Why are some Ethiopian politicians coming to the United States to seek asylum? The case of three political members

Arresting and harassing politicians is nothing new in underdeveloped nations like Ethiopia. In Africa, the ruling party would imprison or create a hostile environment for anyone who pose a threat to its authority, preventing them from exercising their full rights.

Right-wing organisations claimed time and time again that significant reforms were made to the way journalists and opposition-right interns expressed their political opinions and their right to free speech when the Ethiopian PM took office.
However, over the last two years, a large number of journalists and members of political parties have fled to the United States in search of asylum because they believe that the government in their home country would put them in jail if they return.

Bekele Gerba

For example, prominent lawmaker Bekele Gerba announced in August of last year that he was fleeing to the United States in search of “peaceful struggle and personal freedom.”

After the submission, Bekele declared that

“The OFC’s preferred nonviolent line of action is not supported by the political climate. Since I couldn’t meet the people, I felt like I had no role to perform.

“There’s a risk to my life. I have already spent three years in prison, and now my life is in jeopardy. I think they won’t just toss me in jail. I’m not safe, and neither is my family.

Bekele told the BBC that his original goal in coming to the nation was to meet with expats from Ethiopia. He wanted to talk about his future ambitions and thank them for their efforts in getting him out of jail.

After 15 months in the US, Bekele now feels, nonetheless, that he doesn’t need to go back to Ethiopia because the political situation there has changed.

He said that Ethiopia’s current state of affairs has grown extremely dangerous as a result of the political upheavals, especially in the last year.

The same thing was said by a former state minister of peace in December of last year, when he claimed that the current administration “lacks character of a government, is isolated from the public and hated.”

Seyum had just returned from a working visit to Rwanda when he left for the United States to apply for political asylum.

Seyoum Mesfin

On his official Facebook page, Seyoum Mesfin said that instead of assisting the country in escaping its current catastrophic situation, the ruling party is forcing it into unknown territory. He claims that Ethiopia is dealing with grave conditions in every aspect.

The former state minister also underlined how the populace supported the ruling party in a way never seen before, believing it would bring democracy and address the country’s issues. However, he said, things in the country are becoming worse every day.

Furthermore, Solomon Kassahun Mulat—a grassroots organiser and the main organiser of the Balderas branch in Nefas Silk Lafto Sub city, woreda 01—applied for asylum while on vacation in the United States.

Solomon’s primary motivation for seeking asylum in the US is his concern of being detained by the government in relation to Eskender Nega, an Ethiopian residing in the north who joined the Amhara Fano, an opposition group that has taken up guns and is presently engaged in combat with the government.

Solomon Kassahun
Solomon Kassahun

Prior to becoming a member of Balderas, Solomon belonged to the All Amhara’s People Organisation (AAPO), a political group founded in Ethiopia in 1992, at the outset of the EPRDF Regime.

“I’ve been banished before.” Speaking to Fidel Post on the phone, Solomon stated. “I was twice imprisoned by the EPRDF government in 1993 for exercising my political rights, with no apparent reason given.” Fearing for my life, I left Ethiopia in 1994 and returned to the Netherlands in 1999, just as the systematic harassment and persecution of AAPO members and activists seemed to be abating.

. However, 26 years latter, I found my self in the same situation where my fellow Amhara people are subjected for same level of and even worse type of hatred ,apartheid and genocide. The genocidal policy being pursued by prime minister Abiy’s government against the Amhara people and the orthodox christian led me to join Balderas for true democracy.”

when Solomon was questioned by our reporter about the existence of free assembly, free speech, and free rallying in Ethiopia. He uttered,

“It’s a comedic piece. For example, after I joined Balderas, I, along with a few other political members, received varying lengths of prison sentences. After I was released from prison, I lived in constant fear.

“The security system kept a close eye on everything I did, even spying on me at home to see who was visiting from the Amhara region. This depleted my hope and caused me to become fearful of going back to Ethiopia to continue my work as a politician, grassroots organiser, and activist. In modern Ethiopia, to expect the lion to live like a sheep would be to expect Amhara to stay completely out of politics. So while I’m on vacation in the US, I’m applying for political asylum. and continue my battle in whichever manner I see fit. Actually, democracy in Ethiopia is dying out right now.I have nowhere to return to.

According to a recent report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances, and other types of harassment are all happening to journalists, human rights activists, members of civil society organisations, and the media as a result of their work. Given that this limits their legally guaranteed rights to free speech, association, and peaceful assembly and hinders them from doing their jobs, the government should honour its constitutional obligation to ensure adequate security for public and media areas.

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