Ethiopians sue US City for racial discrimination

New York- US (PANA) -- Seven Ethiopian immigrants in the US have sued the City of Seattle, Capital of Washington State for alleged racism.
The Ethiopians aged between 12 and 15, include Odaa Ali Abdulahi, Musa Uke and Gamzhu Uke.
The others are Mohammed Robale, Zinoba Robale, Abdifatha Guyo and Ahmed Guyo.
In the suit filed by their lawyer, Kayode Oladele, the plaintiffs complained that Woodland Park Zoo, an entity under Seattle City's Department of Parks and Recreations, had unlawfully infringed their civil rights and committed racial discrimination against them.
The suit relates to an incident on 30 September 2000, when the Park Zoo invited the Ethiopian children, residents of Seattle, for some paintings and drawings at the facility.
After completing their assignment, zoo officers, reportedly saying African children are usually sick and may infect zoo animals with tuberculosis, decided to give the children some injections or perform tuberculosis tests on them.
The suit alleges that the injection was administered on six of the minors, with Musa Uke immediately taking ill and fainting for one hour.
Following the incident, Zoo employees allegedly handed consent forms to each of the children to take to their parents or guardians, even though they did not seek the consent of the children or their parents before administering the injection.
One of the children, Zenab Robale is said to have remained sick after having received professional care in various specialist hospitals and care centres to no avail.
The suit charges that "the above actions of the defendant's employees intentionally, deliberately and purposefully subjected the minors to discrimination and harassment based on their national origin and race.
" The zoo is also charged with battery and assault on the children.
But the Woodland Park Zoo has asked the Court to dismiss the claims because of insufficient service of the process.
The defendant's argument was based on the fact that the case summons was not served on the Chief Executive officer of the City as demanded by State law.
But the Judge, however, turned down the defendant's request, saying that for sake of justice and fairness, State law allows Courts to decide service of summons on merit rather than procedural technicalities.
Oladele said the Court has allowed for the filing of amendments of service process by September 6, while trial is scheduled to begin in February 2003.
Meanwhile, the lawyer said he is trying to get medical information about the kind of injection that was given to the children.
"This is a real life situation of stories of discrimination against Africans," the Nigerian-born lawyer said in an interview at the weekend.
He added: "This is highly ridiculous and African nations should condemn it.
" Oladele, a resident of Detroit, Michigan State is also representing plaintiffs in an unrelated civil case against former Nigerian Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar in Michigan, US.
The case filed against Abubakar by persons claiming injury during military rule in Nigeria, has been thrown out for lack of jurisdiction.
But the plaintiffs have requested the Judge to reconsider his decision.

15 june 2002 20:05:00




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