It is confirmed that Professor Merera Gudina is arrested upon arrival at Bole International Air Port, Addis Ababa, yesterday. He was returning home after work related, in his capacity as leader of legally registered official opposition party in Ethiopia, trip to Brussels.
State Media, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, reported that Merera was arrested by what is called “Command Post” – a body that is executing the state of emergency – on grounds that “he violated state of emergency rule.”
What exactly is “violated” ?
Government claims that Merera contacted what it calls “terrorist” and “anti-peace” forces which is restricted under regulation no. 1 article 2 of state of emergency.
A report published today by the BBC vindicates that Professor Merera was invited to European Parliament by Ana Maria Gomes who is a member of European parliament. She is quoted by the BBC as saying that she is “extremely shocked” by the arrest of Professor Merera Gudina, leader of Oromo Federalist Congress.
Where exactly happened Merera’s contact with “anti-peace” forces and “terrorists”? Two other prominent Ethiopians, whom the government in Ethiopia apparently labelled as “terrorists” and “anti-peace” forces, attended European parliament briefing and that is where the alleged “contact” happened. Of course, Merera has nothing to do with their attendance but the European parliament.
Feyisa Lilesa, Rio-Olympic Silver Medalist, and Professor Berhanu Nega, who was an economic professor at Bucknell University but currently leading an opposition group outlawed by the regime a few years back, attended the meeting.
There was no way for professor Merera to avoid, even if he wanted to, these public figures as they were part of the event in the European Parliament. How is that considered contacting “anti-peace” forces and “terrorists” is something only the government in Ethiopia knows.
Before the arrest
Merera has been active as an opposition figure in Ethiopian politics for the last twenty five years. He was dismissed from his teaching position at Addis Ababa University on grounds of his political activity but the decision was rather given administrative cover.
A week or so before his trip to Europe for the European Parliament meeting, he attended a “discussion forum” which was organized by Fana Broadcasting Corporation ( ardent pro-government media). During the forum, Merera critical of measures taken by government under the cover of state of emergency and it was apparent that government officials,some of them were also in attendance, felt humiliated.
Anania Sorri, a journalist by profession, who was vocally critical of government policy in another forum by Fana Broadcasting is also arrested last week.
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