By Hindessa Abdul,
SECRETARY general of the outlawed Ethiopian opposition group Ginbot 7, Andargachew Tsige, was detained in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on June 24; and if we have to believe the official version, he was extradited to the security officials in Addis the same day.
Yemen, which never misses the top ten spot on the annual failed states index, seemed unable to contain the pressure of holding an opposition leader of a foreign country. They quickly dumped him over to his nemesis who already handed him a couple of death sentences. Worrying about international conventions and treaties is a luxury the Arabian Peninsula nation can hardly afford.
Two weeks after the arrest, Ethiopian officials were confident enough to put Andargachew on national television to prove they got their sworn enemy. One that triggered the government’s disclosure is probably to preempt whatever may come from London, a day earlier British official met the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. While the topic of the discussion was not mentioned, it is clear that Ms Lynne Featherstone didn’t travel 5,000 km to tell Hailemariam “the support of her government would further be consolidated in the future.” Andargachew, who is a naturalized British citizen, might as well be high on the agenda.
ETV showed some images of Andargachew in military fatigue and in villages, the location of which is yet to be disclosed. But a carefully edited grainy video which is more likely taped by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) shows him saying:
“I am at ease with myself. For me It is a blessing in disguise. I am in no rush. I just want to rest.I am really really exhausted. I have no resentment, no anger and no despair.I am totally in control and stable.”
Those words barely convey any messages. We don’t know if they are given under duress. Or if the investigators want to cajole the opposition figure into getting him to give more information, if there is anything left by now. We see him shaking hands with his interviewer whose face is unseen, may be an attempt to show he is in good hands.
That puts to rest the weeklong speculation of the media and in some cases top ranking government officials. “I have no idea,” Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti was quoted as saying by Agence France Presse. The government spokesperson Getachew Reda, who is closer to the inner circle of the leadership, was generally dodging the question by retorting to rhetorics.
So last night’s statement sets the government information officials free, at least not to deny what is the obvious. Your move Shimeles Kemal!
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Ethiopia Arrests Four Young, Prominent Opposition Figures
By Abraha Belai,
POLICE on Tuesday arrested four young and prominent political leaders: Habtamu Ayalew, Daniel Shibeshi (both Andinet Party leaders), Yeshiwas Assefa (Semayawi Party) and Mekelle University instructor Abraha Desta, also a leader of Arena Opposition Party in Mekelle, Tigrai region.
Habtamu Ayalew, public relations head of the opposition Andinet Party, widely known as a great protest rally organizer and inspirational speaker, is jailed at the notorious Makelawi Prison.
Habtamu was preparing to travel to the United States where substantial supporters of Andinet Party live. In the meantime, police have also arrested Daniel Shibeshi and Yeshiwas Assefa. The house of Daniel Shibeshi was being searched in his own presence, Andinet Party chairman Gizachew Shiferaw told the Voice of America (VOA) on Teusday.
Away from the Ethiopian capital to Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigrai, Abraha Desta, a Mekelle University political science instructor widely known among Ethiopians for his opposition notes on his FaceBook page, was being beaten brutally when scurity men took him to an unidenitifed prison, eyewitnesses told Asgede Gebreselassie, a veteran opposition activist who informed Ethiomedia by phone from the city of Mekelle on Tuesday.
“We have asked seven police stations in the city; we couldn’t find him there. We don’t know if he is jailed at ’06’,” Asgede said, the inference of “06” meaning an absolutely secret underground prison where hundreds or even thousands of opposition supporters have disappeared.
Believed to be on the outskirts of Mekelle, the hellish “06” Prison is unknown to the “legal system”, and no inmate from “06” has ever appeared in any court of law, even if the courts are under the control of the regime.
Abraha Desta, 31, shot to prominence a few years ago via his FaceBook page, for his sharp and witty notes critical of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF regime. As executive committee member of the opposition Arena Party, Abraha has been a lone, fearless voice in a society that has been tormented by the TPLF regime.
Seen by the West as a partner in the war on terror, Ethiopia has used the leverage to weaken and eventually decimate dissenting voices since TPLF came to power in 1991.
Nationwide crackdown in Oromia, Amhara, Ogaden and other regions of the country go unnoticed by the rest of the world. Peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are targets of the government for asking the respect of religious freedom, an activist from Addis Ababa who sought anonymity emailed Ethiomedia following the arrest of the activists.
“Clearly, the political climate is ripe for change,” said Asgede, “what’s left is for the opposition to unite and act.”