“I don’t know if I would have cried more if he were dead”: partner of Holloway man held in Ethiopia speaks out

Scroll down for the full interview with City Vibe

The partner of a Holloway man wrongfully detained in Ethiopia is calling for the British government to do more to ensure his return to the UK.

British national Andargachew Tsege, known as Andy, was travelling for business when he was taken by an Ethiopian security force nine months ago. His family haven’t seen or spoken to him since. Over 76,000 people have signed a petition calling for prime minister David Cameron to intervene, but his partner Yemi Hailemariam told City Vibe that they were disappointed with the response. She claims it took Mr Cameron two months to write a letter to the Ethiopian prime minister, after the family first wrote to the government.

Andy Tsege with Yemi and their children.

Andy Tsege with Yemi and their children.

“He wrote one letter and that was it. It had no consequences, nothing, attached to it. “We have since collected tens of thousands of signatures and that’s what we’ve submitted to David Cameron. “[We’re asking him] to do more, to demand his return because the UK government has not acknowledged that something bad has happened here. “Human rights is not an abstract concept, human rights is [about] individuals, so you can’t escape that.” A political commentator and prominent member of a banned Ethiopian opposition movement, Andy has written a book that is critical of Ethiopian politics, including the current government. Yemi believes that this is the reason for his detention. In a 2009 trial – at which he was absent – he was sentenced to death. The story so far In June of last year, a missed flight from Dubai after a business trip meant that Andy had to reroute his travel plans through Yemen. He had spoken to his family the day before, telling his partner Yemi Hailemariam that he would be joining his family for their holiday in Rome. What he didn’t know, was that this would be the last time they spoke before his capture. “We’re not very clear on what happened [in the airport], but from what he has told the ambassador, he was lining up to get on the next flight when he was pulled over by Yemeni security. The Ethiopians came a couple of hours later,” Yemi told City Vibe. “Initially he was told it was to do with security matters, so he didn’t think it was anything sinister. It turned out to be on the behest of the Ethiopians.” For ten days, his family believed that he was being held in Yemen, but the Yemenis would not acknowledge they had him, or admit what had happened. While sat in a solicitor’s office in Camden, Yemi received a call she had been dreading: Andy was now being held in Ethiopia. “I don’t know if I would have cried more if he was dead. Every single day we were at the Yemeni embassy, every single day. Then when we found out he was in Ethiopia… It was just sad.” Earlier this month, the Ethiopian authorities refused a delegation led by Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn access to Mr Tsege. Listen to the extended interview with Yemi below, and sign the petition here to help bring Andargachew home.

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