25 December 2015

In the last five days Ethiopia arrests two journalists in relation with the ongoing mass protest in Oromia region. Journalist Fekadu Mirkana, who works for the state-run broadcaster radio and tv, was arrested at his Addis Ababa home on 19 December 2015.[1] According to CPJ and AHRE’s sources, Fikadu’s arrest linked with his reports on Oromia Radio and TV that covered protests against the controversial master plan to Journalist Fekadu Mirkanaexpand the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. AHRE received reports that 85 protesters have been killed, hundreds injured and thousands arrested during the protest in Ethiopia’s Oromia region.

On its report that has been released on 18 December 2015, Human Rights Watch reported that police and military forces have fired on demonstrations, killing at least 75 protestors and wounding many others.[2]

AHRE also received a report today about the arrest of another journalist and human rights activist, Getachew Shiferaw. Shiferaw was arrested today, 25 December 2015 from his home by security forces while he was preparing to go to his work. A political science graduate, Shiferaw was working as a journalist for different newspapers and magazines published in Ethiopia. Currently, he is a columnist at Ethio-Mihidar newspaper and two other magazines known as ‘Life’ and ‘Enku’. Since December 2013 he is also a Chief-editor of Negere Ethiopia newspaper. Shiferaw was also known as a human rights activist, who was regularly reporting about human rights violations in the country, political trials Getachew Assefaand he was also criticizing the Ethiopian authority on various issues mainly on the political landscape of the county which is narrowing from time to time.

Since the protest against the controversial Master Plan of Addis Ababa has started, which is now more than three weeks, thousands were arrested. The mass arrest is still continuing and it becomes targeting also prominent political figures, opposition party leaders and their members. Bekele Gerba, former prisoner of conscious[3] and the leader of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) was also arrested on 24 December 2015 by Security forces from his house in Adama city, 90 km far from Ethiopian capital. In 2011, Gerba has been arrested after meeting an Amnesty International delegation and charged under ATP (Ant-terrorism Proclamation). He was released from jail on 31 March 2015 after serving three years.

Another three active members of Blue Party also arrested today, 25 December 2015. Tewodros Asfaw, Daniel Tesfaye and Ermias Tsegaye were arrested today in the morning from their houses by security and police forces. All the three activists had been arrested in April 2015 before the General Election in relation to the clash at Mesqel square between police and protestors at the government call morns to condemn 26 victims of ISIS in Libya, and released few months before after they served their sentence. Amnesty International was considered them as prisoners of conscious during their previous arrest.[4]

AHRE strongly condemned the killing of protestors in Ethiopia’s Oromia region on its last press statement that has been issued on 9 December 2015.[5] We also condemned the ongoing arbitrary mass arrest of protestors and activists by the Ethiopian authority that aims to silence and crackdown political dissents, and to restrict harshly individual from enjoy their fundamental civil and political rights that have recognized under the constitution of the country. This unlawful and systematic attack of the Ethiopian authority against its political opponents and protestors has also a major impact on a narrowed space in the country to exercise freedom of expression and assembly. Therefore, AHRE call the international community to make a pressure against the Ethiopian government for the immediate release of all political prisoners and to bring those perpetrators who have a role on the killing of 85 protestors in Oromia region before the court of law.

[1] https://cpj.org/2015/12/ethiopia-arrests-journalist-after-channel-reports-.php

[2] https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/12/18/ethiopia-lethal-force-against-protesters

[3] https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2011/08/ethiopian-opposition-leaders-detained-after-meeting-amnesty-international-2/

[4] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/07/ethiopia-respect-court-rulings-and-release-opposition-members/

[5] https://ahrethio.org/2015/12/09/stop-killing-civilians-in-ethiopia/

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