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Ethiopia: fear of torture / "disappearance" / death in custody / legal concern

, N° d'index: AFR 25/003/1996

Olana Bati, aged 75, retired lawyer, Asrat Buli, medical doctor, Baharsitu Obsa (f), singer, Shabbe Sheko (f), singer, Dalu Bekule, Abdella Ahmed Tesso, local government employee, Teshoma Mutama, nurse, Challa Kebebe and many others: scores of political prisoners have been detained in a new and continuing wave of arrests of people suspected of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front. The first six named above have been held in incommunicado detention and there are fears for the safety of Teshome Mutama whose whereabouts since arrest are unknown.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 25/03/96
UA 81/96 Fear of torture / "Disappearance" / Death in custody
Legal concern 21 March 1996
ETHIOPIAOlana Bati, aged 75, retired lawyer
Asrat Buli, medical doctor
Baharsitu Obsa (f), singer
Shabbe Sheko (f), singer
Dalu Bekule
Abdella Ahmed Tesso, local government employee
Teshome Mutama, nurse
Challa Kebebe
and many others
Scores of political prisoners have been detained in a new and continuing wave
of arrests of people suspected of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).
The arrests began in mid-February 1996 and are taking place in several parts
of the country, including Addis Ababa, Oromia region, Shoa district and Dire
Dawa town. The detainees belong to the Oromo ethnic group (or "nationality"),
from which the OLF draws its support.
The first six named above, have been held without charge, and have not been
allowed access to their families or legal representatives. Some are alleged
to have been beaten or ill-treated. There are particular fears for the safety
of one of them, Teshome Mutama, whose whereabouts since arrest are not known.
Fears of torture are heightened by reports that another, Challa Kebebe, has
died in detention as a result of torture.
Olana Bati, a prominent Oromo elder, who was imprisoned in the late 1970s by
the former Dergue government, was detained in Nekemte on 18 February 1996.
This is his seventh detention without charge or trial since 1992. In October
1994 he was detained in Nekemte in Wollega district, severely beaten and
threatened with death, and held by the local security authorities for three
months despite court orders for his release.
Asrat Buli, a medical doctor at Fincha sugar factory near Bako in Wollega
district, was arrested on 15 February. Baharsitu Obsa and Shabbe Sheko, Oromo
folk-singers living in Addis Ababa, were arrested in mid-February while visiting
the towns of Dire Dawa and Goba respectively. Dalu Bekule was arrested in Addis
Ababa on 16 February. Abdella Ahmed Tesso (known as Abdella "Magazaja", meaning
Municipality, as he works for the Municipality or town council), was arrested
in Dire Dawa on 19 February. Teshome Mutama, a male nurse at Gindeberet hospital
in western Shoa district, and Challa Kebebe, were among dozens of people arrested
in Gindeberet on about 12 February on suspicion of involvement in the escape
of a suspected OLF detainee, former army captain Dugassa Iticha, several of
whose relatives were arrested and reportedly beaten.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The OLF, after fighting the former Dergue government up to 1991, joined the
transitional government headed by President Meles Zenawi's Ethiopian People's
Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). In 1992, the OLF went into armed
opposition and is continuing to fight the new government established in August
1995. Hundreds of OLF suspects are believed to be currently detained without
charge or trial in different prisons, some held in secret detention places.
There have also been many reports of torture, "disappearances" and extrajudicial
executions of arbitrarily detained OLF suspects.
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RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in English or your own language:
- expressing concern about the detention without charge of Olana Bati,
Dr Asrat Buli, the Oromo singers Baharsitu Obsa and Shabbe Sheko, Dalu Bekule
and Abdella Ahmed Tesso;
- requesting that they be immediately taken to court and charged with
recognizable criminal offences, or released if they are detained solely for
the non-violent expression of their opinions;
- urging that they are treated humanely in detention and immediately granted
access to their families and legal representatives, and medical treatment if
needed;
- calling for urgent investigations into the reported "disappearance" of Teshome
Mutama and the reported death from torture of Challa Kebebe.
APPEALS TO:
His Excellency Dr Negaso Gidada
President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Office of the President
P O Box 1031, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ethiopia
Telegrams: President Negaso, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Faxes: +2511 552030
Salutation: Your Excellency
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 Mahteme Solomon
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
P O Box 1370, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telegrams: Justice Minister, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Faxes: +2511 550722
Salutation: Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
- Mr Kinfe Gebre-Medhin, General Manager, Security, Immigration and Refugee
Affairs Authority, c/o former Ministry of Internal Affairs
P O Box 5721, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Mr Kemal Bedri, President of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court, P O Box 6166,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Mr Seyoum Mesfin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
P O Box 393, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Fax: +2511 514300
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 10 May 1996.

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