Ethiopia life jail terms attacked – BBC

July 16th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

The head of the European Union 2005 election observers in Ethiopia has said she is “appalled” at the life sentences given to 30 opposition leaders. (more…)

The head of the European Union 2005 election observers in Ethiopia has said she is “appalled” at the life sentences given to 30 opposition leaders. Ana Gomes told the BBC the sentences were “farcical” and “inhumane” and urged the EU to seek their release.

Another eight people were given shorter jail terms, while five were tried in absentia for their role in violent protests at alleged poll-rigging.

Ethiopia’s information minister hinted that the 38 could soon be freed.

Bereket Simon told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that the government was looking into their apology and request for a pardon

“The prisoners have admitted… trying to overthrow the government by the use of force and have asked for clemency.”

   

He said that now that the legal process had ended, a new political process would start.

Many Ethiopians expect the 38 to be freed soon by the government.

Their relatives say the detainees have signed a document which could pave the way for their release.

The prosecution had demanded the death penalty for them all.

Reconciliation

Ms Gomes told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that she thought life in prison was just as bad as the death penalty.

“[Their] only crime was to express their opinions freely in elections, which were supposed to be democratic,” she said.

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The opposition leaders say the charges were political

High court judge Adil Ahmed also barred the 30 Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) leaders from voting or standing for election.

“The accused have committed serious crimes, which caused the death of civilians and security forces and attempted to overthrow the government,” he said.

“The accused have also failed to present to the court mitigating evidences for the charges brought against them.”

But he said they did not deserve the death penalty.

Before the sentences, the US had warned that any judgement should promote reconciliation between the government and the opposition.

The BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt in Addis Ababa says the trial has been closely watched in the city, a CUD stronghold.

She says that the entire front row of seats in the court was taken up by diplomats and a simultaneous English translation was provided.

Apology?

Five of the 38, including CUD leader Hailu Shawel, were convicted of inciting, organising and leading armed rebellion.

Among the 38 are the entire CUD leadership, several of the capital’s elected MPs and city councillors, including Berhanu Negga, mayor-elect of Addis Ababa.

Hundreds of thousands took part in demonstrations complaining of fraud and rigging in the elections won by Prime Minister Meles’ party.

Some 193 people were killed in protests at alleged vote-rigging.

Most of the dead were protesters, killed by security forces.

Tarnished

An independent inquiry carried out by an Ethiopian judge concluded that the police had used excessive force.

He went on to accuse them of carrying out a massacre. The judge later fled Ethiopia, saying he had been put under pressure to change his findings and had received death threats.

The government points out that it introduced multiparty elections to Ethiopia after years of military rule.

In the elections, the opposition made huge gains but says it was cheated out of victory.

Three months ago, a judge threw out controversial charges of attempted genocide and treason against 111 people, including those sentenced on Monday, over the election protests.

The violence and the charges of election fraud have tarnished Mr Meles’ image as a favourite of Western donors and one of a new wave of reforming African leaders.

Some donors have reduced aid over the case.

  1. adie
    | #1

    America won to save its ashker (Meles) and to eliminate any patriotical movement. Congradulations!!!!!!!!!!! But ethiopia and ethiopians remain stronger and will go on the path of their Golden children.Nothig is new today.The prisoners of USA in Kaliti are our heroes and the day will come when our motherland is free from Ashkers.

  2. Billal
    | #2

    Even the so called “well read” African leaders will never learn from history. Some how they think they will out-smart everyone by pulling this Byzantine old trick. If any one needs to be Pardon, it is Meles and the TPLF gangs. Mengistu Hilemariam did the same thing to “EPRP suspects” back in the 70s.Dont’ you remember that ‘Abeyotawe Irmija and Abeyotawe Meheret..? “Tesassetenal. belw wode sefew hizb tekelakelewal”… that … BLA…BLA…

    Woyanne is the one who has the guns but it looks like they are scared of CUD=VVVVVVVVV
    It is amazing! For CUD, it is mission accomplished.!!!!!!

    Yes, Thank you Commander and chief Engineer Shawell.. you showed us who has the real power.
    Let me go out and calibrate the beginning of the end of the Woyanne Tyranny. !

    Thank you for the good news.

    The son of Abajeffar

    Allah Akbar !!!

  3. tilahun
    | #3

    The fat ass Ana Gomez can not even watch and care for her own weight how in the world do people beleive her to honestly care for black people like us.

    Human by very nature is selfish ,so if she has already trashed her self like that,I would not expect her to do something good.

    Lets hook up Hailu Shawel with Ana Gomez.

