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News: Opposition OLF says seven of its officials in police custody in Burayu missing 

Five of the seven OLF officials missing from Burayu police station (Photo: Social Media)

Addis Abeba – Seven senior officials of the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) who have been imprisoned for nearly three years and are currently in police custody in Burayu have been missing since the evening of 18 April, the party has said.

OLF Public Relations head Lemmi Gemechu told Addis Standard that the missing party officials are Executive Committee members Abdi Regassa and Michael Boran, Central Committee member Kenasa Ayana, OLF Gulele main office head Gada Oljira (PhD) and senior officials Dawit Abdeta, Lemmi Begna and Gada Gebissa.

According to Lemmi, the officers were taken out of Burayu prison late last night, and their whereabouts is currently unknown.

“In the evening, their families have delivered them food, and when they returned to ask them this morning, they got an answer that ‘they [the officials] are not here’. The police there say they don’t know where the OLF officials are”, said Lemmi.

On 11 April, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) said in a statement that its imprisoned officials were suffering from different diseases and their health condition was deteriorating from day to day. The party urged the government to immediately release its officials whom it said were imprisoned without any wrongdoing and against court ruling.

In late February, Addis Standard reported that Kennasa Ayana, member of the central committee of the opposition Oromo Liberation  Front (OLF) and three other senior officials of the party have been critically ill and denied urgent treatment.

Some of the now missing seven leaders and officials of the party have remained in prison despite repetitive court orders of their release, while others without any prosecutions brought against them at all.

In May last year, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a report following an investigation into the detention of the party’s leaders in various detention centers in Oromia. The report confirmed that many OLF leaders and members are “illegally detained” and were subjected to abuse. 

The OLF has been repeatedly demanding the release of its leaders since they were imprisoned in 2019, and at times accusing the police of torturing them while in detention. AS

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