FREEDOM 4 ALL ETHIOPIANS

FREEDOM,DEMOCRACY.JUSTICE.AND UNITY FOR ALL ETHIOPIANS …by DANIEL TESFAYE

Ethiopian Bloggers in Kangaroo (Monkey) Kourt

August 24, 2015

by Alemayehu G. Mariam

Kangaroo/monkey kourt (in)justice T-TPLF style

Last week, young Ethiopian bloggers collectively known as “Zone 9 Bloggers” (named after a cell block  holding political prisoners at  the infamous  Meles Zenawi Kality Prison, a few kilometers outside of the capital) returned to  the kangaroo/monkey  kourt system of the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF) for  the 33rd time  since April 2014.

TPLF kangaroo (monkey) court system.

(Ethiopia is the ONLY country in the world where the police arrest and detain a criminal suspect and then go out looking for evidence of wrongdoing for months and even years!)

“Justice delayed is justice denied.”  Justice delayed 33 times is justice denied 33 times.

Justice delayed 33 times while the young bloggers are held in prolonged pretrial detention, denied bail, effective assistance of counsel, speedy trials and an impartial fact finder is a travesty of justice.

In anticipation of Barack Obama’s visit in July, the T-TPLF released two bloggers and 3 journalists.

Since 2006, I have been writing about the T-TPLF kangaroo (monkey) kourt system.

I wrote my first commentary in December 2006 entitled, “Keystone Cops, Prosecutors and Judges in a Police State.” That commentary examined the “trials” of the “Kality defendants” (opposition leaders) jailed by the late Meles Zenawi following the 2005 election.

In December 2007, I wrote “Monkey Trial in Kangaroo Kourt” examining the “trial” of Daniel Bekele (manager of ActionAid International in Ethiopia at the time), presently Executive Director of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, and Netsanet Demessie who founded and directed the Organization for Social Justice in Ethiopia. I compared their “trial” to the grim and chilling fictional story of Joseph K., in Franz Kafka’s “The Trial“.

I have written numerous commentaries on the T-TPLF’s Banana Republicand its monkey kourts for years.

In June 2014, I wrote a commentary entitled, “Who is afraid of the Ethiopian bloggers?, on the legal plight of the Zone 9 bloggers.

I use the metaphor of “kangaroo” and “monkey” kourt to describe the T-TPLF’s (in)justice system, not out of malice, but out of necessity for descriptive precision.

The phrase “kangaroo court” has nothing to do with the marsupial kangaroos of Australia.

The phrase is said to have originated in the American West in the 19thcentury to describe bogus, sham and phony judicial proceedings run by self-proclaimed judges.

The phrase has often been defined as 1) “a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted”, 2) “a court which blatantly and intentionally disregards recognized standards of law or justice”, 3) a “court held by a legitimate judicial authority who intentionally disregards the court’s legal or ethical obligations”,  and 4) a court projecting the “appearance of a fair and just trial, even though the verdict has in reality already been decided before the trial has begun.”

The T-TPLF judicial system fits all of the foregoing definitions to a T.

The phrase has found its way into one of the most important landmark criminal constitutional cases in the U.S. legal history. In In Re Gault, the U.S. Supreme Court condemned a judicial process “where police take matters in their own hands, seize victims, beat and pound them until they confess. It is the right of the accused to be tried by a legally constituted court, not by a kangaroo court”.

That is the essence of the T-TPLF’s kangaroo courts. T-TPLF police thugs arrest suspects in political crimes on instruction of the T-TPLF political bosses, place them  in detention, beat the hell out of them and extract confessions, delay filing charges, deny them counsel and shuttle them to and fro before judicial hacks appointed by the T-TPLF, deny them speedy trials and force them to languish in vermin-ridden jails for months or years as hack judges grant endless continuances to “prosecutors” to gather (fabricate) evidence on the suspects.

Kangaroo courts on Planet T-TPLF become monkey kourts.