  4. temtem
    | #4

    Be real, and talk about real poltics!…

  5. Shumet Menywab
    | #5

    TPLF IS GOING FROM BAD TO MAD AND IT HAS TO BE STOPPED!
    Dear Kaliti Prisoners,
    We most of Ethiopians inside and out side of the country know why the Woyane Government is doing inhuman acts to you. You are so committed to do the right thing for your country and people! Time and again, the Woyane court system and its court actors show that they can only follow what they have been told to do by their masters! No human reactions they have what so ever! In Woyane’s prison, a prisoner is already proven guilty way before due process takes over! The only way the Woyane judges have been educated and trained is to back the government in any way they can. Politics takes over professions.
    The Gandhi, Martin Luther, living legend Mandela and so many rightful individuals around the world made tremendous differences on so many poor, rich, hopeful, hopeless, helpful and helpless people’s lives and life styles by sacrificing their own personal and family life to the extent of experiencing miserable prison sufferings and life taking commitments for the sake of defending their peoples’ freedom and democracy. Yet, their self-sacrificed work for their people continues to be carried on by courageous and human valued individuals in Kaliti prison in our own country in the present days of Ethiopia. We the consciences around the world are not going to let the jailers of these prisoners of conscience to void the Ethiopian’s dream for democracy and freedom once and for all! Until then, we shall salute the Kaliti freedom fighter on their commitment of ‘Kibir Lenetsanet!’
    I, for one, promise to stand by you and your cause, and for now, thank you for your sacrificing, a sacrificing that for sure, at the end, will not go without freedom and democracy for all!!
    Yours
    Shumet Menywab

