Ethiopia is planning to release 11,352 inmates arrested under the country’s state of emergency law, Defence Minister Siraj Fegessa said on Wednesday.
The detainees, who were arrested since the government declared a state of emergency in October, will be freed on Thursday, state-affiliated broadcaster Fana quoted Fegessa as saying.
The state of emergency is scheduled to last until June.
About 22,000 people were arrested on suspicion of participating in violent anti-government protests since the state of emergency was declared, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on Jan. 4.
Most of the arrests took place in the restive Oromia and Amhara regions, which saw one of the worst unrest since Ethiopia’s ruling party came to power in 1991.
“The detainees have expressed regret over the violence and have vowed not to engage in destructive acts in the future,’’ the defence minister said.
The planned release of detainees comes after the government released 10,000 people from prisons in its restive Oromia region.
Most of those freed were elderly, sick, women with children or people serving short jail terms.
It however remained unclear if they had been detained in connection with the anti-government protests or on other charges.
Authorities previously indicated that 2,449 prisoners would be charged for their roles in “destabilising’’ the country.
Ethiopia has seen anti-government protests since November 2015, mainly in the Oromia region, which includes the capital, Addis Ababa, and where the Oromo ethnic group feels excluded from political and economic power.
Rights activists say security forces have killed hundreds of people in Oromia.
Edited by: Abigael Joshua/Grace Yussuf
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