Tigray Police Arrest Journalist Adhanom Sertse of TPM Alongside Protesting Students

Tigray police authorities detained journalist Adhanom Sertse of Tigray Public Media (TPM) today in Mekelle while covering a demonstration organized by university students demanding compensation courses for lost academic years due to the genocidal war that ravaged Tigray.

TPM’s board of directors and management confirmed their employee’s arrest and called for his immediate release, emphasizing the importance of respecting the rights of journalists to carry out their work without fear of persecution or intimidation.

Over 250 students from Mekelle University took to the streets to voice their grievances, highlighting the disparity in educational opportunities compared to the rest of the country. They demanded crash courses to make up for the three years they had lost and expressed frustration over the extended duration required to obtain a BA degree, which they deemed unfair.

The peaceful demonstration from the university campus stretched into the city. Participants of the demonstration told Red Sea Observer that police intervened forcefully, dispersing the protesters and arresting 12 students at Kedemay Weyane sub city in Mekelle. A VOA journalist in the city also reported more than 10 students were taken into custody.

The police asserted that they dispersed the demonstration because the city administration did not acknowledge it. However, students argued that they had followed legal protocols, as the law for demonstrations in Ethiopia does not mandate prior permission, only notification.

Journalist Adhanom Sertse was arrested today at noon local time while covering the protest. He was fulfilling his professional duties when the authorities apprehended him.

Adhanom’s family hails from western Tigray, currently under the illegal occupation of Amhara and federal forces. They are among the internally displaced persons residing in shelters, relying on aid support. Adhanom supported his family with his modest income from journalism. The police now arrest him for simply doing his job.

Last September, there was a demonstration organized by opposition political parties in the region, and like now, it was forcefully halted by brutal police action. Three journalists were savagely beaten and wounded. Many leaders of the opposition camp and journalists were arrested and later released, but no accountability and justice were served.