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ICC Note: According to World Watch Monitor, six Ethiopian Orthodox Church leaders have been sentenced to prison sentences of five to nine years in Ethiopia because of the alarm they raised about Christian persecution. The men were charged with inciting public disturbance and destroying public trust in the government after they sent a letter complaining to various government institutions about the discrimination Christians regularly face in Siliti Zone, a Muslim-dominated region of Ethiopia south of the capital Addis Ababa. According to WWM, the men were charged on July 6 and sentenced on August 7.

8/25/15 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (World Watch Monitor) – A district court in Ethiopia has charged six members of an Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) with inciting public disturbance, destroying public trust in government officials and spreading hatred after it surfaced in the media that official complaints were made to the government about increasing persecution of Christians in a Muslim-dominated area in the south of the country.

The court found the men guilty on 7 August and sentenced them to between five and almost nine years in prison.

The men were members of St Mary’s Orthodox Church in Kilto, 180km south of the capital Addis Ababa in the Silte zone of SNNP state. Silte is a Muslim-dominated zone that came into existence after the Silte people unanimously chose to form a separate zone in a referendum held in 2001.

A number of Ethiopia’s prominent Muslim politicians come from Silte, including the current Minister of Defence, the Minister of Communications and the current caucus leader for women’s affairs in the federal parliament.

Since the new zone’s inception over a decade ago, its capital, Worabe, has seen tremendous growth and is now home to at least four prominent mosques. But leaders from the EOC have been complaining about increasing persecution, including attacks on their church and its  members by local Muslims and officials of the local government. These complaints have received considerable attention from local independent media outlets.

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