Police arrest prominent human rights activist, two EU workers

A combined report of Ethio-Zagol, AP and EthioMedia
ADDIS ABABA - Police in the Ethiopia-Kenya border town of Moyale arrested Friday a prominent Ethiopian human rights activist, her Ethiopian colleague and two foreigners working for the European Union (EU) as the group tried to cross the border into Kenya, media sources said.
Yalemzewd Bekele, also a lawyer working for EU, and another unidentified Ethiopian were arrested after police intercepted the EU car bound for Kenya. Police had a week earlier issued an arrest warrant for Zewdalem after she was accused of allegedly distributing opposition calendars of impending civil disobedience programs in the country,
Ethio-Zagol reported.
The blog, whose report is confirmed by Associated Press, said the two EU employees who were allegedly helping Yalemzewd escape the country were identified as Bjorn Jonsoon, Head of Finance and Contract Department of the delegation in Ethiopia and Enrico Sborgi, who works at the Good Governance Department of the EU.
AP said the two working with the European Union in Ethiopia were arrested on Thursday because they were trying to help two Ethiopians wanted for serious crimes cross the southern border with Kenya, state-owned Ethiopian TV reported. The immigration department statement read on Ethiopian TV did not identify the foreigners nor the Ethiopians.
EU development spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio in Brussels said that the EU delegation in Ethiopia was still trying to get information on what had happened.
Police stopped a European Commission vehicle with diplomatic license plates containing four people in the southern border town of Moyale and made the arrests when the foreigners refused to wind down their windows, the statement said.
The Ethiopians, who are in police custody, were, "being hunted by police for committing felonies," the statement said.
What the foreigners did, "violates the sovereignty of the country while jeopardizing the security of the nation," AP quoted the statement as saying.
The European Union is one of Ethiopia's largest donors, but its officials have been sharply critical of political developments in the country amid questions about top officials' commitment to democracy.
Earlier this week, an Ethiopian judge who served as vice-president of a 10-man inquiry commission released a finding to AP that the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was responsible for massacring 193 unarmed civilians last year. The report, which observers billed as "devastating" to the Meles regime, was released by
Wolde-Michael Meshesha.

Members of the Inquiry Commission* were:

  1. Mr. Firehiwot Samuel (Chairman - Fled Ethiopia)
  2. Mr. W/Michael Meshesha (Vice Chairman - Fled Ethiopia)
  3. Sheik Elias Redman
  4. The Reverend De reje Jenberu
  5. D r . Gemechu Megerssa
  6. Mr Abdu D i- ad Ibrahim
  7. D r . M ekonnen Dissasa
  8. Abune E wosketewos G/kirstos member
  9. Mr. Mitiku Teshome
  10. Mr. Haregeweyin Tasew
  11. Mr. Biluy Addis Woldeyes

Political observers fear government witchhunt of opposition activists in general and those mainly affiliated to the popular Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUDP-Kinijit) in particular may continue indefinitely with the arrest of Zewdalem Bekele and her colleagues.

*List of Inquiry Commission Source: Ethiopian Parliament

Ana Gomes on BBC holds Meles Zenawi responsible for the massacre of 193 Ethiopians in 2005.

Source: Ethiomedia

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at7:02 PM

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