Archive for the month “July, 2015”

Obama Disgusts Human Rights Advocates by Calling Ethiopian Government “Democratically Elected”

July 30, 2015

(AllGov) President Barack Obama turned more than a few heads in the human rights community on Monday when he called the government of Ethiopia “democratically elected” during his visit to Africa’s second largest country.

Not a single opposition party member currently holds a seat in Ethiopia’s parliament, and human rights groups denounced the elections in May as a sham. Prior to those elections, the government made it difficult for opposition candidates to register, raise money and mobilize supporters, according to The New York Times.Obama Disgusts Human Rights Advocates

“Peaceful protesters were denied permits, harassed and in some cases arrested. News organizations were shut down and reporters harassed, threatened or arrested,” the Times’ Peter Baker and Jacey Fortin reported. Additionally, Obama’s own State Department reported that U.S. diplomats were prevented from observing the elections, saying it was “troubled” that opposition party observers were kept out of some locations.

And Obama’s national security advisor, Susan E. Rice, told reporters only last week that the result of the election was not credible. “The prime minister of Ethiopia was just elected with 100 percent of the vote, which I think suggests, as we have stated in our public statements, some concern for the integrity of the electoral process,” she said.

Human rights advocates were surprised, to say the least, by Obama’s assessment of the government in Addis Ababa. “The recent election in Ethiopia was anything but a democratic one,” Sarah Margon, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch, told the Times. “There may not have been widespread violence or blatant ballot box stuffing on election day,” Margon said, but “the systematic repression of basic rights” made it “extremely unlikely that Ethiopians would feel safe enough to express themselves, particularly if that expression included criticism of the government.”

Obama, who is the first sitting American president to visit Ethiopia, said at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn: “We are very mindful of Ethiopia’s history, the hardships that this country has gone through.”

“It has been relatively recently in which the Constitution that was formed, and elections put forward a democratically elected government.” Obama added that “there is still more work to do, and I think the prime minister is the first to acknowledge that there is more work to do.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff

posted by Daniel tesfaye


Obama Draws Criticism for Saying Ethiopia Is Democratic

July 29, 2015

by CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA | Associated Press

Some African activists have greeted President Barack Obama’s remarks that Ethiopia has a democratically elected government with scorn and concern.Obama Draws Criticism for Saying Ethiopia Is Democratic

Obama made the comment on Monday during a news conference with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, whose ruling party won every seat in parliament in May elections.

On Tuesday, Obama urged African leaders to uphold democratic rights in a speech delivered from the headquarters of the African Union before he departed Ethiopia to end a two-nation African trip that included a stop in Kenya.

“Yesterday he was a tricky and mischievous politician,” Yonathan Tesfaye, a spokesman for Ethiopia’s opposition Blue party, said in a reference to Obama’s comment that Ethiopia’s government was democratically elected.

“And today he has become a passionate inspirational human rights activist,” Tesfaye said, citing Obama’s remarks to the African Union. “Which one should we believe? Which one should we go with?”

Merara Gudina, a leading opposition figure in Ethiopia, said he was doubtful that the United States would push hard for democratic change in his country and expressed concern that Obama’s visit would end up being “another public relations exercise.”

Human rights groups have criticized Obama for visiting Ethiopia, saying his trip lends legitimacy to an oppressive government. Ethiopia is the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa, after Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Hailemariam, the Ethiopian prime minister, has defended Ethiopia’s commitment to democracy and said the country needed “ethical journalism,” not reporters that “pass the line” and work with “terrorist groups.”

At the news conference Monday, Obama said: “Our policy is that we oppose terrorism wherever it may occur. And we are opposed to any group that is promoting the violent overthrow of a government, including the government of Ethiopia, that has been democratically elected.”

Obama’s comment illustrates how the U.S. is becoming “out of touch with African realities,” such as the seemingly inevitable electoral victories of ruling parties whose power is entrenched, said Angelo Izama, a Ugandan analyst who runs a policy and security research center called Fanaka Kwawote.

“It was kind of ironic that Obama was singing the praises of democracy in Ethiopia while ignoring its flaws there,” Izama said.

During his visit, Obama urged Ethiopia to widen freedom of expression and other democratic rights.

posted by Daniel tesfaye

ህወሓት በፈጠራቸው ድርጅቶች ውስጥ ተኩኖ ህወሓትን ማዳከም አርበኝነት ነው!

July 23, 2015

አርበኞች ግንቦት 7: የአንድነትና ዲሞክራሲ ንቅናቄ፣ ለኢህአዴግ እና አጋር ድርጅቶቹ አባላት የሚከተለው መልዕክት ማስተላለፍ ይሻል።

Patriotic Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracyህወሓት ጥቂት አባላትና ደጋፊዎች ይዞ ታላቂቷን ኢትዮጵያ ለማንበርከክ እና ሀብቷን ለመመዝበር እናንተን መጠቀሚያ ያደረጋችሁ መሆኑን የምታውቁት ነው። እናንተ አባል የሆናችሁባቸው ብአዴን፣ ኦህዴድ፣ ደህዴድ የተባሉ ድርጅቶች የራሳቸው ድርጅታዊ ነፃነት የሌላቸው የህወሓት አገልጋዮች መሆናቸው እነሱ ራሳቸው የሚነግሯችሁ ከመሆኑም በላይ እናንተም በዕለት ተዕለት ተግባራችሁ የምትታዘቡት ሀቅ ነው። እነዚህ ድርጅቶች ህወሓትን ለማስደሰት ሲሉ የራሳቸውን ሕዝብ የሚያስሩ፣ የሚገድሉ፣ የሚዘርፉ፣ ከቀየው የሚያፈናቅሉ፣ መኖሪያ ቤቱን የሚያስፈርሱ መሆናቸው እናንተም እየተሳተፋችሁበት ያለ ሥራ ነውና የምታውቁት ነው። “አጋር ድርጅቶች” የሚል ስያሜ የተሰጣችው አብዴፓ፣ ቤጉህዴፓ፣ ጋህአዴን፣ ሀብሊ እና ኢሶዴፓ “አጋር” ሳይሆን የህወሓት ጀሌዎች መሆናቸው እናንተም እኛም የምናውቀው ነው። እናንተ አባል የሆናችሁባቸው ብአዴን፣ ኦህዴድ፣ ደህዴድ፣ አብዴፓ፣ ቤጉህዴፓ፣ ጋህአዴን፣ ሀብሊና ኢሶዴፓ የተባሉ አድርባይ ድርጅቶች ባይኖሩ ኖሮ ህወሓት ለ24 ዓመታት ኢትዮጵያዊያን እየገደለና እያሰረ፤ እየዘረፈ በውሸት ምርጫና በውሸት ዲሞክራሲ ስም ፍጹም የሆነ ዘረኛ፣ ከፋፋይ፣ አምባገነናዊ ሥርዓት በመላው ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ሊያሰፍን ባልቻለም ነበር። ህወሓት በኢትዮጵያዊያን አናት ላይ እንዲፈነጭ እናንተ አባል የሆናችሁባቸው ድርጅቶች አስተዋጽዖ ከፍተኛ ነው።

ይህ ብቻም አይደለም። እናንተ አባል ሆናችሁ ድጋፍ ባታደርጉላቸው ኖሮ እነዚህ አድርባይ ድርጅቶች ባልኖሩም ነው። ስለሆነም ህወሓት በኢትዮጵያዊያን አናት ላይ እንዲፈነጭ፣ እናንተ ብቻ ሳትሆኑ ልጆቻችሁ እና የልጅ ልጆቻችሁ በሎሌነት እንዲያድጉ፤ ጥቂቶች በልጽገው ብዙሃኑ እንዲደኸዩ እናንተ በግል አስተዋጽዖ አድርጋችኋል።

