For Immediate Release
Purpose: Calling for the release of our friends and all prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia
Dates of the Campaign: Morning 3 Ethiopian Time or 9 am GMT February 24, 2016 11 Ethiopian Time (5pm GMT)(Ethiopian Time)February 25 , 2016.
Place: Online (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs) and Radio and Televisionn
Thematic areas of campaign: freedom of expression in Ethiopia, freedom of movement including for education purposes such as the course that our colleagues applied, good governance and the respect of the constitution, justice and similar themes.
Participants: Anyone who agrees that being a critic of government is not a crime
Zelalem Workagegnehu, a Masters Degree Student at the Addis Abeba Univeristy and Co-Blogger of the Diaspora based De Birhan Blog/Multimedia, was detained on July 8, 2014 by the Ethiopian government securities from his home in Addis Abeba. Few days later, a number of his friends were also detained but later released under the condition of testifying againt him. Only two of his colleagues, Yonatan Wolde and Bahiru Degu have remained arrested with him until today.
Zelalem Workagenehu, co-blogger of De Birhan Blog, was initially charged in October 2014 with being the local leader of Ginbot 7, conspiring violent revolution with his friends (such as this writer), writing and sending reports that appeared on Diaspora based websites such as this article he wrote in 2011 using his pen name, receiving money from abroad to recruit members for Ginbot 7, and facilitating asocial media and communication related training course with his friends.
One official banner and the three pictures here will be used in the campaign. We ask campaign participants to change their profile pictures and put up these pictures.
However, the court dropped most of the charges and now he is defending two charges, which are receiving money (10, 000 birr) from abroad to recruit members for the opposition Ginbot 7 and facilitating the social media training.
Zelalem Workagegnehu and his two colleagues Yonatan Wolde and Bahiru Degu, who were charged with applying for a online security, communication and leadership training three years ago. The course never took place.
Zelalem, Yonatan and Bahiru were tortured in Mea’kelawi Prison during investigations.
Last month, detained journalist Eskinder Nega defended the trio to argue that applying for internet security or communication related training is fully legal and professional.
De Birhan along with some benevolent individuals has been “beseeching and calling” for the release of the detainees via diplomats, and writing letters calling for their release. Now, that almost all of the defense witnesses of Bahiru Degu and Yonatan Wolde have been heard and all of Zelalem’s but Andargahcew Tsige, who is called to be a defense witness on February 25, 2016 are heard, we find it necessary that we should take our campaign for the release of our colleagues be taken to another step.
The campaign will not be limited to two days but will properly respond to what transpires in the proceedings.