Ethiopia says it will free all political prisoners


Ethiopia’s prime minister has announced plans to drop charges against political prisoners and close a notorious prison camp in what he said was an effort to “widen the democratic space for all”.

Hailemariam Desalegn’s unexpected comments came after anti-government protests engulfed much of the restive Oromia and Amhara regions in recent months, bringing many businesses, universities and transport networks to a standstill. The protests spread to other parts of the east African country, leading to a months-long state of emergency that has since been lifted. “Political prisoners that are facing prosecutions and are already under arrest will be released,” Hailemariam said. “And the notorious prison cell that was traditionally called Maekelawi will be closed down and turned into a museum.” It was not immediately clear how many political prisoners were being held across the country, a close US security ally. Ethiopians were quick to respond, even with social media sites currently blocked. “I’m writing you this struggling with my tears,” wrote the renowned blogger and former detainee Befeqadu Hailu. “All these pledges need to be implemented immediately.”(theguardian)…[+]