The UK government must protect its own citizens: Yemi Hailemariam demands her partner's death sentence is overturned and that he is released from prison in Ethiopia

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Date: Oct. 2016
From: Socialist Lawyer(Issue 74)
Publisher: Pluto Journals
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,346 words
Lexile Measure: 1250L

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In recent months the Ethiopian government has increased its oppression of dissenters. In August 2016 security forces shot dead dozens of protestors across the country.

The coverage of the escalating violence has caused me to worry even more about my partner, who faces execution in Ethiopia for his political views. Andargachew Tsege, we call him Andy, is a British citizen and father of three. He is no stranger to protests in Ethiopia--he was a student activist in the 1970s, demonstrating against the then-government and eventually had to flee to London for fear of persecution. He went on to become a key figure in Ethiopia's pro-democracy movement.

In 2005 Andy braved a trip back to Ethiopia to launch his book, which criticised government corruption and abuse. He was among the thousands who were arrested in a post-election crackdown by the ruling party, the EPRDF, which rules Ethiopia with an iron fist. Andy was badly beaten in jail, but was thankfully released a month later.

Back in the UK Andy became general secretary of an opposition coalition and one of Ethiopia's top pro-democracy activists. He testified to the US Congress about the dire state of human rights under the EPRDF, and was a regular commentator on Ethiopian affairs for the BBC.

In 2009 Ethiopian security forces again moved to crush dissent, arresting dozens of people who had spoken out against the government. Andy was charged in absentia and sentenced to death after a trial that observing US diplomats described as 'lacking in basic elements of due process'. Ethiopia's then-prime minister, Meles Zenawi, who oversaw my partner's death sentence, was an old university friend whom Andy had once hosted in London.

Andy continued to call for democracy in Ethiopia, criticising the regime's human rights abuses and the suffocation of free speech. This authoritarian tendency i escalated ahead of the most recent elections, where the EPRDF won 100 percent of the parliamentary seats.

Independent bloggers were rounded up and given lengthy sentences. Andy wasn't safe either, even though he's a...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A470369611