Ethiopia releases critical journalists, opposition leaders

Politics

Following the decision made among the coalition member parties of the ruling party a few weeks ago, Ethiopian government has released critical journalist Eskindir Nega, and some of the major opposition political party leaders.

The release of Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage, an opposition party leader  on Wednesday came after the leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress, Bekele Gerba and his colleagues are pardoned on Tuesday.

The release took place when many towns of the Oromia Region were hit by strike stopping movement of vehicles and closing businesses, including towns surrounding Addis Ababa such as Burayu and Sebeta towns.

Some associate the swift release of Bekele Gerba as a decision forced by the strike that began on Monday, while others say it is implemented based on the previous promises of the government.

Bekele Gerba and his colleagues have been in jail since December 2015.

Eskinder has served in prison for over six years after the count sentenced him for 18 years. “We are pleased that Eskinder Nega and Woubshet Taye are finally free since their arrests and convictions were shameful miscarriages of justice,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal.

“We now urge the Ethiopian government to drop charges against other journalists and to implement the reforms needed for a free press to flourish.”

Andualem Arage, Vice President and Press Secretary for the Ethiopian-based Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJP) who was serving life sentence, is also released from Kaliti Prison along with Eskinder.

On Wednesday leaders of the Muslim Committee, who were also in jail for several years are also released yesterday evening.

Both and many opposition members, journalists and bloggers, among others were charged with Ethiopia’s controversial ant-terrorism law introduced in 2009.

Ethiopian regime has been subject of critic by many international right groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Committee to Protect Journalists among others, for cracking on critical voices and opposition party leaders and their active members.

The international communities such as the European Union and the United States have also been issuing reports that reveal violations of human rights by the Ethiopian government advising the regime to improve the violations.

After the decision dropped charges against political prisoners and to pardon those not yet charged is made by the government a few weeks ago, over 3,000 prisoners are so far released, according to government reports.

Those released this week are among the 746 prisoners that the Ethiopian government last week announced would be pardoned, according to news reports.

According to the recent U.S. worldwide intelligence assessment community, Ethiopian and Kenya governments are likely to ‘face opposition from publics agitating for redress of political grievances’.

 

Text on their shirts reads: “Our land is our bone. We won’t be displaced.”