The “Indefatigable and the Indomitable” is Released! Ethiopian-Brit Opposition Leader Andy Tsige Freed After More Than 4 Years in Incommunicado

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29-5-2018

One of Ethiopia’s most prominent and feared opposition leaders, Andargachew (Andy) Tsige, has been released from jail along with other 500 plus politicians and business people, who are being released since last weekend. He was labeled, along with his movement, Ginbot 7, a “terrorist” by the incumbent regime in Ethiopia.

The next video shows how the crowed rushed to get Andy out of the  security vehicle that brought him to his house; it was an extraordinarily unexpected welcome for Andargachew too:

After a short stay at his parent’s house in Bole, Addis Abeba, he will be flying to London, UK to join his wife and three children. He lived in the UK since the 1970s and also holds a UK citizenship. He was given a hero’s welcome at his father’s house with a large crowed inside and outside the house.

His looks have completely changed after his release. It is possible to see the effects of his arrest and torture of four years. He looked frail, thin and sick but his spirit and perseverance was strong as it was when he was abducted in 2014.

UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said “His case has been a priority for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and our staff have worked tirelessly to support him and his family throughout his detention.

In his first and brief interview with a local citizen journalist recorded on a mobile phone hours after his release today, Andargachew said that he has told his tormentor investigators that instead of seeing such a country “Ethiopia” he preferred and welcomed the decision of the local court “death sentence.”

“I told them that I can show them how a man dies smiling. I will never beg you to release me like Legesse Asfaw (a top leader of the former Derg.)” Andy said.

Earlier today, Fitsum Arega, Chief of Staff, Prime Minister Office, Ethiopia tweeted the following:

Last night, neighbors and supporters crowded Andrgachew’s parent’s house and danced in joy to welcome him but he was never at his parent’s house.

Andargachew Tsige is the Secretary General of the Ginbot 7 Movement and a political activist, who was kidnapped by Yemeni and Ethiopian securities from Sanaa International Airport while in transit and was given to the Ethiopian regime on June 23, 2014.

He was sentenced to death in several charges ranging from coup plot to corruption in absentia since 2009. The circumstances of his release are unclear since he has never sought a pardon but most believe that his release comes as a result of the nationwide anti-government protests and various anti-government campaigns inside and outside Ethiopia that had shaken the government and the nation.

The Federal Attorney General has also announced that 741 prisoners will be released from prison. The 137 suspects are of terrorism and 31 suspects of corruption while the rest 576 convicts were pardoned of their different offenses.

It had been reported in 2014 Andargachew was heavily beaten during the first 10 days of his imprisonment. After the 10 days, he was injected torture needles and electric shocked to divulge information and secrets.

Andragachew has often been described as one of the few indefatigable and indomitable prisoners of conscience, who never wavered or revealed any information about the secrets and activities of his Movement despite visibly shocking levels of torture, trauma and public parade at the hands of his tormentors. The investigators wanted Andargachew to confess the names of serving Ethiopian government officials and military officials that work with his Movement. However, he never revealed any information and the investigators were seen “irritated”.

Despite being given several types of options of being freed from jail such as seeking amnesty, the indomitable freedom fighter preferred suffering in prison rather than repent and cripple the Movement he has built himself.

He has never sought or applied for mercy and pardon too but the TPLF/EPRDF regime that abducted him nearly five years ago, has today said that he is being released under special “circumstances” to widen the democratic space.

Many of his supporters inside and outside the country have been eagerly waiting for his release and to see his real time picture on various media channels.

Upon confirming his release, Ethiopians in various parts of the world expressed their joy online and offline. In Sweden, Ethiopians got together in Stockholm for a quick celebration of Andy’s release.

The mood was the same in Washington DC, USA.

The 63 years old man has lived more than half of his life in exile in the UK before he was forcibly kidnapped by TPLF/EPRDF securities from Sanna Airport, Yemen.

De Birhan has consistently reported and campaigned for the release of Andragchew Tsige because we found his kidnap and arrest so horrific and a threat to most Ethiopian activists herehere, herehere, herehere and here.

Many had feared to campaign for his release four years ago or even complicit with the regime to label Andargachew a “terrorist”, however, today, the most embargoed, ostracized and discriminated politician, has become the most congratulated hero in his own homeland.

 

Crowds gather to welcome Andy outside his family home in Bole Addis Abeba

At a young age, Andargachew moved to political and freedom struggles shifting from his Electrical Engineering degree and fully dedciating himself to philosophy and political studies in London universities. As his relentless wife, Yemi recounted four years ago “Kant and Sartre were his favorites.”

Congratulations to all those who campaigned for his release, his wife, children and his fans, who respected his commitment to democracy and human rights.