The leader of an armed opposition group, who is charged with “attempting to overthrow the government” says charges brought against him and others by the Ethiopian regime were just another attempt to instill fear on political opponents.
The leader of Patriotic Ginbot 7, Prof. Berhanu Nega said in an exclusive interview with ESAT that he would not take the charges seriously as they were just bogus charges aimed at stopping any opposition political struggle in the country, peaceful or otherwise.
Ethiopian regime prosecutors on Thursday brought criminal charges against Prof. Berhanu Nega as well as Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) Dr. Merera Gudina and activist Jawar Mohammed.
Prosecutors also brought charges against two media outlets based abroad, Ethiopian Satellite Radio and Television (ESAT) and the Oromo Media Network (OMN). According to prosecutors, all the accused were involved in “attempts to overthrow the constitutionally formed government.”
“The cooked up charges were further evidence that the regime is in a serious crisis and is proof that the opposition is on the right track,” Prof. Berhanu said from his base in Eritrea.
“The charges by the regime actually show that opposition political groups need to set aside their differences and come as one strong force,” he said.
The charges filed at the federal high court on Thursday indicate that Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Dr. Merera Gudina, Chairman of Patriotic Ginbot 7 (PG7), Prof. Berhanu Nega and Executive Director of the Oromo Media Network (OMN) Jawar Mohammed had conspired to overthrow the regional as well the federal government.
The charge alleges the trio had used the Ethiopian Satellite Radio and Television (ESAT) and the Oromo Media Network (OMN), as a medium to “lead and coordinate the anti-government protests in the Amhara and Oromo regions of the country.” It was further alleged that the individuals have “called the people to rise up against the regime and encourage the protesters to cause destruction of property worth millions of dollars.”
The charge states that ESAT had broadcasted various statements by Prof. Berhanu Nega to the people of Ethiopia that called for uprising.
OMN has also been accused of broadcasting interviews with Dr. Merera Gudina regarding the anti-government protests in the Oromo region as well as calls by the Oromo liberation Front and Jawar Mohammed that “encourage the youth in Oromo region to rise up against the regime.”
Dr. Merera Gudina was put behind bars last December upon his return from Brussels where he and Prof. Berhanu Nega gave testimonies at the European Parliament on the political crises in the country. One of the charges against Dr. Merera is that he had met and discussed with Dr. Berhanu Nega, the leader of PG7, an armed group declared “terrorist” by the regime.
The Ethiopian court had previously handed down two death sentences and a life in prison against Prof. Berhanu in absentia. A leading figure in Ethiopia’s opposition politics, he now leads PG7, an armed group operating from its base in Eritrea.
The Ethiopian regime routinely use its anti-terror law and state of emergency declared in October to squash any dissent and silence the simmering popular anger against its brutal rule.