By Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil
Addis Abeba – Gobeze Sisay, a digital journalist at Yegna TV was released yesterday around 9 PM local time after he was reported missing in action for 9 days following his arrest on Sunday, May 1, 2022.
In an exclusive interview with Addis Standard, Gobeze Sisay disclosed that on the eve of the Eid festival, May 1st Sunday morning, he was taken from his house located in Lemi Kura Sub-city, commonly known as Ayat, in Addis Abeba. He stated that nearly 7 or 8 security personnel in plain clothes, who initially were not willing to show their IDs nor liked to state who they were, stormed his house and told him that he was wanted for questioning. “They blindfolded me and took me to an unknown place in the city,” he said. He further explained that since his arrest, he had not appeared before the court.
Addis Standard asked Gobeze what were the questions these security forces were asking him while he was under detainment. “Most of the questions were baseless allegations,” Gobeze said. He explained that the security forces were accusing him of being “extremist Amhara” and “Oromophobic”. He also stated that he was being accused of involvement in ‘various conflicts’, including the conflicts in Kemise areas of Oromia Special Zone in the Amhara region. Gobeze, however, said that the said security forces failed to back their allegations with tangible evidence. He further told Addis Standard that another allegation made against him during his detention was that he was a supporter of Fano-an informal armed group in the Amhara region.
In response to Addis Standard’s question about whether the security forces were from Addis Abeba police or the Federal police, “Since they blindfolded me and did not describe who they were nor showed their IDs, I could not exactly tell who they were,” he replied.
Gobeze was also asked if he encountered any physical or psychological abuse during his detention, to which he stated that he had not experienced any physical abuse or torture. He, however, said that the psychological damage and trauma was a lot. “There were frequent instances when I was blindfolded, especially when the security forces took me from the room I was detained in to another room where I was being investigated since my arrest. I was not able to see neither who the investigators were nor where exactly I was kept captive for more than a week,” he explained.
Gobeze was finally released yesterday in the same manner that he was detained. He was brought back to his house without explanation. “They transported me blindfolded and left me at my door,” he said.
Rights groups and advocates for press freedom called for the release of Gobeze. The Ethiopian Human Rights Defender Center (EHRDC) issued a statement expressing concerns and calling on the government to follow the due process of law. Similarly, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) expressed concern over the detention without due process of journalists and media personnel. Reporters Without Borders also said, “RSF is concerned over these murky circumstances & calls for his immediate release.” AS