The Deceiving Pardon of Few Political Prisoners

By: Befikadu Hailu

In Kality, 56 polical prisoners and many others were told that they are ‘pardoned’ and will be released on the Ethiopian new year eve, Saturday – 9 Sep 2016. Of these, 31 prisoners were jailed in connection to OLF, 8 in connection to ‘Patriotic Front’, 6 in connection to Ethiopian Muslims protests, others in connection to Ginbot 7 and Melaku Tefera, a prominent leader from past regime are included.

These political prisoners were separated from other prisoners immediately after they were told they are ‘pardoned’ except one of them, Marima Hayatu.

Maekelawi policemen were the ones that went to Kality prison and informed the prisoners about the release. The policemen tell each prisoner that gov in Ethiopia wants to pardon him/her – the prisoner. When the wo/man agrees, they let them sign on a paper with list of names on top of which written a statement that reads, ‘the following prisoners are pardoned by gov’, I was told.

Marima Hayatu is 12th defendant in Elias Kedir et al’s case (of Ethiopian Muslims). She rejected the pardon for the reason the pardon didn’t include 15 co-defendants of hers. Therefore, she was not moved out from her cell.

Strangely enough, another woman, namely Hayatelkubra is told she is ‘pardoned’ even though she is not yet convicted. More than 30 of the ‘pardoned’ prisoners are either months away to serve all their sentenced terms or they had to be released months/years before. There are also many prisoners sentenced for ‘having connection with OLF’ and are held in Kality even though they have served it all up until three years before.

Sadly, many folds of political prisoners are also languishing in Kality and other prisons. The reknown politician Andualem Arage, the defiant journalist Eskinder Nega, jourrnalist Woubshet Taye and many nameless others are not even approached by the officials at all. The release alert is just another deceiving alert to the western allies who are hesitating on the aid based relationship they have with Ethiopia.

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