Thousands of Students Detained in Ethiopia
Wed Feb 1, 12:19 PM ET
AP Associated Press
Thousands of school and college students have been detained over the past three months in continued unrest in Ethiopia, an international human rights group said.
Separately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Tuesday that an Ethiopian reporter had become the latest journalist in that country to be arrested.
Security forces arrested many of the students in the southern Oromiya region — which includes the Ethiopian capital city, Addis Ababa — during demonstrations that began Nov. 9, Amnesty International's East Africa office said in a statement late Monday from London.
Amnesty said that the arrests are believed to have occurred after the rebel Oromo Liberation Front called for demonstrations against the government. The rights group said that it had received reports that some of the students had been shot dead, but it did not give details.
Officials in Ethiopia were not immediately available for comment.
On Jan. 18, Britain's International Development Secretary, Hilary Benn, announced in Addis Ababa that Britain would withhold some of its direct aid to Ethiopia because of human rights concerns, especially sporadic clashes between police and demonstrators in recent months.
Britain is expected to redirect $88.4 million to areas like health, water and education in the impoverished nation.
Unrest has shaken Ethiopia since May elections and police have arrested hundreds of opposition supporters and journalists on charges of treason, sparking international concern over Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's commitment to human rights.
Clashes erupted in Addis Ababa earlier this month and in November and June last year. More than 80 people have been killed by security forces in the disturbances.
"The whereabouts of many of the detainees, some taken to remote rural prisons, are not known," Amnesty said. "Some detainees have been released, but others are being held in locations where torture has frequently been reported.
The report described those arrested as including secondary school students — some younger than 18 — teachers, farmers, businesspeople and others.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists quoted Elias Kifle, the publisher of the U.S.-based web site, Ethiopian Review, as saying that security forces had detained one of his correspondents.
The group said that correspondent Frezer Negash had been held by police since Friday without charge.