The Ethiopia Human Rights Project (EHRP) has shone light on instances of rights abuses in the country’s prisons.
EHRP used the story of a young woman, Nigist Yirga, who has been held by authorities since 2015 for participating in anti-government protests that hit the East African country.
Nigist – born and raised in the northern Gonder region said her only crime was for participating in peaceful demonstrations of July 2015. ‘I was arrested due to my participation in the protest.
I expressed my objections to the mass arrest and killings that was happening all over the country, which was why I took part in the protest. That led to my imprisonment.
‘I expressed my objections to the mass arrest and killings that was happening all over the country, which was why I took part in the protest. That led to my imprisonment,’ she added.
She discloses further that after arrest, she was sent to a detention center in the capital Addis Ababa – over 730km from Gondar. She was held in the Meakelawi facility which is notorious for widespread torture.
She chronicled how she was held incommunicado in Addis Ababa – an extremely cold cell with late night interrogations were some of the horrors she faced. She told how her hair and toe nails were pulled whiles she stood naked in front of male officers.
The 3 minutes 44 seconds cartooned video clip posted on Youtube said she was currently being held at the Kality prison where a certain degree of abuses continue among others: highly restricted visits which last 30 minutes. ‘I should not have suffered all these because I exercised my right,’ she concluded.
It is not known when and how the story of Yirga was documented. The EHRP is a non-governmental organization whose vision is ‘the amplification of Ethiopian Human Rights Voices,’ its website says.
‘Ethiopia Human Rights Project (EHRP) understands the challenges that local civil societies in Ethiopia face and their limitations to engage on rights advocacy because of the restrictive environment in which they operate in,’ they added.