Tigray region security forces, which is believed to be under TPLF’s influence, on Thursday arrested over 100 protestors including 20 leaders from three opposition parties in the region, according to sources.
The Protest was going on at Romanat Square when security forces showed up to disperse the crowd. They reportedly used force to disperse the crowd. It is unclear whether the action on the part of the region’s security forces caused casualties or not.
Journalist Yishak Woldaye told EMS that security forces were going house-to-house in Mekelle to make arrests. He added that the arrest was started on Wednesday.
Wazema Radio reported VOA and DW Amharic reporters had confiscated their materials and were prohibited from reporting the protest.
The three opposition parties in the region are pushing for an end to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) lead government in the region and the establishment of “an all-inclusive transitional administration.”
The parties had a presser earlier this week during which they revealed that the Mekelle City administration has denied permission for the protest on alleged grounds that the administration has a shortage of security forces to deploy during the protest citing Ethiopia’s New Year holiday. However, as indicated above, the arrest started a day before the protest and there were also house-to-house searches.
Tigray Independence Party, Salsay Woyane, and Baytona (all of them ethnic Tigrean parties) expressed their determination earlier in the week to go ahead with the planned peaceful demonstration despite the administration’s refusal to permit it.
Apart from an end to the TPLF rule in the region, the opposition parties advocated for the return of what they call “Tigrean territories that were captured by force.” This is a reference to Wolkait and Raya – areas west and south of Tigray respectively. They were forcefully incorporated to the Tigray region by force after the TPLF took power, with tacit support from western powers, in 1991.
The Security Situation in the Tigray region has been deteriorating in recent months. Murder and rape has become rife. On Wednesday this week, Getachew Reda, Interim President of the Tigray region, revealed that the security situation has been worsening. He pointed out that it has become difficult even for government authorities who are getting security escorts. A few weeks ago a hand grenade at a nightclub killed at least four and injured many others.
He also revealed that there are secret prisons in the region that are not known to his administration. Apparently, either TPLF or groups with links to the TPLF are behind it. It is also unknown how they are run and how many prisoners they have. Zone and district-level administrations are still under TPLF.
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