Fifteen separate charges, including conspiracy, armed insurrection, attempting to subvert the constitution, high treason and genocide, were presented in court by prosecutors on 16 December against the 131 government opponents and critics detained by Ethiopian authorities.
Among those accused are Mr Kassahun Kebede, Chairman of the Addis Ababa branch of EI affiliate the ETA and Dr. Taye Woldesmiate, ETA President (currently in the United States). 58 teachers remain imprisoned in Ethiopia and denied the right to appear in court. The whereabouts of some of them is unknown. EI strongly condemns this repeated attack on the integrity and human rights of ETA leaders and rank and file members. We fear that this might be another long, arbitrary and non-transparent court case. It is to be recalled that, according to Ethiopian law, being charged of treason does not allow detainees to be released on bail. If found guilty, the accused may face the death penalty. EI strongly encourages all affiliates and partners to continue sending letters of protest to the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, via the Ethiopian Embassy in your country or region, and to alert your foreign ministries about these unfair political trials. The United Nations have been urged to send a legal observation mission to Ethiopia to assess the validity of the charges, monitor respect for due process at the coming mass trial, and report back to the UN Security Council. EI will continue to liaise with the ILO, the European Union and the international human rights organisations to exert as much pressure as possible on the Ethiopian government to secure the release of our Ethiopian colleagues.