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Date: Thu, 8 Oct 98 14:49:05 CDT
From: Ray Mitchell <RMITCHEL%AI-UK@amnesty.org.uk>
Subject: AI: Ethiopia bulletin
Article: 44883
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.18856.19981009121636@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Health concern

Amnesty International Urgent Action Bulletin, AI Index: AFR 25/26/98, 7 October 1998

Shimelis Zewde, acting general secretary of the Ethiopian Teachers Association

Amnesty International is concerned for the health of Shimelis Zewde, who has tuberculosis and is reportedly being denied medical treatment in detention.

Shimelis Zewde was arrested in Addis Ababa on 19 September 1998 with two members of the executive committee of the Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA), Abate Angore and Aworke Mulugeta. He was visiting the ETA headquarters office while on sick leave for over a month with tuberculosis. All three are still in police custody despite the fact that they were taken to court and the court granted them provisional release. Shimelis Zewde has been refused access to his doctor who was treating him for tuberculosis, and has been unable to obtain the medication that he needs.

He is said to be very weak and was too ill to attend court last week or even to collect the food that his family have sent to the 3rd police station (Maikelawi, the Central Investigation Bureau), where he is held in a crowded cell.

Amnesty International is concerned at the deterioration in his medical condition since his detention, and is concerned that unless he is granted immediate access to his medication and to his doctor, his condition could become life-threatening.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION Shimelis Zewde, Abate Angore and Aworke Mulugeta were arrested when they refused to hand over to police the keys to the ETA office, on the grounds that there had not yet been any court judgement on their appeal against the closure of the office. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience detained because of their trade union activities. Abate Angore has previously been detained as a result of his ETA work.

The ETA is the largest trade union in Ethiopia with over 120,000 members nation-wide. The Ethiopian Government has attempted to curtail its activities and has frozen its funds, carried out illegal searches at ETA offices, dismissed ETA teachers from their posts and jailed dozens of others. It has also created a rival pro-government teachers organisation of the same name. Its offices have been closed down across the country and the headquarters in Addis Ababa was closed down by security forces on 13 August 1998 and is now reportedly occupied by the pro-government ETA.

The ETA’s leader, Dr Taye Woldesemayat, has been held in detention since May 1996 for alleged armed conspiracy in a trial that increasingly appears to be unfair. He is being held in conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (see Urgent Action, AFR 25/24/98 and follow-up). Dr Taye was also the subject of a trade union action by Amnesty International earlier this year.