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Ethiopia releases thousands of prisoners for the New Year.

By Tesfa-alem Tekle September 11, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) -- While Ethiopians mark a new year of 2002,Ethiopia's regional states of Oromiya and Amhara officials on Friday said that they have freed 9,612 prisoners, including 391 women on amnesty in connection with the New Year. Among the total prisoners freed 6611 of them were released from the Oromiya region and the rest 2901 are from the Amhara region. The prisoners were pardoned based on the deep regret they showed, the good behavior they displayed while in prison and also considering their length of stay and old ages. They have all served at least half of their prison terms. But the amnesty grant does not include to those who are jailed on rape, murder or other serious crimes. Regional officials have called on the freed prisoners to stay away from any criminal acts and to rather payback their community by actively engaging themselves in the economic and developmental endeavors of the country. Ethiopians are today celebrating the Ethiopian New Year (Enkutatash). The New Year's Day is celebrated on September 11 towards the end of the big rains. Ethiopia still follows the Orthodox Julian calendar which consists of 12 months of 30 days and a 13th month, Pagume, of five or six days, depending on whether or not it is a leap year. The Ethiopian calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Gregorian calendar Enkutatash is an important festival in the lives of Ethiopians. It marks a new season and a new beginning. After three months of heavy rains the land is green, there is fresh food to be harvested; the sun comes out creating a beautiful clear fresh atmosphere. The highland fields turn to gold as the Meskal daisies burst into flower. There is also a legend which maintains that Enkutatash is celebrated to commemorate the return of Queen Sheba from Jerusalem. When Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, returned to Ethiopia after her famous visit to King Solomon, her chiefs welcomed her forward by giving her "enku" or jewels. Enkutatash which means "gift of jewels"' has been celebrated ever since in spring. Meskerem (September) is seen as a month of transition from the old year to the new. It is a time to express hopes and dreams for the future. (ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Date:Sep 12, 2009
Words:396
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