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Amsterdam, Washington DC, Minnesota – December 29, 2016
Top opposition leader, Dr. Merera Gudina, was arrested on October 30, 2016 upon his return from a trip to Brussels where he spoke to members of the European Parliament about the human rights situation in Ethiopia. Since his arrest, Dr. Merera has been brought to court twice but only to prolong his incarceration in both cases. The fact that he has not been officially charged yet is a tactic of the government to keep credible opposition members in suspense.
Currently, Dr. Merera Gudina is being held in solitary confinement at the notorious Maekelawi prison, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. According to his lawyer, Wondimu Ibsa, the peaceful professor is handcuffed and being held 24 hours a day in a dark room with no window.
The arbitrary arrest and solitary confinement of Dr. Merera Gudina is just the tip of an enormous iceberg. Thousands are languishing in awful prison conditions, many have been assassinated in broad daylight and still more are declared “disappeared” since the EPRDF seized power. At least 1,000 people have been killed since the popular uprising began in November last year. After the declaration of the “State of Emergency” on October 9, 2016, tens of thousands of individuals have been arbitrarily arrested, some have even vanished without a trace. Among them are journalists, bloggers, human rights activists, leaders and members of opposition parties. Though the ruling party released 10,000 from concentration camps, 50,000 are still languishing in different camps. Making matters worse, 12,500 more individuals were arrested the same week that the 10,000 were released. We are deeply concerned by the wide-ranging human rights abuses throughout the country.
We, members of the Free Merera Taskforce, demand a prompt and unconditional release of Dr. Merera Gudina and all political prisoners, journalists, bloggers and human rights advocates in Ethiopia. We also call on the international community, the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and all human rights organizations to put pressure on the regime in Ethiopia to respect basic human rights and democratic rights of the citizens of the country.
About the task force
We are a group of individuals worldwide. We are compatriots and friends of Dr. Merera Gudina from various civic and political organization who have joined together to advocate for the freedom of Dr. Merera and all political prisoners.