For Immediate Release
Children of Brit on Ethiopia’s death row ask Queen for help
LONDON - The daughter of a British man held under sentence of death in Ethiopia has asked the Queen for help.
Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, a father of three from London, has been held incommunicado in Ethiopia since June 2014, when he was kidnapped at an airport and rendered to the country. A well-known critic of Ethiopia’s ruling party, he faces a death sentence imposed in absentia. He has been denied access to a lawyer, and the British Ambassador has been permitted to meet with him only rarely.
In the most recent visit to him, on November 18th, the Ambassador noted that Mr Tsege appears to be held in legal limbo, saying: “He had not had access to a lawyer and nothing had been said to him about charges, courts or rights […] the prison authority had denied having custody of him. He said that ‘nobody talks to you or answers the questions you raise’”.
In a letter sent to recently to the Queen, Mr Tsege’s eight-year-old daughter Menabe wrote: “My father is currently held captive in Ethiopia […] Last year the year sixes in my school and my brother, sister and I wrote letters to David Cameron. His reply wasn’t very convincing because at the very least I haven’t heard any news and at the most I don’t see any father’s in the house so I have decided to write to you instead in hope you will help. With David Cameron in charge again the situation will not be solved which is why you need to get him to actually pay attention to the problem.”
Mr Tsege’s family in London have been unable to see or speak to him since he disappeared, with the exception of one brief phone call last Christmas. In a letter that the British Ambassador was permitted to read to him during his November visit, Mr Tsege’s partner Yemi wrote: “I miss you so much but I keep thinking and deep down inside I know this is a very temporary situation. […] Please stay strong. We love you and you matter to us. The kids want their Papa back.”
Torture of political prisoners is common in Ethiopia, and there are fears for Mr Tsege’s mental and physical wellbeing.
Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at human rights organization Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Tsege, said: “Andy Tsege is a British citizen and father who has been subjected to a series of terrible abuses at the hands of the Ethiopian regime as punishment for his political beliefs. Yet despite serious human rights violations against one of its nationals, the British government has failed to request Andy’s release. Instead, his family must now prepare for a second Christmas without him. The British government must not let Andy’s children suffer without their father any longer – ministers must demand his release without delay.”
Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.