Ethiopia to close notorious prison and free all political prisoners

Ethiopia to close notorious prison and free all political prisoners”

The announcement made by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn comes after days of consultations within the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.

The activist was born in Ethiopia but became a British citizen after seeking political asylum in London in 1979, and he has raised a family in the UK.

Speaking to local media, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said: "The government will drop all charges levelled against the prisoners".

Many ethnic Oromos and Amharas which make about 33 and 27 percent of Ethiopia's estimated 100 million population accuse ethnic Tigrayans who make up six percent of the nation's population of unduly dominating the country's political and economic scene.

Ethiopians were quick to respond, even with social media sites now blocked. "All these pledges need to be implemented immediately".

The decision responds to accusations by human rights groups that the detainees were allegedly tortured for opposing the current administration.

The Ethiopian government indicated that the large-scale anti-corruption investigation and arrest of high-profile individuals was part of the Ethiopian government's reform agenda, which started at the end of 2016 following mass protests in different parts of the country.

The total number of people detained has not been specified, but according to some sources there are thousands of prisoners since 2015, and specifically in Maekelawi illegal interrogations were held.

"Potentially big news", Human Rights Watch researcher Felix Horne said on Twitter after the announcement, as some observers waited to see the government's next move. "For years, Maekelawi has essentially functioned as a torture chamber, used by the Ethiopian authorities to brutally interrogate anybody who dares to dissent including peaceful protesters, journalists and opposition figures".

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