By Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (September 8, 2016)
Families of Qilinto prisoners who demanded the regime to disclose the identities of political prisoners who were reportedly shot and killed by security forces on Saturday at the prison were beaten and briefly detained by regime’s security forces. The families who went to Qilinto on Wednesday also demanded the prison administration to disclose the whereabouts of the thousands of inmates who were transferred to other federal prisons and undisclosed locations following the killings and arson at the prison.
According to reports reaching ESAT, security forces have beaten and detained the families who went to Qilinto having heard that an announcement with names of the prisoners and their current locations have been posted. The families were met with brutal force before they reach Qilinto and were severely beaten and some detained, while others held a rally demanding information about their loved ones.
A mother of a prisoner who spoke to ESAT on the phone said she was beaten and detained for nine hours for demanding the whereabouts of her son and inquiring if her son had been one of the prisoners killed on Saturday. “I was just asking them to let me take my son’s body if they had killed him already,” the weeping mother told ESAT. “It has been five days and I don’t know where my son is and if he is alive or dead.”
A mother of a deceased prisoner told ESAT that she was given the body of her 18 year old son by a hospital in Addis Ababa with no explanation whatsoever as to the cause and the manner of the death.
The TPLF regime has so far refused to disclose the identities of those shot and killed on Saturday and the list of prisoners who were transferred to other federal prisons and secrete locations.
Reliable sources allege the arson on Saturday had actually been deliberately started by the prison security after they shot and killed four prisoners. The majority were shot dead by snipers from a guard tower as the inmates run away from the flames to save their lives. Some were actually shot and killed as they try to dowse the fire that gutted down the maximum security prison where an estimated 3000 prisoners were held. Prison sources said the fire was started as a cover-up for the extrajudicial killings at the prison. The fire was said to be raging for eight hours even when there were fire departments close by.
Hospital sources on Monday told ESAT that they have received 60 bodies from Qilinto prison on Saturday and doctors confirmed that all of the victims died from gunshot wounds. Their bodies were riddled with bullets, according to the doctors.
The regime said in a statement on Sunday that only one person was killed but in a contradicting statement on Tuesday, it disclosed that 23 prisoners were killed in the arson.
This is the third time in a year when a prison filled with political prisoners catches fire. A prison in Gondar and Debretabor caught fire as the brutal forces of the TPLF shot at inmates who were trying to run away from the fire. Prison sources said the arsons were deliberately set by TPLF prison security as a cover-up to the killings of political prisoners.
A fire that broke out at the Kality prison nine years ago killed at least 150 prisoners. Hundreds of political prisoners including the then leaders and members of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, a.k.a Kinijit were jailed in Kality after they won the national election in a landslide. The regime was accused of rigging the election. Security forces killed 198 demonstrators in Addis Ababa who demanded their votes be respected, and opposition political leaders were put behind bars following the election in 2005.