Ethiopia Releases Thousands Arrested Since Start of State of Emergency

Ethiopia has released thousands of protesters who were detained during the ongoing state of emergency. People detained in Awash, Alage, Bir Sheleko and Tolay centers will be allowed to return home after receiving "training," according to

Ethiopia has released thousands of protesters who were detained during the ongoing state of emergency.

People detained in Awash, Alage, Bir Sheleko and Tolay centers will be allowed to return home after receiving “training,” according to the state-owned Fana Broadcasting Network. This includes 4,035 people released from a center in the Tolay region of southwest Ethiopia. These prison locations are unofficial centers mostly located at military camps.

Earlier this week, Ethiopian officials announced that 9,800 people arrested during the state of emergency would be released and 2,449 others would be arraigned in court.

Speaking to a group of released prisoners at Tolay, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn reminded them they are free to protest, but not to resort to violence.

“You might have disagreements, be it with the government or government administration, and that is your right. No one can deprive you of this right. It is a right enshrined in the constitution,” he said.

“So,” he continued, “if tomorrow you have questions, you have the right to ask in a peaceful and civilized way. Therefore, if there is anything that is prohibited, it is to try and ask questions and look for answers using force, creating chaos and rebellion and you will pay a price for that.”

Desalegn went on to say the government is undergoing a period of self-examination following the crisis.

“We also have to go through deep rehabilitation similar to what you’ve gone through,” he said. “We need to expand democracy. We have come to the conclusion that we have to allow discussions among the people, especially the youth, listen to their problems and provide solutions.”

Human rights investigation

Negeri Lencho, Ethiopia’s newly appointed communications minister, said there is a committee investigating whether there were human rights violations during the implementation of the state of emergency. But, he said, it is difficult on the ground because sometimes “emotions” rising during interactions with protesters and security forces “could turn fatal.”

He added that although avoidable, crimes committed during such instances and cases will be assessed by an independent body to bring justice.

“No one is above the law,” he said in an extended interview with VOA Amharic Service.

For more than a year, protesters across the country, including many in the Oromia and Amhara regions, have demanded reforms on issues including land rights and poor governance.

A man attends a prayer session at Biftu Bole Lutheran Church during a prayer and candle ceremony for protesters who died in the town of Bishoftu, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 16, 2016.

On October 2, an Oromo festival in the town of Bishoftu turned deadly when a clash with security forces and a stampede left dozens dead. More protests followed across the country and the government declared a state of emergency October 9.

Prominent opposition leaders have been arrested since the start of protests, including Merera Gudina, the chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), an opposition party within the country.

Gudina was arrested while returning from abroad for a meeting with members of the European Parliament in Brussels, where he spoke about human rights violations and the political situation of the country.

His lawyer told VOA he is kept in prison by himself and charges against him haven’t been clearly stated. He said it was difficult to openly speak with his client since police monitored their visit.

Twenty-two OFC leaders were arrested in 2015 and are facing terrorism charges under the country’s controversial law used to imprison journalists, dissidents and political opponents.

Boiling pot

On a recent trip to Ethiopia, Tom Malinowski, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Affairs, urged leaders to open up avenues of democratic expression, closed in recent years, in the interest of economic development. Malinowski said he made a similar argument to government officials during a trip last year.

“I argued to them then that the country was undergoing a process that could be likened to a boiling pot,” he told VOA. “When you have a boiling pot, the thing to do is to take the lid off because, either way, it’s going to be boiling and if you keep the lid on, it’s going to explode.”

Malinowski said he fears the ongoing state of emergency and the mass arrests threaten to exacerbate tensions instead of ending them, while giving too much power to security forces.

“Our sense is that the longer this unnatural state continues, the harder it will be for the government to achieve some of the goals that it has acknowledged must be met for the crisis to be resolved,” he said.

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17 COMMENTS
  • koubrom December 23, 2016

    So how many thousands did they kill
    If they think they will get away like this, their time is close to it end soon.
    Where are the human rights council?
    Eritrea has been accused whiteout any evidence and her with all the fact , pictures ,films, and nothing,
    It that because the criminal tplf regime is a servant puppet for the west?

  • andom December 23, 2016

    Kubrom hatela gilet
    Nab fandya tekeyirka
    Ethiopia has a constitution and law. It allows opposition parties to officially operate in the country and every body has the right to express themseves. They do not keep prisoners in communicado for 16 years. Every prisoner appears in court. Compare that with ur higdef criminals run eritrea. The answer is clear. Do not be hatela for life. Try to open up and learn.

