Court in the capital Addis Ababa sentenced twenty Ethiopian muslims to six and half years prison terms. The court passed guilty verdict last year on December 21.
They were charged with the infamous “anti-terrorist” legislation which, many say, was introduced a few years ago as tool for political repression. According to Pro-TPLF Fana broadcasting report, Kedir Mohammed, Nazif Temam, Fuad Abdul Kadir and seventeen others are sentenced to jail terms today.
Government accused them of harboring radical religious view and opposing existence of other forms of religious teaching in the country and plotting to form theocratic state in Ethiopia.
The report added that the ‘convicts’ were also accused of putting pressure on government to release members of “Dimtsachin Yisema Muslim Committee members” and distributing flyers calling for the release of aforementioned committee members.
Charges against first defendant Kedir Mohammed include,according to Fana, removing the ruling government forcefully and form sharia based Islamic government through terrorist means. The rest of the ‘convicts’ are accused on grounds of support roles by way of distributing flyers.
Thirteenth defendant, the report didn’t mention him by name, is sick and the court seemed to have made exception by sentencing him to four years and five months in prison.
Dimtsachin Yisema apparently didn’t issue a statement so far.
BBN – Diaspora based Ethiopian Muslim media – published a critical report on its facebook page. According to BBN, evidences used in court were taken under duress. Suspects were made,forcefully, to sign statements they do not believe in -apparently under circumstances that possibly involved torture. The report also referred to the court as Kangaroo court presided over by people from intelligence service as opposed to independent judges.
Critics describe, rightly, legal system and courts in Ethiopia as sham, and it is in fact widely shared view. There seem to be no possibility at all for a non-partisan and independent legal professionals to serve in courts in courts as judges and prosecutors in the justice system.
Ethiopian Muslim put up a persistent resistance in favour of religious freedom and against interference in the affairs of Ethiopian Muslims and imposition of imported religious creeds which is what government was trying to do. They wanted no government cadres ,under the guise of spiritual leaders, to lead any form of Islamic institutions in the country. They formed a committee to follow up the matter but government jailed and brutally tortured them.
Ironically, the regime in power has been aggressively pursuing foreign policy, especially in the last few months, to strengthen bilateral ties virtually with every single state in the middle east.
As in many other cases, there is serious problem in relation to religious freedom. Ethiopian church is under total control to the regime in power and is very weakened than any other times in history.
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