I use the apt phrase monkey kourt (with a “k”) system (yezinjero chilot) interchangeably with kangaroo court to describe the T-TPLF (in)justice system as a metaphorical equivalent for my Ethiopian readers. I also aim to underscore the dominance hierarchy of the T-TPLF monkey kourt legal system, accentuated by extreme agonistic behavior of T-TPLF leaders and members against their perceived opponents.

The “trial” of the Zone 9 bloggers is such a travesty of justice that all of the major international human rights organizations have condemned it.

Of course, being politically correct, none of them would dare call it kangaroo or monkey kourt system.

But a kangaroo/monkey court by any other name is still kangaroo/monkey kourt. In other words, a pig with lipstick and makeup is still a pig at the end of the day.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has described the T-TPLF kangaroo/monkey kourt system as a “political witch-hunt.” HRW protested to the T-TPLF: “Journalism is not a crime.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the prosecutions (persecutions) for “conflating terrorism with journalism.”

Freedom House said the case against the bloggers is based on “spurious charges” and urged donors to  “press the government to stop pursuing politically motivated charges against pro-democracy activists as the country prepares for elections in May.”

In January 2015, the U.S. State Department expressed its “concern” over the T-TPLF’s “decision to proceed with the trial of six bloggers and three independent journalists on charges under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.”

The Department declared, “The decision undermines a free and open media environment—critical elements for credible and democratic elections, which Ethiopia will hold in May 2015.”

In June 2015, the T-TPLF declared it had won the May election by 100 percent of the vote.

In July Barack Obama showed up in Ethiopia and chimed in, “The government of Ethiopia, that has been democratically elected.” (Was Obama trippin’ when he said that?)

The crime of blogging on Planet T-TPLF

The blogger defendants in the T-TPLF kangaroo/monkey kourt facing trumped up charges include: Befekadu Hailu Techanie,  Natneal Feleke Abera, Mahlet Fantahun Tefera, Atnaf Brehanie Ayalew, Zelalem Kibret Beza, Abel Wabella Sugebo, Asmamaw Hailegiorgis Gizaw, Edom Kassaye Gelan, Tesfalem Weldeyes Arage and (charged in absentia) Soliyana Shimeles Gebremariam.)

The defendants are alternatively “charged” in two counts under the Ethiopian “Criminal Code” [“Code”] and “Proclamation No. 652/2009” [“Proclamation”]  (“Anti-terrorism law”).

In count one, they are accused of being a “Principal Criminal” or attempted “Principal Criminal” in violation of  Article 32 (1 & 2) of the Code.

In count two, the defendants are charged with violation of Article 27 (1 & 2) (attempt to commit a crime),  38 (1) (criminal conspiracy) and 238 (1) (“Crimes Against the Constitution or the State”).

The charge alleges that all of the defendants have “signed” multipage “confessions statement (sic) which can be used as evidence”:   Befekadu Hailu Techanie (31 pages); Natneal Feleke Abera (27 pages);  Mahlet Fantahun Tefera (12 pages); Atnaf Brehanie Ayalew (16 pages); Zelalem Kibret Beza (16 pages); Abel Wabella Sugebo (12 pages); Asmamaw Hailegiorgis Gizaw (13 pages); Edom Kassaye Gelan (10 pages) and  Tesfalem Weldeyes Arage (13 pages).  (Charged in absentia is Soliyana Shimeles Gebremariam.)

The defendants were denied counsel when they allegedly “confessed”.

Befeqadu Hailu Techanie is accused of “establishing a domestic secret terror enterprise” by “sketching and allocating duties & responsibilities for the members.” To avoid “government” detection Befeqadu “  assisted, organized and took part in a training communication encryption tools called ‘Security in Box’” and “embraced the strategies and sought support of the terrorist organization called Ginbot7.”

