Wondimu Ibsa’s arrest over “court contempt” has become a talking point among Ethiopians on social media platforms
The kind of lawlessness in Ethiopia has layers.
There are armed ethnic nationalist groups that are massacring civilians as they please in the Oromo region of Ethiopia to the point where Ethiopian citizens are questioning the relevance of the government if it fails to protest the rights of citizens.
Yet, there is also the kind of lawlessness that has everything to do with government officials.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration is intensifying arresting critical voices left and right. The radical elements within his government seem to be becoming more aggressive in silencing critics.
The latest is the arrest of Wondimu Ibsa, an ethnic Oromo who describes himself as an Ethiopian and a prominent lawyer who also actively expresses his political opinions on developments in the country.
The reason he is arrested is even more bizarre. According to sources and citizen journalists, he was arrested for “contempt of court.”
What makes it bizarre is that he was not in the courtroom at all the day he was arrested. His arrest came barely a week after he expressed critical views regarding the forceful measures that Adanech Abiebie led city administration has been taking to impose Oromia region flag and anthem on schools in Addis Ababa.
His interview ( which borkena published) itself is taken down from the Youtube channel. The channel itself is shut down although it is unclear if radical ethnic Oromo nationalists (both in the government structure and outside of it) initiated it or not.
Citizen journalists who claim to have heard from Wondimu Ibsa shared what Wondimu said, why and how he was arrested.
“When I entered the premises of the court, I met with a judge with whom I exchanged greetings. He said ‘you have been saying that you struggle for Oromo. How come you speak out for Amhara now? It is sad’ and left angrily without expecting a response. I did not respond either. I had two court cases for the day. After finishing the first one, I went out until the second file was called and started reading while standing. The President of the court came and asked me ‘why don’t you sit?’ I thought he was being kind to me. But the seat is occupied. I told him ‘I would rather stand here and read until the second file is ready. He left without saying a word. We did not exchange any other words. After five minutes, a policeman told me I was under arrest. ‘What did I do?’ I asked him. He took me to where prisoners are kept, without saying a word…after two hours the police told me that I was called to the courtroom. I entered and stood. ‘You are sentenced to four months imprisonment for contempt of court and ordered that police take me out of the courtroom. Police pushed me out of the courtroom. ”
At this writing, the Federal police or Oromia region police did say a word regarding Wondimu’s arrest.
A little over a week ago, PM Abiy Ahmed’s administration arrested Meskerem Abera, who runs “Ethio Nikat Media,” where she shares critical remarks regarding current affairs and political developments. Advocacy groups like CPJ think that she was arrested for doing her journalistic work.
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