ብዙዎቻችሁ እነዚህ አድርባይ ድርጅቶችን የተቀላቀላችሁት በኑሮ ግዴታ፣ በትዕዛዝ፣ በአማራጭ እጦት ሰበብ፣ የሰብዓዊ ተፈጥሮችን አካል በሆነው የመንፈስ ደካማነት ምክንያት እንደሆነ፤ ድርጅታችሁ በሕዝብ ላይ የሚያደርሰው በደል እያያችሁ ህሊናችሁ እንደሚቆስል እናውቃለን። አንዳንዶቻችሁ ውስጣችሁ እያነባ እጆቻችሁ ኢፍትሀዊ ተግባር እንደሚፈጽሙ እናያለን። ኢህአዴግ እንደማፊያ ድርጅት መግባት እንጂ መውጣት የማይቻልበት ሆኖ እንዳገኛችሁት እናውቃለን። “ይህንን ድርጅት ከለቀቅኩ የሚጠብቀኝ እስር፣ አልያም ሥራ ማጣት ነው። ያኔ ምን ይውጠኛል? ትዳሬ፣ ልጆቼ፣ ወላጆቼ እንዴት ይሆናሉ?” የሚል ስጋት እንዳለባችሁ እንገነዘባለን። ህወሓትን በመርዳት ያቆማችሁት ሥርዓት እንኩዋንስ ለሌላው ለእናንተም ከፍርሃት ነፃ ሊያደርጋችሁ አለመቻሉን እናውቃለን። ድርጅታችን አርበኞች ግንቦት 7፣ እናንተ ያላችሁበት አጣብቂኝ ቀላል እንዳልሆነ ይገነዘባል። በዚህም ምክንያት ይህንን ጥሪ ለእናንተ ያቀርባል።

ሀገራዊና ሕዝባዊ ስሜት ያላችሁ፤ ለራሳችሁና ለቤተሰቦቻችሁ ክብር የምትጨነቁ፣ ለልጆቻችሁና ለልጅ ልጆቻችሁ ሎሌነትን ሳይሆን ክብርን ማውረስ የምትፈልጉ የኢህአዴግ እና የአጋር ድርጅቶቹ አባላት ሆይ! አባል የሆናችሁባቸውን ድርጅቶች ሳትለቁ፤ ኢህአዴግም ሆነ አጋር ድርጅቶቹ ውስጥ እያላችሁ ለህሊናችሁ፣ ለልጆቻችሁ፣ ለቤተሰቦቻችሁና ለሀገራችሁ የምትሠሩበት መንገድ ተመቻችቶላችኋልና ተጠቀሙበት።

የአገራችን የነፃነት ተጋድሎ ታሪክ እንደሚያስተምረን አርበኝነት ሁለት ዓይነት ነው። አንዱ በገሀድ፣ በግላጭ፣ በውጊያ ሜዳ የሚታይ አርበኝነት ሲሆን፣ ሌላው ደግሞ፣ በጠላት ጉያ ውስጥ ተኩኖ፣ ጠላትን መስሎ የሚደረግ አርበኝነት ነው። ሁለተኛው ዓይነት አርበኝነት በተለምዶ “የውስጥ አርበኝነት” ተብሎ የሚጠራ ሲሆን በተግባርና በውጤት ከአደባባይ አርበኝነት በምንም የማይተናነስ የጀግንነት ሥራ ነው። የውስጥ አርበኛ፣ አርበኛ ነው። የውስጥ አርበኛ ገድሉ በታሪክ የሚወደስ፣ በአርዓያነቱ የሚጠቀስ የሀገሩ የቁርጥ ቀን ልጅ ነው።

የኢህአዴግ አባላት ሆይ የውስጥ አርበኛ የመሆን እድላችሁን አታስመልጡ!

ዛሬ በምንገኝበት ሁኔታ የውስጥ አርበኝነት ማለት ብአዴን፣ ኦህዴድ፣ ደህዴድ፣ አብዴፓ፣ ቤጉህዴፓ፣ ጋህአዴን፣ ሀብሊ ወይም ኢሶዴፓ ውስጥ ሆኖ ህወሓትን ማዳከም ማለት ነው። በእነዚህ ድርጅቶች ውስጥ ቀንደኛ የህወሓት ጉዳይ አስፈፃሚዎች እንዳሉ ይታወቃል። የውስጥ አርበኞች ተግባር እነዚህ ከህወሓት በላይ ህወሓት ሆነው እናንተ በወገናችሁ ላይ በደል እንትድፈጽሙ የሚያደርጓችሁ፤ ለህወሓት ባርነት መገዛትን መታደል እንደሆነ አድርገው የሚሰብኩ ቀንደኛ ባንዳዎችን መቆጣጠር ነው። የውስጥ አርበኛ ማለት በአምባገነን ሥርዓት ውስጥ ሆኖ ሥርዓቱ የሚያዳክሙ ተግባራትን የሚሠራ ጀግና ማለት ነው። የውስጥ አርበኛ ማለት በሕዝብ ላይ በደል የሚሠራን ሥርዓት በአሻጥር የሚያሽመደምድ ብልህ ዜጋ ማለት ነው። የውስጥ አርበኛ ማለት አለቆቹን እየሰለለ፣ ራሱ የተሳተፈበትም ቢሆን የሥርዓቱን እቅዶች ለታጋዮች አሳልፎ የሚሰጥ ባለውለታ ማለት ነው። የኢህአዴግና “የአጋር” ድርጅቶች አባላት በውስጥ አርበኝነት በመሳተፍ ለህሊናችሁ፣ ለልጆቻችሁና ለልጅ ልጆቻችሁ ውለታ መሥራት ትችላላችሁ።

የህወሓትን ዓላማ የማይደግፉ የህወሓት አባላት እንዳሉም እናውቃለን። ለእነሱም ህወሓት ውስጥ ሆኖ ህወሓትን ማዳከም ትልቅ የውስጥ አርበኝነት እንደሆነ ማስገንዘብ እንወዳለን። የፍትህ፣ የእኩልነት፣ የነፃነትና የዲሞክራሲ ጉዳይ ከዘር በላይ መሆኑ የሚረዱ፤ እነሱ ለራሳቸው እንዲሆን የሚፈልጉት ሌሎች ኢትዮጵያዊያንም የሚመኙት መሆኑን የተረዱ የህወሓት አባላት የኢፍትሃዊነት ምንጭ የሆነው ድርጅታቸውን በማዳከም ላይ የመልካም ዜግነት አክሊል መቀዳጀት ይችላሉ።

በህወሓትና ህወሓት የፈጠራቸው ድርጅቶች ውስጥ የምትገኙ ወገኖቻችን ፈልጋችሁ አግኙን፤ ደህንነታችሁ በተጠበቀ መጠን በዘረኛ ድርጅት ውስጥ ሆናችሁ ዘረኝነትን፤ በፋሽስት ድርጅት ውስጥ ሆናችሁ ፋሺዝምን መዋጋትና ከህሊናችሁ ጋር ታርቃችሁ መኖር ትችላላችሁ። ይህን ስትሰሩ እኛ ከናንተ ጋር ነን። ይህንን ስትሠሩ እኛና እናንተ ለጋራ ዓላማ የምንሰራ ጓዶች እንጂ ጠላቶች አንሆንም። ሥርዓቱን በማዳከም ረገድ የምትወስዱት ተጨባጭ እርምጃዎችን ማየት እንፈልጋለን። እኛን ማግኘት ከባድ አይደለም፤ ፈልጋችሁ አግኙን። ተባብረን አገራችን ከህወሓት ፋሽስታዊ ዘረኛ አገዛዝ ነፃ እናውጣ።

ድል ለኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ!!!

posted by Daniel tesfaye

ሊቀመንበራችን ትግል ሜዳ ውስጥ ነው!- መግለጫ

July 19, 2015 More

def-thumb(መግለጫ, pdf)

ሐምሌ 12 2007 ዓ.ም.