The documentary evidence against Befeqadu include:  31 pages of “confessions” and information collected from his laptop and house including: “an article written for change seekers and patriots”, and documents entitled, “how legitimate is TPLF to Tigray”, “We will fight until we become 80 million”, “What would happen to dictators if we are united,” “Stop censorship online campaign,” “Had Wael Ghonim been an Ethiopian (an imaginary interview with Egyptian internet activist)- 18 pages”),   “Training manual for defenders  of civil  liberties,” “Do we have government or whose is government and what kind – 10 pages”, “Is there a judge who is not a member of EPRDF?”, “Telecom fraud law as a tool to stifle freedom of expression – 12 pages,” “Poll collected and online campaign plan – 3 pages” and “A hand written list of interviewees for a documentary film on state of freedom of expression in Ethiopia”.

Natnael Feleke Abera, alleged to be the mastermind of the terror group,  “established a domestic secret terror enterprise” and “coordinated all activities of the terror group.” Natnael in coordination with “Ginbot 7 organized, took part and facilitated various trainings to initiate the public to incite violence.”

The documentary evidence against Natnael include: 27 pages of confessions, “documents collected from his laptop and E-mail (downloaded)”; other documents entitled, “Had Weal Ghonim been an Ethiopian an imaginary interview written by Befekadu Hailu,” “Bread and freedom article written for stop censorship campaign”, “The price of censorship (article – 8 pages); “Ginbot 7 news letter criticizing the late Meles Zenawi – 4 pages;” “Receipt of money transfer from Construction & Business Bank”, “Email message exchange about internet security with Soliyana Shimeles with his passport – 26 pages”, “A poem written by Natnael about Ethiopia collected from his house – hand written 1 page”.

Mahlet Fantahun Tefera allegedly “became an operative in various covert networks” for “Ginbot 7 in order to accomplish the objectives of the terrorist group.”   She “lent a hand in organizing and participating in various trainings of violence and terror.”

The documentary evidence against Mahlet include: 12 pages of “confessions” and other “documents collected from her computer” including “articles found to be denigrating, incite violence (sic) and deny the economic development  – 2 page” and  “Political program of OLF printed from CD – 22 pages.”

CHARGES DROPPED AND RELEASED ON JULY 9, 2015.

 Atnaf Birahane Ayalew is accused of “intentionally and knowingly participated in the covert terror group.” He “participated in the training which focuses on how to provoke government security people and create tribal divisionism amongst them to incite violence and defend oneself using apparatuses such us face covering, helmets, explosives, stones.” (Emphasis added.)

The documentary evidence against Atnaf include: 16 pages of “confessions” and other “documents collected” entitled, “Freedom in Ethiopia – 34 pages,” “Training manual about internet security”, “Hand written security procedures of covering a rally – 61 pages,” “Manual of security procedures located in flash drive,” “Proposal for producing short films about freedom in rural Ethiopia – 7 pages,” “Domain name (korogo.com) intended to be purchased for the upcoming election -8 pages,” “The role of social media in the 2015th  Ethiopia election – 9 pages, “Training manual organized by civil rights defenders on how to circumvent censorship, “Encryption tools and changing passwords  – 129 pages,” “Invitation letters send to him to attend digital security training,” “Travel itinerary and tickets – 18 pages”.

Zelalem Kibret Beza is alleged to be “a founding member of the secret terror enterprise” and intentionally and knowingly created a link with of the terrorist organization called Ginbot 7.” He “organized, took part and facilitated various trainings both inside and outside of Ethiopia to initiate the public to incite violence.”

The documentary evidence against Zelalem include 16 pages of “confessions” and other “documents collected” from his  “external hard disk” including documents entitled, “Repression and human development article,” “Had Weal Ghonim been an Ethiopian an imaginary interview written by Befekadu Hailu,” “The price of censorship,” “From hijacking our vote to let our voice be heard,” “Proposal for producing short films about freedom in rural Ethiopia with his passport,” “Vision and legacy of Meles Zenawi – 4 pages,” “The dead parliament – 22 pages.”

CHARGES DROPPED AND RELEASED ON JULY 9, 2015.

