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Ethiopia rearrests opposition leaders, journalists during ‘prisoner release’ celebrations

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The Ethiopian government is being blasted by human rights and press freedom activists after it rearrested bloggers and opposition leaders that it had released a few weeks ago.

Andualem Aragie, leader of Ethiopian opposition UDJ party, journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, bloggers Befeqadu Hailu and Zelalem Workagegnehu were arrested on Sunday during a celebration organized for all the political prisoners released recently.

Ethiopia has already released more than 6,000 prisoners since January, including some high-profile journalists and opposition leaders.

Declaring the campaign to release political prisoners, the former prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the releases were designed to increase “political space” in Ethiopia following anti-government protests that began in 2015.

Desalegn has since resigned and a state of emergency has been imposed in the country, despite defiant protests by the opposition in the Oromiya and Amhara regions.

Amha Mekonnen, who represented a number of the detainees told the Associated Press that his clients were arrested for violating the state of emergency., in addition to displaying a prohibited national flag.

“I also understand they were accused of gathering en masse in violation of the state of emergency rule.”

Under Ethiopia’s latest state of emergency declared earlier this year, people are prohibited from such gatherings without authorities’ prior knowledge.

American based Ethiopian news agency, Zehabesha, had earlier reported that police accused the opposition leaders who had gathered at the invitation of Andualem Aragie, Andualem Aragie, of using the original Ethiopian plain flag, which does not have the new EPRDF blue disc with 5 point star in the middle.

Ethiopians in the opposition have on several occasions expressed their displeasure with the new flag arguing that the EPRDF blue disc star symbolises ethnic division.

A proclamation regarding the use of the Ethiopian flag prohibits the display of the flag without the emblem at its center and those contravening the law could be sentenced to up to a year and a half in prison.

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Good AM! It is unfortunate that while Ethiopians are patiently waiting for the ruling party EPRDF to put its differences aside & come up with a leader, the army has intensified its crackdown against civilians in several cities across the country. We will bring you the latest.

Eskinder recently told journalists in the Ethiopian capital that ‘he was prepared to go back to prison’ if that was the price to be paid for pursuing democratic reforms in the country.

After his release, UDJ leader Andualem Aragie equally condemned recent tribal conflicts in the country which he described as ‘barbarism that do not belong in the 21st century’.

“It is very bad to have an ethnic mindset, we must work together for our country. Dictatorship is inhuman but racism is worse. We must fight this kind of barbarism to make a peaceful country. We are not human if we attack somebody based on the languages they speak or the tribe they belong to. “

It is unknown when the arrested journalists, bloggers and opposition leaders will be released.

