Ethiopian Police Detains Former Artist for Terrorist Plot

By Yonas Abiye

Debebe EshetuAddis Ababa, September 9, 2011 ( - Ethiopian state media, ETV reported that Former CUD’s top official Debebe Eshetu was held under police custody accused of conspiring and organizing terrorism attempt.

According to the report, the National Intelligence and Security Service and Federal Police Joint Anti-Terrorist Taskforce detained the former famous artist and now top member of opposition political party for involving conspiring, facilitating and organizing terrorism role for the banned Ginbot 7.

This year in June Ethiopian law makers blacklisted Ginbot 7 as a terrorist organization which is outlawed along with Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ogaden National Leberation Front (ONLF).

“Debebe Eshetu was found and detained while he was executing terrorism mission for Ginbot 7 under secrete movement,” said the report aired by the national state television.

The report also indicated that police has found documents from Debebe’s house and put it as exhibit.

However, the report did not indicate whether the detainee will face terrorism charges under the recently-adopted anti-terror legislation which also outlaws "any promotion and press coverage" of any activities attempted by the insurgents' and groups designated as “terrorist organization”.

Debebe Eshetu was widely known for his prominent part in the country’s art and theatrical works before his career turned into the country’s political landscape in 2005.

He was also a key member of the then Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP) that won almost all seats in Addis Ababa in May 2005 general election which later turned into dispute with the Ruling party .

Before set free with pardon on 2008, Debebe was also among dozens of the opposition leadership who were arrested and charged with treason for allegedly trying to overthrow the government before they were pardoned after two years in jail, following lengthy negotiations mediated by local elders

Similarly, after 2007 pardon made by the government shortly before Ethiopia’s millennium, Birtukan Mideksa was the first opposition politician to be re-arrested in December 2008 and imprisoned to serve a life sentence, after the pardon granted to her was revoked. Her re-arrest was over reports that she had publicly denied having apologized for her actions or asking for a pardon while she was in Kality Prison Center.

In the last quite few years, most politician from the opposition parties have not been that visible. Some allege that the limited engagement is due to government repression and harassment.

In his Facebook profile, Debebe indicates that he had his book published recently entitled “YE EMNETE FETENA (Temptation of Faith”), Memories from prison’.

Debebe’s “Book 2 is almost ready for publishing” reads a note he put in his Facebook page, adding “the video DVD I am playing is almost ready for public release”.

The arrest of Debebe came just three days after police officials announced that the mass arrest of over 29 people charges of collaboration with the rebel group OLF to plant explosives and conduct bomb-training courses.

Among the detained terror suspects, which the security service said have links with OLF, nine are members of opposition parties, Oromo People’s Congress (OPC) and Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM).

This year also witnessed that the arrest of two Swedish journalist who were accused of illegally crossing into the country with rebel group of ONLF during an army operation. The Swedish journalist for the first time appeared before court on Wednesday where the state prosecutors charged the duos with assisting and promoting terrorism professionally, engaging and participating in terrorist conducts apart from illegal crossing of the country’s border with Somalia.


Yonas Abiye


Yonas Abiye is Addis Ababa based reporter for He can be reached by sending email through this form.



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