ህወሓት በኢትዮጵያዊያን እና በኢትዮጵያ ላይ ያሰፈነው ዘረኛና ፋሽስታዊ አገዛዝ እንዲያበቃ፤ በምትኩም ፍትህ፣ ነፃነት፣ እኩልነትና ዲሞክራሲ የሰፈኑበት የፓለቲካና የኢኮኖሚ ሥርዓት እንዲመሠረት እና የሀገራችን አንድነት በጠንካራ መሠረት ላይ ለማኖር አርበኞች ግንቦት 7: የአንድነትና ዲሞክራሲ ንቅናቄ ተገዶ የገባበት የመረረ የአመጽ ትግል መጀመሩን ይፋ ማድረጉ ይታወቃል። በዚህም መሠረት ኢትዮጵያዊያን የነፃነት አርበኞች በጀግነትና በጽናት እየታገሉ ነው።

ይህ ትግል በባርነትና በነፃነት መካከል የሚደረግ ወሳኝ ትግል ነው። የዚህ ትግል ውጤት የእኛ የዚህ ዘመን ትውልድ ሕይወት ብቻ ሳይሆን የአገራችንን የወደፊት ታሪክ፤ የልጅ ልጆቻችንን ሕይወት ይወስናል። በዚህም ምክንያት ይህንን ትግል በድል መወጣት ግዴታችን ነው። በዚህ ወሳኝ ወቅት ለነፃነት ግድ ያለው ኢትዮጵያዊ ሁሉ ከጎናችን ሊቆም ይገባል።

አርበኞች ግንቦት 7 አመራሩን ሁኔታዎች በፈቀዱ መጠን እና ትግሉ በሚጠይቀው ቦታ እንዲገኙ የሚያደርግ መሆኑ ሲገልጽ ቆይቷል። አሁን ትግሉ በደረሰበት ደረጃ የአመራሩ በትግሉ ሜዳ ውስጥ መገኘት አስፈላጊ መሆኑ ታምኖበት ሊቀመንበሩን ጨምሮ አመራሩን ወደ ትግሉ ሜዳ አንቀሳቅሷል። በዚህም መሠረት የንቅናቄው ሊቀመንበር ዶ/ር ብርሃኑ ነጋ ወደ ትግል ሜዳ ወርዷል።

ትግሉ መሯል። ወሳኝ የሆነ ትግል ውስጥ ገብተናል። የትግሉ መሪዎች የሕይወት መስዋዕትነት እሚከፈልበት ቦታ ይገኛሉ። በአሁኑ ሰዓት የንቅናቄው አመራር በተሟላ ሁኔታ በትግሉ ሜዳ ውስጥ እንዲገኝ ማድረግ ተችሏል። ኢትዮጵያዊያን እጅ ለእጅ ተያይዘን ዘረኛው የህወሓት አገዛዝን ከጫንቃችን ለማስወገድ ቆርጠን እንድንነሳ አርበኞች ግንቦት 7 ጥሪ ያደርጋል።

ኢትዮጵያን ከህወሓት አገዛዝ ነፃ የሚያወጣው አርበኞች ግንቦት 7 ብቻ አይደለም። ስለሆነም ከሌሎች ድርጅቶች ጋር የሚደረገው ትብብር ቀዳሚ ትኩረት ከተሰጣቸው ሥራዎች አንዱ ነው። አርበኞች ግንቦት 7 ከሌሎች ኢትዮጵያዊያን ድርጅቶች ጋር በመተባበር የተቀጣጠለው ሕዝባዊ አመጽ ለድል እንዲበቃ ይታገላል። ኢትዮጵያዊያንም በያሉበትም በተመሳሳይ ልዩነቶቻቸውን አቻችለው በህወሓት ፋሽስታዊ አገዛዝ ላይ ክንዳቸውን እንዲያነሱ አርበኞች ግንቦት 7 ጥሪ ያደርጋል።

እነሆ የአርበኞች ግንቦት 7 ሊቀመንበር ዶ/ር ብርሃኑ ነጋ በአካል ትግል ሜዳ ውስጥ ይገኛል። የሚችል ሁሉ እንዲከተል፤ መከተል የማይችል በያለበት ሁኖ ሁለገብ ትግሉን እንዲያጧጥፍ አርበኞች ግንቦት 7 ጥሪ ያደርጋል።

ድል ለኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ!!!

አርበኞች ግንቦት 7 ለአንድነትና ዴሞክራሲ ንቅና

posted by Daniel tesfaye

A message from Patriotic Ginbot 7: Dr. Berhanu Nega joined his comrades in the ground

July 19, 2015

Dear Ethiopians:

Dr. Berhanu Nega

As you already know, our struggle has reached a crucial milestone in which our comrades have begun paying the ultimate sacrifice in battling the TPLF-led regime in Ethiopia.

Armed struggle was never a method of struggle of our choice. The TPLF-regime has closed all peaceful avenues and has left us with the choice to become enslaved in our home land or to fight by any means necessary.

Therefore, the man who Ethiopians have once peacefully elected as mayor of the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Dr. Berhanu Nega, chairman of Patriotic Ginbot 7, has joined his comrades in arms on the ground where the soldiers of Patriotic Ginbot 7 have begun waging the battle to free Ethiopia.

As we have confidence in the victory of good over evil, we have no doubt that Dr. Berhanu Nega and other leaders of our organization will effectively lead our organization and our beloved people to freedom, justice and democracy!

Victory to the Ethiopian people!
Patriotic Ginbot7

posted by Daniel tesfaye

Ethiopian journalist on fear of returning to prison

Ethiopian journalist on fear of returning to prison

July 15, 2015

by Andrew Harding | BBC News

It’s never an easy decision: Should I interview someone who wants to talk in public, but who knows that a word out of line could mean arrest and imprisonment?

Ethiopian journalist Tesfalem Waldyes

I’ve wrestled with the issue before in Myanmar, also known as Burma, Zimbabwe, Iraq and elsewhere.

Ethiopian journalist Tesfalem Waldyes sat in a hotel in Addis Ababa last weekend, and decided it was necessary to speak out.

“I’m afraid. I’m still scared that I might go back to prison… Maybe today, maybe this afternoon.

“[Journalism here] is a very dangerous job, because there’s this red line that was marked by the government, and we don’t know when we crossed that red line,” he said.

‘Totally absurd’

Last week Mr Tesfalem was unexpectedly released from a remand prison outside the capital, along with four colleagues.

He and eight other bloggers and journalists had been imprisoned for well over a year, facing trial under Ethiopian anti-terrorism legislation – accused of working with forces seeking to overthrow the state.

“It’s totally absurd…. Our work has appeared in newspapers, magazines.

“We are only doing our jobs,” he said, declining to speculate on whether the timing of his release was linked to a big UN development summit being hosted in Ethiopia this week, or President Barack Obama’s visit later in the month.

Mr Tesfalem said he did not want to talk about prison conditions, for fear of provoking Ethiopia’s government, but he was motivated to speak out on behalf of the four journalists still in detention.

“I beg all the international community, all concerned people… to push, to keep pushing… for the release of our friends.