Photo Credit: Addis Standard

2 Comments

  1. I been saying this all along since my days as student in the Middle East especially the then prevailing archaic system of feudalism was thrown off the wagon once and for all. In the system after the radical land reform in the 1970’s the issue has become solely of democratic in nature which means that since then the yoke is on everybody in that country. Had the feudal system been replaced by democratic governance, all other issues including the language question could have been amicably addressed then and there. To me nothing is impossible in the democratic system. So this reality begs a nagging question. Could and even today can the Amhara people alone create a democratic governance? Could/can my Oromo people create a working democratic system by fighting for it alone? The same goes for the Somalis, Afar and the rest of people. The answer has shown itself to us that was/is to be impossible. We can hold meetings and talk shops behind closed day in and days out, we can belch out gerersas and war crying songs until the hell freezes, we can form this or that ‘liberation’ front only to fight it alone, despots will not move an inch. We need to shrug off that adventurism loaded influence of Marxism/Leninism and wear the arts of pragmatism. ‘I am an advocate of ‘my own people only’ just because the size of population and area I represent’ has not worked. Such misguided conviction has exposed such groups to exploitation by foreign nation with ulterior motives. They have been used up by every despot in the hood. That has resulted in the loss of enormous number of young lives and property. The youth of that country has been on the move for more than 40 years now and there is no encouraging news from the old that will let him stay as a free citizen. This is equally shared by the youth and general population of the entire country regardless of ethnicity. You see, that young Itu cousin of mine shares the same yoke as that youth in the Amhara region and the rest of others from different regions. Those who are hell bent on pushing this idea of the yoke is on a specific ethnic group are not remiss of this reality but they are committed in carving out a territory to call it their own fiefdom. There should not be any other ambition. They have failed miserably so far because the reality on the ground. Oromos cannot throw this oppressive yoke away for good by struggling alone. Amharas will never daylight even they cause a doomsday. It ain’t gonna happen. That is why I commend this group of people shown in the video clip. I commend that Oromo daughter of ours for telling the truth nothing but the truth. You see, despots are not stupid. Their worst nightmare is the scenario when they see everyone is ganging up on them with a unified voice and front. They know there is still a question of nationalism already sown deep by Marxism tinged militarism for decades now. They will use one group on another. Even the dim-wit Mengistu had tried to use the politics of ethnicity to fight off his sworn domestic enemies. The current despots have been using the ethnic card from the bottom of the deck. From what I heard, this is what they have done when re-arresting. It will not surprise me if it successfully splinters the youth of Oromia among themselves. The same goes with the youth from the Amhara region. You see, there is one skill shared by all despots everywhere now or in the past. They are very extremely intelligent in cooking up modus operandi of divide and rule with no expense spared. They, especially the ones who broke their teeth in Marxism/Leninism/Maoism, make every move so to create doubt/suspicion among the common citizens. In their working protocol, neighbor should not trust neighbor, sister should be careful of her brother, that Oromo youth should always harbor and if possible outright animosity. The Amhara youth will be worked up(on) to lodge the same incertitude on his Oromo neighbor. That’s exactly the depots are doing with this re-arresting. That is what I heard from my relatives. They have told me so many times by telling me like ‘forget about democracy since I don’t trust my neighbors when it comes to politics’. But the Diaspora does not have such grinding problem. It is free to say what is on its mind. It has the luxury to stand together. But that is what it has been wanting. For me at this stage of my life, it gives me hope whenever I see people of diversity standing together talking about the same evil. I repeat. Oromos will never, ever be able to get to The Promised Land of Democratic Governance by fighting for it alone. Never!!! Amharas can go it alone losing their cream of the crop by the hundreds and thousands in the process, they will never, ever be able to start breather the air of democratic governance many worlds over. Never, ever! If this continues to be the case, things will be the same 10 years from now, 50 years from now, centuries from now. Despotism will be there still mounted on their backs just by changing faces in the process. Look at this way. In 1974 there was a new despot riding on the backs of the people. 44 years later the people are still hosting despots with a few modifications in their facial make-ups. The current ones are much more skilled and filled with well read autocrats. It may sound funny when they call it ‘developmental democracy’. But it is not funny when you look at what is going on the ground. They go like ‘I can evict tens of thousands because? You got it. Because we are in developmental democracy. ‘I can shoot anyone between the eyes for shouting ‘Down, Down Woyane’ because? You got it. Because it is developmental democracy all around. When they are high after chewing 6 pounds of khat, they lambast us with the ‘New Democratic Revolution’spiel. Ladies and gentlemen!!! We here in the Daspora are missing the action when the old country is on the brink of a ‘classless’ society. What a sick mindedness!!! You can’t even start to imagine the degree of contempt I have for the students of Marxism/Leninism. It is obvious what ‘classless’ means. It means everyone will be living in abject poverty. It has to be because the alternative that everyone will be prosperous is impossible. It is like turning an ingot of aluminum into bullion of gold. Nuff said!!!

  2. Terrorist/mafia/devil/criminal TPLF/EPRDF: free these great, warrior, patriotic and genius Ethiopian jewels/golds effective immediately or else we, the patriotic Ethiopians all over the world are going to come down on you LIKE A TON OF BRICK and CRASH YOU INTO DUST where you belong.
    ZERAF

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