    A call to my fellow Ethiopians,
    It is obvious that the Ethiopian people’s Choice for Freedom and democracy is being hijacked in the hands of Meles and his supporters, the West, because the Ethiopians, those who oppose the government, could not by any means believe and stand in unison behind these leaders to say enough is enough. There is nothing more than the reality of the Kaliti prisoners’ situation, those who chose to put their lives before the Ethiopian people. Therefore, it would be unforgivable sin for some of us to not understand this and think otherwise their decision to be in this situation is for some other political purposes other than standing for all human kinds.
    How can I lose my conscious to think that these prisoners are doing the right thing for all Ethiopians? Their position is up in the center of Ethiopian political solution that is ‘asking the civilized world for help to save Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people to solve their problem peacefully and continue to live together.’ Meles’ desperate and dirty mud throwing to these prisoners of consciences to be looked in everyone’s eyes as bunch of ‘Amhara neftegnas’ to overthrow his government is yet another smart ass to call the people of Ethiopia without a brain to think. A dictator who desperately trying to kill the truthfulness and decisiveness of these prisoners for true change tries to tell us as we can never solve our differences in a civilized way and continue to live together unless we are organized along ethnic lines and be led under the TPLF’S political grid to compete each other to free one’s ethnic inferior over the other.
    So it is a challenge and trying time for Ethiopians, especially for those who wrongly think true freedom comes only when we freed the Tigrians from the Amharas or vise versa, Oromos from the Amharas or vise versa, and etc as if the people of these ethnic politicians claim as their followers be free from being oppressed by their own ethnic dictators. It is time to stand up and act against ethnic politics together on the struggle for democracy for all instead of preaching ethnic politics by evil messenger of hate.
    It would be much better to think in one imperfect historic Ethiopia and fight to correct the centuries of problems within us once and for all by bringing a democratic change for all than trying to waste our time in the ethnic politics just to travel half a mile on decades of struggle on the name ‘freedom’. The point is the people of Ethiopia never had a chance to live in democracy in order to live in equality to begin with. So what makes right to struggle for ethnic rights up to separation of states first before democracy for all has been tried, especially in our Twenty First Century?
    Democracy in a multi ethnic society will guarantee to cultivate more competitive leaders and economic and industrial growth workers together as one than in a single and limited ethnic society. Competitive ethnicity in a united and democratic society can be an engine for continuous development and peaceful coexistence. Therefore, the ethicized politicians let you not make the possible an impossible by organizing your people through ethnic lines instead of trying to work hard for all human kind’s equality in democracy for all at once and for all. True democracy fights for all peoples’ rights without favoring one from the other but some politicians waste human lives in the name of freedom for some out of the un democratic society from where in.
    In the face of EPRDF/TPLF’s ethnic politics and private judges, after the Kaliti prisoners won the 2005 public election, knowing that TPLF has never been trusted to work for true change, the now Kaliti prisoners then decided not to share government power over their people in the ethnically constituted and undemocratic government system of Meles. From the start thereafter, they knew the EPRDF/TPLF constitution is not the right constitution to participate in but it was their decision and civic duty, and the right one for lasting peace, to change it with peaceful struggle from within. But, a government who prefers his peaceful opposition to meet rather with gun and imprisonment is not for peace. The Civilized World should not allow Meles, in the naked of brutality, to call these prisoners of conscience as until peace!
    My fellow brothers, let us not fool ourselves to think these prisoners were interested in taking the government power by force and change it to suit their individual power thirsts. The reason I am saying this is because I am hearing some say that the prisoners were not accepting Meles’ invitation to stay in the new parliament and fight within because they so were for power and caused un necessary confrontation. But I say this to them that Meles’ action over the peaceful Ethiopians demand for change is barbaric. Changing the rules and regulations of the new parliament to be more strictly even for the minority seats in the parliament to challenge the majority is a tantamount to kill opposition. Why in the World are we not ready even to understand these prisoners’ stand as principled of civic servants’?
    When the Kaliti prisoners challenged the EPRDF’s/TPLF’s political structure and its constitution over the Ethiopian society, the May 2005 election put the now prisoners in Kaliti superior over the Meles’ Fifteen years power dynasty. For these courageous individuals to become the first and truly public elected leaders of the country, Meles was no more in power. That is why, to the Meles’ government killing squads, time was up to shoot sharp and kill those who dare to demand them down. The then elected leaders, but now prisoners of their losers, clearly have done their civic covenant to be the slave of their electors. Now, it is up to their people, who elected them to defend them, to stand up and return their votes. God forbid these individuals and turn the evil sward against their enemy.
