The Ethiopian government made arrests on Thursday, apprehending four coordinators who had been planning peaceful anti-war demonstrations in Addis Ababa and various major towns across Ethiopia.
Yishaq Woldia, one of the protest organizers, spoke with EVN Ethiopia over the phone from Addis Ababa, confirming that the Federal Police had detained four coordinators involved in organizing the peaceful demonstration scheduled for December 10, 2023.
These organizers are political leaders associated with different opposition political parties: Magabi Beluyi Abraham from the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party, Nathenael Mekonnen, a long-time political activist based in Addis Ababa, Kalayu Mehari, and Gedina Medhin from ethnic Tigray opposition parties—all confirmed to be in police custody.
Yishaq confirmed their current detention at the Mexico Square police headquarters in the capital, Addis Ababa. The arrests are directly linked to the planned peaceful demonstration scheduled for December 10, 2023.
The protest organizers had submitted a notification to the Addis Ababa City Administration Security Division twelve days prior to the planned event. According to the current Ethiopian constitution, peaceful protests are permissible if organizers notify government authorities 48 hours before the event. However, this week, the organizers disclosed receiving threats from both Federal and Addis Ababa City administrations. The government cited “security concerns in the city due to the current situation in the country” as the grounds for banning the peaceful demonstration. Nevertheless, the organizers are adamant about exercising their constitutional right to organize a peaceful protest.
Recent reports over the last two days indicate that Ethiopian Authorities have intensified crackdowns in many neighborhoods across the capital, Addis Ababa. Confirmations have surfaced stating that hundreds of youths were detained and taken to prison facilities.
The planned demonstration aimed to voice opposition to war and demand an end to conflicts in all parts of Ethiopia. The protestors assert that Ethiopia cannot sustain another devastating war and urge the government to resort to peaceful negotiation to resolve political issues in the country.
The two-year war between the Federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) purportedly resulted in an estimated one million casualties in Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions.
Abiy Ahmed’s administration initiated an extensive military operation in the Amhara region of Ethiopia immediately after signing the Pretoria Peace Agreement, which marked the end of the war with the TPLF.
Since August this year, the Amhara region has been under a state of emergency with restricted internet access and limited journalist mobility. Dozens ethnic Amhara journalists have been thrown behind bars after the Abiy Ahmed started extensive war in the region under the guise of “disarming Fano.” Human Rights Organizations have confirmed that government troops engaged in drone attacks and artillery shelling, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians in the region. Extensive egregious human rights abuse including extrajudicial executions and rape are reported.
Meanwhile, the conflict in the Oromia region of Ethiopia between ethnic Oromo nationalist forces, including those at the Federal and regional government levels, remains ongoing. The second round of attempted peace talks in Tanzania between Abiy Ahmed’s government and the militant ethnic Oromo nationalist group, which identifies itself as the “Oromo Liberation Army,” concluded in November of this year without reaching an agreement.
The Ethiopian government, as of now, has not made any official remarks concerning the arrest of the coordinators of the planned peaceful demonstration in the capital Addis Ababa.
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