Ethiopia: Urgent Action Appeal Update

Harassment against the Ethiopian Teachers' Association (ETA) is continuing. On 12 and 14 November, ETA offices in Addis Ababa, in particular the offices of Mr Kassahun Kebede (Chairman of the Addis Ababa branch of the ETA) and Dr Taye Woldesmiate (ETA President), were searched by the police after the latter had requested the presence of ETA Executive members as observers and shown a Federal Initial Court Warrant. On both days, the searches lasted several hours and the police finally took away some documents, books and all the electronic equipment donated to the ETA. They then left the offices, which had been occupied since 1 November.

Kebede, whose whereabouts were unknown since his arrest on 1 November, was taken to the ETA offices during the search and was later taken to the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Addis Ababa, commonly known as Maekelawi, where he is still being detained. No charges have been laid against him yet, but the ETA has already sought legal assistance concerning this matter. In addition to Kebede, approximately 24 teachers and ETA members are in detention. It is feared that detainees may be subjected to torture or ill-treatment and prolonged periods of arbitrary detention, whereas they should be released on bail, in accordance with Article 19(6) of the Ethiopian Constitution. Article 9(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Ethiopia ratified in 1993, also provides for the right to bail. EI strongly encourages all affiliates and partners to continue sending letters of protest to the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, via the Ethiopian Embassy in your country or region: * to condemn the searches carried out by the police at the ETA offices and the continued harassment of ETA leaders and members; * to ask that detainees be released immediately or charged and brought to court in a fair and transparent process. The Ethiopian Constitution provides that detainees be taken to court within 48 hours of their arrest and informed of the reasons for their detention. While they are waiting for their trials, detainees must have access to legal assistance and be allowed to have visitors. Please see our Urgent Action Appeal dated 4 November for further details.