A former member of the army who was among the thousands of youth detained by the regime from the Amhara region recounts horror stories of hard labor, hunger and disease in a secret location in a jungle in the Benishangul Gumuz regional state of Ethiopia.

Up to 2000 youth rounded up from Gondar, Bahir Dar and Chilga, among others in the Amhara region were taken to Benishangu, where they spend the day cutting stones and doing hard labor.

The detainee, who spoke to ESAT on condition of anonymity for fear of further reprisal by the regime, said he escaped with the help of his former comrade who happened to be one of the soldiers guarding the detainees in a wilderness. “He took me out the morning before the detainees heads were to be shaved. He walked with me for three hours and left me where I would be safe to continue my journey to safety,” he said.

The escapee said he served for 7 years doubling as an intelligence officer for the regime which he now deeply regrets.

The detainees were being brutally beaten daily, he said adding that his right shoulder is dislocated after he was hit with the butt of a rifle.

He fears that many of the detainees could die as a result of the hunger, beatings and hard labor. “The soldiers, let alone the detainees, do not know where they are. It is a very cruel environment to survive. On top of the harsh jungle, there is torture. They wouldn’t survive the harsh environment even if they were let free.”

Thousands of the youth were rounded up and taken to several concentration camps, some of them to secret places following the uprising in the Amhara and Oromo regions where protesters demand an end to the tyrannical regime in Ethiopia.

Over a thousand people were killed by security forces and tens of thousands have been detained this year alone. The Ethiopian people have been demanding political and economic freedom in a country where Tigrian oligarchs rule with iron fist totally dominating the political life, the economy and resources of the country

 

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