Ethiopia has announced to release political prisoners in a surprise move that Addis Ababa described as an initiative to foster ‘national reconciliation’.
The Ethiopian government announced to shut the infamous Maekelawi detention center in the capital, Addis Ababa detaining thousands of political prisoners.
BREAKING: Ethiopia to release all political prisoners, close notorious prison camp in surprise move.
— AP Africa (@AP_Africa) January 3, 2018
The Ethiopian Prime Minister’s office said the charges against the political prisoners will be dropped and the already imprisoned politicians will be pardoned.
The Ethiopian Addis Standard said, “Charges will be dropped for all “political prisoners” who are currently under prosecution and pardons will be issued to all who have already been convicted and are serving their sentences in order to create the space for a national dialogue and national consensus.”
— amnestypress (@amnestypress) January 3, 2018
Meanwhile, the Human Right Watch has praised the Ethiopian government’s move. HRW said, “over the last two years, government security forces have arrested tens of thousands of people and killed over 1,000 protesters. This crackdown has led to resolutions from the European Parliament and growing concern from the United States Congress.”
HUGE: At a joint presser following 18-day-long crisis talks, leaders #Ethiopia’s ruling party pledged to release ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS and close the notorious Maekelawi prison. If true, and political prisoners means what it sounds, EPRDF is poised to turn a page. #whyamIcrying?
— Mohammed Ademo (@OPride) January 3, 2018
“Whether today’s announcement is a genuine step toward reform or merely a move to stifle growing international criticism is unclear. Governments shouldn’t wait to find out, but press Ethiopia in the coming weeks to create a timeline for releasing all those held for their peaceful political views and dropping any charges against them.”
AFP news agency quoted the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn saying, “Politicians currently under prosecution and those previously sentenced will either have their cases annulled or be pardoned.”
News Update: Ethiopia to close down notorious prison, to release all political prisoners – https://t.co/2agqRXlYUt The promise reveals that the government believes in the presence of prisoners of conscience, something authorities have never admitted in the past.
— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) January 3, 2018
The notorious Addis Ababa prison will be turned into a modern-day museum “to create the space for a national dialogue and national consensus.”