The current wholesale arrest of Addis Ababa youth a bad omen for the direction of Ethiopia’s reform movement

This week, the Ethiopian Federal police and security forces are rounding up hundreds, perhaps thousands of Ethiopian youth in the capital Addis Ababa in reaction to the ethnic violence in Burayu town. Firstly, both the local and Federal Police are partly responsible for the violence because they have failed to take action for several hours while the violence took place. There is no evidence to suggest so far that Addis Ababa youth have any role in the crime. Even if there is evidence that some of the attackers resided in Addis Ababa, nothing justifies the mass detention of the city’s young people. Or the security forces should come out and explain why mass detention is necessary. The mass arrest of young people in Addis Ababa and failure by the Federal Police to respond to the Burayu attack in a timely manner is possibly the work of the anti-reform elements within the government. If it is, they are applying the playbook of Egyptian military that overthrew President Mohammed Mursi, i.e., create a crisis atmosphere and install a military government in the name of saving the country. It is not a coincidence that former legal adviser to the late Meles Zenawi, Dr Tecola Hagos, and other well-known tribalists are intensifying their call for the military to remove PM Abiy Ahmed.

As shown in the photo below, Addis Ababa youth are being herded into detention centers in an egregious violation of human rights.