Ethiopia: Kobo, Amhara, Oromia, Lemma Megersa
More than 2,000 prisoners jailed for involvement in unrest that gripped Ethiopia between 2015 and 2016 have been pardoned, officials said on Friday.
The release is the latest of several in recent weeks, as authorities make efforts to calm continuing unrest since mass protests broke out in the Oromo region – dominated by the Oromo ethnic group – over accusations of land grabbing two years ago.
Hundreds have died in the protests and successive waves of repression. Analysts say the continuing disorder indicates a deep-rooted discontent with decades of rule by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.
There have also been demonstrations and clashes in parts of the east African country dominated by the Amhara group.
In January, the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, appeared to promise that all political prisoners would be freed and a prison infamous for torture would be shut.
Earlier Merera Gudina, an opposition leader who was arrested in December 2016 on his return from Brussels where he had addressed members of the European parliament on the violence in Oromiya, was freed alongside 114 other inmates.
The government in Addis Ababa has long been accused by rights groups of using security concerns as an excuse to stifle dissent and media freedoms. It denies the charges.
Last week the United Nations urged Ethiopia to review the status of a “large number of people” still behind bars.
Nineteen people linked to a group known as Ginbot 7, considered “terrorists” by Ethiopian authorities, were recently sentenced to lengthy prison terms.