Members of CUD (1)

Re: Members of CUD

To: Meles Zenawi, Assefa Kesito, Workneh Gebeyehu

From: Charles B. Davidson

Date: 2005-11-15

I am writing to you at this time concerning the recent arrests of a number of persons who peacefully demonstrated against the results of parliamentary elections in your country. I am a member of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, which is a committee of Canadian lawyers dedicated to promoting and protecting the rule of law, and the security of human rights defenders around the world. A key component of LRWC’s work is promoting the implementation and enforcement of human rights by protecting those human rights advocates who defend them.

We understand that on November and 2, 2005 number of members of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), as well as journalists and human rights defenders, were arrested at or following demonstrations meant to protest against the recent election results. Some of those arrested included Hailu Shawel (a member of parliament ant President of the CUD); Professor Mesfin Woldemariam; Birtukan Mideksa (CUD Vice President, a lawyer and a former judge); Dr. Berhanu Negga (CUD member of parliament and the Mayor of Addis Ababa); as well as various other members of parliament and CUD members and supporters.

We understand that none of those detained was brought before a court within 48 hours as required by law. We also understand that at least some of those persons arrested may be held at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Bureau.

It would appear that none of those arrested have done anything other than make peaceful use of the rights and freedoms they are considered to enjoy under international law and convention. They are therefore to be considered prisoners of conscience, and we call for their immediate and unconditional release.

We are also concerned about the conditions in which the prisoners have been held, and the lack of access to proper and required medical attention. This is of particular concern in relation to Professor Woldemariam, who is 75 years of age and in ill health. We call for the immediate transfer of Professor Woldemariam to hospital and for the provision to him of all medical care which is appropriate and necessary in his circumstances.

Finally, we also understand that while the demonstrations against the results of the elections have been primarily peaceful, your police and other forces have fired live ammunition at the crowds of protestors, killing over 30 persons and wounding at least 150 others. We call upon you to immediately order your police and other security forces to refrain from using lethal force against demonstrators except and unless this is necessary to save lives. We also call for an independent and impartial inquiry into the shootings which have occurred to date.