By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
October 12, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopian authorities detained over 11,000 people under the state of emergency decree, its State of Emergency Inquiry Board said.
- Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia on October 2, 2016 (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri Photo)
The Inquiry Board, established to follow the conduct of the martial law, said the country’s command post had so far arrested over 11,000 suspects.
The chairperson of the Board, Tadesse Wordofa, told journalists that the detainees were accused of inciting violence, destroying public and government properties.
Some of the suspects, he said, were arrested for carrying flags of opposition organizations branded by the Ethiopian government as terrorist entities.
The detainees are currently being held in six detention centers and military camps around the country. Some 347 of the total arrested are women.
The official noted that 4,329, of the total detainees are being held in Tolay military camp, which is located some 350km west of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Most of the detainees were rounded up from Amhara and Oromia, a region which had been a scene of deadly protests.
Out of the total, 410 suspects were arrested from Addis Ababa and remain held at detention centers in the capital. The Inquiry Board said no foreign citizens were arrested in connection with the unrest.
The board is due to disclose and post name lists of detainees at public places in the capital and in the two regions to allow their relatives know their whereabouts.
Ethiopia’s most recent protests were sparked after a religious festival in Oromia region turned into a violet anti-government protest, claiming 55 lives in a stampede.
After the protests spread to large parts of the Oromia region, the government imposed a six-month state of emergency.
The state emergency is the first in the country in over a century.
The protests first erupted over demands for land rights, but later turned violent, with activists calling for increased political and economic rights.
Meanwhile the Ethiopian government has lifted travel restrictions imposed against diplomats after calm started returning across the troubled regions.