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Megistu Haile Mariam came to power in 1974 once the Dergue overthrew the government of Emperor Haile Selassie. During his years in power thousands of people that were suspected Dergue opponents were tortured, imprisoned, or killed. This became known as the Red Terror. Ethiopians of all ages, gender, profession, etc. were targeted. The corpses were publicly displayed to persuade families to support the Red Terror.


During the Red Terror Ethiopians also suffered from famine. Thousands of farmers were displaced, the military used napalm and bombs against civilians, and families even had to pay the cost of the bullets used to killed their love ones before they were given their bodies for burial. Mengistu used a systematic approach with neighborhood committees discussing how to get rid of suspects. They signed documents at their meetings, which later became evidence of their crimes.


A political prisoner who spent seven years at Alem Bekagn prison recalls the torture and abuse there. He was interrogated several times and forced to confess to crimes he didn't commit. Mentally ill prisoners were neglected. A friend of his was tortured for three days straight, then put in front of a firing squad and was left out in the street. He lost several family and friends to the Red Terror and the memories still affect him today.

African Union Commission

In 1991 Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe and in December 1994 Mengistu was put under indictment for genocide by the Ethiopian court. It wasn't until December 2006 that he was found guilty of genocide and he was given a life sentence in January 2007. In June 2007 a government prosecutor appealed to change the sentencing to the death penalty and by May 2008 his life sentence was converted to it. However, to this day he is still living in asylum under the Zimbabwe government's protection.

Trial International

Since August 2016 at least 669 people have been killed in Ethiopia due to a government commission. People have been protesting for more access to political power. In October 2016 protests turn into riots and factories and buildings were burned. The government blamed the rebel groups for the violence and said the protestors have guns so security had no other choice but to kill them. The government has also blocked any international rights organizations from coming to Ethiopia to investigate and is making it hard for journalists to talk to any witnesses.

Al Jazeera

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