HRW DEMANDED THE UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF BLOGGERS AND JOURNALIST
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has demanded the unconditional release of bloggers and journalists who were arrested last week by Ethiopian authorities for criticizing the government.
Addis Ababa police arrested six members of blogging group called the “Zone9” and three freelance journalists on 25th and 26th of April. The circumstances of their arrest remained unclear. The arrests were made jus a couple of days after Zone9 activists declared on social media that they would increase their activism after laying low for some time because of ongoing intimidation.
All of the arrested bloggers and journalists were reportedly taken to Maekelawi Police Station, which is a federal detention center in the capital.
Detainees at Maekelawi are seldom granted access to legal counsel or their relatives during the initial investigation phase.
Human rights groups have criticized the arrests severely and demanded the immediate release of the detainees. Leslie Lefkow, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director for Africa, pointed out that arrests were made just days before the U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s scheduled visit to Ethiopia.
Lefkow added that the arrests showed the Ethiopian government’s disregard for free speech.
Condemning the arrests, Lefkow said, “The nine arrests signal, once again, that anyone who criticizes the Ethiopian government will be silenced. The timing of the arrests – just days before the US secretary of state’s visit – speaks volumes about Ethiopia’s disregard for free speech.”
Lefkow also urged the U. S. to ask Ethiopian officials to release all activists and journalists who have been arbitrarily detained or convicted in unwarranted trials.