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GOVERNMENT REARRESTS OPPOSITION LEADERS, JOURNALISTS IN ETHIOPIA.

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The Ethiopian government is being blasted by human rights and press freedom activists after it rearrested bloggers and opposition leaders that it had released a few weeks ago.

Andualem Aragie, leader of Ethiopian opposition UDJ party, journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, bloggers Befeqadu Hailu and Zelalem Workagegnehu were arrested on Sunday during a celebration organized for all the political prisoners released recently.

Ethiopia has already released more than 6,000 prisoners since January, including some high-profile journalists and opposition leaders.

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Declaring the campaign to release political prisoners, the former prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the releases were designed to increase “political space” in Ethiopia following anti-government protests that began in 2015.

Desalegn has since resigned and a state of emergency has been imposed in the country, despite defiant protests by the opposition in the Oromiya and Amhara regions.

Amha Mekonnen, who represented a number of the detainees told the Associated Press that his clients were arrested for violating the state of emergency., in addition to displaying a prohibited national flag.

“I also understand they were accused of gathering en masse in violation of the state of emergency rule.”

Under Ethiopia’s latest state of emergency declared earlier this year, people are prohibited from such gatherings without authorities’ prior knowledge.

American based Ethiopian news agency, Zehabesha, had earlier reported that police accused the opposition leaders who had gathered at the invitation of Andualem Aragie, Andualem Aragie, of using the original Ethiopian plain flag, which does not have the new EPRDF blue disc with 5 point star in the middle.

Ethiopians in the opposition have on several occasions expressed their displeasure with the new flag arguing that the EPRDF blue disc star symbolises ethnic division.

A proclamation regarding the use of the Ethiopian flag prohibits the display of the flag without the emblem at its center and those contravening the law could be sentenced to up to a year and a half in prison.

Eskinder recently told journalists in the Ethiopian capital that ‘he was prepared to go back to prison’ if that was the price to be paid for pursuing democratic reforms in the country.

After his release, UDJ leader Andualem Aragie equally condemned recent tribal conflicts in the country which he described as ‘barbarism that do not belong in the 21st century’.

“It is very bad to have an ethnic mindset, we must work together for our country. Dictatorship is inhuman but racism is worse. We must fight this kind of barbarism to make a peaceful country. We are not human if we attack somebody based on the languages they speak or the tribe they belong to. “

It is unknown when the arrested journalists, bloggers and opposition leaders will be released.

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PM Abiy reiterates Ethiopia’s decision over latest clampdown.

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has finally spoken on ongoing anti-corruption and rights abuse clampdown stating that there was not going to be any backing down let alone retreat.

A statement from the Abiy’s office issued in Amharic tasked citizens to rally behind the development as a means of ridding the country of lawlessness and criminal elements.

State-affiliated FBC reported that the statement titled, ‘Let’s Fight (the) Cancer,’ said the government was bent on bringing people behind injustices to book.



The statement said the underlying objective of recent arrests was to get rid of Ethiopia criminals. “… criminals do not care about ethnicity, country, or morality; they only care for themselves.

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“The key to justice is to create a system for innocent citizens to live in freedom and dignity while criminals are held accountable and punished in accordance with the law,” the statement read in part.

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Since early this week, authorities have announced the arrest of over sixty former military and intelligence officials arrested in connection with rights abuse in prisons and gross corruption in the military run business conglomerate, Metals and Engineering Corporation, MetEC.

A former head of MetEC, Kinfe Dagnew; and a former intelligence chiefs, Tekleberhan Woldearegay and Yared Zerihun have all been detained and put before courts in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Head of security at the state monopoly, Ethio Telecom, Gudeta Olana, has also been arrested as has head of the entity and brother of ex-MetEC boss, Essayas Dagnew.

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New Zealand denies refusing refugees with holiday visas entry.

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New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, on Friday, rejected allegations that the country’s government was blocking refugees who wished to travel into the country from Nauru on visitor visas.

Nauru’s president, Baron Waqa, also claimed in an interview with Australian media that he had also personally brokered a deal for New Zealand to accept 80 refugees currently located on the island.



“It’s incorrect to say that there is some kind of agreement for 80 specific individuals to take residence or visit,’’ Ardern told media at the East Asia Summit in Singapore.

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“The request did not ask about whether refugees could visit New Zealand on holiday visas,’’ he added.

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The country assessed all applications for visitor visas on a case-by-case basis. This applies regardless of a person’s country of origin or nationality.

The country is under pressure to transfer the remaining 30 children from the island.

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