Ethiopian Opposition Activists Bailed After Poll-Protest Arrests
Ethiopian authorities released on bail about 80 activists, including the head of an opposition group, arrested while protesting for fair campaigning in 2015 elections, a Blue Party spokesman said.
Security forces made arrests on Dec. 5 when members of the Blue Party and eight other opposition groups took to the streets of the capital, Addis Ababa, to call for greater freedom to hold meetings and rallies, Yonatan Tesfaye Regassa, the party’s head of public relations, said by phone.
Organization leader Yilkal Getnet was among those freed, while four other opposition members are still detained, possibly because they refused to co-operate with investigators, according to Yonatan. Investigations into the activists continue, he said.
Ethiopia is gearing up for parliamentary elections in May while rights groups including Amnesty International and donors such as the U.S. accuse its government of using legislation to criminalize legitimate dissent by political activists.
Communications Minister Redwan Hussien and Communications State Minister Shimeles Kemal didn’t answer a call each to their mobile phones today seeking comment.
Ethiopia’s constitution says everyone has the right to hold peaceful public protests. For “public convenience” the authorities may proscribe the location, route or timing of the demonstrations, it says.
“It was actually very bad and vicious,” Yonatan said, describing the policing of a protest near the party’s headquarters. “There was no talk, no negotiation. When they tried to pass the police blockade they started beating everyone.”
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