Ethiopian students must admit riot role to gain readmission
04/24/2001 Agence France-Presse
ATTENTION - ADDS prime minister's quotes, background
ADDIS ABABA, April 24 (AFP) - Students wishing to return to Addis Ababa University, closed since April 18, said Tuesday they would only be allowed to do so if they admitted involvement in deadly riots in the Ethiopian capital.
Students who turned up at the college Tuesday told AFP they would have to sign a readmission request, prepared by the education ministry, which featured admissions of guilt for the violence of April 17 and 18, when more than 30 people were killed.
Millions of dollars worth of damage was done to property during the riots.
A text of the declaration obtained by AFP called on students to "recognise having committed a mistake in taking part in an illegal university movement from April 10 to 18".
April 10 saw security forces storm the university campus, where students were on strike over a variety of grievances including the permanent presence of police on campus. Some 45 people, mostly students, were injured.
Also Tuesday, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said these police would be replaced once a civilian force was recruited and trained.
Meles, quoted by the state news agency, added that "a full consensus has been reached on 10 of the 11 questions raised by Addis Ababa students".
By signing the the readmission declaration students would also ask "forgiveness from the university and repent for the loss of human life and material damage..."
According to federal police, 31 people were killed and 253 injured in last week's unrest, which began with demonstrations by high school children acting in solidarity with the striking students and which later degenerated into a full-blown riot.
Hospital sources put the death toll at 38 and said most of those admitted had suffered gunshot wounds.
A federal police report quoted by Tuesday's state press said police had proof that "anti-peace elements" were behind the clashes.
Addis Ababa had earlier accused the opposition and human rights groups of inciting the riots.
The police report said more than 164 police officers were wounded, 43 seriously, in the clashes.
"Police have detained a number of university students outside the compound of the campus n a move to pacify the situation," the report added.
Independent sources said more than 2,000 people, mostly students, were being detained mainly at a police college in Sendafa some 40 kilometers (25 miles) outside the Ethiopian capital.
The report said 97 public and private vehicles and 87 buildings were damaged while 48 public and private establishments were looted.
Police blamed the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, saying it had incited students.
The Council has already strenuously rejected any suggestion of its involvement and that of university students in the violence.
Police also pointed the finger at the All Amhara People's Association and the Ethiopian Democratic Party, both of which are in oppposition, saying they had "directly taken part in acts of looting and vandalism."
On Monday evening, the Democratic Party said 67 of its members had been arrested.
Few of the university's 10,000 students turned up to the college on Tuesday, the day it was meant to reopen.
On Monday evening, the government said all students had to register for readmission on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Some students expressed fears that, by signing the form, they would leave themselves open to legal proceedings related to the riots.