Ethiopia arrested prominent opposition leader

Addis?Ababa?? Ethiopian authorities arrested Dr. Merera Gudina, a prominent scholar and chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).

Dr Merera, who is seen in the picture flanked by Dr. Berhanu Nega and Olympic Silver Medalist Athlet Feyissa Lelissa,?was arrested?upon his return from Belgium, where he testified before the European Parliament about human rights abuses in Ethiopia.

At the November 9, 2016 hearing, Dr. Merera testified alongside Dr. Berhanu Nega, an exiled opposition party leader, and athlete Feyisa Lilesa, whose solidarity gesture at the 2016 Rio Olympics raised the profile of the protests in Ethiopia?s Oromia Region.

Dr. Berhanu is a leader of the Patriotic Ginbot 7 (G7), an opposition group that is considered to be a ?terrorist organization? by Ethiopia?s ruling party.

Dr. Merera is accused of violating Ethiopia?s six-month state of emergency by associating with Dr. Berhanu. The state of emergency, which suspends constitutionally guaranteed rights and gives sweeping powers to the security sector, was declared on October 9, 2016 in response to ongoing anti-government protests in?Oromia and Amhara regions.

Dr. Merera’s arrest means that almost all of OFC?s senior leaders are in detention. Currently, six of his colleagues are on trial for terrorism charges, another is under house arrest, and many members of the party have been jailed. The government admitted jailing more than 11,000 Oromos since the state of emergency is declared in early October.

Dr. Merera is also vice chair of Medrek, an opposition coalition to which OFC is a member.