|7 April 2004
Commemorating Victims of Violence Against Academic Freedom
In April 2001, students from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia went on a strike demanding academic freedom, including the right to organize a student union and publish a student newspaper, as well as the removal of armed uniformed police from campus. Students from other campuses across the country such Bahidar, Kotebe and Mekele Universities also joined the cause of AAU students.
The student demonstration was well organized and peaceful. However the Ethiopian government responded to this exercise of academic freedom with brutal force. Security forces entered the campus and targeted unarmed ents with life threatening ammunition. The massacre sparked a nationwide demonstration against the government. Through this historical protest, which lasted for days, 41 students were killed and many others were wounded, imprisoned, and tortured. Hundreds went into exile including the leaders of the student's council.
To commemorate the lives of those students who lost their lives in the name of academic freedom, a conference is being held on April 25, 2004 in Washington DC. This conference is being organized by Ethiopian students, most of who were forced to flee their country following the demonstrations of April 2001, for fear of being persecuted by the government.