Imprisonment and Death

By 1974, the Derg had amassed great amount of power in Ethiopia. Besides the Derg, Ethiopia has just suffered through a major drought. Students, teachers and other members of the civilian were discontent with the underdevelopment and economic stagnation of Ethiopia and were constantly protesting. The Derg, birthed from the army, took the opportunity to seize power. They began by arresting members of government (Del Boca 325). They also began a negative propaganda against the emperor accusing him of theft, ignoring the drought, and deserting Ethiopia (Del Boca 329). By the fall of 1974, they had accomplished enough to turn public opinion against the monarchy. On September 11, 1974 the Derg televised a documentary showing the drought that was unknown to most Ethiopians, while at the same time interposing images of the emperor feeding his dogs meat (Del Boca 331). The following day, the Derg arrested the emperor and thus ended Ethiopian monarchy for good.

imprisonment of the emperor lasted from September 12, 1974 to August 26, 1975, which was just under a year (Del Boca 31). For most of his imprisonment he was held in the old palace of Emperor Menelik. He was forbidden communication with the outside world but he was permitted to read the newspaper, watch TV or listen to the radio. He was also allowed to have servants (Del Boca 31-34). He was often interrogated by the Derg on the suspicion that he had money hidden in European banks. In November of 1974, his money and properties were seized by the Derg (Del Boca 34-5).

By the summer of 1975, the Derg had decided that emperor had to die. In a trial held in 1994, after the fall of the Derg, it was determined that the emperor was suffocated to death on the night of August 26 or the early morning of the 27th. It was also revealed the Mengistu Haile Mariam was present during the execution (Del Boca 30). His body was buried in the same compound he was being held in. In 1992, the body was dug up (Del Boca 25). In 2000, Haile Selassie was given a proper burial.


Del Boca, Angelo. The Negus. Addis Ababa: Arada Books, 2012.