Ethiopian government charges opposition politician, protesters with terrorism

ESAT News (April 22, 2016)

The Ethiopian government on Friday charged a leading member of an opposition party, Bekele Gerba and 21 others with terrorism, quoting its anti-terrorism proclamation that the regime uses to silence dissent.

According to the charges, the 22 defendants were accused of being a members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which the regime declared a terrorist organization, among others, and allegedly being the cause of destruction of property and loss of lives in protests in the Oromia region.

The charges come on the hill of mounting international outrage against the government’s use of anti-terrorism law to crash dissent and the press. Only two days ago, 12 US senators introduced a resolution condemning the crackdown by the Ethiopian government on protesters, journalists and the civil society.

Bekele Gerba, the secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), was jailed for four years on same trumped up charges and was released last year. He was back to jail in November when the government conducted a mass arrest and incarceration on protesters in the Oromia region.

A number of prominent political leaders and journalists are languishing in the Ethiopian dungeons for exercising their rights. The protest in the Oromia region still continues with government forces using deadly force to squash the protest. Oromo political organizations estimate over 500 people have so far been killed by government forces and over 5000 people were incarcerated. There have also been reports of beatings and torture by agents of the TPLF on the detainees.