Arena opposition party executive member attacked in Tigray, north Ethiopia

Arena Tigray opposition party accuses Tigray Peoples Liberation Front of perpetrating attacks on members and non-members in northern Ethiopia.

Arena Tigray Opposition party Public Relation – Amdom Gebreselassie

February 18, 2020

Arena Tigray For Democracy and Sovereignty, one of the opposition parties operating in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, accuses the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) administration of harassment.  

The ethnic-Tigray opposition party said on Tuesday that its members are attacked, harassed, and imprisoned in what it called is an attempt to offset the upcoming election – as reported by Mulugeta Atsebeha, who is Voice of America Amharic Service reporter in the region.

Amdom Gebreselassie, public relations head of Arena Tigray Party, said special forces and militia in the region are attacking members and leaders of the party.  Even those who are not members of the party are being attacked in different parts of the Tigray. The party says the repression has the effect of narrowing the political space in the region. It is something on which the government should act.

This week, said Amdom, Markos Gessese, a medical doctor who is the executive committee member of Arena Tigray Party, was attacked when he was on his way to report harassment by security forces. He owns a medical clinic, and his properties were looted, according to Amdom

For Arena Party, the attack and harassment are deliberate and planned ones. “The decision to attack opposition party members and people with dissenting voices was made during TPLF central committee emergency meeting, and opposition parties are considered as “banda” [collaborators to ‘enemy’],” Andom explained.

The ruling party in the region, (TPLF), denies the allegation. Amanuel Assefa is head of the region’s justice department. He said Arena Tigray was unable to produce evidence for the complaint. We found out that only two arena members are arrested and that they are arrested in connection with a crime, not for being Arena members, he claimed.

For TPLF, Arena’s accusation is intended to “divide the people in Tigray” and tarnish the celebration of the 45th anniversary of TPLF. The festivity has been undergoing for over a week now, but the actual day of celebration is on February 19 (Yekatit 11).  TPLF celebrates every year the day on which armed struggle was launched in 1975 – a year after the fall of the imperial government of Ethiopia.

In a statement issued Monday this week in connection with the occasion of the 45th anniversary, TPLF called for support from the people of Tigray in the next chapter of the struggle.  The struggle is against, it seems, the reformist political force in the country under the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, which TPLF calls “parasitic.”

It also called upon the people of Eritrea to forget scars from the years of border conflict and renew friendship for “mutual benefit.”  Apart from the bloody two years war, TPLF deported thousands of Eritreans from Ethiopia despite repressed public opposition.

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