Mr Meles Zenawi


Prime Minster

P.O.Box 1031

Addis Ababa

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.

Yours sincerely

John Monks

General Secretary of TUC