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Call For Release Of Opposition Members At Risk Of Torture (Ethiopia: UA 235/16)

Urgent Action
October 14, 2016
 
Ethiopian security forces have arrested Aweke Tezera, Blen Mesfin, Eyasped Tesfaye, Abebe Akalu and Tena Yitayew for exercising their freedom of expression to criticise the government. This comes after a state of emergency was declared in Ethiopia following a week of protests in Oromia region.
 
Ethiopian security forces arrested several members of the political opposition Semayawi (Blue) Party on 9 October. The police took Aweke Tezera from his home on 9 October to Kirkos Sub-City Police Station. Abebe Akalu was arrested on 10 October from his workplace in Addis Ababa. He remains detained at the Lege-Tafo Police Station. Relatives of Blen Mesfin found her at Lazarist Police Station in Gulele Sub-City on 11 October in a search following her failure to return home. Aweke Tezera, Blen Mesfin and Abebe Akalu have all been charged with ‘incitement of violence’ due to speaking publicly against the government.
 
Eyasped Tesfaye was arrested from his office on 11 October and taken to Amichae Police Station in Bole Sub-City. The police have not yet brought Eyasped Tesfaye to court. Tena Yitayew was arrested on 13 October and taken to Amichae area in Bole Sub-City. Tena Yitayew has not yet been charged.
 
A state of emergency was declared on 9 October 2016 after week-long protests took place in several locations in Oromia and Amhara regions. The protests ensued after at least 55 people were killed in a stampede at the Irrecha ceremony in Bishoftu in Oromia region, which protestors believe was caused by security forces. . During a ‘week of rage’ against the security forces, protesters burnt businesses, vehicles and properties across Oromia region.
 
Amnesty International believes the arrests of Semayawi Party members is due to their public critique of the Ethiopian authorities given the current political situation. These arrests violate Ethiopia’s international and regional human rights obligations including the right to freedom of expression. Amnesty International is also concerned that the members of Semayawi Party in detention may be subjected to torture or ill treatment.
 
1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
  • Calling on the Ethiopian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Aweke Tezera, Blen Mesfin, Eyasped Tesfaye, Abebe Akalu and Tena Yitayew, who are in custody solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression;
  • Calling on the Ethiopian authorities to ensure they are not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment pending their release;
  • Calling on the Ethiopian authorities to stop arresting people for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Contact these 2 officials by 25 November, 2016:
Prime Minister
Hailemariam Dessalegn
FDRE Prime Minister
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 11 122 6292
Salutation: Your Excellency
 
Ambassador Girma Birru
Embassy of Ethiopia
3506 International Dr NW, Washington DC 20008
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
 
2) LET US KNOW YOU TOOK ACTION
 
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
 
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