Authorities in Ethiopia’s Amhara regional state have granted pardon to 1,981 prisonsers. The move is in connection with the country’s New Year festivities which kick off on Monday, September 11.
The state-affiliated FANA Broadcasting Corporate quoted the chief administrator of the state as saying, the pardoned inmates were freed because they had shown remorse and met the requirement for clemency.
There were no details over the nature of crimes that the persons had admitted or whether persons held in relation to the anti-government protests that rocked the country in 2016 were also released.
All released persons were admonished to rejoin their respective communities and play an active part in building their lives and their societies.
The Amhara region along with Oromia were two main centers of the anti-government protests that led to the imposition of a state of emergency in October last year. The six-month decree lasted 10 months after it was extended in April this year. It was only recently lifted in August.
Thousands were arrested and hundreds killed in an government crackdown that met the protests. Bahir Dar, capital of the region was shutdown early August in memory of protesters who died last year. Businesses were closed and public transport was almost brought to a halt.
The region – located in the country’s north joined the protests after Oromia region kick started it. It spread to the capital, Addis Ababa before moving up north. There has been a series of bomb attacks which police have blamed on anti-peace elements.
The protesters at the time accused regime affiliated to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of marginalising the poor largest northern regions of Amhara and Oromia. They also demanded the release of arrested activists.
“This is a mass civil disobedience movement that is not being organized by political parties. People are tired of this regime and express their anger everywhere,” chairman of the Oromo People’s Congress, Merera Gudina, told AFP. Gudina was arrested last December under the state of emergency ruled, he is currently being held on charges of terrorism.