San Jose, California, July 11, 2014 – Ethiopian opposition leader, Andargachew Tsege, was kidnapped during a stopover at Sana’a airport in Yemen on June 23 as he was traveling from the United Arab Emirates to Eritrea. He had broken no Yemeni laws and presented no harm or threat whatsoever to Yemen or Yemeni authorities.
After being jailed in Yemen, the Yemeni authorities then extradited Mr. Tsege to Ethiopia in complete abrogation of the doctrine of non-refoulement, a recognized rule of international law. The rule prohibits handing over a person to an authority which may cause him or her harm or death.
Upon learning of Mr. Tsege’s kidnapping, the Ethiopian-American Council (EAC) wrote letters of concern to the United Kingdom Foreign Office and to the U.K. embassy in Washington D.C. Mr. Tsege, a U.K. national carrying a U.K. passport, is secretary general of an exiled Ethiopian opposition movement, Ginbot 7.
A response from Mr. Clive McGill of the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to EAC indicated that Mr. Tsege’s detention in Ethiopia is of great concern and that they have requested consular access to Mr. Tsege. He also said that Mr. Tsege’s detention is most worrisome to FCO because of the ruling regime’s complete disregard for the Vienna Convention articles against torture and execution.
Mr. Tsege was recently paraded across Ethiopia’s government-controlled television. Wearing blue sports attire, he complained of being tired and in need of rest. He has not been heard from since, nor has there been any report on his status or whereabouts from any source; just as there was very little information regarding his status since June 23.
In 2005, national elections were held in Ethiopia. The current regime was not happy with the results and nullified them. Rioting followed and hundreds of citizens were killed. The founding of the Ginbot 7 Party followed. Ginbot 7 Party, or May 15 Party, is named for the date of the 2005 elections.
In 2009, Ginbot 7 was outlawed and its leaders sentenced to death in absentia for treason, Mr. Tsege among them. The judgment was handed down from judges of the TPLF/EPRDFTigrayan , the corrupt and murderous minority party now ruling in Ethiopia. The regime considers Mr. Tsege its most wanted man. He had been in exile until his recent kidnapping by the Yemenis.
EAC has called for international service organizations – International Red Cross and Red Crescent, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch – to have access to the imprisoned Ethiopian patriot in order to monitor his legal situation and his physical wellbeing. Last week, Amnesty International warned that Mr. Tsege was at great risk of being tortured while in Ethiopian custody.
The the recent EAC letter to U.K. authorities read: “EAC implores you to do all in your power to free Mr. Andargachew Tsege as soon as possible, before he succumbs to vile mistreatment or a heinous death at the hands of the tyrannical and blood-soaked EPRDF/TPLF regime. We earnestly pray for your assistance. If Mr. Tsege is not freed, another true Ethiopian patriot will be tortured and then murdered.”
EAC will follow up with more informative press releases as the situation unfolds.
The Ethiopian American Council