May 01, 2014
One journalist and six bloggers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia are detained last night (Friday April 25, 2014), their family members and colleagues reported.
Tesfalem Weldeyes, freelancer for the weekly English newspaper, Addis Fortune, and Addis Standard magazine was escorted from his house around known as ‘Gotera condominium’ by the police, according to his neighbor with whom he left his house key.
“Late this evening I got a massive knock at my door. I opened and the guy by the door screamed at me “Tesfalem is calling for you outside”. I thought maybe he got into accident and run out to his place. He was surrounded by about seven people dressed civil and two policemen. They are carrying some clothes in a plastic bag and papers in another. ‘You have a spare key to his house. If anything is taken from his place you will be accountable,’ one of them screamed at me,” his neighbor wrote on her facebook wall late last night.
This morning photographs of six bloggers, known as writers of Zone Nine who criticize the government, published on social media by their friends indicating that they all are also arrested last night.
Campaign for the release of the detainees has also started on social media by their friends. They indicated that bloggers and activists arrested last night are: Befekadu Hailu Expert at St. Mary’s University College, Natnail Feleke, HR management officer at Construction and Business Bank; Mahlet Fantahun, Data Officer, Atnaf Berhane IT Services professional, Zelalem Kibret, Lecturer at Ambo University and Abel Wabella, a Tooling Engineer at Ethiopian Airlines.
According to relatives the detainees are now held in Maakelawi, a prison in Addis Ababa known mostly for interrogating detainees. Neither the police nor the government officials have made any statement on the issue to the media so far about the arrest of the journalists, bloggers and activists. Meanwhile the detainees are expected to appear to court by Monday.
“Tesfalem like anybody else have opinions…but he has never let them influence his articles and he always reached out to all parties in order to include a wide range of views; I remember how hard he fought to get into the ruling party’s latest congress. I am absolutely uninterested to hear what trumped up charges the government has to justify his arrest, he should be freed immediately!,” said former Associated Press correspondent in Ethiopia commenting on his facebook wall.
Another relative named Adam Brookes also wrote describing Tesfalem as “an independent journalist, a modest, much-loved individual who survived the 2010 Kampala bombings, and who reports with professionalism and insight on EPRDF rule in Ethiopia.”
In a related development one of the emerging opposition party known as blue Party has called for a public rally in Addis Ababa for tomorrow (Sunday).
“…the most significant human rights problems are: freedom of expression, freedom of association, illegal detention; displacement of certain ethnic groups, politically motivated trials; harassment; intimidation of opposition members and journalists, and continued restrictions on print media are just a handful of the violations.”
“Blue Party does not believe that the Ethiopian regime is willing to facilitate a political atmosphere that will provide freedom for the people. Therefore we believe we have to fight for it,” the party said in its statement a few minutes ago.
Posted by Tadesse Yimer