Education International
Education International

Ethiopia: EI relaunched Urgent Action Appeal as harassment continues and teachers arrested

published 22 June 2007 updated 22 June 2007

EI asks you to join in the call for the release of three teachers; our Urgent Action Appeal is relaunched in the wake of recent events.

The Ethiopian Teachers' Association (ETA) formed in 1949, headed by Gemoraw Kassa, and EI member [not to be confused with the organisation of the same name formed in 1993 and non-EI member], informed EI that two ETA officers have been re-arrested and a new arrest of an ETA member has been made by the police recently. A re-arrest of an ETA officer was attempted on 28 May but he has been missing since then. All three ETA colleagues are currently detained in the Addis Ababa Kality Central Prison.

Arrested, tortured, then released

Tilahun Ayalew, Meqcha Mengistu and Antenech Getenet are three elected officers of the Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA). They were detained and tortured by the police for over three months since December 2006 and were finally released on 22 March 2007. EI launched an Urgent Action Appeal on 4 January 2007 to call for their release and we received an overwhelming show of support from member organisations all over the world.

However, the release of the three colleagues was short-lived.

2 re-arrests, 1 arrest and 1 missing

Anteneh Getnet was re-arrested on 30 May by the police at his house in Addis Ababa. On the same day, Meqcha Mengistu was taken from his home in Dejen. Tilahun Ayalew disappeared on 28 May after being told that security agents were coming to arrest him. His wife Azmera Shiferaw was arrested instead, though she was released the following day on 29 May after being questioned as to her husband’s whereabouts. Woldie Dana, an ETA member and teacher at the Aretu Suki primary school, was arrested at his house in Woliata on 4 June.

All four colleagues are accused by the government of being members of the Ethiopian People's Patriotic Front, a rebel organisation which aims to topple the current government.

Long history of repression of teacher unionists

For years, EI has been concerned by the Ethiopian authorities' repression of the ETA, EI member. They discourage teachers from seeking membership in the ETA, and they repeatedly try to dismantle the teacher union, which has been representing the legitimate interests of the teaching profession in Ethiopia since 1949.

In 1993, another Ethiopian Teachers' Association was created, which is not a member organisation of EI. Since then, the first ETA, has been subjected to continuous harassment and interference which aim to destroy the independence and structure of the union.

What you can do to assist our colleagues

EI has re-launched its Urgent Action Appeal for the release of the detainees on 22 June 2007.

We count on your support to lobby for their freedom and put a stop to the repression of teacher unionists in Ethiopia.

Please consider undertaking the following actions:

  • Write to the Ethiopian embassy in your country (please see model letter in the urgent action appeal);
  • Contact the Ethiopian Teachers' Association to express your solidarity;
  • Give visibility to the situation of teachers in Ethiopia in your magazine or website;
  • Approach your embassy representatives in Ethiopia;

More details on how you can help are outlined in our Urgent Action Appeal.