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February 1977, youths, including the author, were sent to rural areas as part of a literacy
campaign. Disappointed with the regime, the author came into contact with the Ethiopian
People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP) and started to work for it.
According to the author, the EPRP started to organize resistance against the Mengistu
regime by calling students and youth back from the rural areas to Addis Ababa. In 1977 the
conflicts between the various political groups resulted in the so-called “Red Terror”, the brutal
eradication of all opposition to the governing Provincial Military Administrative Council
(PMAC) and random killings. An estimated 100,000 people were killed. The author, who had
been distributing pamphlets and putting up posters in Addis Ababa on behalf of the EPRP, was
arrested and taken to a concentration camp, together with thousands of other youth, where he
was held for one year between 1980 and 1981. While in the camp he was subjected to fake
executions and brainwashing, the so-called “baptism by Mengistu”. According to the author, the
“Red Terror” ended when the regime was convinced that the leaders of the EPRP were all dead.
Many political prisoners, including the author, were then set free.
After his release he went underground and continued his work for the EPRP. The author
states that the Mengistu regime carefully followed the movements of previous political prisoners
to suppress a revival of the opposition. In 1986/87, the author was arrested in a mass arrest and
taken to “Kerchele” prison, where he was imprisoned for four years. According to the author,
the prisoners were forced to walk around naked and were subjected to ill-treatment in the form of
regular beatings with clubs. While imprisoned, he suffered from tuberculosis.
In May 1991, the Mengistu regime fell and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary
Democratic Front (EPRDF) came to power. According to the author, the prison guards fled in
panic and the prisoners left. Once free, the author tried to get in touch with members of the
EPRP, but all his contacts were gone. He then started to work for the Southern Ethiopian
Peoples Democratic Coalition (SEPDC), a new coalition of 14 regional and national political
opposition parties. The author worked as a messenger for one of the leaders, Alemu Abera, in
Awasa. In February 1995 he was on his way to deliver a message to Mr. Alemu when he was
caught by the police.
The author states that he was kept in detention for 24 hours in Awasa and then transferred
to the central prison, “Meakelawi Eser Bete”, in Addis Ababa. After three days, he was taken to
“Kerchele” prison where he was kept for one year and seven months. He was never tried or had
contact with a lawyer. The treatment in prison was similar to what the author had experienced
during his first imprisonment. He says that he was taken to the torture room and threatened that
he would be shot if he did not cooperate. He believes that the only reason he was not severely
tortured like many other prisoners was that he was already in a weak physical condition. While
in prison he further developed epilepsy.
The author, who had previously worked as a technician, was made responsible for
certain repairs in prison. On 5 October 1996 he managed to escape when he was taken to the
house of one of the high-ranking guards to make some repairs. Through a friend, the author
managed to get the necessary papers to leave the country and requested asylum in Norway
on 8 October 1996.

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