WATCH: Andy Tsege’s family speak out
Andy Tsege is a democracy campaigner who spoke out against the Ethiopian regime. He was sentenced to death when he wasn’t even in the country, let alone the courtroom. He was then kidnapped and taken to Ethiopia in 2014 – nearly 1,000 days ago.
Andy is a British citizen and father of three children, who are desperate for him to return to their home in London.
“Since Andy disappeared in June 2014 our family has been living a nightmare. Andy believed in democracy above all – that’s what he respected about Britain, and it’s what he hoped for in Ethiopia. He was sentenced to death for holding these very British values – we simply can’t understand why the government he believed in isn’t standing up for him.”
Yemi Hailemariam, Andy’s partner
Andargachew Tsege– also known as Andy – is a father of three from London. A prominent figure in Ethiopian politics, in June 2014 he was kidnapped and rendered to Ethiopia on the command of the Ethiopian government, as part of a brutal crackdown on political opponents and civil rights activists.
After being kidnapped, Andy was held in secret detention in solitary confinement for over a year. He has been paraded on Ethiopian TV looking ill and gaunt. Andy is held under a sentence of death that was handed down in absentia while he was living in London. Despite these abuses, the British government refuses to demand Andy’s release.
Andy was born in Ethiopia and is a well-known and respected critic of the Ethiopian government. In recent years he has spoken out about the current regime’s poor human rights record in front of US Congress and the EU’s Committee on Human Rights. Andy fled Ethiopia in the 1970s after facing serious threats from the then-government for his democratic political beliefs. His younger brother had already been murdered by government security forces. Andy sought political asylum in the UK in 1979 and has lived here ever since, becoming a citizen and starting a family.
On 23 June 2014, Andy was abducted from an airport in Yemen while waiting to catch a flight to Eritrea. It was only two weeks later that Ethiopian officials admitted to the UK government that they had kidnapped him. They had forced him onto a plane and unlawfully ‘rendered’ him to Ethiopia. In 2009, he was sentenced to death in absentia following a trial which violated basic fair trial standards. Following his kidnap, Andy was held in secret detention and in solitary confinement for over a year, without being subjected to any form of due process.
In around July 2015, he was moved to the infamous Kality prison, dubbed “Ethiopia’s gulag”. Throughout his ordeal, Andy has not been allowed access to his family, a lawyer, or proper consular access with British officials. He has not been charged with any crime or subjected to any legal process. In July 2014, Ethiopian state TV aired a heavily-edited video of Andy apparently ‘confessing’ to a number of offences. In the video, he appears gaunt and disoriented, and has noticeably lost weight. Screaming can be heard in the background. Torture in Ethiopian prisons is extremely widespread, and political detainees like Andy are routinely abused in order to extract information and false confessions.
Andy’s partner Yemi, their teenage daughter and young twins are desperately worried about him. Reprieve is calling on the UK government to do all it can to investigate the kidnap and brutal imprisonment of one of its citizens, and to secure Andy’s immediate release.