Ruling Front’s Radio Fana as well as Ethiopians netizens on social media are reporting that hundreds of dissidents arrested for over the past years including Colonel Demeke Zewdu are to be released from prison. The charges against Demeke are to be dropped according to the reports.
The protests in Amhara region began on 12 July 2016 when security forces attempted to arrest Colonel Demeke Zewdu, one of the leaders of the Welkait Identity and Self-Determination Committee, for alleged terrorism offences. Welkait is an administrative district in Tigray Region that was part of Amhara Region before the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) came to power 1991. Demeke, who has been part of the incumbent government’s Defence Forces since they came to power, has been the leading activist of the return of Welkait back to Gonder, the Amhara region. He was also part of the UN Peacekeeping in various African countries.
His arrest led to bloodshed in the Amhara region and led to the intensification of Amhara protests in the other cities and towns of Amhara regional state.
Since his arrest successive stay at home and general strikes took place in Bahir Dar and Gonder cities. Several activists including young female Nigest Yirga have been arrested for taking part in the protests.
Nigest Yirga has been released today.
Similarly, former senior military officers of the EPRDF, who have been detained and severely tortured as well as sentenced to life imprisonment for alleged link with Ginbot 7 Movement and plot to overthrow the government in May 2009 such as Brigadier General Tefera Mammo, Asaminew Tsigie, L. Colonel Demisew Anteneh, Colonel Alehubel Amare and Major Mekonen Worku have been released.
There are reports that Andargachew Tsige’s release is also being considered.