Two Canadian MPs and members from the Somali community in Ottawa have renewed campaign aimed at securing the release of Bashir Makhtal, a Somali-Canadian, who is serving a life sentence in Ethiopia after he was convicted of membership of a rebel group fighting for independence for an ethnically Somali part of the country.
These renewed efforts led by Liberal MPs, Mr.Ahmed Hussein, and Borys Wrzesnewskyj aim to follow through both by diplomatic and legal means to secure the release of Bashir Makhtal, who is serving his ninth year in an Ethiopian prison.
His family expressed concern that Mr. Makhtal’s health has deteriorated, and the family hopes that the Canadian government will take action and bring Bashir home to Canada. The family is really concerned about Bashir health condition. and fear that he is not receiving adequate medical treatment.
Bashir Makhtal, who lived and worked in Toronto, has been languishing in an Ethiopian jail in Addis Ababa since he was convicted of terrorism in 2009. He has always denied the charges. He was arrested on the border of Kenya and Somalia in 2006 after fleeing Mogadishu at the fall of the Islamic Courts Union
His family says their son was convicted on ‘trumped’ up charges because of his grandfather’s legacy.
The grandfather, Makhtal Dahir was the founder and leader of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a rebel group in Ethiopia which refers itself as the self-determination movement
On Monday December 7th, 2015, members of Canadian Somali community of Ottawa along with two MPs discussed strategies to bring Basir Makhtal home to Canada.
His relatives criticized the Ethiopian court of failing to follow the due process for his trial and that the case against Mukhtal was politically motivated, however, the Ethiopian government earlier denied his trial was unfair.
As parts of the renewed efforts, the Ottawa Somali community rallied behind Makhtal’s family in their efforts to secure his release.