Ethiopia: Elders' Intervention Ends Hunger Strike By Oromo Opposition Politicians

Addis Abeba — After a consorted effort by a group of elders, which included Ethiopia's famed Olympian Derartu Tulu, religious and community leaders, imprisoned Oromo opposition party politicians have agreed to bring to an end the hunger strike they began 40 days ago.

Defense lawyer Tuli Bayissa told Addis Standard that the prisoners who have been on hunger strike since January 27, have reversed their initial decision to continue with the strike until their demands were met and accepted the elders' plea. "They said that they were ready to sacrifice their lives," Tuli said, "but the elders convinced them that it is the wish of the public for the them to stop putting their lives at risk." Bekele Gerba, Jawar Mohammed, and Hamza Borana of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) carried through the hunger strike demanding the release of Oromo opposition political parties' leaders and members, the opening of party offices, and an end to mistreatment of prisoners' families by security forces.

On Saturday March 06, the group of elders who went to visit the prisoners at Landmark hospital were denied entry, but many refused to leave the scene until Sunday Match 07, when Athlete Derartu Tulu and Commander Hussien Shabo were eventually allowed in to visit the prisoners, who were admitted to the hospital. They were admitted to the hospital on March 02after the Federal Supreme Court Cassation Bench has reversed the decision by the Supreme Court yesterday and upheld earlier decision by the Federal High Court to grant access to private medical facility for the prisoners.

According to Oromo Political Prisoners Defense Team, the prisoners will start re-feeding as of today 6:00 PM local time.

Since they were admitted to hospital their families were not allowed to visit them, Samuel Bekele, the son of Bekele Gerba, told Addis Standard adding that the heavy security presence has also made it difficult for doctors to do their jobs. Defense lawyer Tuli said the prisoners are asking for their families to be allowed to see them. AS

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