“The charges are very similar. There is no difference between me and those guys who are still languishing in prison,” he said.

Ethiopia is a de facto one party state, after the governing EPRDF won every parliamentary seat in May’s election.

Although it has presided over extraordinary economic growth, and a rapid reduction in extreme poverty and child mortality in the past decade, it is regularly criticised for human rights abuses, and is often ranked as one the world’s “most censored” countries.

posted by daniel tesfaye

Thus Spoke Ethiopia’s Reeyot!

July 13, 2015

by Alemayehu G. Mariam

Reeyot Invictus!

Thus spoke Reeyot Alemu to the Voice of America- Amharic Service on July 9, 2015, a few hours after she was literally thrown out of the infamous Meles Zenawi Prison in Kality, (Ethiopia’s “Robben Island”) on the outskirts of Addis Ababa:

I will continue to fully struggle to make Ethiopia a good place where democracy and justice prevail. Until I can see such an Ethiopia, I will continue my struggle.

Reeyot served 4 years and 17 days (that is 1480 days) in prison on a 14-year sentence commuted to 5 years.

Reeyot Alemu

She was convicted under a so-called  terrorism law enacted by the late Meles  Zenawi  and his gang, the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front’s (TPLF).

The great Nelson Mandela warned his apartheid oppressors, “You may succeed in delaying, but never in preventing the transition of South Africa to a democracy.”

That was pretty much Reeyot’s message to the tyrannical apartheid-style thugtatorship of the TPLF. “I will continue my struggle until democracy and justice prevail in Ethiopia.”

La luta continua!

Mandela also said, “Prison itself is a tremendous education in the need for patience and perseverance. It is above all a test of one’s commitment.”

On July 9, fresh out of Meles Zenawi Prison, Reeyot showed her uncompromising commitment to democracy and justice in Ethiopia. But that came at a very high price.

For four years and seventeen days, Reeyot faced daily humiliation, solitary confinement, degradation and dehumanization in Meles Zenawi Prison.

But she persevered.

For four years and seventeen days, Reeyot  remained captive in the belly of  Meles Zenawi Prison, that “pit of wrath and tears”.

She faced the horror of abuse and mistreatment in prison without “wincing or crying out loud.”

She remained patient.

For four years and seventeen days, Reeyot survived in Meles Zenaiwi Prison with her head “bloodied, but unbowed.”

She prevailed!!!

Reeyot faced the “menace of the years” in Meles  Zenawi Prison, but she remained unafraid.

Unafraid because she was and is the “mistress of her fate and captain of her soul.”

It was for Reeyot Alemu, Eskinder Nega, Woubshet  Taye, Temesgen Desalegn, Abraha Desta, Zone 9 bloggers and so many other political prisoners like them that  William Ernest Henley wrote his poem “Invictus” (Unconquered) generations ago.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Release of  4 of the zone 9 bloggers

The TPLF regime also released five young bloggers and journalists held at the Meles Zenawi Prison. They had been held in illegal  pretrial detention for over one year.

I am writing about the Zone 9 bloggers about whom the  the Committee to Protect Journalists has said, “Ethiopian government officials accuse the Zone 9 bloggers of working with foreign human rights organizations and using social media to create instability in Ethiopia. The group wrote about political repression and social injustice, and their blogs were frequently blocked inside the country.”

On July 8, the TPLF regime dropped all charges and literally threw them out of Meles Zenawi Prison.

They were not even given the chance to say good bye to their friends with whom they have been imprisoned for over a year.

The released bloggers and journalists include  Zelalem Kibret, Mahlet Fantahun, Tesfalem Wadyes, Asmamaw Hailegiorgis and Edom Kassaye.

The released bloggers expressed their bafflement why they were released and the other four bloggers and journalists facing the same charges were not released. Well, that is the mystifying mysteries of the TPLF’s monkey court justice system.

Ethiopia has Reeyot Alemu

All nations are blessed from time to time with she-roes (heroines).

The Americans have many heroes, and fewer she-roes. Many of America’s  she-roes are unsung.

American she-ro Harriet Tubman in the 1850s led the resistance against  slavery by setting up an “underground railroad”, which consisted of meeting points, secret routes, transportation, and safe houses for slaves escaping to freedom.

Susan B. Anthony in the early 1870s led the suffragist movement advocating for the right of American women to vote, to own property and even become members of labor organizations.

Rosa Parks, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights”, and the mother of the American Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1950s sparked the struggle for freedom, equality and justice by a simple act of defiant civil disobedience She refused to give up her seat and sit in the back of the bus.

“No, I shall not be moved!”, she told the segregationist police and (in)justice system.

Millions of African Americans soon joined her singing:

 “We shall not be moved! / Just like a tree that’s standing by the water/ The union is behind us,/ We’re fighting for our freedom,/ We’re fighting for our children,/ We’ll building a mighty union,/ Black and white together,/ Young and old together,/ We shall not, we shall not be moved/We shall not, we shall not be moved.”

African American women were the backbone of the Civil Rights Movement. But they remain the unsung she-roes.

Eleanor Roosevelt, the mother of the modern human rights movement, was singularly responsible for the drafting of the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the bedrock document which has served as the foundation for all post-WW II human rights conventions.

In my view, Reeyot  Alemu belongs to this group of revolutionaries, better yet, history-changers, women of courage and convictions who were ready to pay the ultimate price for justice, equality, civil and human rights without batting an eye.

The truth teller

Reeyot  has been called “Ethiopia’s Truth Teller”.

When the modern history of Africa is written and names are inscribed in the African Hall of Fame, across from the ignoble African Hall of Shame, Reeyot’s name will be registered at the very top in the category, “Grace Under Fire.”

Reeyot  Alemu faced the fire and brimstone of Meles Zenawi for four years and 17 days.

On July 9, we saw a young radiant woman radiant with steely resolve walk out of Meles Zenawi Prison and declare to the world:

I will continue to fully struggle to make Ethiopia a good place where democracy and justice prevail. Until I can see such an Ethiopia, I will continue my struggle.

The TPLF thugs tried to break every bone in her body to make her kneel before them.

They threw her into solitary confinement to crush her spirit and extinguish her hopes.

They denied her medical care as she battled a potentially life-threatening illness.

They denied her womanity and humanity.

They tried to execute her soul.

They did all they could in that “place of wrath and tears” known as Meles Zenawi Prison.

But they could not break Reeyot.

They could not crack her mind.

They could not shatter her spirit.

They could not destroy her will to survive;

To stand up proud and tall and say to the world:

I will continue to fully struggle to make Ethiopia a good place where democracy and justice prevail. Until I can see such an Ethiopia, I will continue my struggle.

Minutes before her TPLF captors literally threw her out of Meles Zenawi Prison, she told them like it is. They should not let her out because she is going to continue her struggle where she left off four years earlier.

Reeyot warned the TPLF thugs, “If you are letting me go to bring me back when I tell the public that I was released without asking for a pardon, I would rather stay. If you lie about my release, I will tell the truth.”

On numerous occasions, Reeyot’s captors had offered her freedom in exchange for her signature on an application form begging for pardon.

She told them to take it and shove it.

They used to call Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher “The Iron Lady.”

If she were alive, I would have said, “Move over Maggie! Make way for Reeyot!”

Why did they release Reeyot and the other bloggers and journalists?

The TPLF thugs did not let Reeyot go out of concern for justice or the “goodness of their hearts” (indulge me in an oxymoron because thugs have neither goodness nor hearts).

No doubt, they gnashed their teeth and belly ached as they let her go. They would have much preferred to see her go out feet first in a wooden coffin and explain to the world she died from some dreadful disease. Fate was not on the side of the TPLF this time.