    After the landslide victory, it was their responsibility not to share this government’s power over the people of Ethiopia with out the reflection of the people’s power over the government. For these, as any public representative in the civilized world would do to defend their given civic promise, the now prisoners then demanded EPRDF/TPLF government to respond to that election results positively by answering the Eight Points first if that political process to bring any positive out come and participate in the parliament, but EPRDF/TPLF decided that this will never happen. So the real problem of today’s Kaliti prisoners suffering for the Ethiopian people by the government of EPRDF/TPLF then began here and only here. It was their own decision to obey to civility and participated in the TPLF’s wrong Constitution for the sake of peace on the ‘if’ of possible changes within the system in the first place. Their crime did on Meles’ government is only being readiness to carry their given task and lead the Ethiopian People to the next level.
    Furthermore, these prisoners did not ask EPRDF/TPLF to go out of the Ethiopian political process and live the way to the truly, publicly, elected leaders only. They did not call the people of Ethiopia to pick up armament to over throw the government either. Nor did they call for the destruction of any economic development. In fact, the reason they called economic sanction on TPLF and its affiliated groups thereafter the Meles’ action over the peaceful demonstration was to match the Meles’ barbaric action by civilized one. To call economic sanction against a violent regime should not be interpreted as attempted genocide. All they did was asking the government of Meles to answer the peoples’ demand positively and peacefully other wise. The government’s blame for the Kaliti prisoners to cause the election 2005 after math is like saying the ’slaves should never beg their masters peacefully in the first place in order to set them free, or else they will be put to sleep.’
    My call to the people of Ethiopia is why are we not understanding these and stand united to take these prisoners’ cause as everyone and every opposition group or party? Their lives are in the hands of their electors to FORCE TPLF TO SET THEM FREE OTHER WISE THE ORGANIZATION WILL NEVER EXIST IN THE ETHIOPIAN POLITICAL LIFE IN THE FUTURE. If their electors betray them, it is not the Government’s responsibility only when it kill them. The people of Ethiopia have a responsibility to stand together to save the prisoners, to save the people. There is no more urgent time for unity than today.
    THE EPRDF/TPLF’S DISTRACTIVE POLITICAL GAME ON ETHIOPIANS NOW IS MORE ON THE WORST EVER THAN ALL PAST CHALLENGES ETHIOPIA EVER FACED.’ THE REALITY OF THIS GAME HAS BEEN FOLLOWING ITS OWN DIRECTIVE TREND OF THE ERITREAN CASE . NOW IT IS HARD TO UNDERSTAND TO BLAME ALL THE PAST OPERESSIVE GOVERNMENT SYSTEMS IN ETHIOPIA BECAUSE THE PRESENT IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN THE PAST FOR ETHIOPIAN STATE HOOD SURVIVAL AS UNTED.
    THIS REALITY HAS NOW BEEN OVBIOUS WITH THE RECENT SEBHAT NEGA’S INTERVIEW WITH TPLF’S RADIO STATION ABOUT THE ERITREAN QUESTION. THE INTERVIEW SHOWS THAT TPLF IS NOW DICIDING ITSELF TO GO A HEAD AND TELL ITS INTENTION OPENLY
    FROM THE START TO FUTURE PLAN. IT CAN NOT GO ANY FURTHER WITHOUT SHOWING THEIR ‘REAL POLITICAL STRATEGY AND MORE SO IT IS BECOMING AS A FINAL SHOWDOWN.’ THIS IS WHAT I EXACTLY SAID TO MY FRIENDS SEVERAL YEARS AGO THAT ‘AT THE END MELES WOULD LIKE TO PUSH HIS REGIME FOR ERITREAN FRIEND SHIP TO HELP HIS POWER WITH ERITREANS IN ORDER TO ACCOMPLISH HIS GAOL THAT IS A STRONG GOVERNMENT IN THE NORTH AND A WEEK AND DISFUNCTIONAL ONE IN THE SOUTH. I ALSO SAID THAT MELES WOULD NOT HESITATE TO TAKE TEGRAY AWAY FROM ETHIOPIA WHEN HE THINKS IT IS TIME.
    BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN THE PEOPLE OF TIGRY WILL GO WITH HIM BY WILL. THAT DOES NOT MEAN AGAIN THAT MELES WILL NEVER TAKE THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE TO WAR AGAINST ERITREA. HIS PRIORITY FOR BUILDING A STRONG ETHNIC DYNASTY OF HIS OWN UNDER THE POWER OF HIS PERSONAL CONTROL IS MORE THAN HE CAN STAND FOR ERITREA.
    THE REASON MELES CHOSE TO TAKE ETHIOPIANS TO WAR WITH ERITREA SEVERAL YEARS AGO WAS TO GAIN POLITICAL SUPPORT IN ETHIOPIA AND BUY MORE TIME AND HE WILL DO THIS AGAIN IF HE THINKS HE CAN FOOL THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE AGAIN.
    WHEN THE 2005 ELLECTION GAVE TPLF AN IMPRESSION OF LOOSING POWER, IT DECIDED TO OPEN A NEW WAR WITH SOMALIA. THIS TIME, TPLF’S HOPE IS, TO DIVERT ATTENTION AND IN THE SAME TIME TO DISRUPT THE OROMO AND OGADEN ARMED RESISTANCES AGAINST HIS REGIME AND MOST OF ALL TO EXPLOIT ‘THE WAR AGAINST INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM. IN ORDER TO GET MORE AMERICAN’S HELP’. EVERY TIME MELES SEES AN OPORTUNITY, HE TAKES IT WITHOUT A REGARD TO THINK OF AN ADVERSE EFFECT OF THE ETHIOPIAN INTEREST.
    FINALLY, TPLF WILL CHOOSE A TIME FOR ITSELF WHEN TO START TO DECIDE ON GIVING UP BADEME IN ORDER TO PLEASE THE ‘INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY’ AND TO STOP MR. ISAYIAS AFEWORKI FROM SUPPORTING THE UNTI MELES’ REGIME OPOSITION GROUPS IN ASMERA. THIS WILL BE DONE WHEN THE TPLF HAS LEFT ITESELF NO OTHER OPTIONS.
