Will the Release of Muslim Community Leaders from Prison Change Anything in Ethiopia?

Will the Release of Muslim Community Leaders from Prison Change Anything in Ethiopia? Will the Release of Muslim Community Leaders from Prison Change Anything in Ethiopia?

The Ethiopian government pardoned more than 700 prisoners in celebration of New Year's Day on the Ethiopian calendar and the Muslim holiday Eid. Among those released were people charged under the country's controversial anti-terror law. Critics of the law say it is used to stifle dissent and lock up political opposition members. Ustaz Kamil Shemsu was imprisoned in 2012 when many Muslims in Ethiopia protested what they said was government interference in their religious doctrine. He was sentenced to 22 years.

"It's difficult to say I am happy because there are still other brothers left in prison," he told VOA Amharic. Prisoners were released from Kaliti, Dire Dawa, Ziway, Shewa Robit and Harer, as well as other prisons administered by the federal government in the Southern region, Tigray region and Amhara region. Hayatel Kubera was a freshman in college in Addis Ababa when she was arrested in 2012 and taken to an Ethiopian investigation center known as Maekelawi. She said she was arrested in relation to the Muslim protest movement and was still under investigation and awaiting trial at the time of her release.

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