By Mahlet Fasil @mahletfasil
Addis Ababa, January 28/2021 – Family members of Jawar Mohamed told Addis Standard that Jawar, Bekele Gerba and other co-defendants, who are currently facing accusations on terrorism and criminal charges, have declined to receive food delivery in protest against the detention by the police of at least 80 of their supporters from a federal court premises yesterday.
After they were arrested following the government crackdown in the aftermath of the violence that gripped Ethiopia in the wake of the still unsolved June 29 assassination prominent Oromo artist Hachalu Hundessa, Jawar and 22 others remain in prison, facing criminal and terrorism charges at the moment.
During a key hearing scheduled for yesterday at the Federal High Court, Lideta Division of the Anti-Terrorism and Constitutional Court to hear defendants’ plea on the charges against them, the police have summarily detained the supporters who showed up at the court premises wearing yellow in solidarity with the accused who were also wearing yellow prison jumpsuits.
Addis Standard has witnessed that the police were physically abusive of anyone wearing yellow, including pedestrians who have no part in the solidarity act, and have prevented everyone from entering the court room.
The supporters were then taken to Balcha area Police Station. Kedir Bulo, one of the defense lawyers, told Addis Standard that he has been informed that about 40 of the 80 supporters who were detained yesterday were subsequently relocated to unidentified police station for reasons of space limitations, while the remaining 40 continued to be detained at Balcha area Police Station as of the writing of this news.
The scheduled plea hearing didn’t go as planned after the defendants refused to proceed with the plea hearing saying their supporters were prevented and detained by the police outside the court. compelling the judges to re-adjourn the key hearing for February 04 next week instead.
This morning when family members of Jawar Mohammed and others arrived at the Kality prison to drop them food they were told they were not accepting any food from family due to a hunger strike to protest against the arrest of their supporters. “They also told us their hunger protest was to demand the right of their family members to attend the court hearing without police harassment and to ending the mistreatment of their supporters and family members when they come to attend their hearing,” the family member who wanted to remain anonymous said.
Addis Standard has also learned that Jawar, Bekele and the other defendants were demanding the change of prison cell for Colonel Gemechu Ayana, an Executive Council member the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) who remains jailed after he was repeatedly granted bail. Jawar and the other co-defendants say that the prison cell in Kality, where Colonel Gemechu was transferred to is known for as a place where detainees often squabble and that he should be relocated to a safe cell. AS