News / Africa

    Government Critics Detained In Ethiopian Anti-Terror Sweep

    Two fierce critics of Ethiopia’s ruling party have joined a growing list of government opponents detained in recent days under a new anti-terrorism law. The latest to be arrested are a journalist and a rising star in opposition politics.

    Ethiopian federal police detained five people Wednesday in an ongoing roundup of terrorism suspects. Among them were Andualem Aragie, the youngest executive committee member of the main opposition bloc Medrek, and independent internet journalist Eskinder Nega.

    Both men have been outspoken critics of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Party, which has ruled the country since seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1991. Both were among 130 journalists and political activists convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison following the disputed 2005 elections. All were later pardoned.

    Government spokesman Shimeles Kemal says both Andualem  and Eskinder are accused of involvement with Ginbot 7, an outlawed party led by Berhanu Nega, who was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in 2005 but never took office and now lives in exile in the United States. "Eskinder Nega and Andualem Aragie were arrested for conspiring with terrorist organizations such as Ginbot 7 and other foreign forces who wanted to wreak havoc in the country through their terrorist activities," he said.

    Eskinder and Andualem are the latest of several high-profile opposition politicians and journalists arrested over the past few weeks under a recently enacted anti-terrorism law.

    Popular actor Debebe Eshetu, who was the face of the opposition in 2005 election campaign ads, was picked up last week.   Debebe was also among those jailed following the election and pardoned.

    Two top leaders of parties representing Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromos, were also jailed after meeting delegates of the human rights group Amnesty International. The Amnesty representatives were expelled from the country.

    In addition five journalists have also been charged under the new law, including two Swedes captured while travelling with rebels in the restive Ogaden region, and a US-based Ethiopian internet journalist who was charged in absentia.

    Eskinder and Andualem have been particularly outspoken in their criticisms of the ruling party.  In his latest internet post, Eskinder ridicules the terrorism charges against the actor Debebe Eshetu, describing him as a frail man in his mid-60s, the antithesis of the profile of a terrorist.

    At an opposition news conference called last Friday, Andualem had alleged that the terrorism charges againts previous detainees  had been fabricated by a government worried that it is losing its 20-year grip on power.  "So long as you are not cooperating with the regime, then you will be labeled as terrorist the next morning. Beginning with the 2005 elections, this regime has very well understood it will never win the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people so the solution they are left with is fabricating lies and jailing everyone they think is opposing them," he said.

    Government spokesman Shimeles denied there was any connection between the arrests and the suspects’ professional activities. He told VOA the charges against the suspects involve a plot to violently overthrow the government.

    "Ethiopia doesn’t espouse a policy that would prosecute people who advocate dissent, who would criticize the official positions and no one would be prosecuted for holding an opposition view. This has nothing to do with their personal political views. They are being arrested for plotting and conspiring to carry out and to launch terrorist attacks throughout the country," he said.

    Government spokesman Shimeles declined to describe the nature of the terrorist plot the suspects are accused of involvement in. He said details would be divulged only after prosecutors complete their investigation of the case.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.