Amnesty begs PM get involved in Ethiopian-Canadian’s plight behind barsPublished Posted on | By TZTA News
Demonstrators met outside the Prime Ministers office on Wellington street in Ottawa on January 20, 2011 to demand the return of Canadian Citizen Bashir Makhtal from Ethiopia where he is currently serving a life sentence. Chris Roussakis/ QMI Agency/Files
Bashir Makhtal, a Canadian citizen, was born in Ethiopia.
He was working as information technologist with CIBC when, in 2007, he returned to Ethiopia keen to expand a small business, Amnesty International said.
Instead, he was arrested and charged with smuggling arms for the Ogaden National Liberation Front. The ONLF, established in 1984, is a separatist rebel group fighting to make the region of Ogaden in eastern Ethiopia an independent state. Makhtal’s grandfather was a member of the ONLF but Amnesty International said Bashir Makhtal was not.
Amnesty International’s Alex Neve said Makhtal did not receive a fair trial and has been badly beaten.
“He has been held in isolation, also kicked, punched and beaten head to toe with a stick,” Neve told reporters on Wednesday.
Neve claims Makhtal has also been denied access to a lawyer, family contacts or contact with Canadian consular officials.
Makhtal’s cousin, Said Makhtal, is pleading for his release.
“Prime minister, imagine the pain you would feel if you learned that one of your loved ones had been through this kind of nightmare,” Makhtal said Wednesday. “That is the pain that we are feeling every single day and every single minute and every single night.”