AP– A court in Ethiopia has charged a social media activist for inciting violence and other terror-related offenses citing Facebook posts as evidence.
Yonathan Tesfaye, a former spokesman for the opposition Blue Party, was charged Wednesday by Ethiopia’s Federal High Court. If convicted, he could face a death sentence.
Yonathan was detained by Ethiopian security forces in December at the height of violent protests in the Oromo community over an alleged plan by the government to grab their land.
Rights groups say the Ethiopian government is using sweeping anti-terror laws to crack down on those critical of the regime.
Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty’s regional chief, said Yonathan spoke against a possible land grab in Oromia, which is not a crime and is certainly not terrorism.
The death toll from cross-border raids in Ethiopia by South Sudanese gunmen has risen to more than 200, with 108 children kidnapped in the attacks.
Ethiopian government spokesman Getachew Reda told Reuters that 208 people had been killed in the attacks, which took place on Friday in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, in the west of the country along the border with South Sudan.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn condemned the “primitive and destructive forces” behind the attack, who are believed to belong to the Murle tribe in South Sudan, according to the BBC. Reda said on Saturday that Ethiopian security forces had killed 60 of the attackers so far and are believed to have crossed the border in pursuit of the raiders.
Members of the Murle tribe have previously been accused of cattle rustling and abducting children to raise as their own. Reda said that 2,000 head of livestock had also been taken during the raids.
The gunmen are not believed to be affiliated to either side in South Sudan’s civil war. The country, which only achieved independence from Sudan in 2011, has been mired in conflict for the past two years. Tens of thousands have been killed in an ongoing struggle between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels affiliated with Riek Machar, Kiir’s former vice-president.
The two warring parties signed a peace agreement in August 2015 and agreed the makeup of a shared cabinet of ministers in January. Machar was reappointed as vice-president in February and was due to return to Juba on Monday, but his arrival has been delayed until Tuesday, according to his spokesman. Source Newsweek.