Ethiopian Police Crack Down on Opposition Leaders and Protesters
On 7th September 2023, in Ethiopia's Tigray region, police arrested and used force against opposition leaders and supporters to prevent them from gathering for planned protests against the TPLF-led interim administration that were slated for that day. At least 26 people, including key opposition figures, were taken into custody. The arrests came after earlier detentions of protest organisers who criticised the TPLF's governance. Security forces cordoned off Romanat Square, the rally location in Mekele, Tigray’s capital, and there were reports of violence against demonstrators.
On 17th August 2023, police arrested Yidnekachew Kebede, the founder and editor of Negari TV, a YouTube-based outlet. On 21st August, he appeared in court, where the police accused him of aiding "anti-peace elements" and producing video content "with the intent of provoking violence.” Prior to his arrest, Yidnekachew had criticised the state of emergency and denounced the detention of political activists and civilians on Facebook. On 1st September 2023, Yidnekachew returned to court and was released on bail of 6,000 birr (US$108) without charge.
On 25th August 2023, police in Addis Ababa detained Fekadu Mahtemework, the editor-in-chief of the weekly Ghion magazine, under the state of emergency decree. Prior to his arrest, the journalist had published reports and a commentary on the conflict in Amhara and the declaration of the state of emergency. On 4th September 2023, Fekadu was released without charge.