ethblog.jpg  Dr Taye Woldesmiata, leader of the Ethiopian Teachers Association The following article is an urgent appeal for solidarity from the Ethiopian teachers' union which is in imminent danger

Ethiopian Teachers' Association Fighting For Its Very Existence

For fifteen years the Ethiopian Teachers Association has fought to retain its right to organise as an independent trade union. Its members have faced beatings, meetings broken up by force, sacking, imprisonment, torture and death whether gunned down in the street, dying in prison or being disappeared. Now it is involved in a battle for its very survival.

Only the fighting determination of ordinary union members and the support of international trade unionists have kept the union from being completely smashed. In February of this year an Ethiopian court declared the union illegal, a judgment currently being contested partly through the support of international trade unions, particularly the British NUT and Dutch AOb.

The government has set up a rival union also called the ETA, sequestrated the funds of the legitimate ETA and banned it from operating. Currently the union offices are being occupied by activists in a tense stand-off.

Gemoraw Kassa, General Secretary of the ETA, explains:

"According to this unpopular verdict of the Supreme Court delivered .., the authentic ETA is made to lose not only of its bank assets and properties altogether but also is deprived of its legal status to act as an independent professional association of its one hundred and seventeen thousand members. As of this date, the government sponsored (surrogate) ETA is supposed to be the sole teachers’ "legitimate union" in Ethiopia . This is the real interest of the government aimed at getting rid of an independent ETA (by replacing it by the fake one) from the scene under the cover of court ruling.

We are quite ready to face all in the manner it may come. As to the consequence, you will be kept informed by myself or somebody else.

Finally, we would desperately like to urge EI and its affiliated organizations to continue their support for ETA and exert pressure to all concerned to use their influence on the Ethiopian Government to meet its national and international obligations particularly to respect teachers’ rights to an independent association and freedom of collective bargaining. We believe that your solidarity will make a difference.

Please accept our many thanks for your past and present solidarity without which the viability of the original ETA would have been culminated some 15 years ago.

We need your suppoort now more than ever."

Gemoraw Kassa, General Secretary of the Ethiopian Teachers' Association

Please send protests to

Please send letters to:

Prime Minister His Excellency Meles Zenawi PO Box 1031 Addis Ababa Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Fax: +251 11 552020 (the fax is often engaged, so also use surface mail and copy to the embassy)

Minister of Justice Mr. Assefa Kesito PO Box 1370 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Fax: + 251 11 5517775, + 251 11 5520874

Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Ambassador Fisseha Yimer 56, rue Moillebeau P.O. Box 338 1211 Geneva 19 Switzerland Fax: + 41 22 919 7029

For further information see Education International