Four leading members of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) have been on hunger strike since Tuesday, family members of the political prisoners told the Voice of America (VOA) on Thursday.
The prisoners started the hunger strike after a court tossed out the window a charge they levelled against the prison administration over human rights violations.
The four individuals, Gurmesa Ayalew, Adisu Bulala, Dejene Taffa, and Bekelle Gerba, said the prison administration was
a) violating their basic human rights
b) denying their family adequate visitation rights
c)keeping them occasionally in solitary confinements
c) denying them the right to medical treatment etc.
The court on Tuesday passed a decision, declaring that it has no jurisdiction over the prison administration, and as a result, couldn't try the prison for any wrongdoing.
Woizero Aselefech Mulatu, the wife of Dejene Taffa, told VOA correspondent Meleskachew Amha that the prisoners appeared in court for the third time, and what the court told them was that it had no right to decide on the activities of the prison administration, and they should go back and resolve their problems there.
"The court could have told the prisoners during their first appearance,"
Woizero Aselefech quoted the prisoners as saying, "We thought the court would serve us justice. We were wrong. Instead, it was making a fool of us."
In the absence of justice, "We will not eat food until a pertinent body comes and looks to our plight," the prisoners said, according to Woizero Aselefech.
The OFC leaders are among 22 people the prosecutor charged with terrorism in December last year.
The exception to the rule is OFC chairman, Merera Gudina, who is immune from arrest. When asked by NPR last month what was the reason that he was never behind a bar like his comrades, the former university professor said, "Less-than-democratic regimes are getting more sophisticated, and instead of completely crushing dissent, they seek to create the appearance of tolerance or even a multiparty democracy."
Merera, who said he was like a floating head, warned that Ethiopia was facing an "intifada," the inference of which means a youth uprising that would make the government ungovernable.
Throughout much of Oromo region, there is a simmering unrest against the regime that largely depends on sheer violence but is much of the time out of the blame by western governments since they consider it a "partner in the war on terror."