They did it to save face and impress President  Obama when he shows up later this month.

They did it to make Obama look good. They don’t want Obama’s visit to be about Reeyot and the other imprisoned journalists  and political prisoners.

Imagine Obama answering the following question: “Mr. President, would you go and visit Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu, Woubshet Taye, Temesgen Desalegn, the zone 9 bloggers and the thousands of political prisoners waiting for you at Meles Zenawi Prison. They are just a dozen kilometers away.   Would you go visit them, please?”

The TPLF thugs will put on their designer suits and put on a show to make Obama believe they are not the evil monsters they are depicted to be by the international human rights organizations.

Not to worry.

The TPLF thugs have their guardian angels – the Trinity of Susan Rice, Gayle Smith and Wendy Sherman – on watch during the entire visit. To use a military metaphor, they will be on “DEFCON 1” alert. Keep a lookout for a circular halo with three butterfly-looking creatures hovering  on the heads of the TPLF thugs.

Reeyot was never alone

Reeyot Alemu was never alone when she languished for 4 years and 17 days in Meles Zenawi Prison.

She was cut off from her family, friends and relatives.

Only her mother and father were allowed to see her. (Her father who was also her lawyer was not allowed legal visits.)

But she was never alone.

She had thousands of people around the world who loved and supported her. They were with her in mind and spirit the entire time.

She had her young and ferocious advocates on Facebook and social media.

She was never alone.

She had her friends who toiled to nominate her for prestigious international press awards.

She was never alone.

There were countless others like me who took her cause, and the cause of all jailed Ethiopian journalists and heroes, including the incomparable Eskinder Nega, Woubshet  Taye, Temesgen Desalegn, Abraha Desta, Zone 9 bloggers and so many other political prisoners like them, as their personal mission.

It was a privilege for me to defend Reeyot in the court of international public opinion every chance I got.

I wrote numerous commentaries on Reeyot specifically or as part of the plight of Ethiopian journalists and the crimes against humanity perpetrated against them.

In my May 2012 commentary, “Reeyot Alemu: Young Heroine of Ethiopian Press Freedom”,  I explained why Reeyot was incarcerated.

Reeyot and her co-defendant Woubshet Taye were arrested in June 2011 and accused of plotting to sabotage telephone and electricity. For months, they were held incommunicado. Not even their lawyers could visit them.

The real reason for Reeyot’s arrest was an article she wrote in the June 17 issue of a weekly magazine called “Feteh” (Justice), which was subsequently shuttered.

In her article, Reeyot questioned and criticized the late Meles Zenawi’s harebrained public fundraising campaign for the so-called Grand Renaissance Dam white elephant.

In September 2011, Meles personally ordered that Reeyot and Woubshet be charged with “conspiracy to commit terrorist acts and participation in a terrorist organization”.

The so-called evidence of “conspiracy” against Reeyot in Meles Zenawi’s kangaroo (monkey) court consisted of intercepted emails and wiretapped telephone conversations she had about peaceful protests and change with other journalists.

Reeyot and Woubshet had no access to legal counsel during their three months in pretrial detention.

Both were denied counsel during interrogations.

The TPLF kangaroo court adjudicating their case refused to investigate their allegations of torture, mistreatment and denial of medical care in detention.

In her first interview upon release, Reeyot confirmed that she was denied consultations with her lawyers for nearly two years after she was sentenced.

In my October 2012 commentary, “Ethiopia’s Reeyot: ‘The Price for My Courage’”, I tried to show the world the true  meaning of the expression “grace under fire.”

In her secretly smuggled out hand written letter to be read at the  International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) when she won that the 2012 Courage in Journalism Award, Reeyot assured the world that no price is high enough to keep her from being “the voice of the voiceless”.  She knew and accepted the fact that she would have to pay a high price to pay for her courage.

Reeyot reaffirmed her conviction the day she was released on July 9, 2015.

She declared she is prepared to pay whatever price is asked of her to make sure democracy and justice prevailed in Ethiopia. Reeyot taught me, and I hope all her supporters, the practical meaning of the word “courage”.

When Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, themselves jacked up on bogus terrorism charges by the late Meles Zenawi in June 2011,  first met Reeyot, she sat handcuffed in a prison bus  headed to Magistrate’s Court.

“What do you do?” asked Schibbye.

Reeyot replied, “I am a journalist, we are not alone, we are many political prisoners here accused for terrorism”, pointing to the prison cells.

Reeyot told Schibbye, “If you are released, tell the world I am not a terrorist but a journalist working for the truth.”

Schibbye observed, “All these young Ethiopian journalists faced a choice. They are intelligent and well educated, they could have chosen an easy life, they could have chosen another profession, but the love for the truth, for their country, for their fellow human beings and to Ethiopia made them into journalists.”

Reeyot was never alone.

Reeyot Alemu, Eskinder Nega, Woubshet  Taye, Temesgen Desalegn, Abraha Desta, Zone 9 bloggers and so many other political prisoners like them and so many other political prisoners like them in Ethiopia  are not alone. We are with them in mind and spirit every second of the day.

Reeyot had very influential friends.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) pursued her case relentlessly over the years, as it has the cases of all other imprisoned journalists.

The CPJ “condemned  Ethiopia’s repeated use of sweeping terrorism laws to censor independent reporting.”

The CPJ tried to enlighten the benighted tyrants of Ethiopia that “the government may not like reporters talking to groups it deems to be terrorist organizations, but that’s what journalists do. Anything less would just make them mouthpieces. The authorities must drop these ridiculous charges immediately and release our colleagues.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) was with Reeyot all along.

HRW condemned the idiocy of the charges against Reeyot and Woubshet.  “According to the charge sheet, the evidence consisted primarily of online articles critical of the government and telephone discussions notably regarding peaceful protest actions that do not amount to acts of terrorism. Furthermore, the descriptions of the charges in the initial charge sheet did not contain even the basic elements of the crimes of which the defendants are accused….”, objected HRW.

Amnesty International was with Reeyot and blasted the TPLF kangaroo court proceedings against her. “There is no evidence that they are guilty of any criminal wrongdoing. There is no evidence that they are guilty of any criminal wrongdoing. We believe that they are prisoners of conscience, prosecuted because of their legitimate criticism of the government. They must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

Pambazuka News organized an advocacy campaign for her release. Pambazuka proclaimed, “Her principled stance for truth and justice in defiance of government and injustice, has earned her international accolades.”

The Los Angeles Times, on the occasion of the 2012 International Women’s Media Foundation’s Award (IWMF), which celebrates courageous women journalists, defended Reeyot:  “Reeyot Alemu missed an important dinner engagement in Beverly Hills.  But she had a good excuse. The 31-year-old journalist is jailed in the notoriously brutal, rodent-infested Kaliti prison in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. She’s two years into a five-year sentence for daring to write about poverty, opposition politics and gender equality.”

Reeyot also had her brothers batting in her corner.

Elias Wondimu, publisher of  Tsehai Publishers.

Tsehai Publishers, accepted the IWMF award on Reeyot’s behalf.

In his acceptance speech Elias said,  “When I nominated Reeyot for the Award, I wanted to show the face of courage in her, so that girls in our country will not be discouraged from becoming a voice to the voiceless. How on earth can we compare a person who criticizes a government’s policy through writing and accuse them of being terrorists?”

Elias offered an alternative. “Due to lack of proper training, our journalists are not and cannot be perfect, but the way to remedy this should not be criminalizing their perceived mistakes, but to correct and educate them.”

