On October the 29th, according to multiple credible news sources, the Ethiopian government charged 29 Muslims of “acts of terrorism” using the newly enacted anti-terrorism law. Among these detainees who the world knows as “Prisoners of Conscience” are nine members of the Arbitration Committee, which led a peaceful and legal protest against the coercive Al-Ahbash indoctrination policy of the government and the illegitimate authorities of the Supreme Islamic Affairs Council in the country. The other detainees who were charged under this “terror” law are Da’ees (callers to Islam or propagators), Islamic scholars, NGO founders, poets, and journalists. These trumped-up charges levied against these detainees stem from their peaceful protests that began in July when they accused the government of interference in their religious affairs in contradiction to the constitution.
We believe as the rest of the world does that these individuals are prisoners of conscience who have legitimate grievances and have conducted themselves, as far as we can tell, in the best manner and character to voice their protests through appropriate state channels. They also peacefully demonstrated their lack of confidence in the unelected leaders of the Supreme Islamic Affairs Council, which invited the Al-Ahbash with the blessing of the government to forcibly impose an alien and sectarian doctrine on their millennium-old belief system. It is therefore unbecoming for a government that claims to practice democracy and rule of law to play a political game on the lives of these young and promising Ethiopians who could be contributing positively to the welfare and image of the country by their exemplary execution of a peaceful protest. We encourage the followers of this mass protest to continue to conduct themselves peacefully and patiently as the government cannot win in the domestic or international court of law by jettisoning its own constitution and by ignoring the legitimate and peaceful protests of its citizens.