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HomeEthiopian NewsUnlawful Arrest Continues Despite End Of State Of Emergency 

Unlawful Arrest Continues Despite End Of State Of Emergency 

Yeshewas Assefa _ Ethiopia gov't arrest
Yeshewas Assefa (Photo : SM)


Toronto – The ten months long (including the four months extension) state of emergency Abiy Ahmed’s government imposed since August 2023 in the Amhara region of Ethiopia came to an end about two days ago. 

However, arbitrary arrest does not seem to be ending.  Last week Friday, Yeshiwas Assefa, former chairperson of Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (EZEMA), was arrested and taken to “Sostegna” – also known as Maekelawi in the capital Addis Ababa. 

A week after he was arrested for allegedly “inciting violence” which is apparently linked to the freedom of expression he exercised using social media platforms, he did not appear in court. 

Yeshewas confirmed the story to his lawyer, as reported by VOA Amharic services. 

“I was arrested in front of my house on Friday by security officials in plain clothes. They brought me to Sostegna. They did not say anything on Friday. On Saturday, I was informed that I was suspected of writing on social media inciting violence,” Yeshiwas told his lawyer, Solomon Gezahghe, as reported by VOA Amharic. 

Days after he was arrested, Yeshiwas was escorted to his home as security authorities wanted to search his home. “There was nothing and they brought me back to Sostegna,” Yeshiwas is cited as saying. 

On Thursday this week, Yeshiwas was taken to court along with other suspects but he was not made to appear before the court.

Yeshiwas as among anti-war organizers who were attempting to call a peaceful demonstration in Addis Ababa opposing wars in the Amhara and Oromia regions.  The Peaceful protest was intended for November 2023. 

More anti-war demonstration organizers detained 

Zelele Tsegaselassie, who was also an anti-war rally organizer , was arrested on Thursday, a day after the end of  the state of emergency – which the Federal government has not yet declared. 

VOA Amharic spoke to EPRP chairperson, Megabi Beluye Haymannot, who was also one of the organizers for the anti-war rally. He said Zelele in a police station in Addis Ketema locality of Addis Ababa. And his house was searched. In the past, Zelele had political involvement in Ginbot 7 and Balderas parties, according to the VOA Amharic report. 

Many others were also arrested  in the capital Addis Ababa and in Awash Arba – a military training camp.  Many of them were arrested during the state of emergency but they were supposed to appear before law within 48 hours after the end of the State of Emergency or be released. It did not happen. 

Solomon Gezahegne remarked about the unlawful  nature of the arrest. He said, unless they are released a  habeas corpus charge will be filed. 

The state of emergency

It was imposed to help Abiy Ahmed’s military campaign against Fano in the Amhara region of Ethiopia whose stated purpose was “disarming” the latter. As it turns out, it brought about unintended consequences. Fano forces emerged more powerful and more armed than they were before the state of emergency. 

The martial law was also applied outside of the Amhara region – primarily in  Addis Ababa. There were instances where tens of thousands of ethnic Amhara Ethiopians in the capital were rounded and taken to detention camps. 

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission earlier this week called up on the release of all prisoners who were arrested during the state of emergency. At this writing, Abiy Ahmed led ruling “Prosperity Party” did not bother to address the problem of unlawful arrest. 


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