Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Unlawful Detention: Daniel Bekele, Ethiopian GCAP Activist, Arrested

The Global Call to Action against Poverty expressed its alarm at yesterday’s arrest of Ato Daniel Bekele, a GCAP activist and the Policy, Research and Advocacy Manager for Action Aid Ethiopia. On Tuesday November 1 at around 8 pm, Ethiopian security forces went to Bekele’s house and arrested him without charge. Fikre Zewdie, a fellow activist who visited Bekele and saw him across the fence of the prison gate reports that he is in good health, although he continues to be held without charge and incommunicado. Article 6 of the African Charter of Human Rights, adopted on June 27 1981, of which Ethiopia is one of the signatories’ states: Every individual shall have the right to liberty and to the security of his person. No one may be deprived of his freedom except for reasons and conditions previously laid down by law. In particular, no one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained. By holding Ato Daniel Bekele, the Ethiopian government is in direct contravention of this article and GCAP calls upon the African Union and the United Nations to hold them accountable. Prior to this latest incident, Bekele had been attacked on October 16 by two armed men believed to be government security forces. Before using physical violence, the men questioned him on his criticism of EPRDF (ruling party in Ethiopia) and assaulted him, causing injuries to the head and to his left eye. The Ethiopian newspaper Eftin reported that when they asked for justification for the assault, a party official and the Head of Police, denied any knowledge of, or participation in Bekele’s assault. This is the same government that in April, refused to grant permission to Ethiopian civil society to hold a rally to launch GCAP. GCAP is appalled that Ethiopia, with a poverty rate of 44 percent, would antagonize its civil society activists who are fighting for the betterment of Ethiopian citizens instead of working with them. We hope that the Ethiopian government explains its’ illegal holding of Bekele and investigate fully the reasons surrounding his beating.


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