Prominent Ethiopian opposition leader Bekele Gerba is seriously ill in notorious high security prison, his daughter says, and not receiving the treatment he needs. Bekele, a deputy head of the Oromo Federalist congress (OFC), was detained along with other officials of the party, on December 23, 2015 and later charged under Ethiopia’s terrorism law for allegedly belonging to the banned Oromo Liberation Front. Both his party and Bekele have dismissed the arrest and trial as politically motivated. In 2011, Bekele was also arrested and detained for three years after meeting with Amnesty International researchers on terrorism charges. Call for the release of the 56-year-old foreign language professor has been a repeated theme of the protesters in the Oromia region for the past two years. Bekele has been granted bail by the Federal Supreme Court two months ago, but three days later, the Federal Supreme Court Cassation reversed the decision, condemning Bekele Gerba to remain behind bars.
He is now in prison where his daughter, Bontu Bekele told Deutsche Welle’s Amharic service that his health has quickly deteriorated in the past week. He is suffering from high blood pressure, he is practically unable to stand alone, has headaches and pain neck and he has asked to undergo medical treatment, but the prison authorities refused permission to do so, she said. But when he insisted, they had a meeting of some sort between themselves and they decided that he takes his regular pills twice than was prescribed. However, understanding the danger of taking a drug at a higher than indicated dose, he refused, she said.