The European Parliament (EP) has officially written to the Ethiopian government seeking clarification on the arrest of an opposition leader, Dr. Merera Gudina.
The EP President, Martin Schulz, in a letter to President Mulatu Teshome said they were disturbed about the arrest of the Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). The EP also reiterated its call for the charges against Gudina to be made known.
‘‘It appears that Dr Gudina was arrested by Ethiopian authorities upon his return from a short stay in Brussels in early November, during which he also met with Members of the European Parliament,’‘ the letter read.
The letter stated that the Ethiopian ambassador in Brussels had said that Gudina’s detention was connected with contacts he had with individuals Addis Ababa deemed as ‘terrorists.’ It added that it was ‘rather unfortunate that his arrest is linked to meetings he had with the European parliament.
‘‘I would like to remind you, that the European Parliament is a House of democracy, where different voices can be heard, from foreign governments as well as representatives of opposition groups,’‘ the letter added.
Late last month, Ethiopian security forces arrested the academician who is the chairman of the OFC, shortly after his arrival in the capital Addis Ababa.
Prof. Merera was returning from Brussels where – together with other Ethiopian activists and the Olympian athlete Feyisa Lellisa – he had a meeting with Members of the European Parliament on 9 November 2016.
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The state-affiliated FANA broadcasting corporate however quoted authorities as saying that Gudina was arrested because he had flouted the State Of Emergency currently being enforced nationwide.
According to FANA, the Secretariat of the Command Post said Gudina violated an article of the law which prohibited any communication with banned terrorist organizations and anti-peace groups. “He is under investigation for violating this article,” the Command Post said.
The European Parliament adopted an urgency resolution on the violent crackdown on protesters in January 2016, which requested that the Ethiopian authorities stop using anti-terrorism legislation to repress political opponents, dissidents, human rights defenders, other civil society actors and independent journalists.
Since January 2016 the human rights situation in Ethiopia has not improved at all. Human Rights Watch reports that security forces have killed more than 500 people during protests over the course of 2016.