PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 25/001/2004

UA 05/04 Fear of Torture/ Prisoners of Conscience
06 January 2004
ETHIOPIA Dozens of Oromo Demonstrators

Dozens of Oromo students at Addis Ababa University
were arrested on 4 January at a peaceful demonstration
by members of the Oromo ethnic group or “nationality”.
The students were taken by police and security
officers to an undisclosed place of detention, where
they could be at risk of torture or ill-treatment.

The demonstration was organized by the Macha Tulema
Welfare Association, a non-political Oromo community
welfare organisation which has been established for
over 40 years. The demonstration is estimated to have
attracted over 3,000 people to Meskel Square in the
national capital Addis Ababa. They were protesting
against the Federal Government’s order that the
offices of the Oromia Regional State administration be
transferred from Addis Ababa to Adama (also known as
Nazareth), a town 100 kilometres east of Addis Ababa.

Despite claims by the Macha Tulema Welfare Association
that it had fulfilled official requirements for
holding the demonstration; the police declared it
illegal and arrested the association’s president,
Diribe Demissie, other association officials, and over
100 other people. They were taken to the Third Police
Station in Addis Ababa, but were released on the same
day without charge after being warned against any
future demonstrations. The police dispersed other
protestors by beating them.

Other arrests connected to the demonstration were
reported in Ziwai, western Oromia, where school
students were said to have been arrested, and in
eastern Oromia, where Adama residents were said to
have been arrested while travelling to the
demonstration.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as
quickly as possible, in English, or your own language:
- expressing concern about the arrests and beatings of
peaceful Oromo demonstrators in Addis Ababa on 4
January;
- welcoming the release of most of the detainees,
including Macha Tulema officials, but calling for the
immediate and unconditional release of dozens of Addis
Ababa University students who are still detained as
prisoners of conscience on account of their
non-violent opinions;
- requesting assurances that the detained Oromo
students will not be subjected to torture or
ill-treatment, and that they are allowed immediate
access to their families, legal representatives, and
medical treatment if needed;
- requesting an investigation into the reported
detention of school students in Ziwai and others in
the Adama area.

APPEALS TO:
Prime Minister
His Excellency Meles Zenawi
Office of the Prime Minister
P O Box Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telegrams: Prime Minister, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 1 552020
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Justice
Mr Harke Haroye
Ministry of Justice
P O Box 1370, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telegrams: Minister of Justice, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 1 520874/ 517775
Salutation: Dear Minister

Commissioner of Police
Mr Workneh Gebeyehu
Ministry of Federal Affairs
P O Box 1031, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telegrams: Police Commissioner, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 1 552020
Salutation: Dear Commissioner

COPIES TO:
General Manager for Public Security
Mr Getachew Assefa
P O Box 1031
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telegrams: Public Security Manager, Prime Minister’s
Office, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 1 552020
Salutation: Dear Sir

Minister for Federal Affairs
Mr Abay Tsehaye
Ministry for Federal Affairs
P O Box 1031, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telegrams: Minister for Federal Affairs, Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia
Fax: +2511 552020
Salutation: Dear Minister

and to diplomatic representatives of ETHIOPIA
accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the
International Secretariat, or your section office, if
sending appeals after 17 February 2004.