Amnesty International called on the Ethiopian government to immediately disclose the names and fate of more than 35 people believed to be held by its security forces on political grounds since 24 April. The organization's Africa program director, Erwin Zan Der Burought, said the detainees are at significant risk of torture or other forms of ill treatment due to the secret nature of their detention.
Zan Der Burought said several may have been detained solely for their family ties to men who have expressed political opposition to the government.
"For example, there is the 80-year-old father of a well-known opposition figure and former prisoner of conscience now in exile, Tsige Habet-Marimam. He is diabetic and has recently had heart surgery and needs urgent medical care. Based on our information, he has had no access to a medical doctor. This is a clear indication that relatives are being arrested because his son in exile."
The Ethiopian government charges these individuals of a plot to assassinate high government officials. Asked if the government should take measures to protect the peace, Zan Der Buought national security is a responsibility of governments but it cannot be used to justify human rights violations.
"If people are being arrested because they allegedly have been involved in criminal activities, that should be done in conformity with Ethiopia's human rights obligation including access to lawyers, relatives, medication and of clearly identifying who has been arrested, where they've been detained and that they are well treated and properly charged."
"The last few months we saw the arrest again of another opposition figure, Bertikuan Medeksa, who Amnesty International considers to be a prisoner of conscience," Zan Der Burought said. "We have seen a new law which has been passed by the Ethiopian authorities which criminalizes some of the civil society organizations in Ethiopian, including human rights work, so we are concerned some of the arrests are part of a border crackdown on opposition."