    • AHMED SALEH !!! December 23, 2016

      Eritreans surrendered their right to authority out of fear and Issaias Afewerki succeed
      to alienate the country from international world . In contrary Ethiopians uprising for
      fairness and justice attracted the attention of western allies to press the government
      for constructive approach to their sociopolitical affairs .
      We can not deny that Eritreans inside the country are at mercy of dictatorial system
      under military rule doctrine .
      People like Koubrom look terrified from fear of unknown so they prefer to work for
      their masters than prevent them to conceive of what freedom means .. And to use
      Weyane as an excuse for twenty years had conditioned their mind into sense of
      powerless that resulted on self defeating thought . Ask ourselves if we benefited
      to accept harmful circumstances and political point of view quietly without objection.
      To let our moral and vision darkened explains why people tolerated high rate power
      abuses on civilian population .
      of power .

      • koubrom December 25, 2016

        You see Ahmed, your bias and stupid comments are laughable, so in ethiopia there uprising, the tplf is massacring the innocent population by thousands it just ok because the west are working in constructive maner to fix the problem and you want to convince me I live in fear and ignorant and don’t know what is freedom mean,
        Can you see yourself in mirror when you talk rubbish, what kind of remedy you want for your blinds eyes.
        Or you are just like them from tigray acting as eritrean
        , of course why I am surprise,
        You like it or not the PFDJ didn’t massacres his people and fear don’t exist unless you are an enemy.
        You said that woyane is an excuse to rule and conditions our mind
        What a garbage you are?
        Denying all the treat we faced with 20.000 hero fallen to protect our beloved country, all the economic sanction, arm embargo, western media bias.
        Any way keep barking dog your time is over

        • andom December 25, 2016

          Kubrom hituley
          Atehasasibaki kab kebabi xelot aytihalifn eya. Tifeltya eki. Ertrawyan kab kulu gizie nlaeli tekawmoom bgahdi rieki riesiki xerowrow abiluki alo. Gena merzen kigebrelki eyu anti hatela.

          • Koubrom December 25, 2016

            ADGOM MERRY CHRISTMAS MAN
            IF YOU HAPPY M HAPPY KKKKK
            DO YOU KNOW WHERE IS XOLOT OR YOU WANT TO CONVINCE ME THAT YOU ARE ERITREAN WEDI HAGER KKKKKKKKK
            NO NEED MAN , KEEP UP THE GAME
            AND DON T. WORRY ABOUT US WORRY FOR YOURSELF ITS NOT IN ERITREA THAT THERE IS UPRISINGS AND MASSACRES .What will be the faith of woyane? I think GOD will tell us soon

    • Thomas December 23, 2016

      Meskin Kubrom does not know what a constitution and law is about to a modern country!
      All he knows or programmed to know is only about ‘wegah tibel leyiti PFDJ’s non-stop guayila’, he should be sent on a free TPLF refresh course by his mafia HGDEFs.
      No need to be so hard on poor koubrom as we can clearly see his ignorance from his comment. Lets instead redirect our mergem to his mafia PFDJ bosses who are purposely keeping him blind and ignorant of the real facts and world.

      andom
      Don’t down grade our ‘hatela gilet’ to meskin koubrom’s level.
      Hatela gilet happens to be a very nutritious food for our smarter cattle than dumb kubrom.
      However, your fandya description of Kubrom is just about the right one that suits him nicely.

      • koubrom December 25, 2016

        Well Thomas I just gave an opinion and you insult me so that is the democracy you are proud about it.
        I know the true hurt but swallow it, PFDJ didn’t kill anyone and if it does where are the evidence to back it up, you see none even the coi has been rejected because of that.
        In ETHIOPIA is different you have all the world watching the daily massacres of amhara, oromo, and all other
        ,so i know you are professional lier as your kind (agamee)
        But you have to understand that acting as eritrean in all social media and so on to divide eritrean by your irrelevant comment already fail why you don’t focused for yourself and your tigray time is running tic tac

    • Haile stupid Drue December 23, 2016

      እሞ ብዐል እስክድር ነጋ ን17 ዐመት ዝተፈርደኽ ብዛዕባ ተቃወምቲ ዝብሀሉ የለዉን

    • koubrom December 25, 2016

      So ethiopia have opposition party and constitution and thousands innocent have been killed just for asking a decent life, and thousands taken to prison, internet shot down, media shots down and yet you bragging that you have a constitution and party system bravo
      Any way I don’t want to argue with you its your country you have the right to defend it,but remember whatever they will do the tplf is over, the tigrayan who robed, ethiopia are sitting on barrel bomb never they wil bel safe out of their region .
      Abay Tigray dream is dead what will happen now adgom?
      God will tell us

