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On the human rights campaign trail

As the countdown to 8th June continues, one woman is using the snap general election to draw attention to a human rights abuse.

Yemi Hailemariam is standing for election, in a bid to turn the country’s eyes towards the plight of her partner Andy Tsege. The British father is still being illegally held on death row in Ethiopia, over 1,000 days after he was first detained.

The London mother will be standing for election in Maidenhead, in direct opposition to prime minister Theresa May. Yemi’s intention is not to win. Her intention is to get her partner home. She wants to use this opportunity to get a meeting with the prime minister, who she accuses of ignoring the case of the British national.

1,000 days on death row

While changing planes at an international airport in 2014, Andy Tsege was bound, hooded, then taken to Ethiopia. This vocal critic of the Ethiopian government has previously called for democracy in the country.

In 1979, fearing for his safety, he sought political asylum in Britain, later becoming a British citizen.

He was given two life sentences and one death sentence in absentia, meaning he was not present for his own court case. This is unlawful under international law. He has also been told he has no chance of appeal.

Britain hosts Ethiopian Prime Minister

Last week, the UK played host to the Ethiopian prime minister for the first time, as he attended the London Somalia Conference.

It was under prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s government that Andy Tsege was imprisoned.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson recently visited Ethiopia, during which he secured access to a lawyer for Andy. Yemi has also been told that she may now visit her partner in Ethiopia for the first time.

In an earlier open letter on the case, Boris Johnson said: “Mr Tsege’s case remains a high priority for the British Government,” but that “Britain does not interfere in the legal systems of other countries by challenging convictions.”

A lifetime of campaigning

This is not the first stunt in the fight for Andy Tsege’s return. His children have spent three years of their childhood campaigning for their father’s release: demonstrating in Downing Street and outside the Foreign Office, writing letters to MPs and the Queen, and making numerous media appearances.

Andy Tsege’s teenage daughter Holly has been vocal about the campaign to get her father home: “The fact that they’re not helping says something about the government. They’re not taking seriously that one of their own people has been kidnapped, and they’re not doing anything to bring him back. It shows the government in a negative light.

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