Ato Tekle Qinattie has written a book, titled DIRMAMMUU, in Oromiffa, but copies of the book w

2.2.4. On September 21, 1997, at 6:00 a.m., Ato Daba Kumsa was woken up from his bed by armed policemen who came to his home in Police Land Rovers, plate nos. 2063 and 1834, and he was taken away to an unknown destination. His home in Addis Ababa, Woreda 8, Qebelie 02, House no. 1216 was searched by the same policemen who had threatened him with their arms before taking him away. Ato Daba is 50 years old and his whereabouts was unknown for 16 days. He was released on October 7, 1997 after he wa

3. ILLEGAL DETENTION

Article 19(3) of the Ethiopian Constitution and Article 29 of the Ethiopian Criminal Procedure Code provide that arrested persons have the right to be brought before a court within 48 hours of their arrest. Article 21(2) of the Constitution also provides that all persons shall have the opportunity to communicate with, and to be visited by, their spouses or partners, close relatives, friends, religious counselors, medical doctors and their counsel.

However, in contravention of these constitutiona Ato Beyene Abdi, a pensioner who is a member of Mecha and Tulema Association as well as the Human Rights League, and Chairman of the Board of Bilisuma Arts and Publishing PLC. Ato Tilahun Hirpasa, member of Bilisuma Arts and Publishing PLC as well as the Board of the Human Rights League. Ato Beyene Belissa, an employee of Telecommunication Corporation, a member of the Executive Committee of Mecha and Tulema Association as well as the Human Rights League. His right leg was amputated after he was hit by a misfired bullet in July 1991 when he was serving in the Peace and Stability Committee of his Qebelie. Ato Gebissa Lemessa, an accountant of Save the Children (UK), a member of Mecha and Tulema Association and the Board of Bilisuma Arts and Publishing PLC. Ato Hussein Abdi, Public Relations Officer of Mecha and Tulema Association and a member of the Human Rights League. Haji Sahlu Kaftie, a pensioner who makes his living as a trader. He is a member of the Human Rights League and the Executive Committee of Mecha and Tulema Association. Ato Adissu Beyene, a member of the Human Rights League and the former Manager of Oromo Relief Association which has been closed down by the government. Ato Gadissa Bultossa, an employee of the Oromiya Agriculture Bureau and a member of the Human Rights League. Ato Hailu Terfassa, an employee of the Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church and a member of the Human Rights League. Ato Zewdie Chemeda, a geography teacher at Addis Ketema Comprehensive Secondary School and a member of the Human Rights League. Ato Mohammed Wayou, an employee of Oromiya Civil Service Bureau. Ato Adem Hassen Ato Adugna Fittie

Although they can receive food from their family, these detainees are not allowed to be visited by their family, friends and lawyers. On November 24, 1997 they were taken to the Federal First Instance Court, 2nd Criminal Division, for the first time and they were remanded for investigation till December 3, 1997.

The General Secretary of the Human Rights League, Ato Garuma Bekele, has been in detention since October 27, 1997 allegedly for violating the Press Law. Ato Garuma is also the General Manager of Bilisuma Arts and Publishing PLC, a business organization which publishes the weekly Urji paper and a monthly magazine by the same title. The Editor-in-Chief of Urji newspaper, Ato Solomon Nemera, has also been held in detention at different police stations since October 16, 1997, allegedly for violating the Press Law. He was detained at Ma’ekelawi from October 16 to November 6, 1997. From November 6 - 26, 1997 he was detained at Woreda 9 Police Station. And on November 26, 1997 he was transferred to Ma’ekelawi and is still held there until the issuance of this report. The Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Urji newspaper, Ato Tesfaye Deressa, has also been held in detention at different police stations since October 16, 1997, allegedly for violating the Press Law. He was detained at Ma’ekelawi from October 16 to November 6, 1997 and on November 6, 1997 he was transferred to Woreda 10 Police Station, where he is held in detention. Since the above actions violate human rights, EHRCO requests the Government to: investigate urgently the killings of Ato Terefe et al and bring the killers to justice; disclose to their families the whereabouts of Ato Mulatu Qeneaa as well as Pvt. Hailemariam Chala, and investigate the causes for their detention in accordance with the law; handle the cases of the other detainees in accordance with the law.

EHRCO also calls on all human rights organizations, international NGOs, religious organizations, governments, and individuals living within or outside Ethiopia who support respect for the rule of law and human rights to write to the following addresses and urge the Ethiopian government to respect human rights.

Council of People’s Representatives
P. O. Box: 80001; Fax: (251-1) 55 09 00, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;
His Excellency Dr. Negasso Gidada, President, FDRE
P.O.Box: 1031; Fax: (251-1) 55 20 20, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
His Excellency Ato Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister, FDRE
P.O.Box: 1031; Fax: (251-1) 55 20 20, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
His Excellency Ato Woredewold Woldie, Minister of Justice, FDRE
P.O.Box: 1370; Fax (251-1) 55 07 22, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
His Excellency Ato Kemal Bedri, President of the Supreme court
P.O.Box: 6166, Fax: (251-1) 55 02 78, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia