EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 25/13/93
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UA 369/93 Legal concern/Fear of torture or ill-treatment 15 October 1993
ETHIOPIA Staff of the Oromo Relief Association (ORA)
eastern regional office in Dire Dawa:-
Ahmed Mohamed, regional coordinator
Abbas Said, project coordinator
Sharif Mohamed, administrator
Usman Umar, secretary
Ali Haider, accountant
Abdulaziz Abdullah, health supervisor
Mohamed Ahmed, social worker
Tajudin Abdullah, logistics officer
Mohamed Izzedin, health worker
Ammw Hamid, store-keeper
Mohamed Abdu and Mussa Ibrahim, drivers
Raya Abdi, Hamid Abdullahi and Galaye Tufe, security
These 15 people, the entire staff of the regional office of the Oromo Relief
Association (ORA) in Dire Dawa in eastern Ethiopia, were arrested by the security
forces between 26 September and 2 October 1993. They are apparently suspected of
links with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which has been in armed opposition
to the government since June 1992, and is active in the Dire Dawa area. It is not
known where they are being held, but they are possibly in Hurso "re-education camp"
near Dire Dawa. This is a former military training camp used since late 1991 as
a detention centre for alleged OLF members. They have not been taken to court or
charged with any offence.
Amnesty International is concerned that they may be tortured or ill-treated in
custody, and detained without charge or trial for an indefinite period, contrary
to Ethiopian law and the Transitional Charter (the interim constitution). Amnesty
International believes that they may be prisoners of conscience detained on account
of their opinions and their work for the Oromo Relief Association.
The ORA, previously the humanitarian arm of the OLF, has been formally independent
of the OLF since 1992, and has been coordinating relief projects in Oromo areas
in eastern and western Ethiopia. When the OLF went into armed opposition in June
1992, many ORA projects were closed by the government and 35 staff detained as
suspected OLF members. Amnesty International believes that many were in fact
prisoners of conscience, not fighters. International relief agencies continued to
work with the ORA in joint projects, including Oxfam, Christian Aid, and Save the
Children Fund, as well as the Lutheran churches. ORA also received cooperation
from relevant Ethiopian government departments, although the Ethiopian security
services evidently suspects ORA of being secretly linked to the OLF.