  • Semere December 23, 2016

    Tom Malinowski, a former director of Human rights watch is a promoter of Chaos in developing countries. Human rights watch is an institution of racist ideology whose aim is to create violence and wars in developing nations so that once kept underdeveloped, they would be robed of their row natural resources to feed Imperialist industries. did you see or heard of human rights watch blaming his own USA for the incalculable genocide it had and is committing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen. How many millions of Women and children have perish in those countries. This all have been triggered by the senior bush Administration invading Iraq, in the name of liberating Kuwait and the rest is chain reaction. Now thanks to the support of China, Ethiopia has set a development trajectory that will lead it to industrialization by first focusing on the food for industries that is “Energy”, once there is cheap energy resource, foreign investment will flow naturally. If Ethiopia succeeds with its Industrialization goal, then other black Africans (except South Africa which is ahead) will follow its foot steps and embark on industrialization. This all means exploiting their own natural resource and denying the capitalist world the row material they badly need from Africa. that is why the US administration is while criminalizing hate speech directed at USA, is facilitating hate speech by ESAT, OMN, VOA Amharigna and others from its own soil. while the state of emergency has inflicted a blow to the conspirators then Tom malinowski pleads against it in the name of democracy. The dying dictator of Eritrea and the an principled chameleon Al-Sisi of Egypt have been used in co-ordination to the US based hate groups of old regimes-all for one goal-to disrupt Ethiopia’s development agenda. Ethiopia’s development agenda is to proceed at all cost, GERD will be reality, if ever shaebya over stretches itself in to the service of Al-Sisi, no doubt Eritrea will turn into ashes in no time and the course of history will change its course. As in the past, the Ethiopians remain suspicious of a mission by a foreigner such as Tom Walinoski and would not take his words in the name democracy at face value!

    • andom December 25, 2016

      It is true weyane has registered tremendous development. But is still a minority government like the “government” ‘of shaebia, if i can call it a government. Secondly, there will be no compromise when it comes to border demarcation and badme. Although the priority now is our rights and the rule of law ,

      • koubrom December 26, 2016

        ADGOM PLEASE PLEASE STOP YOUR DRAMA
        SO NOW YOU ARE JUSTICE SEEKER .PRIORITY IS THE RULE OF LAW.
        FLIP FLOPING KKKK YOU FROM TIGRAY ADMIT IT METALELI JUST LIKE YOUR ANCESTORS NEVER YOU GUYS WILL CHANGE
        BADME SOONER OR LATER WE WILL HAVE IT BACK
        AND YOU WANT TO COMPARE SHABIA WITH YOUR GARBAGE WOYANE KKKK I DON T KNOW YOU IF I CAN CALL SHABIA A GOVERNMENT YOU SAID
        .WHY DON TYOU JUST SAY
        I DON T KNOW IF ERITREA IS A SOVEREIGN STATE
        WE KNOW YOUR AGENDA AGAMEE
        WE ARE WATCHING AND ERITREAN ARE AWARE

  • Koubrom December 25, 2016

    SEMERE STOP YOUR GARBAGE AND OPEN YOUR EYES ITS NOT SHABIA BUT YOUR CRIMINAL WOYANE THAT IS IN DEAD BED FOR ERITREA ITS A NEW ERA SOON WE WILL HAVE PEACE WHEN THE CANCER WILL BE REMOVED MERRY CHRISTMAS
    AND SAYN HYE TO MELES FROM ERITREA WHEN YOU GUYS JOINS HIM SOON BYE

    • andom December 25, 2016

      Fandya
      Continue pretending that hundreds of thousands eritrean youth protesting against your half agame thugish master are all not eritreans but weyane. Kkkkkl. Aye baal fandya mandya higdefiya gahafya.

      • AHMED SALEH !!! December 25, 2016

        Semere
        Ethiopian government has been favorite puppet of USA and we don’t need a
        WEYANE cadre profess politics in our forum . Ethiopian issues doesn’t belong
        to you except your ethnic region interest and to belittle Amhara , Oromo people doesn’t surprise me .
        The EVIL inside you wishes Eritrea to turn in ashes but we don’t feel that way
        toward your Tigray people .

        • AHMED SALEH !!! December 25, 2016

          By the way you can deceive others using other commentators identities
          to confuse forum participants .
          LIBI TUWUYWAY , TENKOL , HASOT – BIHAKI HUMUM SEB .

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