Programs: Science and Policy
AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
AAAS Human Rights Action Network
|Date:||21 May 2002|
|Subject:||Political Scientist Released|
|Issues:||Academic and scientific freedom; Freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention; Freedom of association and assembly; Freedom of opinion and expression; Right to liberty and security of the person|
|Type of alert:||Update|
|Related alerts:||22 July 1996; 4 February 1997; 3 September 1998; 3 August 1999|
FACTS OF THE CASE:
On 14 May 2002, Dr. Taye Woldesemayat, a political scientist and president of the Ethiopian Teachers' Association (ETA), was released from prison. Dr. Taye was arrested in 1996 on fabricated charges of terrorism and conspiracy to assassinate government officials. On 10 June 1999, he was sentenced to a 15-year prison term.
Dr. Taye, who hold BA and MA degrees from Illinois State University (1983, 1985) and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia (1989), joined Addis Ababa University as a professor of political science in 1990. Two years later, he was elected as the Chairman of the ETA, an independent union with 120,000 members. Under his leadership, the ETA proactively promoted the rights of teachers and students. His advocacy proved to be controversial with Ethiopian authorities. In 1992, he was one of 42 professors, mostly from the political science department, who were fired from Addis Ababa University for writing a letter protesting against the government's violent reaction to a student demonstration.
During the mid-1990s, the Ethiopian government targeted independent unions. The government cut funding for ETA and harassed its members. Dr. Taye faced repeated death threats. In May 1996, Ethiopian security forces surrounded Dr. Taye in Bole International Airport where he was attempting to pass through immigration after returning from an international conference. He was arrested without a warrant and taken away to the Central Investigation Center. In August 1996, he was formally charged with armed conspiracy against the government. The trial dragged on for two years. Witnesses for the prosecution later retracted their statements, claiming that they had been extracted under torture. Extensive searches of Dr. Taye's office and home failed to turn up any evidence to support the conspiracy charges. Despite the lack of evidence, Dr. Taye was convicted and sentenced to a lengthy prison term in 1999.
International human rights groups and scientific societies protested Dr. Taye's imprisonment. In 1997, AAAS passed a resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional release of scientists who were prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia, including Dr. Taye.
Upon his release, Dr. Taye stated that peace would only happen in Ethiopia when all citizens could freely exercise their rights. He called for the release of all political prisoners in Ethiopia.
(Sources of information for this update include: The Free Taye Campaign http://www.freetaye.com/, Africa News, and Amnesty International.)
No action is needed at this time. Many thanks to all who sent appeals.
Please send copies of your appeals, and any responses you may receive, or direct any questions you may have to Victoria Baxter, AAAS Science and Human Rights Program, 1200 New York Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20005; tel. 202-326-6797; email email@example.com; or fax 202-289-4950.
The keys to effective appeals are to be courteous and respectful, accurate and precise, impartial in approach, and as specific as possible regarding the alleged violation and the international human rights standards and instruments that apply to the situation. Reference to your scientific organization and professional affiliation is always helpful.
To ensure that appeals are current and credible, please do not continue to write appeals on this case after 90 days from the date of the posting unless an update has been issued.