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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More