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News: Amnesty calls for the release of OLF’s chairman under House arrest for months

Dawud Ibsa, Chairman of Oromo Liberation Front.

By Siyanne Mekonnen @Siyaanne

Addis Abeba, June 16, 2021- Amnesty International yesterday wrote a letter addressed to the Minister of Peace, Muferiyat Kamil calling for the release of Dawud Ibsaa, the chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). In the letter Amnesty recalled the incident on May 3, 2021 where the residence of Dawud was ‘unlawfully’ raided by armed security forces who seized the electronic equipment in his house, including laptop computers and mobile phones. According to the letter, the police have not allowed anyone to leave or enter the compound of Dawud Ibsa’s residence since that day. “There is therefore serious concern over Dawud Ibsa’s wellbeing as the food and other essential items in the house have either run out or are close to doing so.” Amnesty said, adding “He must be immediately released.”

The letter pointed out the need to present Dawud Ibsa with an arrest warrant or court order. “His prolonged house arrest amounts to arbitrary detention, and it imposes arbitrary restrictions on his rights to freedom of movement and association.” The letter also made a remark on the conditions of Dawud’s detention. “I am further concerned that Dawud Ibsa is being detained solely in connection to his opposition to the government and political affiliations.” it read, urging authorities to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression and association, in accordance with Ethiopia’s international human rights obligations. 

Amnesty touched on the conditions related to the house arrest of OLF’s chairman, “Dawud Ibsa’s detention did not happen in a vacuum.” the letter read, referring to withdrawal of the OLF from the 6th national elections.  

The letter concluded by calling for an immediate release of Dawud or a prompt issual of charges ‘with a recognisable offence’, in accordance with international standards if there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing. Amnesty also urged for access to food and other essential items while the chairman waits for release or charge.

The interim PR of OLF told Addis Standard that the chairman has been on house arrest since April 2, 2021 where his security guards were arrested on the same day. “After cellphones were confiscated on May 3, the chairman is incommunicado.” the PR said. AS

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