September 18, 2013
The Ethiopian Satellite Television has just reported that four senior pilots of the Ethiopian Air Force have defected and joined the opposition Ginbot 7 Movement. The Station stated that some of the deserting captains have served the Country in the recent peacekeeping involvements of the Ethiopian Air Force in Somalia and Darfur. ESAT made the names and details of these pilots, which include Majors and instructors, public. The names of the pilots are :
1. Major Aklilu Mezene – Flight Instructor/ Pilot’s Trainer
2. Major Tilahun Tufa – Chief Pilot
3. Captain Getu Worku – Wing Commander
4. Captain Biniyam Gizaw – Wing Commander
The Radio said the pilot’s defected due to the rampant corruption, racism, favouritism and incapability within and of the Air Force. The pilots expressed their readiness to participate in any freedom struggle against the current government. The Radio did not give specific details of the current location of the pilots. Two of the pilots defected from where they were sent to i.e. China while the other two deserted directly from Dire Dawa.
The Ethiopian government has not so far given any comment regarding the defection or the reports. Four Ethiopian pilots that had defected previously were sentenced to death in absentia in 2008. According to ESAT, the current defection brings the total number of defections from the Ethiopian Air Force to 30 since the current government came to power in 1991.
Listen to ESAT Radio’s report below,