Mr Meles Zenawi|
4 December 1996
Dear Mr Zenawi
Dr Taye Woldesemaiat, Ethiopian Teachers Association
I write to express my profound concern over the conditions of detention and the trial of Dr Taye
Woldesmiate, President of the Ethiopian Teachers' Association, who has won admiration and respect
round the world for his courageous stand against repression of trade union and other human rights.
We have been informed that Dr Woldesmiate is being detained in a small dirty room and that he is being
allowed to have visits lasting only half-an-hour two days a week. We are appalled to learn that he has been
kept handcuffed twenty-four hours a day since 8 October, 1996.
The conditions under which he is being held amount to a gross violation of basic human rights which in this
case are spelled out in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 43/173 of 9 December, 1988. The
treatment to which he is being subjected is an affront to all concepts of civilized conduct and human dignity.
On behalf of seven million British trade unionists, I appeal to you to ensure that your Government observes
the UN human rights instruments relating to detention and imprisonment and see that he is treated fairly and
humanely without being continuously chained, that he has opportunity for light exercise, and that he has a
regular and frequent access to family, freinds and his legal representatives.
Your country has ratified ILO Conventions No. 87 and 98 and your government is bound to uphold the trade
union rights of teachers and other working people in Ethiopia by allowing them to engage in their legitimate
trade union activities. Dr Wolesmiate was peacefully representing fellow trade unionists and colleagues and
there should be no question of subjecting him to trial on criminal charges ranging from conspiracy to
overthrow the Government to attempts to assassinate ministers of your country. The TUC has joined the
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Education International, and others in order to draw
world attention to the human rights violations perpetrated by your Government.
General Secretary of TUC