How many political prisoners does Ethiopia afford? Myriad.
It has been now over a month since Ethiopia’s notorious and the first in its modern history nationwide State of Emergency has been declared. The decree which follows months of protests and unhinged brutality by the the incumbent regime stirs a debate on the essence and the motive behind it. However, beyond the debates, the most concerning impact of the decree is its main target, local activists. As it feared by many the decree proved that it is a pretext to terrorize the public in general and purging the beleaguered local activists in particular.
By reaffirming already outlawed acts as a crime, but suspending procedural rights of citizens, the decree aimed to crush defiance and to that effect it unleashed a terror of mass detention in its first month of implementation.
Thanks to the lack of transparency and accountability in the present day Ethiopia, how many peoples are detained since October 08, 2016? is a question that we can’t easily answer. We may estimate some numbers. Estimations are subjective, nonetheless. One of the the main problem of the lack of information is a month long Mobile Internet blackout in major cities including the capital. By shutting off mobile Internet the government controls all the woe and cry and being able to push forward its own story of ‘restabilized nation’.
In spite of the information black-hole, we are able to get some data about who is in jail and who is not. Mass detention was regular for the past 12 Months even if the government stand in denial for long. However, since the declaration of the state of Emergency on October 08, 2016, the command post, a mandated organ to execute the decree come up with different numbers of detainees.
The first of these numbers was the detention of one thousand people from a Small town in the outskirt of the capital, Sebeta on October 17, 2016. Two days after this announcement the government again come-up with another four digit number of detainees, 1,673.