But Reeyot’s hand written message smuggled out of Meles Zenawi Prison and delivered to the IWMF  told the story of true journalistic courage. She scribbled on a scrap of paper the following words:

I believe that I must contribute something to bring a better future [in Ethiopia]. Since there are a lot of injustices and oppressions in Ethiopia, I must reveal and oppose them in my articles.  Because journalism is a profession that I am willing to devote myself to. I know for EPRDF, journalists must be only propaganda machines for the ruling party. But for me, journalists are the voices of the voiceless. That’s why I wrote many articles which reveal the truth of the oppressed ones.

Shooting the people who march through the streets demanding freedom and democracy; jailing the opposition party leaders and journalists … preventing freedom of speech, association and the press; corruption and domination of one tribe are some of the bad doings of our government. I knew that I would pay the price for my courage [to report] and I was ready to accept that price.

In 2013, Reeyot was awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

In awarding her the Prize, UNESCO stated, “Ms Alemu was recommended by an independent international jury of media professionals in recognition of her ‘exceptional courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.’”

Reeyot Alemu’s interview with the Voice of America- Amharic  Service (VOA-AS) on July 9, 2015

Reeyot Alemu was interviewed by VOA AS reporter Solomon Abate  on July 9, 2015. (The English translation below is mine. I have tried to present Reeyot’s words to my readers as accurately as I can preserving not only the semantics but also any metaphors and vernaculars. )

Solomon:  Reeyot Alemu, Congratulations [on your release from prison] and returning home.

Reeyot: It is good to find you well.

Solomon: There are lots of people who are happy that you are released [from prison]. At what time were you released?

Reeyot: I think it was around 10 o’clock, but I did not check the time.

Solomon: In the morning?

Reeyot: Yes.

Solomon:  How were you released? What did they tell you? Did you know in advance you were going to be released?

Reeyot: I did not know. They just came to me and said [go]. I thought it was a joke. I asked them why and for what  reason I am being released. They just said, “Get out!” Because I am aware of what they do with others  [prisoners], I asked them why, for what reason am I being released. If you should tell [dubious] stories about my release, you know it is inevitable I am going to tell the truth. Therefore, if you are going to return me back [to prison after I tell the truth], I would rather not be released.

Then I asked them, “What’s going on?” They said, “it’s just it.” [I told them] I did not ask for pardon or parole. The time for my pardon request has passed and [I rejected it] because there was language  in the [pardon] application form which said, “I have been rehabilitated.” I did not want to fill out that form [admitting wrongdoing] and be released.

I should have been released in November [2014]. They said my time for release on parole has passed. Therefore, we are releasing you. That is the short answer they gave me. That is the basis for my release.

Solomon: By the way, how is your health?

Reeyot: I had surgery on one of my breasts a couple years ago as you all know. The other breast still has a lump [tumor]. They said it needs surgery. Because I did not want to have surgery [in prison], because I had surgery [on the other breast] before and there were some complications, I did not do it. Now, if God wills it, I will have it done.

Solomon: What is the [clinical prognosis]  on both of your breasts?

Reeyot: One of them is a little better. The other is painful from time to time.

Solomon: Didn’t you get regular medical consultations and attention, other than what you have told me. Were you getting close [medical] attention?

Reeyot: It was never like that.

Solomon: It could be daily, weekly [medical consultations]? It could be [medical] consultations or examination.

Reeyot: No. It was never like that. As I said, after I declined  the surgery, I did not [seek medical attention] except for things like sinuses. I did not [seek medical care]. Even if I did it was useless because I was told to have surgery and I said, “No”. I had already decided not to have surgery.  I did not think consultations were needed.

As I said, I [got medical attention] a month ago. I did not talk to them about the issues regarding my breasts.

Solomon: Could you tell me a little bit about your situation in prison?  Forgive me, I don’t want to take you back to that, but there are a lot of people listening who want to know about that.

Reeyot:  Yes. I don’t know how to tell you that. It is different depending on the type of prisoner.  Generally speaking,  it cannot be said that the treatment of prisoners is good.

But political prisoners in a special way are treated exceptionally not well.  If you take my [case], I did not see my family  for approximately 1 year and 8 months. I was allowed to see only my mother and father. It is just in the past three months that my sister was allowed to visit me.

So beginning with my family visits [my rights were not respected]. What the law says is that I have a right to meet my  religious advisor, my lawyers and other persons.  As I said, it is only in the past 2 or 3 months that even my sister could visit me. For 1 year and 8 months, only my mother and father were the only ones allowed to visit me.

There were many problems [in prison]. For instance, books. To get books especially on politics, even a book with the word “politics” in it, especially now, was very difficult. That is [getting] books from outside.  I can mention many other things. My time [in prison] was not good at all. Prison is never good. It was dreadful [for me].

Solomon:  Your father was your lawyer?

Reeyot: Yes my father was my lawyer and I had another lawyer.

Solomon: Did you get to see your father as your lawyer and not the other lawyer?

Reeyot: No. I was not able to get both of them.  For the past 2 years, I could not  have contact with anybody. My father and mother came to visit me in prison. But my father could not come for legal consultations. We could not talk about my legal issues.  Nor could I get any other lawyer to do that [legal consultations].

Solomon: What was the sanitations situation in prison, the food,  the water and similar things?

Reeyot: I ate food provided to me by my family. I have seen the prison food. It is not something you call “good.”  It is bad. Even the injera and wot [traditional Ethiopian dishes]  given to those who committed crimes or us [political prisoners], it was awful.

Solomon: When Ethiopian authorities are asked about political prisoners, the answer they give is that “there are no political prisoners”.

Reeyot: That is a boldfaced lie. I know many political prisoners [there]. I can even tell you about myself; my case offers sufficient evidence of the [existence of political prisoners]. What crime did I commit to be imprisoned? Perhaps you may have followed my trial. If so, you can understand from the proceedings and evidence, I did not commit or attempt to commit the terrorism they alleged I committed.

The plain and manifest thing is that I was imprisoned because I wrote [critical things about the regime].  But to say that there are no political prisoners [when]  there are those imprisoned for writing something or someone for becoming  a member of  [an opposition political party] or someone for demanding  his rights, it is the answer [excuse] they use to deny that. But I think there are only a few people they can fool with that answer.

Solomon:  What is the situation of other individuals in prison with you?  What is their treatment, their spirit, their feelings? In general, how is the prison situation [where you were]?

Reeyot:  For a person who committed a crime and is imprisoned and an innocent person who is imprisoned, it is necessary to respect and protect their fundamental rights even  as prisoners. That is the way it should be.

The existing situation beginning with the food situation is bad, especially now when prisoners are being brought [in large numbers] and [creating] overcrowding.

In the situation I was in in the past 2 years, I was with 4 other prisoners separated [from the general population]. But other prisoners throughout are kept in severely overcrowded conditions.  The situation with medicine, medical treatment, it cannot be said it is at all adequate.

There are no [medical] examinations. You get an examination when you are extremely sick, but other than that, they just write you prescriptions for pain killers. That is the situation by and large.

[On the other hand], if there is a prisoner who attempts to exchange greetings with political prisoners, he will face a lot of problems. It is a tense place. It is a place where fear is king [fear-ridden] even compared to the outside. That is what you see [inside the prison].

Solomon: When you say a lot of problems, what kinds of problems are there? Are physical injuries inflicted? Beatings and other things?

Reeyot: What I am telling is about the situation of women prisoners.

Solomon: I would like you to tell me about that in greater detail. What is the situation of women prisoners and the treatment they face? Are they subjected to mistreatment ?

