Ethiopia to charge 121 with terrorism

2011-04-07 19:42

Addis Ababa - Ethiopia's government on Thursday said it was preparing to charge more than 100 prisoners with terrorism and dismissed calls by a rights groups to release them immediately.

The government said it had arrested 121 people in March and accused them of being members of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebel group.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch said the arrests were part of a government crackdown on opposition campaigners from Ethiopia's Oromo ethnic group.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is Washington's closest ally in the Horn of Africa but has come under increasing criticism from rights groups accusing him of crushing dissent.

Opposition officials in the capital Addis Ababa who did not want to be named told Reuters they suspected the arrests were motivated by government fear of a public uprising.

Ethiopia's government defended the arrests and said there was no limit to how long the suspects could be held as long as they were regularly remanded by the courts.

"They are being held on suspicion of OLF membership while prosecutors prepare charges against them for terrorist activities," government spokesperson Shimeles Kemal told Reuters.

"Ethiopia has the right to defend itself against terrorism and these groups have no right to question that... Nobody was arrested only for involvement in opposition politics," he added.

Eritrea blamed

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told parliament on Tuesday that some "terrorists" were using membership of political parties to cover up their activities.

He said Eritrea was stepping up attempts to destabilise Ethiopia by arming rebel groups including the OLF.

The OLF has been fighting since 1993 for more autonomy for the Oromia region. The Oromo are Ethiopia's biggest ethnic group with 27 million out of a population of 80 million.

Oromia produces most of the coffee in Africa's biggest grower, along with oil seeds, sesame and livestock, which are all key exports.

Human Rights Watch said Ethiopia had arrested more than 200 Oromos since March.

"The authorities should immediately free the Oromo opposition members unless they can bring credible charges against them," the New York-based group said in a statement.

Opposition parties said their supporters had been arrested in recent weeks.

"We have more than 80 people detained since mid-March," Merera Gudina, leader of the Oromo People's Congress, told Reuters. "The government, however, says they are members of the OLF. The arrests are ongoing."

The main opposition coalition, Medrek, last week named 68 Oromos it said were being held without charge because of their political affiliations.

Read more on:    hrw  |  meles zenawi  |  ethiopia  |  east africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Cope loses members to ANC

President of the Cope Youth Movement, Abel Rangata, and three other Cope members have resigned from the party to join the ANC.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

11 Julius Malema quotes you'll never forget
DA won't get 30% - Zille
The EFF's ad was banned, see why
Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Newlands - 08:05 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    DELAYS between Wynberg Hill and Hospital Bend
  • Thursday Bellville - 08:00 AM
    Road name: N1 Outbound
    DELAYS between Jip De Jager Drive and the Durban Road exit
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get 50% off selected books!

Buy 2 books and get 50% off the second book. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Mother’s Day specials on appliances

Browse our range of Mother’s Day appliances to spoil and pamper mom. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Torch 9810

The BlackBerry Torch 9810 gives you the powerful combination of...

From R2815.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be more sensitive today and can be influenced easily by the energies around you. Try not to be swayed too much by the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.