News: EzEMA condemns gov’t crackdown in Addis Abeba, opposes City Police plans to recruit police forces from outside

On March 03, at the commemoration of Karamara, a large number of city residents, including members of the opposition Balderas for Genuine Democracy, were detained by the city police. Many remain in detention.
Picture: Balderas for Genuine Democracy/Facebook/Archive

Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegay12

Addis Abeba – Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (EzEMA) issued a statement yesterday strongly condemning government security forces’ crackdown against civilians in the name of safeguarding peace and security, which it said has violated the peace and order of Addis Abeba city. The party also opposed the latest announcement by Addis Abeba Police of its plans to recruit 50, 000 police forces from outside of the city.

EzEMA said it has been paying close attention to recent unfolding in the city which has seen large number of the city’s youth residents being detained in connection with Adwa celebration on 02 March. The government crackdown “has been diligently done to erode the self-esteem of the city youth. By categorizing them in mass and disregarding their questions, work has undergone to disengage the youth from exercising their political and social participation,” the statement reads. 

The party stated hat Addis Abeba was home to all Ethiopians, the political center of the country and the seat of diplomats. As such, residents of the city were very active during various regimes and  had a profound impact on the country’s politics; their participation is a source of hope for all Ethiopians, it said, and recalled the 2005 post election state violence in the city after the then ruling party the EPRDF had hoped for a landslide victory. “Because Addis Ababa residents punished the then ruling party [with their vote], the dictators were forced to oust the residents, especially the youth, from political participation, which however did not deter the youth from partaking in the country’s political involvement.” 

EZEMA accused entities that designated themselves as “Yelewt Hail” (forces of change) in an apparent reference to the ruling Prosperity Party, and said, since they began ruling the country, the four corners of the country seemed to have become battle fronts and illegal activities including the killings of individuals by militants and rampant targeting of religious institutions. However this force of change was given given a pass and an opportunity to fulfill its responsibility to uphold the rule of law and maintain peace as such adversities occur during political transitions.

The Adwa Victory Day commemoration, which has been celebrated with perseverance and brilliance throughout the centuries, regardless of regime changes, is the greatest symbol of  history and the pride of the people of the city, EzEMA said, and accused the incumbent of departing from this practice, issuing various confusing statements regarding the venue and conditions of celebrating the day that irritated the general public. Protests at the Adwa festival, were sparked by the ‘aggression’ of the government, it said.  “We strongly oppose any attempt to intimidate and stifle the political participation of the city’s youth by mass arrests and court appearances, instead of prosecuting any criminals.”

“We strongly believe that all Ethiopians have the right and are owners of the city but that it is the responsibility of the city’s residents to govern and maintain the peace in the city.”


The party also opposed the latest announcement by the Addis Ababa Police Commission of its planned activities to recruit up to 50, 000 police officers from other regions. “Recruiters have been sent to all regions to increase the number of Addis Ababa City Police to 50,000 to balance the ration of the residents and the police,” EzEMA said, and stated that the security forces of Addis Abeba, mainly the police, must be recruited from the residents of the city. It said the disadvantages of recruiting city police from different parts of the country under the guise of portraying the city as “all-inclusive” outweigh the benefits. “We strongly believe that all Ethiopians have the right and are owners of the city but that it is the responsibility of the city’s residents to govern and maintain the peace in the city.”

Subsequently, EzEMA outlined six points in which it called for the release of unjustly detained residents in connection with the Adwa holiday; transparency in the trial of individuals suspected of wrongdoing. It also requested the judiciary to be free and fair and the rights of detainees for protection and respect including their rights for visits from families, friends and lawyers.

It further called for the city of Addis Abeba city to be strengthened by its residents. “Despite the city’s youth having repeatedly been said to have refused to protect the city, more than 120,000.00 residents were defending the city during the crisis.Those who are competent and interested should be given priority to join the city police,” EzEMA said and urged city residents to to pay close attention to the activities of the city administration, which, it accused of trying to protect its power while committing internal waste and robbery.

EzEMA criticized the city administration that instead of scrutinizing themselves they were trying to muffle voices critiques, in order to protect their power and cover up wastage and robbery. It also accused them me trying to silence critiques using deceit and rent instead of asking “Why do the people oppose us?” and “Why didn’t public stand by us?”. This “shows the complete weakness of the system and its non-openness to criticism.”

It was anti-democratic to arrest and harass citizens by a party that claims to be leading the country by popular vote, EzEMA said and condemned the misconceptions that the ruling party would iron fist on the city residents and called on them to address the issue instead of trying to cover it up. AS

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