Ethiopia: Former prisoner of Maekelawi recounts his ordeal

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Still little detail in Ethiopia after the surprise announcement, Wednesday, January 3, of an upcoming release of detained politicians. According to the local newspaper The Reporter, the first prison exits could take place this Friday, or tomorrow Saturday.

The Prime Minister and head of the ruling coalition also announced the closure of the country’s most notorious prison, Maekelawi (“central” in Amharic) in Addis Ababa. This has particularly affected those who have been locked up, such as blogger and human rights activist Befeqadu Hailu.

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Wednesday afternoon, Befeqadu is about to eat when he learns the news : ” I had to force myself not to cry. This decision came out of nowhere. I did not know how to feel. I was excited, confused, suspicious, but anyway I welcomed the news .

The blogger and human rights defender is in the process of following a political trial. According to him, 38 people he will never forget the reaction when hearing the rumor of amnesty.

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A few months ago, the 37-year-old Ethiopian was in their shoes. He had three stays in prison, 544 days in all, including 84 in Maekelawi: ” I was beaten, whipped on my bare feet. I was beaten, insulted, slapped almost every day. I was forced to sign a confession where I accused myself “.

The announcement of a closing soon is good news, but: ” Simply, there is a probability that it is transferred to another place. Well, we hate Maekelawi, so we’d be happy to see her turn into a museum. But we do not want torture to continue in other places. That’s what disturbed us in the way we reacted to the announcement . ”

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Regarding the release of prisoners he considers political, questions remain: ” What are the criteria for selecting one political prisoner over another? ”

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