Dr. Firew Bekele has been charged under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation accused of writing a book critical of the government. Bekele denies writing it but acknowledges helping with writing it. Being detained in this regard is a violation of his human rights to free expression and speech. CCS has written to the new Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, requesting Bekele’s release.
October 21, 2019
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
PO Box 1031
Lorenzo Te’azaz Road
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Dear Prime Minister Ahmed,
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write today to express our grave concern for Firew Bekele, a lecturer at Rift Valley University, who was arrested on August 17. He has been charged under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, apparently because of a book that is critical of your government. He is accused of having written this book – “Yetetlefe Tigil” (the Hijacked Struggle) – an accusation he denies though he may have assisted in its publication.
In any event, Firew Bekele has the right to freely and peacefully express his views and opinions, and it is apparent that he has been arrested and charged in violation of his basic human rights. During his detention he has, reportedly, been interrogated in an effort to get him to confess to writing the book in question, or to name its authors. Access to his family and legal representation have been hindered, in violation of his basic right to due process and a fair legal proceeding.
We note that as a Nobel Peace Prize winner you have a special responsibility to respect and protect the fundamental rights of your fellow countrymen, and we urge you to review this case and dismiss the charges against Firew Bekele and have him released. While he remains in detention, he should be granted regular access to family and legal counsel.
Thank you for your consideration of this most serious and urgent matter and we look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Ambassador Fitsum Arega
Embassy of Ethiopia
3506 International Drive, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 364-1200
Fax: (202) 587-0195