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Ethiopia: EI fears for the safety of two activist teachers

Education International has been alerted by its affiliate, the Ethiopian Teachers’ Association (ETA) that two colleagues, Tilahun Ayalew and Meqcha Mengistu, are missing.

In his email dated December 20, Gemoraw Kassa, ETA General Secretary, informed EI that Ayalew, acting as chair of Awi zone ETA Executive, had been detained without warrant since December 14. Ayalew has reportedly been tortured and denied medical treatment while in police custody. His relatives and colleagues in the ETA are now extremely worried as they have known neither his health condition nor his whereabouts since December 18. Mengistu, member of ETA Advisory and Programme Organizer Committee for EFAIDS, and acting chair of East Gojam Zonal Executive, also disappeared on December 15. He had been under constant surveillance by government security agents for several days prior to his disappearance. Both men, together with 68 ETA prominent activists, endured arbitrary detention in November 2005. Kassa considers them as being ‘at severe risk’. EI deplores such police intervention and harassment of trade union leaders and members and urges the Ethiopian authorities to give information on the health conditions and the location of both men, and to release them or at the very least, to provide them with a fair trial process. Last September EI and ETA filed a complaint to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association concerning violations of ILO Conventions 87 and 98. EI will continue to support its member the Ethiopian Teachers’ Association, to monitor the situation, and to oppose such harassment and repeated violation of human and trade union rights.

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