27 March 2018

Ethiopia: Prominent Dissidents Re-Arrested

Photo: Amnesty International
Jailed journalist Eskinder Nega.

Police in Ethiopia have arrested several prominent dissidents, some of whom were released from prison just weeks earlier.

Journalist Eskinder Nega, blogger Befekadu Hailu and opposition politician Andualem Arage were among those detained Sunday, according to lawyer Ameha Mekonnen.

Mekonnen, who has represented some of the detainees in the past, said the arrests occurred at a social event outside the capital, Addis Ababa.

He said the group was accused of displaying an outdated Ethiopian flag that is popular among people opposed to the ruling EPRDF coalition, and gathering in violation of an official state of emergency.

Authorities declared the state of emergency in mid-February after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced he will resign. The EPRDF is expected to soon announce his successor.

Ethiopia has been rocked by three years of large, sometimes violent anti-government protests, mainly in the Oromia and Amhara regions.

Rights groups accuse the EPRDF of repressive, one-party rule. The coalition controls all the seats in Ethiopia’s 547-member parliament.

The government recently released more than 6,000 prisoners arrested under a controversial anti-terrorism law in an effort to halt the demonstrations.

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