TEWELDE GHBREMEDHIN, Chairperson of the Food, Beverages, Hotels, Tourism Agriculture and Tobacco Workers Federation
MINASE ANDEZION, Secretary of the Textile and Leather Workers’ Federation
HABTOM WELDEMICAEL, Head of the Coca-Cola Workers Union, and executive member of the Food and Beverage Workers’ Federation
On March 30, 2005 Tewelde Ghebremedhin and Minase Andezion were arrested by security police. Sometime around April 9, 2005 Habtom Weldemicael was also arrested. The exact date of Mr. Weldemicael¡¯s arrest has not been confirmed, but it is reported to have stemmed from his encouragement of protest by workers against their decreasing standard of living.
All three union leaders are reportedly being refused access to lawyers and denied communication with friends and relatives, increasing the risk to their safety. Their imprisonment is also in violation of Eritrean laws requiring that they be brought before a magistrate within 48 hours of their arrest. No reason has been given for the arrest of these union leaders, but they appear to stem from their work to improve conditions for their union members.
LRWC is troubled by these arrests and has written the Eritrean President and the Minister of Justice reminding them of their obligations under international law and requesting the immediate release of all three union leaders. In the event charges are laid against the men, LRWC has requested that all necessary measures be taken to ensure that the safety and well-being of the union leaders is protected and that any trial be in line with international standards.
Letter Written May 16, 2005 by Charles B. Davison