Magazine article New Internationalist

Muslim Activists Defy State Power

Magazine article New Internationalist

Muslim Activists Defy State Power

Article excerpt

Anti-government demonstrations across Ethiopia are presenting a rare challenge to the ruling party's authority and giving rise to what some are labelling an 'Ethiopian Spring'.

Opposition activists are frustrated that the government is not doing enough to combat high unemployment, high inflation and corruption.

But protesters' main demand is for the release of hundreds of political prisoners and journalists jailed under controversial 2009 anti-terror legislation.

The US, UN and human rights groups have criticized Ethiopia's government for using the law to criminalize peaceful dissent and stifle the press.

Ethiopia has the highest number of exiled journalists in the world.

Those who stay and criticize the government risk arrest. Prominent dissident journalist Eskinder Nega and leading opposition politician Andualem Arage were both jailed this year, accused of treason and conspiring to commit acts of terror. This year's protests are the first large-scale demonstrations by political parties since a disputed 2005 election victory for the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) ended in street violence, killing 200 people.

A major demonstration in June brought up to 10,000 people on to the streets of Addis Ababa, the country's capital. …

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