In the presser by four leaders of the EPRDF member parties going on now in the PM’s office, the PM announced that the parties agreed to release political prisoners in Ethiopia, who have been prosecuted by the Attorney General and also those sentenced.
The presser came after EPRDF issued a defensive and same old type of press release after 17 days of closed door secret meeting last week. A presser was announced on Monday but was cancelled last minute and postponed to yesterday. Yet it was only held today.
The Me’akelawi (Central) Prison, known as the torture chamber used since the Derg time, is going to be closed down, the four leaders of the EPRDF said in a presser today. The prison will be changed into a museum the leaders said.
Closing Maekelawi doesn’t neccessary mean torture and unlawful arrest will stop. A good reminder for those cherishing the news about Maekelawi closure.
— አውራሪስ/Awraris (@Ze_Astegoma) January 3, 2018
A lot of prisoners of conscience, including our blogger Zelalem Workagegnehu, have been tortured in this prison recently.
Some people on Twitter said that the move should totally ban torture rather than close one torture chamber and open another one.
— Zelealem Abate (@Ze_Alem) January 3, 2018
There were also warnings about EPRDF’s move and to be cautiously excited
Most of the comments on social media are giving the credit to the thousands of civilians who died calling for freedom and liberty in Ethiopia in the past 26 years as well those who have become vocal since 2015 in nationwide protests.
The pressure coming from the public as well the resolution HR128 drafted by the US Congressman Chris Smith calling for the release of all political prisoners, formation of an all inclusive government and warning of sanction on selected government officials are mentioned as precipitating factors.
There also those, who are seeing this as a mere tactic by the regime to buy time and elongate its rule by avoiding the very serious questions and demands that the public has been asking.
ኢህአዴግዬ እንደዚህ አጣብቂኝ ውስጥ እራሷን ስታገኝ አምታታው በከተማ የምትሆነው ነገር አላት። ሀረካት ታበዛለች። ከዛ ጭብጨባ ይበዛል። ከዛ አንድ አምስት አመት ትገዛለች።
— Habiba|ሀቢባ|حبيبا (@ForeverHabi) January 3, 2018
Some also have noted the editing of the text in the press statement, which came to include a phrase which stated “some of those detained because of their own mistakes/crimes committed”
And then they edited and added this – “በራሳቸው የጥፋት ድርጊት ምክንያት… ” As excited as we are about this news, we should also be very careful of the wording of this statement.
“Hang them, don’t spare them. Hang them don’t, spare them”#Ethiopia
— Abel Kemal አቤል ከማል (@MeetAbel) January 3, 2018
The wording of the statment has already been edited three times on the offical social media page of the Prime Minister’s Office, which first announced the News:
— TigistM (@TigistM) January 3, 2018
A Diaspora based pro-Amhara media, the Voice of Ghion, has reported that Lemma Megersa of the OPDO, has been under house arrest with his passport confiscated and children threatened by securities yesterday.
Some social media commenters are also commenting on the facial looks of the the four EPRDF leaders during the conference today.
The biggest question that many are still questioning is how the EPRDF will define political prisoners after denying that there were political prisoners for a long time.
The most important question on this specific issue is: How does the government define ‘political prisoners’?
— Awol Allo (@awol_allo) January 3, 2018
The views are also that the release of the prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia does not answer the demands of the opposition and the people, which is a genuine democracy.