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Ethiopia by E-mail

Subject: A short note because of the news.
Date: Wed, 8 Jun 2005 02:23:49 +0300
From: Pat Rollin


If you listen to the news, then you know that there was a protest and a lot of arrests at Addis Ababa University. BBC also reported that students were shot at AAU. They were wrong, students were shot, but it was at another college. I went in to campus when the protest started. The news reported that the students had blocked the entrance. That is an error. The students had a peaceful protest going and the university police closed & locked the main gates. I walked in the back gate with no problem. As people gathered, the university police closed and locked all the gates. We were effectively locked in the campus. The students did not seem to care if people came & went, they just wanted to voice their frustration with the election process and their belief that there was fraud on the ruling parties side. The government sent in federal police and military who arrested a large number of students and took them to a holding area at the police college about 30KM east of Addis Ababa. The shooting started when students at a high school and college on the route to the police college tried to stop the vehicles carrying the protesters and the military started shooting.

When my students heard that the federal police had been called in, they insisted on ending class early & leaving the campus. They were scared that the police would enter the classrooms and take them away. They report that happening in the past. We stayed on campus because it was quiet & peaceful. The students would have been safer on campus as well. I could hear the protesters but I could not see them from the Social Work School. Eventually things quieted down, the campus police opened the back gate and I called a cab driver that has been good. He came & took Donna & me out. He had to walk in to get us because he could not drive up near the university. We took back streets to the hotel & my home because the main roads were blocked.

Tuesday when we went to Debra Berhan. On the way out of town we observed military troops in staging areas waiting deployment. We passed the police college (Sendafa) where the protesters are supposed to be held. On the return trip, there was a crowd of about 500-1000 people outside the gates to the police college. Students report that in the past, students have been taken to Sendafa and held for 30 days with no outside contact with family or friends and have been tortured there. My colleague reported that 24 of 39 students reported to class today and everything was quiet on campus.

The bottom line is that we are safe, we have had no excitement.

Jim & Pat Rollin


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