Awol Kassim Allo! I wrote this three years ago today when Bekele Gerba was released from prison on 13 Feb 2018.
In those days, when TPLF, aided by the OPDO and other satellite organisations, ruled Ethiopia with terror, Bekele paid great personal sacrifice and served as a unifying symbol for the Oromo movement that liberated OPDO. His arrest and detention served as rallying cry for the Oromo protests of 2015-2018 that catapulted OPDO to power.
Three years on, Bekele is back in prison. He is no stranger to Ethiopia’s prisons. But this time around, he finds the conditions facing him and his people so intolerable that he took the difficult and extreme decision to protest using his life and his body – a hunger strike. The man is facing imminent death and his jailers don’t seem bothered at all. The very people his personal sacrifice helped redeem their humanity and usher them to power locked him up and are denying him even the most basic of rights – medical attention. Last night, Bekele’s doctors advised that he needed to be taken to hospital for urgent medical help. They were overruled by the government.
Bekele, Jawar and the other political prisoners must be allowed medical care and above all, they must be released immediately.