Abel Wabela Sugebo is alleged to have been “a founding member of a domestic secret terror enterprise.” He  “organized, took part and facilitated various trainings both inside and outside the country to initiate the public to incite violence” in coordination with Ginbot 7.

The evidence against Abel include 12 pages of “confessions” and other “documents collected” from him including, “Digital security manual for human rights defenders  – 18 pages,” “Roles and responsibilities of the group located in his house – 26 pages,” “Domain name (korogo.com) intended to be purchased for the upcoming election – 8 pages”.

Asmamaw Hailegiorigis Gizaw  is alleged to have been “a founding member of the secret terror enterprise.” He   “intentionally and knowingly created a link with of the terrorist organization called Ginbot7.”

The documentary evidence against Asmamaw include 13 pages of “confessions” and other “documents collected” from him including, documents entitled “Justice and peace before food,” “Muslims should start participating in Ethiopian politics – 6 pages,” “Surveillance results of movements of all accused as recorded by Ethiopia’s Information Security Service – 31 pages,” “Letter written by Ethiopia’s Federal Information Security Service – 56 pages,” “Digital security for journalists”, “Ways of hijacking freedom of expression by Ethiopia’s government,” “Letter written by Dashen Bank – 31 pages,” “Passport copies of the accused are brought to support the allegation – 6 pages”.

CHARGES DROPPED AND RELEASED ON JULY 9, 2015.

Edom Kassaye Gelan is accused of “intentionally and knowingly participated in the terror group which has embraced the strategies of Ginbot 7.” She “ took part and facilitated various trainings both inside and outside of Ethiopia to initiate the public to incite violence.”

The evidence against Edom: None listed!

CHARGES DROPPED AND RELEASED ON JULY 9, 2015.

Tesfalem Weldeyes “intentionally and knowingly participated in the terror group which has embraced the strategies of Ginbot 7.” He  “took part and facilitated various trainings both inside and outside of Ethiopia to initiate the public to incite violence.”

The evidence against Tesfalem: None listed!

CHARGES DROPPED AND RELEASED ON JULY 9, 2015.

Physical evidence of terrorism

Physical evidence of the alleged terrorist crimes include: 2 Toshiba laptop, 3 Samsung mobile phone with two SIM cards, 1 Asus laptop, 1 Techno mobile with two SIM cards, 1 Samsung mobile phone, 2 Flash drives, 1 Touch screen mobile phone, 2 Security in a box books, 3 Nokia mobile phone, 1 Dell laptop, 1 Apple laptop, 1 HUAWE mobile phone with three SIM card, 12 video CDs.

Is a “confession” obtained by force and duress without the presence of counsel sufficient evidence of terrorism”?

Is possession of any or all of the following sufficient evidence to arrest and prosecute a suspect for committing “terrorism” or a terrorist act:

