Yared Hussien, a Survivor of Qilinto Prison Fire

Written By:- Atnafu Brhane
Translated By:- Befekadu Hailu
On the 1st of August 2016, the rumor of officials plan to deny boxed-foods visitors bring to prisoners has been circulating and disrupting the mood in Qilinto Prison. Qilinto Prison is one of the Federal prison facilities in Ethiopia. Concerned prisoners tried to confirm the issue through prisoners’ representatives without a response. On the 3rd of August 2016, the prison administrators posted an announcement that says “due to the epidemic of Acute Watery Diarrhea, boxed food from visitors will not be allowed to be brought for prisoners”. Angry prisoners protested the decision. The prison administrators, then, have locked zone corridor gates with chains.
On that fateful day, Yared Hussien was one of the prisoners detained in Qilinto Zone 2, room number 7. He was a suspect of murder case under trial in detention. He remembers that day,“it was at 9:00 in the morning when angry prisoners started to screaming; the screaming were heard from all the three zones.” In Zone 2, where Yared was also detained, fire started in room number 5. Some prisoners put off their uniforms and thrown it to the field in the center of the zone. Immediately after, gun shots are heard. Prisoners cannot see each other because tear gas was fired into the small compound of the prison zone. The fire that started in room number 5 spread to all eight rooms through the wooden ceilings.
Prisoners, who were not able to stay in the rooms due to the fire, were trying to hide in the ditches inside the zone. Yared remembers that he had hidden himself in a ditch in front of room number 6 trying to escape gun shots while breathing clean air. He used to hear non-stop voices of gunshots. Yared and his Maqdus (one who shares meal with him), Biniam, were crawling towards the gate. His Maqdus was shot on his leg. Yared knows the man who shot against his Maqdus. He named it was a prison-guard named Eyob Gemechu. The guard was shooting from the corridor inside the zone. Yared said that he saw his Maqdus died because he was shot again on his chest.Read more>>>

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