Two Popular Figures Detained as Corrupt Ethiopian Regime Continues Arrests to Forestall Rebellion (EAC)
More important opposition party leaders, journalists, and others popular with the people of Ethiopia were arrested earlier this week.
Popular Ethiopians Enskinder Nega and Andulalem Andargie Handcuffed, Jailed
The Ethiopian American Council (EAC) regrets to recount that the renowned Ethiopian journalist Enskinder Nega and Andulalem Andargie, the popular vice president of Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), were handcuffed and hauled off to the government’s infamous Makelawi Prison sometime Wednesday afternoon by regime security agents. These arrests come in the wake of over 30arrests made earlier in the week.
Other Prominent Figures Detained
Among the 30 arrested earlier were actor Debebe Eshetu and opposition party leader Bekele Gerba of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), along with Berkele Gerba. Leaders and members of the Oromo People’s Congress (OPC) were also rounded up. Both parties are legally registered with the government.
Anti-Terrorism Law Used for Arrests
Using a broad and over-reaching anti-terrorism law, the oppressive regime of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has targeted prominent journalists and opposition leaders in a preemptive strike to quiet what observers say are fears of public unrest due to an economic crisis that is compounded by an inflation rate that has soared over 40 percent in recent weeks. But the regime faces even more problems with its citizens.
The Meles regime has recently charged a record number of journalists with acts of terrorism. Reyot Alemu, columnist for Fiteh, Deputy Editor of Awramba Times, Woubeshet Taye and two Swedish journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye are facing terrorism charges.
Under the anti-terrorism law, the government can hold detainees for up to four months without filing charges. Most of those arrested have had no connection with family members or legal representation since arrested. It is feared that some may be tortured. In the past the regime has used torture in the Makelawi Prison and elsewhere, along with the withholding of drought aid to its citizens, in an effort to squelch public dissent.
EAC Makes Demands
Because of the unprecedented crackdown, the Ethiopian American Council, an Ethiopian Diaspora organization located in the U.S., infuriated by the recent arrests, has called for immediate action. EAC demands include:
• Cease Arrests
The ruling regime must cease all politically motivated arrests immediately.
• Release Without Conditions
All political detainees must be released without any preconditions or charges.
• Stop Drought and Developmental Aid
All nations (particularly the U.S. and the European Union) must stop all drought and developmental aid to Ethiopia until its delivery is assured without political consequences.
• Meet International Human Rights Standards
All nations must demand that the regime meet international human rights standards and describe consequences, such as sanctions along with other measures, if it does not.
• Call on U.S. Representatives
All Ethiopian-Americans must call on their U.S. congressional representatives to press the regime to stop arrests, demand release of detainees, call for the regime to meet international human rights standards, and demand that any aid dispensed has no political fealty requirements.
Enskinder Nega and Andulalem Andargie Labeled “Fiery Young Critics”
The journalist Enskinder Nega has recently written that the peoples of Ethiopia will soon have a government by and for the people. He and party leader Andargie have been labeled “fiery young critics” of the repressive Zenawi regime. The actor Debebe Eshetu has a history of speaking out against the regime and at one point was sentenced to life in prison, but under public pressure was later pardoned by the regime.
U.S. Cable Says Meles Zenawi’s Agents Set Off “Terrorist” Bombs
A cable labeled “Secret” from the U.S. State Department, published on the WikiLeaks website, indicated that party members opposing the Zenawi regime where jailed and tortured. They were then put in a building where bombs were exploded. The regime claimed that a terrorist uprising had been defused since bombs being built by an anti-government terrorist group had accidentally gone off. The cable indicates that the bombs were detonated by regime agents. Three of the arrested men were killed in the explosion. The regime then went on to make the recent arrests, allegedly to forestall any more terrorist activities or bombings.
Repressive and Corrupt Regime
The government, headed by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his party, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF.), is not holding the loyalty of its citizens. The regime has held power since 1991and has become increasingly corrupt and repressive. Dubious election results are used by the regime to claim legitimacy and maintain ongoing rule.
This year in March, more than 100 members of two opposition parties, both of which are legally registered with the government, were arrested en masse. Among those arrested were former members of parliament, party officials, and previous election candidates. Most are still held.
Drought Aid In the Wrong Hands
To receive developmental or drought aid, one must join the ruling party and pledge fealty to the government – or starve. Yet massive aid, both in foodstuffs and cash from the United States and the European Union, continues to pour into the hands of the selfish regime and its political cronies. In spite of the dictatorial regime, the U.S. tends to look the other way when dispensing aid because of the nation’s somewhat long stability, a good-to-have factor for U.S. foreign affairs in that troubled region of the globe.
Amnesty International has been expelled from the nation. The regime jams VOA broadcasts. Inflation is running at 40%. Among the nation’s young men, joblessness is running at 43%. Only the politically elite and their connections are living well. The overwhelming tax burden and confiscation of private property for lease to foreign governments continues to infuriate the citizenry.
Sparse News Coverage
Another disappointment lies in the fact that no major news agency has provided coverage on the recent arrests nor on the unfair methods the regime uses to distribute the huge developmental and drought aid packages from the U.S. and the European Union, using it as a way to reward insiders and punish members of the opposition and their families.
North African Liberty May Move to the Horn
Ethiopian Diaspora members who have been visiting and in touch with family and friends in Ethiopia report that the population is living in fear, that the Ethiopian people feel the nation has become a police state. One EAC member speculated that the African liberation spirit, fomented by Egypt and Libya, may be moving south to the Horn of Africa.
The Ethiopian American Council