By Ted Hesson |
Taddese Dinku had been a cartographer and surveyor in Ethiopia for nearly four decades when in June 2014, at the age of 64, the local police arrested him at his home in Addis Ababa. They told him it was because he would not join the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, the country’s ruling political party, which is known for systematically quashing dissent.
Taddese Dinku spent 15 days in jail, fearing for his life—because, as he put it in a recent interview, “If they put you in jail, they may kill you.” So that December, he boarded a plane from Addis Ababa to Washington, DC, where he planned to seek asylum. He arrived at the airport, and not knowing anybody in the city, boarded a bus, eventually ending up at a terminal in the southeastern part of DC. He spent three days at the station, enduring freezing temperatures, unsure what to do next.
Then Dinku got lucky. He met another Ethiopian man who, after hearing Dinku’s story, drove the newly arrived asylum seeker to the offices of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, a Washington-based nonprofit that aids torture survivors. By the time they arrived, Dinku was so sick from exposure, representatives from the group immediately called an ambulance to take him to a nearby hospital.
Upon his release, Dinku spent three weeks in a homeless shelter before eventually reconnecting with the support group, which offered him space in a house the organization operates in Maryland. It was a fortuitous turn of events for the impoverished, desperate man, who subsequently joined six other asylum seekers living in the group home.
Continue reading this story on VICE
- Ethiopian Journalist: ‘I Was Jailed and Tortured’
- Unexpected Turbulence at Dublin Airport: Seven Passengers on Inaugural Flight from Ethiopia Claim Asylum
- Ethiopian Runner Girma Bedada Overcame Trauma of Torture to Compete in Philadelphia Marathon