Reeyot: Yes. That is what I am telling you. One of the things is that just because someone offers greetings [to a political prisoner], he should not have to face problems. But if he is seen exchanging greetings with a political prisoner, he could get a warning  or the [prison authorities] may take that into special consideration about the prisoner. He may be placed under special surveillance or such. You see things like that [in prison].

Solomon: What are your future plans? In short, what is your general outlook? What are you thinking about doing after this?

Reeyot: As I said, this is a sudden release so there is a difference when you are released having done your time or when you are aware of your impending release.

So when you are suddenly released, this question becomes different.

But what I am thinking now is to continue with my life where I left off, to continue what I was doing before.

For instance, whatever struggle I was doing , and it could be in writing – in whatever way I can – I will fully struggle to make Ethiopia a good place where democracy and justice prevail. Until I can see such an Ethiopia, I will continue my struggle.

[End of interview.]

My personal tribute to Reeyot and her other brothers and sisters who remain in prison

Shakespeare wrote, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.”

I think the same can be said of heroes and she-roes.

Citizens like Reeyot Alemu, Eskinder Nega, Woubshet  Taye, Temesgen Desalegn, Abraha Desta, Zone 9 bloggers and so many other political prisoners like them in prison in Ethiopia were not born heroes and she-roes.  They did not seek heroism. If given the chance, they would rather leave heroism alone. Buy heroism and she-roeism would not leave them alone. Fate and fortune had thrust heroism upon them.

I see a lot of parallels between Reeyot and Birtukan Midekssa, the first female political party leader in Ethiopian history. Birtukan faced the same mistreatment , isolation and degradation. Birtukan was a trail blazer not only in politics, but also a role model for young Ethiopian women. She taught them the art of perseverance in Meles Zenawi Prison.

Birtukan must be proud today to look over her shoulder, see Reeyot and pass on the baton in the relay for democracy and justice in Ethiopia. I bet she will smile and pat herself on the back for being an example of “grace under fire”.

Meles Zenawi, the man singularly responsible for the incarceration of Reeyot and Birtukan will be remembered in history not only the apotheosis of evil, but also a miserable and wretched human being. “Foul as it is, hell itself is made fouler by the presence of Meles Zenawi!”

When these courageous young Ethiopian journalists met the defining moment of their lives, unlike the vast majority of us, they  did not flinch.

Eskinder Nega did not cringe when he was handed 18 years for writing his blog.

Reeyot Alemu did not grovel when the kangaroo judge sentenced her to 14 years.

Woubshet Taye did not beg the TPLF thugs to restore his freedom.

Temesgen Desalegn did not offer to sell his soul for his freedom.

Abraha Desta did not cut and run.

In his very last Facebook post on July 7, 2014, before being jailed by the TPLF, Abraha Desta vigorously defended the freedom of expression of the TPLF itself on his own Facebook page! “The reason I do not unfriend or block TPLF cadres on my Facebook is because I believe it is important for us to know the intellectual depravity and bankruptcy of the TPLF.”

All of the courageous Ethiopian journalists  and political prisoners accepted their fate with a stiff upper lip.

They did not back down.

They stood their ground.

They chose to live free in prison than live in fear and bondage in an open air prison under the rule of ignorant bush thugs.

Wendy Sherman said, “Ethiopia is a young democracy.”  In a way she is right, but her timing is off.

When Reeyot and her generation take over, that will mark Ethiopia as a true young democracy. I wonder what Reeyot’s contribution  to Ethiopian democracy might have been over the past 4 years and 17 days if she was not languishing in Meles Zenawi Prison.

I salute Ethiopia’s first sons Eskinder Nega, Woubshet  Taye, Temesgen Desalegn, Abraha Desta and all of the other imprisoned journalists, bloggers and political prisoners.

I salute Ethiopia’s first daughter and MY Ethiopian she-ro, REEYOT ALEMU!

May she live long and continue her struggle!

“I will fully struggle to make Ethiopia a good place where democracy and justice prevail. Until I can see such an Ethiopia, I will continue my struggle.”  Reeyot Alemu, July 9, 2015.

posted by Daniel tesfaye

Ethiopia courts scepticism after freeing imprisoned writers ahead of Obama visit

July 10, 2015

Critics accuse government of political opportunism amid official attempts to cast release of five writers from media and Zone 9 as routine act of generosity

by William Davison | The Guardian

Ethiopia courts scepticism

After more than a year of imprisonment, two Ethiopian women had no idea they were about to be released until a prison loudspeaker informed them they were free to go.

“They were kind of stunned. Can you imagine what kind of emotion? They didn’t believe it at first – they thought they were being taken somewhere else,” said a friend of Edom Kassaye, the freelance journalist who was released from Kality jail on Thursday morning along with another detainee, the Zone 9 blogger Mahlet Fantahun.

Their release followed that of three others from the Zone 9 case on Wednesday after prosecutors dropped terrorism-related charges against five of the 10 suspects. The trial has attracted widespread condemnation, with human-rights advocates and western governments arguing the writers were persecuted solely for criticising an intolerant government.

“The government should show this is only a first step toward releasing all political prisoners and opening up space for Ethiopians to voice dissent on a range of issues,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy director of the Africa division at Human Rights Watch, adding that the suspects “shouldn’t have been imprisoned in the first place”.

Many Ethiopian Facebook users believe the sudden concession is related to this month’s visit of President Barack Obama, the first to Africa’s second most populous country by a sitting US leader. While the US values its relationship with Ethiopia from a security perspective, praising the country’s development record, it also routinely criticises the government’s repression of civil rights.

“It is funny how dictators are more accountable to Americans than to their own people and constitution,” wrote Kassahun Addis, an exiled journalist, in a Facebook post. “This looks like a pre-emptive charm offensive by the US and Ethiopian governments.”

The charges alleged the group of critical bloggers and journalists had been plotting against the government with foreign organisations.

Redwan Hussien, a government spokesman, put the releases down to “magnanimity” – an official recognition that the five writers released were only accomplices to the conspiracy. The trial against the rest would continue, he said.

But Ameha Mekonnen, a defence lawyer for the suspects, countered on Thursday: “All were charged as principle offenders. There’s no distinction among them.”

The pardoning of convicts occurs regularly in Ethiopia. Two Swedish journalists were shown clemency in 2012 after being jailed for supporting a rebel group in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia with which they became embedded.

Birtukan Mideksa, meanwhile, the opposition leader who – in a case that attracted widespread condemnation – was twice jailed by the government, was also pardoned eventually.

Over the course of court proceedings that have so far lasted more than a year, the state has failed to present any evidence of terrorism-related activity on the part of the bloggers and journalists. The prosecution case amounted to calling witnesses who had observed police making raids and confiscating evidence, such as laptops, in April 2014.

“There was no witness who was there to say, ‘I saw this or that person being involved in this or that crime,’” said Ameha.

Judges will decide at the next hearing, on 20 July – a week before Obama’s visit – whether the remaining suspects have to defend themselves or are acquitted, Ameha said.

The idea that dropping the charges was politically calculated in advance of Obama’s visit was strengthened by the release on Thursday of another journalist, Reeyot Alemu. She headed home after serving around four years of a sentence that was reduce to five years from 14 on appeal in Aug. 2012.

Reeyot had been imprisoned for plotting against the government after working with the US-based opposition website Ethiopian Review and writing articles critical of the government in local newspapers.

Redwan said it is standard practice to release prisoners early. But an an acquaintance of the jailed journalists and bloggers, who wished to remain anonymous, suggested Reeyot had been told she would serve her full sentence after refusing to apologise for crimes she denied committing.

