The mother of an Australian man stranded in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is pleading with the federal government to help get him out of the war-torn nation.
Hannah* told the ABC her 40-year-old son was swept up in mass arrests in the city on Saturday and is now being detained by government forces.
She said he is one of many Tigrayans being held in detention as the nation descends into civil war.
“I’m scared, totally scared. I might lose my son,” she said.
“He might die, they might kill him, you never know because there are so many people, they get detained and they kill them.”
Hannah urged the Australian government to help bring her son, who has been living in Addis Ababa for the last three years, home to Queensland.
“My son, we need the Australian government to bring him here. I want him here in his home. We are Australians. We are citizens,” she said
Earlier this month, the Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency as violence between government forces and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front advanced towards the capital.
The year-long war has escalated in recent weeks with reports of mass arrests targeting the Tigrayan ethnic group.
The United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday it believed at least 1,000 people have been detained by police officers in the previous week, on suspicion of being linked to the TPLF.
But government officials deny the arrests are ethnically motivated.
The Australian Tigray Alliance (ATA) said it confirmed with the Australian embassy in Addis Ababa that Hannah’s son was currently in detention.
Saron Berhane from ATA said he is one of about 20 Australian citizens in danger as violence against ethnic Tigrayans intensifies in the capital.
“Many people here have family members, loved ones, that they haven’t been able to contact in over a year,” Ms Berhane said.
“The telecommunications blackout, as well as the media blackout, has made it really difficult to understand and know if they are safe and what their wellbeing is.”
She has called on the Australian government to step up its efforts to end the violence.
“The Australian government has a big part to play in working with like-minded allies and countries like the US, EU and the UK in putting a stop to the conflict and also in providing greater humanitarian effort and support.”
Elaine Pearson, Australia Director of Human Rights Watch, said families in Ethiopia are living in fear and were worried they too would be arrested if they tried to intervene.
“In the last few days, we have spoken to relatives whose loved ones have been detained. They have been denied access to them, or are too scared to try and locate them out of fear they may be detained themselves,” Ms Pearson said.
For Hannah, all she wants is her son home for Christmas.
“I’m absolutely desperate to see my son and to hear his voice. I want to hug him.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs has been contacted for comment.
*The ABC has agreed to not identify the woman and her son for th
Hannah is desperate to see her son and just wants him home for Christmas.(ABC News: Mark Leonardi)http://Hannah is desperate to see her son and just wants him home for Christmas.(ABC News: Mark Leonardi)