Aba Serekebirhan Woldesamuel, seen in side Addis Abeba Bole International Airport. Photo: Tigray TV
Addis Abeba – Tigrayan Orthodox priest, Aba Serekebirhan Woldesamuel, has been stuck at Addis Abeba Bole International Airport since July 12, 2023. Aba Serekebirhan, who is of Tigrayan native and a members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church (EOTC) based in Australia, was traveling to Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region, via Addis Abeba Bole International Airport when he said that security forces prevented him from continuing his journey to his final destination.
Speaking to Addis Standard by phone from the airport, Aba Serekebirhan expressed his frustrations and called the situation a “violation of his human rights.”
Lawyers have filed complaints on his behalf and obtained a court order for him to appear at a court of law, he said, but security forces have not allowed him to leave the airport.
Aba Serekebirhan, who is known for being an outspoken critic of the war in the Tigray region and for making provocative remarks, had been the head of the Education Training Department at the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC). He has been in Australia for the past three years, and has served as chief administrator of Debre Tsion St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Sydney.
Recent reports circulating among local media claim about his involvement in the planned nomination of ten Archbishops for dioceses under the newly established See of Selama Kessate Berhan Archdiocese of the Tigray Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
On 12 July, 2023, Tigray Orthodox religious leaders announced their intention to conduct the nomination event on July 16, 2023. The decision has been dismissed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church’s Holy Synod in Addis Abeba as a decision which “violates articles 37 and 38 of the church’s constitution, is inappropriate from the point of view of the church’s canon, which violates the central administration of the church and harms its unity.”
Aba Serekebirhan himself denied the reports that he was traveling to Mekelle to participate in the nomination ceremony. Upon his arrival at the airport, he told local media that his visit to Tigray was to meet with family and victims of the two-years war in the region, and maintained he has no intention of participating in the nomination event.
Asked by Addis Standard to comment, Ashenafi Zeray, senior corporate communications officer at Ethiopian Airlines, said the matter did not concern the Airlines.
Federal police spokesperson, Jeylan Abdi, on his part said that he has no information regarding the stranded priest. AS