Urgent Appeal to Prime Minster Haile Mariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia to Allow Mr. Habtamu Ayalew to Seek Immediate Medical Treatment Abroad
A global petition drive is underway from concerned persons within and outside Ethiopia urging the Government of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn to allow Mr. Habtamu Ayalew, an ex-political prisoner who is in a coma and on life support in Addis Ababa to seek medical treatment abroad immediately. This appeal on humanitarian grounds is premised on fundamental human rights laws, protocols and best practices observed by civilized nations.
We remind the Government of Ethiopia, currently a member of the UN Human Rights Council, that it has an obligation to abide by the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights covenants to which Ethiopia is a signatory. More specifically we refer to Article 13 of the Universal Declaration that states clearly the binding obligation of member states as follows:
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
In its compelling appeal to the Government of Ethiopia and the global community on June 30, 2016, Amnesty International said “Ethiopian authorities must allow an opposition politician who is now unconscious due to injuries sustained in torture and other ill-treatment to obtain life-saving medical treatment abroad.” We remind the Government of Ethiopia and the global community that medical professionals in Ethiopia have determined that in Mr. Ayalew’s case, life-saving medical treatment, tools and facilities are unavailable in Ethiopia. Therefore, to not grant Mr. Ayalew to leave the country to seek immediate treatment anywhere in the world is tantamount to sentencing him to die.
Mr. Habtamu Ayalew is one among the few young prominent democratic activists and political leaders in Ethiopia. Before his arrest on July 8, 2014, he was the spokesman for and chief of public relations of the enormously popular and legally registered Andinet or Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ)) party. He was also instrumental in leading UDJ’s pioneering and grassroots level mobilization work called the “Millions’ Voices.” This peaceful national movement was intended to empower citizens to participate in the political process and to advance the democratization process in Ethiopia. Mr. Ayalew stood for peaceful democratic change, national consensus, dialogue and reconciliation. Despite this, he was charged with terrorism and imprisoned at the notorious, unhealthy, diseases ridden and crowded Maekelawi and Qilinto Prisons. As is often the case in similar political situations in Ethiopia, this sentencing was done without any credible evidence to support a political decision by the governing party and justify it using any means necessary. In order to legitimize its assertions, the Government of Ethiopia concocted that Mr. Ayalew was “collaborating” with Ginbot 7 that it had designated as a “terrorist group.”
Independent human rights groups, the U.S. Department of State and others provide a plethora of evidence that political prisoners at Maekelawi and other prisons are subjected to inhumane and debilitating treatment including physical and psychological torture. They are often denied access to basic facilities such as toilets and medical care. This is why Mr. Ayalew suffers from painful hemorrhoids and kidney problems; and is in a coma. . On June the 28th 2016 his situation deteriorated and he had to be sent to a hospital. Doctors within Ethiopia, couldn’t do anything other than giving him pain killers to alleviate his pain. Mr. Ayalew is now in a critical situation and faces imminent death unless he leaves Ethiopia and receives treatment abroad. According to medical doctors who know his case, his hemorrhoids could easily and quickly deteriorate to Stage-3. This is the reason why he needs urgent medical care.
We concur with Amnesty International that “He must be urgently let out of the country on humanitarian grounds, if for nothing else, if his life is to be saved.”
Why would the Government of Ethiopia deny him the fundamental human right to leave his country to seek medical treatment abroad that could potentially save his life? The Government’s prosecutor argues that the decision by Ethiopia’s High Court that released him has now been appealed to the country’s Supreme Court. This political decision by a highly politicized court system must be weighed against the imminent danger that Mr. Ayalew is facing now. Human life must be given precedence over the expediency of political judgment.
We therefore urge the Prime Minister to use his authority and let Mr. Ayalew leave the country for immediate medical treatment abroad. This is a humanitarian request that we hope the Prime Minster will treat on its own merit. His release will send a powerful signal to the Ethiopian people and to the world community that Ethiopia’s government is not callous or inhumane or insensitive to the plight of a citizen in dire distres
Will you please sign to help save Habtamu?
This petition will be delivered to:
- Prime Minister of Ethiopia
- United States Ambassador in Addis Ababa
- United States State Department of State
- Human Rights Campaign
- Amnesty International
- European Commission
- United Kingdom Foreign minister