Ethiopia to release all political prisoners, close notorious prison camp in surprise move

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS JAN. 3, 2018

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — In a surprise move, Ethiopia’s leader on Wednesday announced plans to drop charges against political prisoners and close a notorious prison camp in what he called an effort to “widen the democratic space for all.” This is the first time the government has acknowledged holding political prisoners.

Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn’s comments came after anti-government protests engulfed much of the restive Oromia and Amhara regions in recent months, bringing many businesses, universities and transport networks to a standstill. The sometimes deadly protests, the most serious since the current government came to power in 1991, spread into other parts of the East African country, leading to a months-long state of emergency that has since been lifted.

“Political prisoners that are facing prosecutions and are already under arrest will be released,” Hailemariam said. “And the notorious prison cell that was traditionally called Maekelawi will be closed down and turned into a museum.”

It was not immediately clear how many political prisoners were being held across the country, a close U.S. security ally.

Ethiopians were quick to respond, even with social media sites currently blocked.

“I’m writing you this struggling with my tears,” wrote renowned blogger and former detainee Befeqadu Hailu. “All these pledges need to be implemented immediately.”

Some of the prominent politicians currently in custody include opposition leaders Bekele Gerba and Merara Gudina. A number of journalists also remain in detention.

The months of protests demanding wider freedoms began in late 2015 and led to hundreds of reported deaths and tens of thousands of arrests while disrupting one of Africa’s fastest growing economies.

“The crackdown on the political opposition saw mass arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trials and violations of the rights to freedom of expression and association,” rights group Amnesty International has said.

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8 Responses to Ethiopia to release all political prisoners, close notorious prison camp in surprise move

  1. አበበ Reply

    January 3, 2018 at 11:41 AM

    በዚህ አያበቃም፥ የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ አዲስ ሕገ መንግሥቱን መሥራት አለበት። የኢ.ሕ.አ.ዴ.ግ. አገዛዝም፥ ለራሱም ላገሪቱም ሲል ሊትባበር የገባል።
    በተቻለ መጠን ለሰላማዊ ሽግግር እንጠበብ!

  2. Beresh Denaw Reply

    January 3, 2018 at 11:48 AM

    God has not given up on Ethiopians.

    God worked therough presdent D. Trump to force the Ethiopian government release political prisioners which it vehmently denied for years that there exists one.

    After Pakinstan and Palestinian authorities, the Ethiopian government with empty coffers was to see U.S. dollar cut, but it acted fast to avert a disaster of governemt collapse and steal the credit from the U.S. to itself.

    I hope the U.S. will not stop with the release of political prisoners and dialoge, but force the government to agree to a transitional government with all the opposition in and out of the country represented to be followed by a free and fair election. It is comforting that God has not forgotten the people and gave us an ally – the U.S.

    It is to be recalled that the U.S. has made clear those states which voted against the U.S. in the U.N. and the Security Council on its decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will face consequences. Now it has has started to make its promise true. See what Pakistan and Palestinian authorities are facing.

    Ethiopia voted against the U.S. both at the U.N. and the Security Council on the embassy issue. The Israel-Palestine issue and U.S. position aside, U.S. move to force the Ethiopian government rlease political prisioners and engage in a dialogue is a decision led by The Divine Himself which worked through the U.S. It is intended to end the suffering of the Ethiopian people.

    Than you God for the intervention and bless those who reach out to others at the moment of their suffering.

    • Ben Reply

      January 4, 2018 at 7:52 AM

      በሃገሪቱ ያለው የፖለቲካ ትኩሳት እየጋለ ሲመጣ መንግስት ያበርድልኛል ብሎ ሊወስደው ያሰበው እርምጃ ታሳሪዎቹንና የታሳሪዎቹን ቤተሰቦችና ወዳጆች የሚያስደስት የምስራች ነው:: ይሁንና የመንግስትን ወደ ሁሉን አሳታፊ ፖለቲካና ኢኮኖሚ የመሸጋገር ፍላጎት በጭራሽ አያሳይም:: በቅድሚያ እነዚህ በመንገላታት ላይ ያሉ ሰዎች የፖለቲካ እስረኞች መሆናቸውን እንኩአን አላመነም:: በመቀጠል ስንትና እነማን እንደሆኑ እንኩአን ለመግለጽ አልፈለገም:: ሲቀጥል የሚፈቱበት ሁኔታ በጣም አሻሚ ነው:: ይቅርታ ጠይቀው ነው ወይስ አቃቢ ህግ ክሱን አንስቶ ወይንስ በፊት ለእስር የዳረጋቸው ህግ ተሻሽሎ? ተግባራዊነቱን መቼ ይጀምራል? ከመልስ ይልቅ ብዙ ጥያቄዎችን የሚያስነሳ ውሳኔ ይመስለኛል:: ይሁንና ለተጎጂዎችና ቤተሰቦቻቸው እንዲሁም ደጋፊዎቻቸው መጨረሻውን ያሳምረው ለማለት እወዳለሁ::

    • CB Reply

      January 9, 2018 at 3:27 PM

      If God is working through Donald Trump then God is a lot dumber than I thought.

