Ethiopian human rights lawyer arrested


International human rights groups are on high alert as their Ethiopian colleague Yalemzewd Bekele was arrested on Thursday morning, while trying to cross the border to Kenya. According to Amnesty, there are serious concerns that "she is at high risk of torture or other ill-treatment," as others involved in the same affair reportedly have been killed in detention.
Ms Bekele, a women's rights campaigner and lawyer working for the European Commission in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, was arrested on Thursday morning by Ethiopian authorities, while trying to cross the border to Kenya, Amnesty said in an alert today, adding that the group feared she may be tortured while in detention.
It is believed that Ms Bekele was accompanied by another person at the time of her arrest. The identity and whereabouts of this person are not known.
Ms Bekele appears to have been arrested in connection with the publication and distribution by the political opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) of a controversial calendar, Amnesty assumed. The CUD published their "calendar of action for civil disobedience" on 11 September, to coincide with the Ethiopian New Year. Ethiopian authorities reportedly set up a special task force to investigate its publication and distribution, leading to many arrests.
On 5 October, Alemayehu Fantu, the owner of a chain of supermarkets in Addis Ababa, was also arrested in connection with the calendar. Shortly after Mr Fantu was detained, Ethiopian authorities issued an arrest warrant against Ms Bekele.
There were "clear indications that Alemayehu Fantu was tortured in detention at Woreda 8 police station in the Gulele district of Addis Ababa," Amnesty said. "Three others arrested at the same time, reportedly in connection with the calendar, are believed to have died after being tortured in custody," the human rights group added.
Amnesty said it was "extremely concerned" that Mr Fantu may have named Ms Bekele as being involved with the CUD calendar "while he was being tortured, and that she may be tortured in detention."
Ms Bekele began working for the European Commission in Addis Ababa in 2004. The projects on which she works include projects related to human rights and civil society. She is a also a prominent civil rights lawyer who volunteered with the Ethiopian Women Lawyers' Association (EWLA), a local women's rights organisation. Further, she has been an active campaigner for women's rights in Ethiopia.

Source: Afro News

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at4:15 AM

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