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Ethiopia:  Tedros Adhanom unsuitable to lead WHO, torture victim says

Reeyot Alemu

ESAT News (May 15, 2017)

Reeyot Alemu, an Ethiopian journalist who endured solitary confinement, physical and mental abuse in jail, has written a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) opposing the candidacy of Dr. Tedros Adhanom, a person who was at the helm of a tyrannical regime in Ethiopia.

She appealed to the World Health Assembly to reject the candidacy of Adhanom. “Someone like Adhanom, who played a key role, as a decision maker, in causing the suffering and abuse of fellow human beings can never have the caliber and integrity needed to lead a global institution whose mission is the attainment of the highest possible level of health by every human being,” she wrote.

“I fear that WHO’s reputation will be tarnished and its credibility questioned if it elects Dr. Tedros Adhanom. The fact that Dr. Adhanom, one of the top human rights violators making life miserable to the people of Ethiopia, has managed to be the last three candidates, bidding to take over the position of Director-General, is very troubling and alarming,” the award winning journalist wrote in an open letter published on Monday.

“I was arbitrarily detained on June 21, 2011 until I was freed without explanation in July 2015, a few days before former U.S. President Barack Obama visited Ethiopia. Abused, tortured and mistreated, I spent over four years or 1480 days of my life in the notorious Kalati jail,” Alemu wrote.

“Dr. Adhanom was also a cabinet minister of the ruthless dictator Meles Zenawi for nearly a decade. Zenawi was not alone but used accomplices and enablers like Dr. Adhanom. After jailing opponents and crippled civil society, Adhanom has defended everything the regime has done as the foreign minister of this ruthless regime besides being accused of hiding cholera outbreaks during his ministerial tenures,” she noted.

Reeyot Alemu won several awards for her courage and commitment to press freedom. The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) bestowed a Courage in Journalism Award on her in 2012. She also won Human Rights Watch’s Hellman/Hammett press freedom prize in the same year.

She was awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to honor her “exceptional courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression” in May 2013.

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