PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 25/007/2001
20 April 2001
Further information on UA 99/01 (AFR 25/006/2001, 18 April 2001) - Fear for
safety / Use of excessive force by security forces
NEW CONCERNS: Incommunicado detention / Fear of torture or ill-treatment
ETHIOPIAStudents from Addis Ababa University
Civilian demonstrators in Addis Ababa, including students from secondary
New names:Lidetu Ayalew, EDP Secretary General
Tamerat Tarakegn]EDP Central Committee
Hundreds of people have reportedly been arrested and are being detained
incommunicado following the riots in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on
17 and 18 April. It is not known where the detainees are being held, and Amnesty
International is concerned that they are at risk of torture or ill-treatment.
Since the early morning of 19 April, security forces have been raiding church
compounds and mosques, where demonstrators have sought refuge. They have
reportedly arrested hundreds of people, many of them secondary school students,
whom they are thought to accuse of having taken part in the riots. Others have
been arrested from their homes and taken away. Some of those arrested are
believed to be as young as 11 years of age.
More than 40 opposition politicians have reportedly also been detained,
including the Secretary General of the opposition Ethiopian Democratic Party
(EDP), Lidetu Ayalew, the two members of EDP’s Central Committee named above,
and other members of EDP and the opposition All-Amhara People’s Organization
(AAPO). The government has accused the opposition of trying to exploit the
situation, and has issued a statement warning "certain political groups and
other groups who claim to be advocates of human rights" to "refrain from ...
promoting anarchy in the city".
The Security forces reportedly shot at, beat and kicked demonstrators during
the riots. Unconfirmed reports have indicated that as many as 41 people may
have been killed, and over 250 injured as a result. It has been reported that
hospitals in Addis Ababa have been inundated with casualties, and that many
of those injured suffered gunshot wounds. Most of the dead and injured are
said to be high school students and unemployed youths.
Detainees are routinely reported to be tortured in Ethiopia, particularly in
certain police stations and security centres in Addis Ababa. In the past,
prisoners, including students, have been ill-treated, for example by being
forced to carry out harsh physical exercise.
The situation in Addis Ababa is reported to be calm but tense following the
riots. Security forces have been deployed throughout the city. The authorities
have closed Addis Adaba University until further notice, and have advised
parents not to send their children to school before Monday 23 April. Students
from a number of schools in southern and eastern regions have reportedly
expressed their solidarity with the students in Addis Ababa.