Does the Ethiopian Government Mean to Release Political Prisoners and Close down the Notrouse Ma’ikelawi Prison, the Ethiopian Guantanamo?

Does the Ethiopian Government Mean to Release Political Prisoners and Close down the Notrouse Ma’ikelawi Prison, the Ethiopian Guantanamo?

HRLHA Statement

January 4, 2018

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) cautiously welcomes the Ethiopian  government’s announcement on January 3, 2018 that it would release all political prisoners and close down the Mai’kelawi investigation bureau, a notorious detention center which has allegedly been used as a torture center to extract confessions from prisoners.

It is a great victory for Ethiopians that the government has admitted to having political prisoners in the country, which it repeatedly denied in the past 27 years.

In an announcement made by Ethiopian prime Minister Hailamariam Dessalegn, all political prisoners already sentenced will be released and charges would be dropped for those still awaiting trial. The announcement targets  citizens who are in official penitentiaries such as Kaliti, Qilinto, and other prisons and whose case has been filed in courts.

As HRLHA has repeatedly reported in the past ten years, the Ethiopian government has forcefully disappeared thousands of suspected opposition political members and supporters  and detained them in unidentified places such as military camps, military officials residential basements and secret detention centers.

The Ethiopian government announcement must include all political prisoners who have been forcefully disappeared since the current government seized power in 1991 and who are currently languishing in unidentified and secret detention places.  As the Prime Minister said in his announcement, to facilitate the broad participation of political parties and to democratize the system,  as a second step the government must disclose the number of political prisoners including those kept in secret detention places including where they have been  kept.

Our document shows the numbers of political prisoners whose whereabouts are  still unknown in the past twenty six years are much higher than the numbers of political prisoners registered and held at official prisons such as Maikalawi, Qilinti, Kaliti  and other prisons at this moment.

The following are just a few among many others.

# Name Disappeared # Name Disappeared
1 Dabasa Guyyo 2015 6 Mustefa Idiris 1994
2 Yosef Ayele Bati 1992 7 Sadik Umer 1994
3 Bekele Dawano 1993 8 Dereje Dame 1994
4 Jemal Husen 1994 9 Temesgen Adaba 1995
5 Nadi Gemeda 1994 10 Jiregna Ayana 1995
11 Kasahun Habte 1996

The HRLHA believes that solving the political problem in the country will be possible only  if all- inclusive political negotiations take place. Therefore, the HRLHA encourages the Ethiopian Government  to open political dialogue with all political organizations to resolve the political uncertainty in the country which has victimized thousands of citizens in the past two and a half decades.