Leading rights group Amnesty International says that at least 75 supporters of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) have been arrested in Ethiopia, as a crackdown on dissenting political views intensifies ahead of general elections.
“The return of mass arrests of opposition activists and supporters is a worrying signal in Ethiopia.
These sweeping arrests risk undermining the rights to freedom of expression and association ahead of the 2020 elections,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and southern Africa.
Arrests took place during the weekend across Oromia region, including in the towns of Finchawa and Shambu, Amnesty added.
Among those detained was prominent activist Chaltu Takele. Police broke into her parents’ home in Shambu at 5am local time on Sunday and arrested her, the rights group said.
The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has proposed 16 August as the date for elections – the first to be held since Prime Minister Ahmed took power last April.
He was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end hostility with neighbouring Ethiopia, and was widely praised for unbanning the OLF and other political groups, and releasing thousands of detainees.
The OLF is a major political force in Oromia, it was labelled a terrorist group by the previous government.