Baladera Council Holds Meeting to Remember Prisoners of Consience in Ethiopia

By Staff Reporter

Baladera-council-Ethiopia-2November 8, 2019 ( – The Baladera Council, a group advocating for the rights of Addis Ababa residents, held a meeting to remember what it called 'prisoners of conscience' held by the Ethiopian government across the country.

The meeting was held at the headquarters of the Baladera Council today in Addis Ababa, in the presence of the press, and representatives of human rights institutions and the diplomatic community. 

Remarking on those who have been arrested without credible evidence, journalist Eskinder Nega, who is the head of the Baladera council, reflected on his concerns about the still failed and unreformed judicial system of Ethiopia.

According to journalist Eskinder Nega, Ethiopians are suffering from an oppressive and failed system that endorses extremism while ignoring the very basics of the constitution.

“Trying to feel the pain of prisoners of conscience would make us conscious in our struggle to fight for Democracy,” journalist Eskinder Nega said.

The arrest of the prisoners in question comes after the killing of army chief General Seare Mekonnen and his colleague General Gezae Abera, and three top Amhara Region officials, including the late Amhara President Ambachew Mekonnen. The twin killings that happened in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar were later characterized by the government as an attempted coup.

During the meeting, former prisoners who called themselves prisoners of conscience, namely Mastewal Arega, Takele Bekele, Henok Heruye, and Siyamere Gete, shared their experience while in the Ethiopian prison system.

Former business sector consultant at the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority, Mastewal Arega, in state of sadness recalled the violations of the law by the Ethiopian Authorities.

Mastewal said he was arrested on allegations of terrorism without reasonable evidence. “I became a political prisoner for speaking about the maladministration but not because I committed treason against my country.” He added: Working under the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority, I witnessed various wrongdoings by authorities and openly criticized them.”

“Instead of considering my voice to improve the system, they intentionally framed me for the June 2019 killing of high-level officials,” Mastewal Arega said. “Arresting without charges on allegations of terrorism illustrates the authorities continued abuse of the country’s laws,” he said, remembering how he was taken from his office without an arrest warrant.

Takele Bekele, who was one of the recently-released prisoners of conscience added on his part how much he suffered in dark prison rooms for 33 days. “Misuse of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to arbitrarily arrest and detain government critics is unfair and prison torturing has to stop.”  “Being detained for four months without an iota of evidence is blatantly unjust,” Takele Bekele added.

Prosecutor Henok Heruye and Siyamere Gete, who is Amhara National Movement Finance Officer, also echoed Takele comments: “The Anti-Terrorism Proclamation still continues to be the government’s tool of choice for arbitrary arrest people.”

According to Prosecutor Henok, Dozens of other people are still languishing in detention centers under the ambiguous and overly broad anti-terrorism law.

Remembering the prisoner of conscience and requesting for all Ethiopians to stand united for democracy, the Baladera Council concluded its meeting by calling for the immediate release of other 22 political prisoners charged with dubious reasons.

Ezega News will publish an exclusive interview Eskinder Nega, Chairman of Baladera Council, soon.

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