House Concurrent Resolution No. 35



Whereas, Dr. Taye Woldesemayat, a 1989 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia who received his PhD in political science, returned to Ethiopia from the United States after the overthrow of the Ethiopian government in 1991, became the president of the Ethiopian Teachers' Association and taught as an assistant professor of political science at the University of Addis Ababa until he and other persons critical of the government were arbitrarily dismissed; and

Whereas, the Ethiopian Teachers' Association (ETA), established in 1951 to promote the interests of teachers and education in Ethiopia, has over one hundred twenty thousand members and is the largest trade union in Ethiopia; and

Whereas, as the President of the ETA, Dr. Taye Woldesemayat spoke critically against government education policies, including regional decentralization, and sought better conditions for teachers; and

Whereas, the Ethiopian government has attempted to curtail the activities of the ETA and in its efforts to control the ETA, has frozen the ETA bank account and pension fund, shut down its regional offices, carried out illegal searches at its Addis Ababa headquarters, dismissed ETA members from their posts and jailed dozens of teachers;

Whereas, on May 29, 1996, Dr. Taye Woldesemayat was arrested by the Ethiopian government at Addis Ababa International Airport on his return from a two-month visit to Germany and was charged with armed conspiracy; and

Whereas, following his arrest, Dr. Taye Woldesemayat was initially placed in solitary confinement with his hands and feet shackled with ten pound handcuffs for twenty-four hours a day and was later held with two hundred fifty prisoners in a foul smelling cell infested with lice and fleas; and

Whereas, due in part to international pressure, Dr. Taye Woldesemayat's prison conditions were improved and he is now held in a smaller, cleaner cell and is allowed short family visits, but is still being denied private access to his lawyer despite the fact that his trial is still ongoing after twenty-two months; and

Whereas, if convicted, Dr. Taye Woldesemayat faces a sentence ranging from a minimum of five years in prison to the death penalty:

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the members of the House of Representatives of the Ninetieth General Assembly, Second Regular Session, the Senate concurring therein, hereby express concern over the arrest, months of ill-treatment and potentially serious breach of international standards of a fair trial for Dr. Taye Woldesemayat, President of the Ethiopian Teachers' Association and a prisoner of conscience who has been on trial for almost two years.; and

Be it further resolved that the members of the Missouri General Assembly urge the Ethiopian government to order an independent and impartial inquiry into the allegations of torture, to allow lawyers to consult confidentially with their clients, and to ensure that Dr. Taye Woldesemayat and his five co-defendants receive a fair trial; and

Be it further resolved that the Chief Clerk of the Missouri House of Representatives be instructed to prepare properly inscribed copies of this resolution for the His Excellency Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Mr. Werede-Wold Wolde, Ethiopian Minister of Justice and Ms. Genet Zewdie, Ethiopian Minister of Education.

Offered by Representative Bill Boucher

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