By Elias Meseret | AP
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — An Ethiopian official said 2,000 people have been detained and later released under the country’s state of emergency that was declared on October 8, 2016. The remarks came amid local media reports that thousands of people are being detained across some parts of the country that have witnessed some of the worst violence in the past couple of weeks.
“About 2,000 people were arrested and later released after undergoing counseling under the state of emergency,” Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa, who oversees the state of emergency, told local reporters on Sunday. He said authorities collected more than 1,500 firearms that had been looted during the violence in the country.
He declined to say how many people are still in detention but mentioned various military camps and prison facilities where inmates nabbed under the state of emergency are being held.
Ethiopia’s Oromia region has been experiencing renewed unrest following the deaths of dozens of people in a stampede during a religious festival in Bishoftu in early October. Protests have also hit the Amhara region.
Ethiopia’s President, Mulatu Teshome, said on October 10 that the government will address some of the public’s grievances and will conduct electoral and political reforms. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is expected to announce a new cabinet on Tuesday, Ethiopia’s government spokesman, Getachew Reda, said on Monday.
On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged Ethiopian officials to promptly repeal or revise all elements of the state of emergency that it said are contrary to international law.
“Ethiopia’s state of emergency bans nearly all speech that the government disagrees with anywhere in the country for at least six months,” Felix Horne, Human Rights Watch’s senior Africa researcher said. “The state of emergency hands the army new sweeping powers to crack down on demonstrators further limiting the space for peaceful dissent.”