London’s Ethiopian community’s solidarity with detained opposition leader

July 9, 2014

by Martin Plaut

Members of the Ethiopian community living in London turned out to show their support for the jailed secretary-general of Ginbot 7, Andargachew Tsige. Today (Tuesday) the British government put out a statement saying that Mr Andargachew was being held in Addis Ababa after being extradited from Yemen.Members of the Ethiopian community living in London turned out to show their support for the jailed secretary-general of Ginbot 7, Andargachew Tsige.

These images show the demonstration calling for his release, outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in central London.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has issued this statement.

Amnesty International UK
PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TUESDAY 8 JULY 2014

GOVERNMENT WARNED ‘THE CLOCK IS TICKING’ FOR BRITISH MAN AT RISK OF TORTURE IN ETHIOPIA

Amnesty International has called on the UK Government to ensure the safety of British man who is at risk of torture after being forcibly returned to Ethiopia.

Andargachew Tsige, a British national of Ethiopian origin and Secretary General of the outlawed Ethiopian opposition group Ginbot 7, disappeared at Sana’a airport in Yemen on 24 June while he was en route to Eritrea.

For the following week there were no official statements released by either the Yemeni or Ethiopian authorities about Mr Tsige’s whereabouts. However, human rights activists in Yemen told Amnesty that he was forcibly returned to Ethiopia the same day he landed, after being detained at Sana’a airport, in violation of international law. Today a Foreign Office Spokesperson confirmed that Mr Tsige is in Ethiopia, though his specific location remains unknown.In 2009, Mr Tsige was tried in absentia in Ethiopia and sentenced to death

Amnesty is concerned that Mr Tsige is at acute risk of torture, given that political detainees in Ethiopia are frequently tortured in order to extract information and confessions. Mr Tsige is being detained ‘incommunicado’ – in an unknown location with no access to legal or consular representatives or family members – which severely exacerbates this risk.

Amnesty is urgently appealing to the UK Government to ensure that all possible efforts are made to immediately identify the whereabouts of Mr Tsige and to gain consular access to him.

Amnesty International UK’s Head of Policy and Government Affairs Allan Hogarth said:

“Swift action to locate and ensure the safety of Andargachew Tsige must be a top priority for the UK Government.

“Given that Mr Tsige is a political activist who has been tried and sentenced to death in his absence, and given the regularity with which political opponents are tortured, there is a real danger that Mr Tsige’s life could be at risk.

“The longer he remains incommunicado, the more precarious his situation. The clock is ticking.

“The Ethiopian authorities must immediately reveal Mr Tsige’s whereabouts, and ensure he has access to British consulate staff, lawyers and relatives.

“In addition to insisting on assurances that the death penalty will not be carried out, the UK Government should also seek immediate guarantees that Mr Tsige will not be subject to torture.”

In 2009, Mr Tsige was tried in absentia in Ethiopia and sentenced to death for involvement in an alleged coup attempt. In 2011 Ethiopia’s Parliament banned Ginbot 7, deeming it a terrorist organisation.

Following this, in 2012, the authorities again prosecuted Mr Tsige in absentia on terrorism charges, alongside a number of opposition members, journalists and others. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Amnesty believes he is at serious risk of being imprisoned based on a conviction for charges against which he was not able to present a defence.

Yemen’s transfer of Mr Tsige to Ethiopia is in violation of international law. Under the international Convention against Torture, to which Yemen is a party, a state may not “expel, return (‘refouler’) or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

6 Responses to London’s Ethiopian community’s solidarity with detained opposition leader

  1. Teddy B

    July 11, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Aumslu Abera

    He is a freedom fighter he support the oppositions not running for office. Can you tell me or do you have any evidence that Andy running for office. He is thirsty of the people freedom on their own country. This is the confusion that weyanes through home work to divide the people.

  2. tolla

    July 10, 2014 at 2:42 am

    Dear Amsale, do you think a group leader which wages war against the existing tyrannical regime worry about its constitution which is not worth the paper? I don’t think you are aware of the two different political struggles which is fighting to be in the office (to get political power) and fighting to bring change. Try to simplify the above and you don’t need lawyers :)

  3. Suleiman

    July 10, 2014 at 12:06 am

    I Wish Amnesty International calling The Organization by its full Name,Which is
    “GINBOT 7- MOVEMENT FOR JUSTICE FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY ”
    instead of calling it
    “THE OUTLAWED ETHIOPIAN OPPOSITION GROUP GINBOT 7 “

  4. Amsale Aberra

    July 9, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Dear Ato Tolla,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I was not actually questioning the motive of Ato Andargachew or that of the late prime minister here. I was also not trying to imply that Ato Andargachew did/ did not want to run for office. My question is in fact a legal question. As far as I am concerned holding a passport, (acquiring a citizenship of a country) comes with its own legal implications. As I mentioned earlier, in countries like Ethiopia which do not accept dual citizenship, a person loses his/ her Ethiopian citizenship by acquiring another citizenship- By the way, I am not in support of that law. However, be it as it may, how was Ato Andargachew able to run for office in Ethiopia after relinquishing his Ethiopian citizenship? Any lawyer readers?

  5. tolla

    July 9, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    @Amsale Aberra, Did you know that the Great Nelsen Mandela also used foreign passports to carry out his mission? Did you know that the late Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi also used Somalian passport? It’s not unusual a freedom fighter to hold foreign passport… FYI Ato Andargachew never care about running to the office what he care and willing to die for was to see rule of law stablished in Ethiopia…

  6. Amsale Aberra

    July 9, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    I am really sorry that Ato. Adargachew had to face persecution by a government that has no respect for human rights. I also think that the Yemeni government should be accountable for extraditing him to a country where he might face a death penalty.

    That said, I would like pose a question. Given that the Ethiopian nationality law does not recognize dual citizenship, it is my understanding that Ato. Andargachew has given up his Ethiopian nationality when he acquires his British citizenship. It is also the law that only Ethiopian citizens are able to run for office in Ethiopia. So, how was he able to run for office in Ethiopia in the first place? I am kinda confused.

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