Ethiopia: Foreign ministry spokesperson accused of torturing prisoner

by Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (March 21, 2018)

A political prisoner told a court in Addis Ababa yesterday that the current spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Meles Alem, had tortured him at a notorious torture chamber, the Central Investigation Bureau.

Meles Alem, Spokesperson for Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The damning allegation, similar to what many dissidents allege against officials of a minority ethnic clique ruling Ethiopia with brute force, had brought to light one more time what is really happening behind the gates of the Central Investigation Bureau in the capital, also known as Ma’ekelawi and Ethiopia’s torture chamber.

Seyfu Alemu, who also showed the scars on his body to the court had also presented three witnesses who were jailed with him at the time of the torture. They testified that a group of interogaters for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had tortured him and inflicted bodily injuries. The witnesses, who were also jailed at the Investigation Bureau at the time, said they had held a hunger strike at the prison to demand that Seyfu Alemu had access to medical treatment, which was denied by the TPLF prison guards.

Seyfu said he has been spitted on and brutally beaten by several men and women interrogators of the TPLF, including the Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Meles Alem, who also threw ethnic slurs saying that the Gurages “should not involve in politics and they are only good working as petty thieves.” He said his captors falsely accused him of being a member of an opposition group, Patriotic Ginbot 7.

He said the Gurages were targeted as an ethnic group at the Investigation Bureau and he knew several people who were tortured and suffered injuries including damages to their private parts. Seyfu’s allegations corroborate earlier exposé by political prisoners who were held at the Central Investigation Bureau that interrogators employ gruesome torture techniques like hanging bottles of water on men’s genitals, resulting in damages to reproductive organs.

The ruling TPLF uses its intelligence and security apparatus to spy on and detain dissidents, critical journalists, activists and members of the opposition. Accounts by those released show the TPLF interrogators use torture methods that result in permanent bodily damages, including damages to private parts.

Born and raised in Shashemene, Southern Ethiopia, Meles Alem quickly climbed up the ladders of power in Addis Ababa due to his blood linkage as a Tigrayan to the powers that be. A TPLF cadre in his university days, he is now the spokesperson of a regime and blindly defend and cook lies in front of a gaggle of reporters at the Ministry’s headquarters.