Ethiopia: Colonel Demeke Zewdu freed amid new wave of strikes in Amhara region

by Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (February 19, 2010)

A leading figure of the resistance movement in the Amhara region, Colonel Demeke Zewdu has walked out of a prison in Gondar today.

Residents of the city of Gondar and other major towns have began a three day strike today to demand the release of all political prisoners including the Colonel who was taken to jail after a shootout at his residence with operatives of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in July 2016.

Colonel Demeke Zewdu speaking to Amhara TV upon his release

The strikes that shut down businesses, transportations and schools also came in defiance of a six-month state of emergency declared last Friday.

Armed operatives of the TPLF came to the residence of the Colonel to arrest him and opened fire. The Colonel returned fire killing at least two and a total of 11 TPLF operatives were killed in the ensuing gun battle between them and some residents of Gondar who came to the rescue of the Colonel.

His case was a bone of contention between the regional government and security on one hand and the TPLF on the other which wanted to try the Colonel in a Federal court. The regional government refused to handover the Colonel as residents demand, in a region wide protest, especially in Gondar, for the Colonel not to be transferred to TPLF.

Colonel Demeke Zewdu led a movement by the people of of Wolkait, Tegede and Telemt in Gondar, who are demanding to reclaim their land that was illegally incorporated into Tigray region when the Tigrayan-led regime took power 25 years ago. A vast agriculturally fertile region in North Gondar was forcefully incorporated to the Tigray region and the people were told by the powers that be that they were Tigrayans not Amharas. It led to a movement by the people in Gondar in bid to restore their identity and reclaim their land.

The Colonel thanked the people in the region, the regional government and security for all they did to ensure his safety and eventual freedom.