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Six Salesian missinaries released in Ethiopia


Six members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) who were among those arrested when government forces in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, raided two of their premises earlier this month were freed from police detention and placed under home confinement, a source has told ACI Africa in an interview.

In the Thursday, November 18 interview, the source who did not want to be identified said seven SDB members were freed last weekend, but one was rearrested while going to one of the Salesian communities to get his documents.

“Seven of the Salesians who had been detained were released on Saturday (November 13). They were released following various interventions, including the Italian embassy in Addis Ababa and the Apostolic Nuncio in Ethiopia,” the source said.

It is not complete freedom, the source further said, and explained, “they were given instructions not to leave the Salesian premises; they are under house arrest.”

“Each of them was required to pay 10,000 Ethiopian currency (US$209.00),” the source disclosed, adding that two other Salesians remained in police custody when the seven were conditionally freed and placed under home confinement.

The two Salesians were not freed alongside others probably because “they were in that region (Tigray) when the war started,” the source further said in reference to the events of 4 November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed-led government of Ethiopia ordered a military offensive against the authorities in Tigray region.

Tensions in Ethiopia

The military offensive was in response to the alleged attack on Ethiopia’s largest military base located in Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, by forces loyal to the region’s government.

In an interview with ACI Africa November 10, an Ethiopian-born SDB member described the November 5 raid as “mass arrests of Tigrayans in Addis Ababa” during which “two compounds of Don Bosco were raided by the police, one of them twice.”

“The police arrested 38 people, mainly Tigrayans; they were taken to an unknown place,” Br. Dory Amene Yohannes told ACI Africa on November 10, making reference to the arrests that took place in the Gottera and Mekanisa areas of ​​Addis Ababa.

He added that 11 SDB members were among those taken away by the police during the November 5 raid.

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