Members of CUD (2)

Re: Members of CUD

To: Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

From: Charles B. Davidson

Date: 2006-01-20

I am writing to you once again concerning the many arrests of a large number of persons who peacefully demonstrated against the results of parliamentary elections in your country in November 2005. I last wrote to you in November 2005 on behalf of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, to express our concerns about the arrests and related developments which had taken place at that time.

We are extremely disappointed and concerned to see that the situation has greatly worsened. We understand now that thousands of persons have been detained. Over 130 well-known and high-profile individuals have been arrested and charged by the High Court with a range of criminal offences, many of which carry the death penalty. They are being held in Kaliti prison in Addis Ababa without proper access to family members and legal representatives. These include many members of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy; members and former members of the judiciary and military; lawyers and social activists. Amnesty International has investigated and concluded that all are being targeted for having made peaceful use of their freedoms of expression, opinion and association.

As was the case in late 2005, we call upon you to immediately release all of those detained at this time, without condition or restriction upon their freedom and liberties. Individuals are not to be arrested and imprisoned for making non-violent use of their legal and political rights which are recognized under international law. In so far as there may be any delay in releasing these persons, we call for their being allowed immediate and proper private access to family members and legal representatives while they remain in custody.