Ethiopia: Opposition member found guilty of terror charge

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An Ethiopian opposition politician has been found guilty of encouraging terrorism over comments he posted on Facebook.

Yonatan Tesfaye, who is a member of the Blue Party opposition group, was arrested in December 2015 for comments he made about anti-government protests in the Oromo region. Following his conviction, Tesfaye is due to be sentenced later this month.

 

Guilty of terror charges

Yonatan Tesfaye was arrested over a number of comments made while anti-government demonstrations in eEhiopia were intensifying. Security forces in the country were being accused of using excessive force as protests turned violent – many of which resulted in the death of participants.

Ethiopia’s anti-terror laws say that anyone who makes comments that could encourage people to commit acts of terrorism can be prosecuted. Those found guilty face lengthy prison sentences or possible death sentences. The Blue Party says Tesfaye could be sentenced to as many as 20 years in prison for his Facebook posts.

 

Dangerous comments

Ethiopian authorities deemed Tesfaye’s comments as dangerous to the regime including one where he accused the government of using “force against the people instead of peaceful discussion”.

More than 600 people died during clashes with security forces during a year of violent demonstration and thousands have been arrested during Ethiopia’s ongoing state of emergency cleanup.

Earlier this month, Amnesty International called for Tesfaye’s release, labelling the charges against him as “trumped-up”. The organisation condemned his arrest and the length of his detention until finally being brought to trial.

“The Ethiopian authorities have increasingly labelled all opposition to them as terrorism,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

 

Featured image: By Vob08 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7692283

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.