Ethiopia: Foreign ministry spokesperson said to have beaten up POW

by Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (March 23, 2018)

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Meles Alem, whom a political prisoner accused of torturing him few days ago, had also beaten a prisoner of war during the 1998-2000 border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.
He had also played a key role in the arrest and imprisonment of Ethiopian dissidents by TPLF security in Kenya while he was a diplomat in Nairobi, according to Ethiopians who were in the country as political refugees.

Meles Alem, Spokesperson for Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Meles Alem was a reporter with Fana Radio, a mouthpiece of the TPLF regime, during the Ethio-Eritrean war. A crew of journalists sent to report on the war were given the opportunity to interview an Eritrean prisoner of war. Not happy with the response given by the POW, Meles Alem, despite his role as journalist was to ask questions, had beaten him up till fellow reporters intervened, according to accounts by journalist Mekuria G. Michael, who was also covering the war for the Ethiopian Television.

G. Michael said Meles had become irated that the POW told reporters that “the Eritrean army had the upper hand in the war to take control of Tsorena, one of the major fronts, and dealt a decisive blow against the TPLF soldiers before they regroup and claim the town.” At which point, according to accounts of G. Michael, Meles dropped his mic and start beating the Eritrean soldier.

“We had to intervene and stop the beating because Meles wanted to kill the POW,” G. Michael said adding that he is not surprised that after that incident, Meles was recruited as one of the people in the TPLF who torture dissidents and others in prisons.

Asked if he was surprised a political prisoner recently accused Meles of torturing him, G. Michael said he was not.

“Meles should not represent Ethiopia as a diplomat and travels the world while he should have been held accountable for his crimes.

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

Seyfu Alemu, who also showed the scars on his body to the court had also presented three witnesses who testified that a group of interogaters for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had tortured him and inflicted bodily injuries.

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. He said his captors falsely accused him of being a member of an opposition group, Patriotic Ginbot 7.

Meles, as an Ethiopian diplomat in Nairobi, had also worked with Ethiopian intelligence and security who arrest and forcefully repatriate those who are opposed to TPLF and fled their country to seek safety in a foreign land.

According to reports by the Human Rights Watch, those arrested by Ethiopian security in Nairobi, mainly Oromos and Ethiopian Somalis, would be brought back to Addis Ababa and undergo torture and indefinite detention; and would never see a day in court.

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, like hanging bottles of waters on men’s genitals, that result in permanent damages.