Oromo scholar-activists arrested, denied due process

(A4O, March 30, 2018) – Advocacy for Oromia is gravely concerned that Seyoum Teshome, a lecturer at Ambo University, and Taye Dendea, a former professor of law at Rift Valley University and Head of Public Relations and Communications at the Oromia Justice Bureau, have been arrested and are being held at Maekelawi Prison.

Following their criticisms of the Ethiopian government, Mr. Dendea (left) and Mr. Teshome (right) are being held at Maekelawi Prison without access to legal counsel.

On March 8, 2018, police arrested Seyoum Teshome at his home near the Woliso Campus of Ambo University. In addition to his work at Ambo University, Mr. Teshome is a prominent blogger whose writings have focused on human rights in Oromia Regional State, and in Ethiopia more generally. Mr. Teshome, who was detained under similar circumstances for nearly three months in late 2016, had recently written critically about a six-month state of emergency declared by Ethiopian authorities in February 2018.

According to reports, Mr. Teshome has been accused of using social media to “organize a group to instigate violence,” and was ordered to be held for 14 days while police conducted investigations into the accusations. The 14-day detention period has ended, but Mr. Teshome remains in detention without access to legal counsel. Advocacy for Oromia is deeply concerned by reports that Mr. Teshome has been denied his right to appear before the court of law and that his case has been transferred to a special commission overseeing the implementation of the State of Emergency.

On March 15, 2018, Taye Dendea was also arrested following a radio interview in which he criticized a deadly incident involving Ethiopian federal forces in Moyale, southern Ethiopia, one week earlier. Mr. Dendea, who had also been imprisoned previously for his activism, is also detained at Maekelawi Prison on undisclosed charges without access to legal counsel.

Advocacy for Oromia asks for emails and letters urging Ethiopian authorities to secure Mr. Teshome and Mr. Dendea’s immediate, unconditional release and, pending their release, ensure that their cases proceed in a manner consistent with Ethiopia’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and free expression; and to ensure their well-being while in custody, including access to legal counsel and family.

For PDF format: Oromo scholar-activists arrested, denied due process

Advocacy for Oromia

You can use the following sample letter

To: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
P.O. Box 393
Addis Ababa
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
cc: Federal Attorney General of Ethiopia, President of Oromia Regional State, Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States, United States Ambassador to Ethiopia, United States Deputy Secretary of State, and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Your Excellency:
I write to to express grave concern that Seyoum Teshome, a lecturer at Ambo University, and Taye Dendea, a former professor of law at Rift Valley University and Head of Public Relations and Communications at the Oromia Justice Bureau, have been arrested and are being held at Maekelawi Prison.
On March 8, 2018, police arrested Seyoum Teshome at his home near the Woliso Campus of Ambo University. In addition to his work at Ambo University, Mr. Teshome is a prominent blogger whose writings have focused on human rights in Oromia Regional State, and in Ethiopia more generally. Mr. Teshome, who was detained under similar circumstances for nearly three months in late 2016, had recently written critically about a six-month state of emergency declared by Ethiopian authorities in February 2018.
According to reports, Mr. Teshome has been accused of using social media to “organize a group to instigate violence,” and was ordered to be held for 14 days while police conducted investigations into the accusations. As of this writing, the 14-day detention period has ended and Mr. Teshome remains in detention without access to legal counsel. SAR is deeply concerned by reports that Mr. Teshome has been denied his right to appear before the court of law and that his case has been transferred to a special commission overseeing the implementation of the State of Emergency.
I further understand that, on March 15, 2018, Taye Dendea was also arrested following a radio interview in which he criticized a deadly incident involving Ethiopian federal forces in Moyale, southern Ethiopia, one week earlier. Mr. Dendea, who had also been imprisoned previously for his activism, is also detained at Maekelawi Prison on undisclosed charges without access to legal counsel, as of this writing.
I welcome any additional information that may explain these events or clarify my understandings. Absent this, the facts as described suggest that Mr. Teshome and Mr. Dendea were arrested as a result of nonviolent expressive activity, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ethiopia is party. This raises not only serious concerns for Mr. Teshome and Mr. Dendea’s well-being, but for the ability of intellectuals generally in Ethiopia to exercise their right to free expression.
I therefore respectfully urge you to investigate the situation and to secure Mr. Teshome and Mr. Dendea’s immediate, unconditional release and, pending their release, ensure that their cases proceed in a manner consistent with Ethiopia’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and free expression; and to ensure their well-being while in custody, including access to legal counsel and family.
I appreciate your attention to this important matter and look forward to your reply.
Sincerely,
(Sign here)
(Place your name here)
Please CC for the followings

cc: The Honorable Getachew Ambaye

Attorney General, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Email:

cc: The Honorable Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Email:

cc: Advocacy for Oromia

Email:info@advocacy4oromia.org

The Honorable Abiy Ahmed

Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Email:

cc: Ambassador Kassa Tekleberhan Gebrehiwot

Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the United States of America
Email:

cc: The Honorable Lemma Megersa

President of Oromia Regional State
Email:

cc: The Honorable Michael Raynor

United States Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Email:
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