The African Union Human Rights Memorial

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Hirut Abebe

Pursuing Justice and Documenting the Truth: The Story of Hirut Abebe.

“In 1990, my friend Edegayehu Taye ran into Kelbessa Negewo, one of our torturers, in Atlanta . . .we decided to take him to court. At the time, the Derg was still in power and we decided to pursue the case using only my name to protect the identity of my fellow plaintiffs' families. We won our precedent-setting case, Abebe-Jiri v Kelbessa Negewo, under the Alien Claims Tort Act, a statute enacted in 1789. The case took 16 years and 8 months, and Kelbessa, one of many Red Terror criminals still at large around the world, was finally sent back to Ethiopia in November of 2006. I subsequently had to go back to testify in an Ethiopian court to put Kelbessa's case to rest.”

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