09/23/2019

Urgent Action: University Lecturer Must be Released (Ethiopia: UA 123.19)


On 17 August, University lecturer Firew Bekele was arrested and charged under Ethiopia’s draconian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). For the last decade, the ATP has been constantly used to suppress any form of dissent. Firew Bekele is accused of writing a book that criticizes Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Firew Bekele denies having written the book. He is a prisoner of conscience that should be immediately and unconditionally released.

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  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
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Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
PO Box 1031
Lorenzo Te’azaz Road
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PMEthiopia
Ambassador Fitsum Arega
Embassy of Ethiopia
3506 International Drive NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 364 1200 I Fax: 202 587 0195
Email: [email protected]
Contact form: https://ethiopianembassy.org/contact-us/
Twitter: @fitsumaregaa
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed,

Firew Bekele, a Marketing lecturer at Rift Valley University, was arrested by Federal police on 17 August 2019 outside his home. Before searching his home, the police read him a court order that stated he was suspected of writing and publishing a book entitled “Yetetlefe Tigil” (the Hijacked Struggle), which criticizes politicians, security officials, business people and other individuals for having allegedly hijacked Ethiopia’s current political transition. Amnesty International has found nothing in the book that refers to violence or incites it in any way. Firew Bekele agreed to having assisted the author with the book’s publication, but he vehemently denies having written the book. The book has been banned from stores, but it continues to be privately distributed around the country. During the search, the police found Firew Bekele was in possession of a copy of the book.

Following his arrest, Firew Bekele was first brought before the first instance court on 20 August and charged with incitement to terrorism under the current Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). His hearing was twice postponed and was then remanded to police custody for 28 days on 27 August, as instructed under the ATP. Firew Bekele’s access to his lawyer has been hindered under ATP regulations, and his wife, parents and siblings were all denied access as he was being charged with terrorism. His lawyer has told Amnesty that he is being interrogated to get him to confess to have authored the book or to share names of the authors.

In light of the above I urge you to immediately and unconditionally release Firew Bekele, as he has been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his human rights; ensure that until his release, Firew Bekele has unhindered access to his family and lawyer and that he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment; cease using the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation until it is revised in line with international human rights law and standards.

Yours sincerely,

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