Ethiopia: Activist Charged For Anti-Government Facebook Posts

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An ex-spokesperson for the main opposition group in Ethiopia has been charged with inciting violence after criticising the government on Facebook.

Yonatan Tesfaye has been detained since December 2015 for a number of comments he made on the social network following protests in the Oromia region surrounding Addis Ababa. In one message, the former spokesman accused the government of using “force against the people instead of using peaceful discussion with the public.”

 

Tesfaye charged

Journalists and other public speakers who speak out against the government in Ethiopia are often detained on the premise of posing a threat to national security. Criticising the government is seen as a call for the public to rise up against the state, contravening the country’s strict anti-terror laws.

Tesfaye was charged Wednesday with 11 counts of inciting violence for his comments. He could face up to 15 years in prison if he’s convicted.

The former Blue Party spokesman has also been accused of being a ringleader for the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) which the government considers a terrorist group. The OLF protests what it deems to be a land grab staged by the government into Oromia territory and Tesfaye spoke out about the government’s handling of numerous protests that ended in violence.

 

Calls for Tesfaye’s release

Calls for Tesfaye’s release have been frequent since his arrest in December last year. Since then he had been held without charge but rights groups are speaking out again now that charged have been levied against the politician.

Amnesty International called for his immediate release on Friday and asked the Ethiopian authorities to “promptly, impartially, thoroughly and transparently investigate claims that he may have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated” in one of the country’s most notorious prisons.

 

Featured image: Public domain