His Excellence Meles Zenawi
Prime Minister of Ethiopia
PO Box 1031, Addis Ababa -
UNHCR OFFICE in Addis
Human Rights Watch
Ref: Open Letter to the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
I write as the President of the International African Child Relief and Peace Foundation of Canada, an international human rights organization. Together with the undersigned partners, we are deeply concerned by the torture of about 60 Banyamulenge refugees currently victims of cruel treatment by the Ethiopian police as result of being injustly handed over by UNHCR local agent called Negate, and illegally detained with no reasons. Our sources indicate that whereas these 60 individuals, victims of torture, are the only true Banyamulenge refugees in Ethiopia, they found themselves surrounded by a mob of non Banyamulenge refugees who had falsely claimed to be Banyamulenge refugees and reported to the UNHCR as Banyamulenge in order to qualify for UNHCR protection and benefit its services including resettlement in western countries as refugees. Those who deceivingly reported themselves as Banyamulenge refugees, are accused of corrupting some policemen and some UNHCR officials such as Mr. Negate so that they may deny the true Banyamulenge refugees their rights and treat them as criminals.
We have received reports naming one the corrupted UNHCR officials of Ethiopian origin named above (Mr. Negate) who has been allegedly bribed by the Rwandese Hutus and some Congolese falsely registered by UNHCR as Banyamulenge refugees to make sure all of the true Banyamulenge refugees do not get asylum in Ethiopia.
According to local sources another such corrupt Ehiopian official who has been bribed to tortured Banyamulenge refugees is an ARRA agent by the name of Mr. Masmara known for his determination to keep true Banyamulenge refugee from benefiting their rights in Ethiopia and badly mistreat them.
Local sources confirm that some of the persecuted Banyamulenge refugees are severely injured. Indeed one of them called David is reported to be in a coma, due to cruel beating, and a woman among them has had an abortion as a result of beatings.
Mr. Prime Minister, the Republic of Ehiopia has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As your government has committed to uphold international law over national, we appeal to you to implement obligations under international law and not allow the corrupt officials tarnish the image of your country as refugees and asylum seekers in Ethiopia are at great risk of torture or other inhuman treatment.
We write also to urge the office of UNHCR in Ethiopia to address the issue of wrongful identification and treatment of refugees, particularly the case of Banyamulenge refugees in Ethiopia, and the need for an immediate security assessments of the 60 individuals named herein, in order to address their cause. Please be aware that any negligence of this matter could result in danger of about 60 innocent refugees being subjected to torture or arbitrary deprivation of their lives in the hands of UNHCR officials in collaboration with a handful Ethiopian corrupt officials.
Akim M. Hakiza
International AfricanChild Relief and Peace Foundation of Canada