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
"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."