“an article written for change seekers and patriots”;
“[an article questioning] how legitimate is TPLF to Tigray”,
“[an article entitled] We will fight until we become 80 million”,
“[an article entitled] What would happen to dictators if we are united,”
“[an article entitled] Stop censorship online campaign,”
“[an article entitled] Had Wael Ghonim been an Ethiopian (an imaginary interview with Egyptian internet activist)- 18 pages”),
“A Training manual for defenders  of civil  liberties,”
“[an article entitled] Do we have government or whose is government and what kind – 10 pages”,
“[an article entitled] Is there a judge who is not a member of EPRDF?”,
“[an article entitled] Telecom fraud law as a tool to stifle freedom of expression – 12 pages,”
“a poll collected and online campaign plan – 3 pages”,
“A hand written list of interviewees for a documentary film on state of freedom of expression in Ethiopia”,
 “[an article entitled] Bread and freedom article written for stop censorship campaign”
“The price of censorship (article – 8 pages);
“A Ginbot 7 news letter criticizing the late Meles Zenawi – 4 pages;”
“Receipt of money transfer from Construction & Business Bank”,
“Email message exchange about internet security with Soliyana Shimeles with his passport – 26 pages,
“A poem written by Natnael about Ethiopia collected from his house – hand written 1 page”,
“Articles found to be denigrating, incite violence and deny the economic development  – 2 page”,
“[The] Political program of OLF printed from CD – 22 pages.”
“[an article entitled] Freedom in Ethiopia – 34 pages,”
“[A] Training manual about internet security”,
“[A] hand written security procedures of covering a rally – 61 pages,”
“[A] Manual of security procedures located in flash drive,”
“[A] Proposal for producing short films about freedom in rural Ethiopia – 7 pages,”
“[A] Domain name (korogo.com) intended to be purchased for the upcoming election -8 pages,”
“[an article entitled] The role of social media in the 2015th  Ethiopia election – 9 pages,
“[A] Training manual organized by civil rights defenders on how to circumvent censorship,
“Encryption tools and changing passwords  – 129 pages,”
“Invitation letters send to him to attend digital security training,”
“[A] Travel itinerary and tickets – 18 pages”,
“[an article entitled] Repression and human development,”
“[an article entitled] Had Weal Ghonim been an Ethiopian an imaginary interview written by Befekadu Hailu,”
“[an article entitled] The price of censorship,” “From hijacking our vote to let our voice be heard,”
“[A] Proposal for producing short films about freedom in rural Ethiopia with his passport,”
“[an article entitled] Vision and legacy of Meles Zenawi – 4 pages,”
“[an article entitled] The dead parliament – 22 pages.”
“[an article entitled] Digital security manual for human rights defenders  – 18 pages,”
“[an article entitled] Roles and responsibilities of the group located in his house – 26 pages,”
“[A] Domain name (korogo.com) intended to be purchased for the upcoming election – 8 pages”.
“[an article entitled] Justice and peace before food,”
“[an article entitled] Muslims should start participating in Ethiopian politics – 6 pages,”
“[an article entitled] Surveillance results of movements of all accused as recorded by Ethiopia’s Information Security Service – 31 pages,”
“[an article entitled] Letter written by Ethiopia’s Federal Information Security Service – 56 pages,”
“Digital security for journalists”, “Ways of hijacking freedom of expression by Ethiopia’s government,”
“[A] Letter written by Dashen Bank – 31 pages,”
“Passport copies of the accused are brought to support the allegation – 6 pages”.

Are the following items the preferred weapons of mass destruction in the arsenal of terrorists?

2 Toshiba laptop, 3 Samsung mobile phone with two SIM cards, 1 Asus laptop, 1 Techno mobile with two SIM cards, 1 Samsung mobile phone, 2 Flash drives, 1 Touch screen mobile phone, 2 Security in a box books, 3 Nokia mobile phone, 1 Dell laptop, 1 Apple laptop, 1 HUAWE mobile phone with three SIM card, 12 video CDs.

Are laptops the equivalent of AK-47s?

Are cell phones the equivalent of hand grenades?

Are flash drives the equivalent of flash grenades?

Are security-in-a-box books the equivalent of improvised explosive devices (IEDs)?

Are video CDs the equivalent of RPGs?

Are SIM cards the equivalent of ammunition?

The entire case against the Zone 9 Bloggers is manifestly based on the T-TPLF’s warped imagination that the bloggers are members and operatives of Ginbot 7, an opposition movement the T-TPLF has declared a “terrorist organization”.

There is not an iota of evidence the bloggers are members of any organization, let alone Ginbot 7. The T-TPLF wants to “convict” the bloggers on the basis of imaginary guilt by association.

The Zone 9 bloggers have committed no crime. Their crime is exercising their right free speech!

The Zone 9 bloggers are themselves victims of crime and T-TPLF terrorism.

If Planet T-TPLF were the legendary Planet of the Apes, the Zone 9 bloggers would have had an excellent chance of escape.

The defense shall never rest.

But I rest my case in kangaroo/monkey kourt on Planet T-TPLF!

posted by daniel tesfaye

Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino.

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