    UNTIL THEN, ALL OF THE OTHER OPTIONS HAS TO DO WITH ITS INTENTION TO KILL THE ETHIOPIAN DEMOCRATICAL MOVEMENT AND PUT BACK ETHIOPIA ON HIS HAND. THE DECISSION TO GO A HEAD AND ORDER THE SPECIALY TRAINED TPLF BASED JUDICERY SYSTEM TO CONVICT THE KALITI PRISONERS AS GUILTY IS TO SHOW ALL AT ONCE AND GUN DOWN EVERY ONE WHO DARE TO STAND UP AGAINST TPLF’S CONSTITUTION TO MAKE TPLF THE ONLY ‘WOLF GARDIAN’ OF THE ETHIOPIAN STATE.
    ISN’T THIS OVBIOUS IN THE FACE OF SEBHAT NEGAS’ INTERVIEW? THEN, HOW PATIENT THE ETHIOPIAN PEAPLE CAN BE TO ACCEPT THIS REGIME AS ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT?
    SO MY FELLOW ETHIOPIANS OUTSIDE AND INSIDE ETHIOPIA SHOULD TAKE THIS FINAL SHOWDOWN TO CALL AMONG THEMSELVES FOR ‘UNITED, WE WIN THE ENEMY AND LIVE TOGETHER IN PEACE, BUT, DIVIDED, WE CONSTANTLY ATTACK EACH OTHER.’ THIS MUST BE FOR ETHIOPIANS A FINAL CALL TO RESIST TPLF WITH CIVIL AND POPULAR UPRISAL WITH OUT A REGARD TO ONE’S ETHNIC AFILATION WHAT SO EVER. THAT IS TO SAY NO MORE DIVISIVENESS. ONE’S HOME WILL NEVER BE SAFE UNTIL TPLF’S DIVISIVE POLICY IS IMPOSED ON THE LIVES OF ETHIOPIANS.
    WE KNOW THAT TPLF CAN NOT KILL MOST OF THE ETHIOPIANS WHO CHOSE NOT TO LIVE WITH TYRANY IN ORDER TO LIVE WITH A FEW OTHERS THAT CAN SHARE ITS VALUE IF WE ALL GET OUT OF OUR HOME TO FILL ALL THE STREETS OF THE CITIES ALL OVER THE COUNTRY AT THE SAME TIME.
    The list the people of Ethiopia can do for themselves and for these prisoners cause is to refuse to obey the Woyane government until the people of Ethiopia can be heard as enough is enough.
    If we think of ourselves to challenge EPRDF/TPLF in a ‘different time and different way, either we mostly are fooling our selves or we are so cowered or limited with our temporary interests in the EPRDF political system such as minor investments without being protected for prolong stability. If we decided to be a drop out of this political reality, we may never get any chance to think twice to solve our problems by ourselves. Tomorrow, when it is too late, outsiders will come to separate us instead of support us.
    The right thing to do now is to leave ones political difference aside and support these people’s cause for freedom. There freedom is every one’s freedom. I am not neither asking to ask the government to free the prisoners and do nothing nor to come to under Kinijit leadership and abandon what ever different Ethiopians support different political parties’ agendas but what I am asking is to do one thing at a time that is to become united on this cause and fight the government together and work for democracy effectively and solve every individual’s problem once and for all.
    The call should not be to tell those who are in the armed struggle to drop their arms first and join the peaceful struggle, instead, it should be a political cooperation between those who believe on the peaceful struggle and armed struggle. To marginalize the OLF, ONLF, and other ethnic political organization’s movement without an effort to work out differences and work together for democratic change will cause another bad experience by Mengistu Hailemariam’s leadership during the Eritrean struggle for Independence for the country’s future too. Since the struggle is for freedom and democracy for all and for lasting peace, utmost effort should be exerted to include every one.
    To choose to live in the jungle in order to fight a dictator government is not to be blamed. Instead it should be a call for every conscience people to understand the cause and effect of armed struggle. The case now should not be defending from one another. Self determination up to secession’ is diluting many Ethiopians in the ‘puzzle of freeing Ethiopians from Ethiopians’. Freeing Ethiopians from Ethiopians is a self destruction and it is counter productive for lasting peace and freedom for all.
    TPLF knows very well on this. It should not either deceive us or cheat us when it is claiming itself for peace and others for anti-peace. By now, we all know what this political gang has been through. We know TPLF has no peaceful solution after it divided its people.
    The real peace comes when every one understands the cause and effect of the ugly human sufferings as a consequence of fighting each other with guns as oppose to fighting among us with civil right issues.’ By saying this, I am not contradicting myself to ask armed resistance groups to disarm themselves and join the peaceful struggle only, instead those who already in the armed struggle should join also the peaceful struggle as a means of lasting solution to live with their country men peacefully after the Meles regime is over and a people’s democratic government by all together is empowered.
    So let us all say no for further human sufferings by being united on the cause of Kaliti freedom fighters. This freedom shall come from unity for lasting peace.
    All Ethiopians shall understand that a ‘separate agenda will never solve one problem. We shall live together without any political and economical oppression over another by creating democracy for all.
    We shall never blame EPRDF/TPLF’s action over the people of Ethiopia until we know our lack of unity is the main problem!! I dearly and urgently hope AFD and Siye Abraha can contribute ethnic politcs to an end through change of minds and take the opportunity to bring the peaceful struggle as a solution for lasting peace for all. And, I also sincerely appeal to those who are in the same political agenda but different thinking to come to their sense that to help Ethiopians and the country is today. Please free yourself to work together and take responsibility first before you can help others to be free.

  6. | #6

    I have to say, that I could not agree with you in 100% regarding Ethiopia life jail terms attacked, but it’s just my opinion, which could be wrong :)

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