State Minister Redwan Refutes Reports of Systematic Arrests

ADDIS ABABA – Foreign Ministry of Ethiopia has refuted reports of a systematic arrest in Addis Ababa and other parts of the country since the enactment of the state of emergency.

The Council of Ministers declared the state of emergency which, it says, is key to ward off a threat posed by terrorist groups to the constitutional order in Ethiopia, on Nov 2. The six-month SoE was adopted by parliament on 4 November.

The emergency law allows the authorities to arrest anyone without a warrant if there is reasonable suspicion of cooperation with terrorist groups.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday, State minister Ambassador Redwan Hussien refuted  some media outlets report of systematic arrest in Addis Ababa and other parts of the country since the declaration of the emergency law.

“There is no systematic arrest,” Ambassador Redwan said.

Since its enactment, “people are vigilant. So citizens are watching out (their) neighborhoods and each other for possible attacks”, Redwan said.

“People might inform the police if they see something unusual or something amiss and the police might have arrested some individuals. I cannot rule out that,” Redwan continued.

“But It will not be systematic. It will not be from one ethnic group. It will be from all walks of lives if there is any kind of information tipped to the police from the public,” he added.

The state minister also said the suspects will be released if the police found no ground to detain them.

Responding to UN’s accusation

The United Nations said that its staff members are among those arrested in Addis Ababa in addition to UN truck drivers arrested in Semera, Afar.

“Because we are in a conflict, a number of terrorist groups might have their own elements. If the police might have found some suspects, they will be bound to apprehend and do due investigations,” Ambassador Redwan said.

However, he said suspects are not arrested neither they work for UN institutions nor they are loading the humanitarian items and food to people in need.

If that is so, he said there are more than 800 tracks which are still held by the TPLF and now transporting combatants to Wollo and Afar fronts.

“We must be very much careful and vigilant,” and let the police do their work, he said, adding the suspects will be released provided that there is no adequate information to arrest them.

‘Conflict isn’t coming to Addis’

The state minister has also downplayed media reports that the conflict was coming to Addis Ababa.

“The conflict is not coming to the capital and it never came to the capital,” Redwan said, calling such reports as part “a concerted effort to concoct stories, to twist facts and to create hysteria… and also to disorient the government from focusing on the problems”.

Such stories are “very much a hoax and that was a very much concocted story which was being run by some of the international media including CNN, New York Times, Fox News, BBC and Reuters,” he said, adding the conflict is happening hundreds of kilometres away from the capital.

“Since we are in a conflict situation, many people are being attacked. Atrocities are being committed here and there and there are a number of actors in this horrific situation” he noted.