AllAfrica.com is reporting that thousands of Ethiopians in Addis Ababa protested against the ruling party on Sunday in an effort to ensure human rights protections. This is the first protest of this kind since 2005 when many protesters and opposition leaders were jailed. The author writes:
“The demonstrators were shouting they wanted their human rights to be ensured, that
political and religious prisoners should be released, and accusing state television of only broadcasting propaganda.
‘We have been raising lots of questions for the government and one is to release those political party leaders and journalists,’ said Getaneh Banch, a member of the Blue Party, the opposition party that organized the demonstration. ‘And we have been also calling for the government to release also those who have been dislocated from their locations, because of their ethnic background.’”
Ethiopian authorities are accused of detaining a journalist who sought to interview people evicted from their homes in a region where the government is building a contentious hydro-electric dam on the Blue Nile. The journalist has been held since Friday and joins two award-winning journalists, Reeyot Alemu and Woubshet Taye, who are also in jail. The dam project is part of a $12 billion plan to boost power exports. TheBBC reports that Egypt and Sudan object to the dam because they say it violates a colonial-era agreement, which gives them rights to 90% of the Nile’s water. The Blue Nile is one of two major tributaries of the Nile (one of the world’s longest rivers).
“One of the opposition leaders jailed after the 2005 elections, Jacob Hailemariam, says this demonstration is significant for Ethiopia. ‘This will definitely encourage people to demand their rights that they have been very quite about, until today,’ he said. Many of the protesters were young men with a Muslim background who do not necessarily support the Blue Party, but do feel a change in government is needed.”