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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Breaking News: Prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia a step closer to the death penalty

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[CIA and FBI agents visit Ethiopian secret jails] - [Combating Child Labor in Ethiopia ] - [Low-level fighting in Mogadishu, govt dismisses ceasefire]

[U.K. sailors to be released] - ["Hotel Rwanda" hero in bitter controversy] - [Zimbabwe gov't maintains pressure to stifle strike] - [After search, Google finds snake in office] and more of today's top stories!

Forty-two-year-old mother of three, Kamilya Mohammedi Tuweni, left, sits with her kids, Hayati, 9, center, and Badrees, 19, right, in her house in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, April 1, 2007. Kamilya said she was held incommunicado, without charges or due process for more than two and a half months in jails in Kenya, Somalia and finally Ethiopia. She was freed a month after being interviewed, fingerprinted and photographed by a U.S. agent, she said. (AP Photo/Nousha Saimi)


Speech by Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam
(Sakharov Prize nominee, Robert Kennedy Memorial Human Rights Award nominee, winner of the New York Academy of Sciences - Heinz R. Pagels Award, and Prisoner of conscience)
November - 2003


EHRCO special report: Torture of Detainees should Stop in Ethiopia

Breaking News: Prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia a step closer to the death penalty

"“Ayzuachehu! Ayzuachehu!” rang out from both sides of the room as the prisoners, with their unwavering courage, tried to reassure their loved ones and encourage them to be strong"
- Lewit on today's ruling

ETP -- Walta information Center, a mouthpiece for the ruling party EPRDF, reporting on the federal high court’s proceedings called the 8 point preconditions the CUD presented to the ruling party ‘chaos inciting statements’.

The 8-point preconditions, which called for an independent election board, free media, independent judiciary, a non partisan police force and army - are apparently requests the government of Ethiopia considers punishable by death.

Read the 8-point preconditions [Amharic] [English]

According to Walta, crucial evidence came from a witness who testified that he was present at a woreda meeting when participants were told to blow their car horns while an Afrian Union summit was in progress in Addis Abeba. This attempt to embarrass the EPRDF government is treasonous and is worthy of the death sentence, implied Walta.

Faced with such ‘overwhelming’ evidence, the ‘independent’ and the ‘fair’ - Second Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court - has ruled the accused will have to defend themselves against these farcical charges, which could lead to the death penalty.

EZ -- The court in charge of the treason and genocide trial of kinijit leaders, civil society members and independent journalists has today ruled that all council members of kinijit including Hailu Shawel, Brehanu Nega and Birtukan Mideksa should defend their case in the treason charge.

The court ruled that the council’s decision has a direct cause and effect relationship with the June 8 and November one disturbances. It also ruled that the prosecutor has produced sufficient evidence to prove that they have committed treason.

The leaders have previously decided not to defend the case. If they stick to their previous decision, it means they will be sentenced for committing treason soon The crime of treason carries a death sentence or severe imprisonment in Ethiopian law.(More...)

Lewit - After the summary was read, there was a 10 minute break. Then the ruling was given: 23 defendants were ordered to defend themselves against the charge of treason.

With his last word—before it was even clear that he had finished his sentence--Judge Adil turned abruptly and rushed out the back exit, with the other two following closely.

It was obvious that no one, least of all the defendants, expected such an outcome. The family members received the news with a mixture of anger, fatigue and sadness.(More...)

Also see:
-Amnesty International: Prisoners of conscience on trial for treason in Ethiopia
-Amnesty International Calls for Release of Prisoners of Conscience in Ethiopia
-Lawmakers in the U.S call for release of Prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia
-Human Rights Watch: Repression in Ethiopia
-US Department of State: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
-Ethiopia: No Progress on Human Rights (Congressional Testimony, by Lynn Fredriksson, Amnesty International USA)

Combating Child Labor in Ethiopia

The problem of child labor in Ethiopia is significant: nearly 60 percent of children in this nation work to supplement their family income, half of them at hazardous jobs. Children most often work as domestics, farm hands or miners, the latter category including bootleg prospecting for gold, a common practice in this part of the world. They earn about a dollar per month.

While Ethiopians regard child labor as normal, many fail to distinguish between moderate and excessive, or exploitative, forms of work. Aid organizations have long urged local awareness campaigns and stronger government policies to protect children from abuse and neglect.(More...)

U.S. agents visit Ethiopian secret jails

CIA and FBI agents hunting for al-Qaida militants in the Horn of Africa have been interrogating terrorism suspects from 19 countries held at secret prisons in Ethiopia, which is notorious for torture and abuse, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

Human rights groups, lawyers and several Western diplomats assert hundreds of prisoners, who include women and children, have been transferred secretly and illegally in recent months from Kenya and Somalia to Ethiopia, where they are kept without charge or access to lawyers and families.(More...)

Low-level fighting in Mogadishu, govt dismisses ceasefire

MOGADISHU - Residents in Somalia’s anarchic capital, Mogadishu, reported hearing the sounds of gunfire in the early hours of Tuesday evening despite talks of ceasefire between Ethiopian troops and the capital’s clan elders.

The fighting was concentrated around areas where the bloodiest battles took place over the weekend, including the vicinity of Stadium Mogadishu, the Ali Kamin area and Towfiiq neighborhood.

Elders belonging to Mogadishu’s dominant Hawiye clan met with Ethiopian officers earlier in the day and brokered a two-point agreement.

Inside sources said the two sides agreed to strengthen a truce reached last week and to allow crews to pick up the dead bodies which pile the city’s war-battered streets.(More...)

Ethiopian Church Offers AIDS Holy Water 'Cure'

Thousands of Aids and HIV patients are risking their lives by refusing medication in favour of holy water, reports Sky News.

The controversial treatment is offered by a church in Ethiopia which claims to have cured hundreds of believers. Sky News correspondent Ian Woods reports on the practice doctors in the country say is extremely dangerous:

"It was a scene which reminded me of the holocaust. Naked men, women and children, some of them in chains to prevent them escaping, cower in front of the men in charge in a dimly-lit room in the church of St Mary on Mount Entoto.(more...)

Today's Top Stories

-Zimbabwe gov't maintains pressure to stifle strike
-Somalia refugee crisis grows, some 'charged for shade'
-U.K. sailors to be released
-Pelosi meets Syrian president
-Ukraine PM increases pressure on president
-"Hotel Rwanda" hero in bitter controversy
-After search, Google finds snake in office