  3. Araya D Negash Reply

    January 3, 2018 at 12:42 PM

    Ethiopia’s liberation and the demise of the Tigrean occupation forces has just began.

    We welcome it. Needless to say, we were expecting it as a matter of fact.

    The trial of the architects of spates of genocides, treason etc, should be in our national agenda before all else.
    The Nuremberg trial was the very first priority of the allied forces to try the remnants of Nazi Germans.

    We do not expect these cowardly and primitive TPLF/Woyane Tigres opting for a collective suicide. Not one would do so as they are simply men and women in whose veins no tinge of honour has ever flown.
    Long live our motherland

  4. daghim Reply

    January 3, 2018 at 1:52 PM

    ይህ ዘገባ በውነቱ <b.የተሳሳተና SENSETIONAL የሆነ ነው::
    በመጀመሪያ ደረጃ ጠቅላይ ሚር ያሉት አንዳንዶች ወንጀል ፈጽመው ተፈርዶባቸው በእስር የመገኙ ወይ ይፈታሉ ወ የ እስር ዘመኑ ይቀነስላቸዋል ነው::

    የተሳሳተ መረጃ AP ሆን ብሎ ያራምዳል::

  5. daghim Reply

    January 3, 2018 at 1:54 PM

    ይህ ዘገባ በውነቱ የተሳሳተና SENSATIONALየሆነ ነው::
    በመጀመሪያ ደረጃ ጠቅላይ ሚር ያሉት አንዳንዶች ወንጀል ፈጽመው ተፈርዶባቸው በእስር የመገኙ ወይ ይፈታሉ ወየ እስር ዘመኑ ይቀነስላቸዋል ነው::

    የተሳሳተ መረጃ AP ሆን ብሎ ያራምዳል::

  6. Beresh Denaw Reply

    January 4, 2018 at 7:36 PM

    Daghim,

    It’s you who is sensational. If you’re talking about the above news clip from AP, it makes no reference to “sentenced politicians and now in prison”. It only refers to “political prisoners facing prosecutions” but are not sentenced. In a layman language, “facing prosecutions” means the politicians are still under investigation or are already charged” while they are in detention.

    በአማርኛ facing prosecutions ማለት ክስ የቀረበበት ወይም የሚቀርብበት ማላት ነው:: በሁለቱም ሁኔታዎች ፍርድ (sentence) አልተላለፈም:: አንተ ወዳጄ የምትናገረው ስለተፈረደባቸው politicians ነው:: ይህ ከሆነ “ይፈታሉ ወይ እስር ዘመኑ ይቀነስላቸዋል” የሚለው አባባል ያስኬዳል:: ምክንያቱም ሰውየው ራሳቸው ሀገመንግስቱ: ሌሎች ህጎችና አሰራራችንን በማይጥስ ሁኔታ ሂደቱ ይፈጸማል ብለዋል:: ፍርድ (sentence) ባለበት ሁኔታ የተፈረደባቸውን politicians በሙሉ መልቀቅ ሀገመንግስቱን ሌሎች ህጎችንና አሰራራችን ያሉትን ሊጥስ ይችላል::

    ምሳሌ ልስጥ:: አንድ እድሜ ልክ የተፈረደበት politician ቢኖርና እስከአሁን የታሰረው ለአምስት አመት ብቻ ከሆነ ሰውየውን መልቀቅ ህግን መጣስ ብቻ ሳይሆን ፍርዱንም መገለበጥ ይሆናል:: ሀገመንግስቱ: ሌሎች ህጎችና አሰራራችንን በማይጥስ ሁኔታ ያሉት ይህንና የመሳሰሉ ውሳቤዎችን ይመስላል:: ለእንደዚህ አይነት ሰዎች እስራቱን መቀነሱ ራሱ አንድ ነገር ነው::

    ይህ ማለት ግን የፖለቲካ ውሳኔ ሀገመንግስቱን: ሌሎች ህጎችንና አሰራራችን ያሉትን ለፖለቲካ እርቅና ሰላም ሲባል ወደጎን ማድረግ አያስችልም ማላት አይደለም:: ከመነሻውም እዚህ የደረስነው የተባሉት ህጎች ስለማይከበሩ ነው::

    ለማንኛውም ፈጣንና D. Trumpን እናመስግን:: ዛሬ የውጭ ጉዳይ ሚኒስቴር ቃል አቀባይ politicians የመፍታቱ ውሳኔ ለሃገሪቱ የውጭ ግንኙነት ከፍተኛ ጠቀሜታ አለው በማለት የአሜሪካንና D. Trumpን ግፊት በተዘዋዋሪ መንገድ አምኗል::

    የአሜሪካ ዶላርመፍሰስ መጀመሩ አለመጀመሩ ግን ወደፊት የሚታይ ነው::

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