Ethiopia : victims of Qilinto prison fire not identified three days after the incident

September 6,2016

Ethiopian government admitted that 23 inmates are killed in relation to fire incident at the maximum security prison Qilinto last Saturday.

While bodies are in various hospitals in the capital Addis Ababa, victims are not yet identified three days after the incident.

The prison housed high profile political prisoners and journalists. The safety of Oromo Federalist Congress leader Bekele Gerba is confirmed but his families did not get a chance to see him in person for several days now and there are reports that many prisoners are transferred to prisons far away from Addis Ababa.

Semayawi party public relation officer,Yonatan Tesfaye, is one of the political prisoners who was detained at Qilitnto. His mother, Muchit Teka, told Amharic service of the voice of America that she has not seen her son for many days and does not know if he is still alive or not. Prison authorities ganged up on her when she asked the whereabouts of her son who is actually illegally thrown to prison for his activity in a legally registered opposition political party. She has been to hospitals,too, to see if the identities of victims is known to doctors but that was not the case.

Muchit was in tears when she talked about her son. “How can I keep silent when I don’t know the whereabouts of my son?”,she told journalist Tsion Girma of VOA.

There are indication that victims are rather tagged with code number in an apparent effort to hide the identities of the victims.

So far, facts known about the victims is that they were all not killed by the massive fire. They were rather shot and killed by prison guards.

Amharic service of voice of America spoke to some relatives of inmates who are at Qilinto prison and they are all worried that they are not told the whereabouts of their loved ones.

Although the political tension appears to be calm in the past two days, observers suggest that Ethiopians are mourning loss of those who were killed during the incident. There are, however, still protests in the country. In some towns of Oromia region of Ethiopia, for example, a stay at home protest is in effect as of today.

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