For Immediate Release
Purpose: Calling for the release of our friends and all prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia
Dates of the Campaign: February 24, 2016 and February 25, 2016.
Place: Online (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs) and Radio and Television
Thematic areas of the campaign: freedom of expression in Ethiopia, freedom of movement including for education purposes such as the course that our colleagues applied, good governance and the respect of the constitution, justice and similar themes.
Participants: All concerned!
Zelalem Workagegnehu, a Masters Degree Student at the Addis Abeba Univeristy and Co-Blogger of the Diaspora based De Birhan Blog/Multimedia, was detained on July 8, 2014 by the Ethiopian government securities from his home in Addis Abeba. Few days later, a number of his friends were also rounded up but most of them were later released on condition that they testify against him. Two of his colleagues, Yonatan Tesfaye and Bahiru Degu have remained arrested with him until today.
Zelalem Workagenehu, was charged in October 2014 with being the local leader of Ginbot 7 Movement, conspiring violent revolution with his friends, writing and sending reports that appeared on Diaspora based websites, receiving money from abroad to recruit members for Ginbot 7 and facilitating a social media and communication related course with his friends.
However, the court dropped most of the charges in August 2015 and now he is defending two charges, which are receiving money (10, 000 birr) from abroad to recruit members for the opposition Ginbot 7 and facilitating the social media course. The course never took place. Zelalem, Yonatan and Bahiru were tortured in Mea’kelawi Prison during investigations. Last month, award-winning journalist Eskinder Nega defended the trio to argue that applying for internet security or communication related course is legal and normal.
De Birhan, along with benevolent individuals, has been “beseeching and calling” for the release of the detainees using diplomatic channels, and mass media outlets. Now that almost all of the defense witnesses of Bahiru Degu and Yonatan Tesfaye have been heard and all of Zelalem’s but Andargahcew Tsige, who is called to be a defense witness on February 24, 2016, are heard, we find it necessary that we should take our campaign for the release of our colleagues to another step.
One official banner and three pictures will be used in the campaign, already made public. We ask campaign participants to change their social media profile pictures and put up these pictures.
The campaign will not be limited to two days but will properly respond to what transpires in the coming proceedings.