Another factor in the decisions may have been that Ethiopia is hosting a critical UN financing for development conference next week. Global leaders will gather in Addis Ababa to try and agree on how to finance the ambitious sustainable development goals, which will set the international development agenda for the next 15 years.

Ethiopian officials will be eager to deflect attention away from the jailed bloggers and towards the country’s record of economic growth and poverty reduction. The government will hope that donors who already deem Ethiopia worthy of development assistance will support a plan for carbon-neutral industrialisation by 2030.

posted by Daniel tesfaye

ጋዜጠኛ ርዕዮት አለሙም ተፈታች (ኤዶም እና ማህሌትም ተፈተዋል)


(ኢ.ኤም.ኤፍ) ትላንት የተጀመረው የመፈታት ዘመቻ ዛሬም ቀጥሎ ውሏል። በጋዜጠኛነት ሙያዋ የምትታወቀው ርዕዮት አለሙ ዛሬ ተፈታለች። ትላንት ያልተፈቱት ሁለቱ ሴት ጦማርያን ኤዶም እና ማህሌትም እንዲሁ ተፈተዋል። “አሸባሪዎች” ተብለው በሃሰት ክስ የተመሰረተባቸው ጋዜጠኞችን የመፍታቱ ዘመቻ ድንገተኛ እናአ ያልታሰበ በመሆኑ ብዙዎችን እያነጋገረ የሚገኝ ትኩስ ዜና ሆኗል።

ርዕዮት አለሙ ከእስር ከተፈታች በኋላ። ከእህቷ እስከዳር አለሙ እና ባለፈው ፖሊሶች ቀጥቅጠው እጁን ሰብረውት ከነበረው - ስለሺ ሃጎስ ጋር የተነሱት ፎቶ።

ይህ ፍቺ የተጀመረው ፕሬዘዳንት ባራክ ኦባማ ኢትዮጵያን እንደሚጎበኙ ከተገለጸ እና በተለይም ባለፈው ሳምንት  በኋይት ሃውስ ከፍትና የሆነ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ከተደረገ በኋላ መሆኑን ታዛቢዎች የራሳቸውን መላ ምት ይሰጣሉ። ሌሎች ደግሞ በሰሜን ኢትዮጵያ የግንቦት 7 አርበኞች የጦርነት እንቅስቃሴ ማድረግ ከጀመሩ በኋላ፤ መንግስት የህዝቡን ትኩረት ለማግኘት ያደረገው ነው” ሲሉ ይደመጣል። ሆኖም አሁንም ቢሆን በርካታ ጋዜጠኞች፣ ጦማርያን የሙስሊሙ ህብረተሰብ ተወካዮች እና የፖለቲካ እስረኞች በእስር ላይ ይገኛሉ። እነዚህ ያለምንም ጥፋታቸው የታሰሩ ዜጎች እስኪፈቱ ድረስ ግን፤ መዘናጋት አያስፈልግም።

የጋዜጠኛ ርዕዮት አለሙን መፈታት ምክንያት በማድረግ፤ ታናሽ እህቷ እስከዳር አለሙ ባስተላለፈችው መልዕክት እንዲህ ብላለች። “በጣም ደስ ብሎኛል !
ሁሌ ነገሪ የሆነች እህቴ ዛሬ አ|ጠገቤ አለች ለዚህም ደስ ብሎኛል ! ይህ ደስታ የኔ ብቻ አይደለም ስለ ሉልዬ ( ርዕዮት) የምትጨነቁ በሙሉ ነው፣ ልክ እንደ እህቴ እና ወንድሜ የምሳሳላቸው ማህሌት ፋንታሁን፣ ኤዶም ካሳዬ፣ ተስፋለም ወልደየስ፣ ዘላለም ክብረት፣ አስማማው ሀ/ጊዮርጊስ ከእስር ተፈተውልኛል፣ደስታዬም ይበልጥ ድርብ ሆኖልኛል ፣ ቀሪዎችም ከእስር እንደሚፈቱ እምኔቴ ፅኑ ነው፡፡ለሁሉ ነገር ፈጣሪ የተመሰገነ ይሁን .አሜን !!!”

ርዕዮት አለሙ ከእህቷ እስከዳር አለሙ ጋር - ከእስር ቤት መልስ።

ለተፈቱት ወገኖቻችን “እንኳን ደስ አላቹህ” እያልን ሌሎቹንም ለማስፈታት የሚደረገው ሰላማዊ ትግል ተጠናክሮ መቀጠል ይኖርበታል – የሚለው ደግሞ የኛ መልዕክት ነው።

posted by Daniel tesfaye

UN demands release of British activist jailed in Ethiopia amid torture fears

July 5, 2015

The Foreign Office has pushed for consular access to Andargachew Tsige with no tangible results, since the British citizen was abducted in Ethiopia a year ago

by Mark Townsend | The Guardian

Yemi Hailemariam campaigns in London

The UN has demanded the immediate release of a Briton held on death row in Ethiopia for more than a year, an intervention that campaigners say exposes Britain’s poor diplomacy towards the case.

Experts from the UN Human Rights Council have advised Ethiopia to pay Andargachew Tsige “adequate compensation” before sending him home to London, an abrupt hardening of its position on the case at a time when Britain pursues a softly, softly approach with no tangible reward.

Internal Foreign Office emails, disclosed for the first time, reveal that even before Tsige was kidnapped and jailed in an unknown location in June 2014, British officials had voiced fears at “the real risk of torture if [Tsige is] returned to Ethiopia”, along with “fair trial concerns”.

An eight-page judgment from the UNHRC’s working group on arbitrary detention handed to Ethiopia suggests such fears have been realised, saying that there is “reliable evidence on a possible situation of physical abuse and mistreatment which could amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

Tsige, 60, a father of three from London, and known to friends as Andy, was arrested in Yemen’s main airport while in transit and forcibly removed to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

He is prominent in Ethiopian politics, having been leader of opposition party Ginbot 7, which has called for democracy, free elections and civil rights. The government has accused him of being a terrorist and in 2009 he was tried in his absence and sentenced to death.

Foreign secretary Philip Hammond has refused to demand his urgent release, preferring to push for consular access, a request rejected by Ethiopia. Tsige’s partner, Yemi Hailemariam, also a British national, who lives in London with their children, has spoken to him just once by telephone since his abduction.

Another internal government email from the UK ambassador to Ethiopia to Laurence Robertson MP, who heads the all-party parliamentary group on Ethiopia, describes the Ethiopians as “obdurate”.

Hammond recently attempted to harden up the UK’s position on Tsige, calling for rapid progress in the case, but campaigners say this remains significantly short of what is required. Another recent Foreign Office statement made no mention of Tsige, but welcomed the “generally peaceful environment” of the recent Ethiopian elections, which saw the government locking up political opponents and journalists.

Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve, said: “Despite the injustices that have been – and continue to be – committed against this British national, the foreign secretary refuses to ask for Andy’s release and his return back home to his family in Britain.

“The UN is right to be taking action and demanding Andy’s immediate release from his unlawful detention. The UK’s refusal to do the same is an unacceptable abdication of responsibility to one of its citizens.”

Kevin Laue of the human rights organisation Redress, which helps torture survivors, said: “The UK government should be outraged by this behaviour and should be responding in the strongest possible terms.” A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The foreign secretary has raised this case with the Ethiopian foreign minister on 13 separate occasions, most recently on 29 April 2015. The minister for Africa raised this again on 11 June. We will continue to lobby at all levels, conveying our concern over Andargachew Tsige being detained without regular consular visits and access to a lawyer.”

posted by Daniel tesfaye

Post Navigation