Bekele Gerba Arrested Over Land Protests

Bekele Gerba pictured at the NPR office in Washington, D.C., August 2015. (Photo: Mahafreen H. Mistry/NPR)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, December 25th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian opposition leader and former political prisoner Professor Bekele Gerba — who visited Washington, D.C. this past summer to raise human rights concerns with U.S. officials — has been arrested again, this time in connection with the massive student-led protests rocking Ethiopia’s Oromia region.

OFC chairman Merera Gudina told Reuters that police arrested Bekele on Thursday, December 24th along with the OFC’s Assistant Secretary Dejene Tafa. “They suspect that our party and some of our members are part of the protest movement, that we have been inciting the demonstrations,” Merera told Reuters. “We do not know when Bekele and Dejene will be released or be charged for anything.”

In 2011, after his meeting with researchers from Amnesty International, he was arrested on what Gerba believed were “trumped-up terrorism charges, often used in Ethiopia against political dissidents.” NPR states. “In court he made remarks that have been widely circulated in Ethiopia and beyond: “I am honored to learn that my non-violent struggles and humble sacrifices for the democratic and human rights of the Oromo people, to whom I was born without a wish on my part but due to the will of the Almighty, have been considered a crime and to be unjustly convicted.”

“Bekele Gerba was languishing in a high security Ethiopian jail, hearing the cries of fellow prisoners being beaten and tortured,” NPR noted in a recent profile of Bekele Gerba.

Addis Standard published a bio of Bekele Gerba in May 2015 highlighting that the father of four “graduated with a BA degree in foreign language and literature from the Addis Abeba University (AAU) and taught in Dembi Dolo and Nejo high schools in western Ethiopia..and went to Adama Teachers’ College, 98kms south of Addis Abeba, where he taught English and Afaan Oromo. Suspected of allegedly supporting students’ riot that took place a year before, Bekele was dismissed in 2005 by the college. He then came to Addis Abeba where he taught in two private universities for two years until he was employed in 2007 as a full time lecturer by the AUU where he continued teaching English. Bekele’s political career began in 2009 when he joined the opposition party, Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), as a member of the executive committee and head of the public relations department. Bekele participated and lost in the 2010 parliamentary elections in which the ruling EPRDF claimed more than 99% of the seats in parliament.”

Related:
Ethiopian opposition figures arrested over land protests (Reuters)
Ethiopia Opposition: 80 Killed in Protests Against Land Plan (AP)

U.S. State Department, Human Rights Organizations Address Crackdown on Protestors in Ethiopia
Crackdown Turns Deadly In Ethiopia As Government Turns Against Protesters (NPR)
US Concerned About Protester Deaths in Ethiopia (VOA)
At least 75 killed in Ethiopia protests: HRW (AFP)
‘Unprecedented’ Protests in Ethiopia Against Capital Expansion Plan (VOA News)
Ethiopians on Edge as Infrastructure Plan Stirs Protests (The New York Times)
Opposition: More Than 40 Killed in Ethiopia Protests (VOA News)
Violent clashes in Ethiopia over ‘master plan’ to expand Addis (The Guardian)
Protests in Ethiopia leave at least five dead, possibly many more (Reuters)
Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan? (Global Voices)
Yet Again, a Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Ethiopia (Human Rights Watch)
Anger Over ‘Violent Crackdown’ at Protest in Oromia, Ethiopia (BBC Video)
Ethiopian mother’s anger at murdered son in student protests (BBC News)
Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

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