By SUMUR TESHAYE & TESFA-ALEM TEKLE
The Ethiopian government has began releasing thousands of ethnic-Tigrayan members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) who had been imprisoned following the Tigray conflict which broke out in November 2020.
Inside sources told The East African Daily that Ethiopian authorities on Tuesday freed all the Tigrayan soldiers which had been held in Mirab Abaya prison camp, located in the country’s Southern region.
An estimated 3,000 ethnic-Tigrayan members of the federal army has been imprisoned in the notorious Mirab Abaya prison camp for over two years.
Our credible sources confirmed that the detainees were seen leaving the camp yesterday.
“Military officials and other government representatives arrived at the camp on Tuesday and ordered the prisoners to leave the prison camp on same day” the source stated.
However, the prisoners were not asked to sign a “guilty plea” in exchange for their release, the source confirmed.
Since last week, an Ethiopian government lobbying team led by Major General Belay Seyoum, has been trying to convince the thousands of Tigrayan ENDF members to sign a guilty plea in exchange for their release, an attempt which was collectively dismissed by the prisoners.
Government authorities then also threatened the prisoners to either sign the document or remain rotten in prison for the few years to come.
As Major General Belay’s week-long attempt failed to succeed, the Ethiopian government has left with no option but to start freeing prisoners without any conditions.
However, it is yet unclear if the Abiy government has completely dropped the preconditions it set last week.
Prior to their release yesterday, the prisoners were paid a one-month salary meant to cover their transportation costs.
This is according to a second source who spoke to The East African Daily today.
“Federal authorities only gave them a month’s salary and told the detainees to personally find their own transportation mechanism to travel to where ever they want to destine”
“They will have to travel hundreds of kilometers without security provisions. It is irresponsible of the central government to tell them to hitchhike considering the unstable circumstances of the country,” the source added.
A government source later today told The East African Daily, that prisoners being held in other prison camps will be freed in the few days to come.
“Some have been released today. As of tomorrow, most prisoners will be freed” the government source who asked for anonymity confirmed.
When asked if they will be released with any conditions, the source shortly said “without any conditions” and declined to give further details.
An estimated 17, 000 ethnic-Tigrayan top military officers and members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) were thrown to several prison camps across Ethiopia following the beginning of the war in the Tigray region.
(The East African Daily)