Ethiopia's Oromia Region Erupts As Political Prisoners Return

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Ethiopia’s Oromia region has erupted with celebrations as tens of thousands flooded streets across the region.

The celebrations are related to the unconditional release of political prisoners by the government on Tuesday.

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Young people were also seen actively cleaning the streets which had been littered during the day two of a three-day strike called by youth in the region.

Today (February 14) was supposed to be the last day of the Oromia strikes but it was called off as the release of a top opposition leader, Bekele Gerba, was announced and undertaken on Tuesday.

Photos shared by activists showed thousands of people jubilating on the streets. The jubilation had gone deep into the night on Tuesday after Bekele and six others were released.

Meanwhile, the government has also released a top blogger Eskinder Nega who had spent seven years in jail over terrorism charges. He had been denied release last week after he refused to sign a confession statement.

“Many Oromo politicians remain unjustly incarcerated, such as Bekele,” said one protester in the town of Jimma, who gave his name only as Awol, speaking before news that Bekele had been freed. “All should be released. That is why we are striking.”

Sparked initially by an urban development plan for the capital, unrest spread in 2015 and 2016 with demonstrations against political restrictions and human rights abuses.

Rights groups say hundreds have died in the violence.

Ethiopia is often accused of using security concerns as an excuse to stifle dissent, as well as suppressing non-governmental organizations and the media, which the government denies.


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