Hundreds of Ethiopian Students Remain Under Arrest After Riot
Wednesday, April 25, 2001
By WACHIRA KIGOTHO and HENK ROSSOUW
About 2,500 Ethiopian students are still in detention after being arrested last week following protests that started at the University of Addis Ababa.
The students were demanding a greater role in university affairs, and then the government deployed riot police at the university.
Riots broke out last Wednesday when students demanded that the police leave. The resulting violence left 41 people dead and more than 250 injured.
Police arrested the 2,500 students from the churches, mosques, and homes where they took refuge.
Opposition politicians say that the protests signal popular dissent against the government, but the government is dismissing that view. "The student protest was hijacked by jobless youths and gangsters in the city," said Yamane Kidane, chief of staff in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
No list of names has been released. Parents, unsure whether their children are among the detained, have surrounded the police college where the students are being held but are unable to communicate with them. Police guards have denied allegations by the parents that the students have no food or water.
The commanding police officer at the gate of the police college said, "Police are sorting out the hooligans from the students."
Amnesty International says that many of those who are being held are minors, including children who sought safety during the protests. Lidetu Ayalew, the secretary general of the opposition party in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Democratic Party, agrees with the reports made by human-rights organizations of brutality, saying the police shot at, kicked, and beat innocent people.
The government reopened the University of Addis Ababa after shutting it down for a week, but few students returned to class, saying that they wanted their colleagues released first. The Ethiopian Student Association International said, "We want the safety of all students to be guaranteed before we can resume our education."