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Ethiopia: Fear of torture/health concern

, Index number: AFR 25/006/1999

Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Mossisa Duressa, Tassew Begashaw and Mulugetta Tirfessa Tufa, three Oromo detainees in Ethiopia who recently "disappeared" after they were arrested. Two already suffer from ill-health and all three are at risk of

PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 25/06/99
UA 241/99 Fear of torture/health concern 15 September 1999
ETHIOPIAMossisa Duressa, Ethiopian Red Cross official, 55
Tassew Begashaw, medical doctor
Mulugetta Tirfessa Tufa, insurance company employee
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of three Oromo detainees
in Ethiopia who recently “disappeared” after they were arrested. All three
are at risk of torture. Mossisa Duressa is diabetic and requires daily insulin
injections, and Mulugetta Tirfessa Tufa was under long-term medical treatment
for a leg injury.
Mossissa Duressa [photo], local chairperson of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society
in Nekemte, Oromia region, was arrested by security officers in Nekemte, 250
km west of the capital, Addis Ababa, on 15 August 1999. He has “disappeared”
and police and security officers have refused to say where he is held or to
allow access to him or to allow his family to send medication for him. He was
reportedly one of several people arrested when Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)
leaflets were circulated in the town. He denies any connection with the OLF.
Those accused of OLF links are frequently tortured in secret incommunicado
detention. Mossissa Duressa, married with three children, is also personnel
director of the Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church (a member of the
Lutheran World Federation), which as a largely Oromo church has also been
targeted by the government in the past for suspected OLF links.
Tassew Begashaw, a doctor working for the private Tarika Clinic in Addis Ababa,
was arrested in Addis Ababa on 15 August. He also belongs to the Oromo ethnic
group and was reportedly accused of giving medical treatment to OLF suspects.
He too at first “disappeared”, but according to unofficial sources he is held
incommunicado at Maikelawi criminal investigation centre in Addis Ababa, where
torture or ill-treatment of political prisoners has been reported.
Mulugetta Tirfessa Tufa, who works for the Awash Insurance Company, was
arrested in Addis Ababa on 19 August and “disappeared”. He is reportedly also
held incommunicado at Maikelawi criminal investigation centre. He had
previously been arrested in 1995 and detained without charge or trial for some
months in Nazareth, 80 km south of Addis Ababa, on suspicion of supporting
the OLF. He was still having medical treatment for a leg injury in 1992. The
reason for his latest arrest is not known.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Since the OLF left the government coalition in 1992, tens of thousands of members
of the Oromo ethnic group (or “nationality”) have been detained, mostly without
charge or trial and illegally, for alleged involvement with the OLF, which
has been fighting the government in the Oromia region in south, west and east
Ethiopia. Some thousands of Oromos are believed to be currently detained, some
of whom may be prisoners of conscience with no connection to the armed
opposition.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in English or your own language:
- expressing fears for the safety of three recently-arrested Oromo political
prisoners, Mossisa Durissa, whose whereabouts since his arrest in Nekemte are
not known, and Tassew Megashaw and Mulugetta Tirfessa Tufa, who are reportedly
detained incommunicado without charge or trial in Maikelawi prison in Addis
Ababa;
2
- urging the authorities to guarantee they are not tortured or ill-treated,
and are given immediate access to their families, legal counsel and medical
treatment by doctors of their choice - particularly for Mossisa Duressa’s
diabetes and Mulugetta Tirfessa Tufa’s previous leg injury;
- appealing for them to be taken to court without further delay, as required
by the law and constitution within 48 hours of arrest, and either charged with
a recognizably criminal offence and given a prompt and fair trial, or released.
APPEALS TO:
His Excellency Meles Zenawi
Prime Minister, Prime Minister's Office, P O Box 1031, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telegrams: Prime Minister Meles, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Faxes: + 2511 552030
Salutation: Your Excellency
Mr Kinfe Gebre-Medhin, General Manager, Public Security
Office of the Prime Minister, P O Box 1031, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telegrams: Security Director Kinfe, Prime Minister’s Office, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Faxes: + 2511 552030
Salutation: Dear Sir
Mr Werede-Wold Wolde, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice
P O Box 1370, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telegrams: Justice Minister, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Faxes: + 2511 550278 / 550722
Salutation: Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
His Excellency President Negaso Gidada, Office of the President, P O Box 1031, Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia, Faxes: + 2511 552030
Mr Kuma Demeksa, President of Oromia, Oromia Regional State Council, P O Box 62297,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
and to diplomatic representatives of Ethiopia accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your
section office, if sending appeals after 26 October 1999.

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