The police have now detained over 40 people whose names had been published on a ‘wanted’ list of 58 people on 7 November. They are accused of violent conspiracy, in connection with demonstrations against alleged election fraud, yet the detainees maintain not basis for these accusations.
Many of those named above have been on hunger strike since 28 November, in protest at their continued detention without charge. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience, detained for the peaceful expression of their political beliefs.
The detainees now include 10 opposition members of parliament, as well as 14 journalists who had all been arrested or
convicted under laws governing the press in previous years. Police are continuing to search for others named on the
‘wanted’ list. On 5 November, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that all 58 people named on the list would be charged with treason, which carries a possible death penalty.
On 1 December, the group of detainees were brought for a second time before the Federal High Court in the capital,
Addis Ababa. The judge again refused to grant bail due to the severity of the allegations the detainees face, but ordered
that they be charged within 15 days.
The detainees are now being held at Kaliti prison in Addis Ababa. They are allowed to receive visitors, and are allowed
access to their lawyers twice a week, but are not permitted to meet anyone in private. Professor Mesfin Woldemariam is said to be still suffering back pain but has been given access to the medication he needs.
Several thousand suspected government opponents from the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and other opposition parties are reported to have been detained during and after protests in early November in Addis Ababa and other towns, against alleged fraud in the parliamentary elections held on 15 May. Police shot dead 42 demonstrators and wounded 200 others during the protests. Arrests are still continuing. Three students were reportedly shot dead by police in Jildu town in Oromia Region on 30 November. Some 8,000 detainees were released without charge in November. Many thousands of others are reportedly still detained incommunicado in army camps such as Dedessa in eastern Oromia region. Amnesty International has received reports that detainees may have been tortured and some may have been killed.Parliament has established an inquiry to report within three months on the violence which surrounded the June and November demonstrations.
Letter by Charles B. Davison sent on January 20, 2006