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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid