The Ethiopian government is being blasted by human rights and press freedom activists after it rearrested bloggers and opposition leaders that it had released a few weeks ago.
Andualem Aragie, leader of Ethiopian opposition UDJ party, journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, bloggers Befeqadu Hailu and Zelalem Workagegnehu were arrested on Sunday during a celebration organized for all the political prisoners released recently.
Ethiopia has already released more than 6,000 prisoners since January, including some high-profile journalists and opposition leaders.
Declaring the campaign to release political prisoners, the former prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the releases were designed to increase “political space” in Ethiopia following anti-government protests that began in 2015.
Desalegn has since resigned and a state of emergency has been imposed in the country, despite defiant protests by the opposition in the Oromiya and Amhara regions.
American based Ethiopian news agency, Zehabesha, reported that police accused the opposition leaders who had gathered at the invitation of Andualem Aragie, Andualem Aragie, of using the original Ethiopian plain flag, which does not have the new EPRDF blue disc with 5 point star in the middle.
Ethiopians in the opposition have on several occasions expressed their displeasure with the new flag arguing that the EPRDF blue disc star symbolises ethnic division.