Few Minutes with Birtukan Mideksa – Eskinder Nega, Addis Ababa

October 8th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Birtukan shook her head sideways as I spoke: “We are proud of you, “I told her.” You are our hero.” There was pained expression on her face. Something is visibly bottled up in her, pushing to explode. (more…)

Birtukan shook her head sideways as I spoke: “We are proud of you, “I told her.” You are our hero.” There was pained expression on her face. Something is visibly bottled up in her, pushing to explode. But there were too many people in her living room for an intimate conversation. She nodded when I finished, her head slightly inclined downwards to avoid eye contact.” Thank you,” she finally said faintly. I could barely hear her.

And suddenly I felt guilty. Though I meant what I said, I worried whether I was making things worse by sounding patronizing. This is not what Birtukan needs right now. Sitting next to me is a woman at what is one of her worst moment in her life. A woman suffering profoundly on the inside—exactly what coldhearted aging men, addicted to unaccountable power after two decades at the helm of a nation they have persistently pushed towards dysfunction (so far unsuccessfully), intended in their pitiless drive to destroy their “enemies.”

Birtukan is happy to be with us—her mother, to whom she is an only daughter; her beautiful daughter, Hale, who is just beginning to understand what has happened to her mother over the past two years; her friends, who cherish and admire her openly; and her supporters, who number in the millions—but it’s easy to see that she feels she has wretchedly fallen below expectation.

But the staggeringly vulgar wording of the “pardon” says more about the kind of people this undying ancient nation has fallen to rather than Birukan. Here is an irremediable proof—if more is needed—of their petty cruelty. Here they stand not only at their normally diminished height but stooped even lower. What kind of heartless men would threaten a woman with indefinite imprisonment until their demise unless she admits to “deceiving the nation and the government?” Where is their moral compass?

For the record, this is no pardon. This is self-incrimination under duress—a bald-faced human rights violation.

The essence of pardon is forgiveness. By so obviously seeking to inflict emotional pain—by humiliating her—the EPRDF has made it clear that it does not seek forgiveness. There is no spite in the act of forgiveness—a standard that the wording of Birtukan’s “pardon” does not meet. EPRDF’s durable rancor sticks out like a sore thumb. This is why it could reasonably be said that the “pardon” granted to Birtukan is no more than the outcome of the international campaign to free her. In reality, she has not been pardoned—forgiven– but let go grudgingly. And obviously the price the EPRDF demanded was an illegal act of self-incrimination—the alleged act of deceit— in breach of
the law; which protects citizens against self-incrimination. Clearly, the illegal party here has never been Birtukan from the very beginning up to the very end. To paraphrase Castro, history will absolve her— very loudly!

The EPRDF will fail when it is denied what it seeks:

1— Break Birtukan’s will.
2—Create a gulf between Birtukan and her supporters.
3—Demoralize the democratic camp

Citizens have an obligation to see to it that none of theses things come to pass. Beware Citizens!

  1. Asfaw
    | #1

    Wonderful comment. That’s their thought, “damage already done”.But, we as a ppl stand & fight make this barbaric tactic fail.
    Birtukan, you are our Heroine for yrs to come.

  2. Drama
    | #2


  3. Anonymous
    | #3

    Because of principle many have perished in Ethiopia believing people on leadership are human during the Derg time and Ethiopia lost its cream of society to end up in the hand of tugs’liers and low level mental setup like tplf mafia group with their(Menta Melas).I have passed five years of my life in the derg prison for doing nothing when i was released i was given letter saying (Reason for detention Preventive and condition of release Pardoned)i still have this subject letter,i did not make me feel criminal or other…because dictators live by doing all the evil things on innocent people so no one should be worried about Ms Birtukans release in what ever condition we all know…

  4. Molla
    | #4

    I beg to differ with the writer about the ‘pardon’ letter. The letter lists some of the ‘wrong doings’(crimes) for which the pardon is being asked. Obviously they are the charges made by Meles in his different interviews. As I understood the inclusion of these statements has the effect of mocking Meles. It gives the impression that Birtukan has included those admissions just to please Meles personaly and satisfy his megalomaniac lust for vengiance (they sound very childish and very embarrasing to be included in a formal legal document). In so doing, she has exposed his real nature. No one will see it seriously as a plead of guilty considering the fact that Birtukan stood by her word for the past two years despite the despicable prison conditions. She has been recognized as a prisoner of conscience or political prisoner by Western governments and international Civic organisations. In hindsight, I am sure that Meles will find out how he come out to be a loser. It would have been more beneficial for Meles and his government if the release of Birtukan was presented as a gesture of compassion or political compromise to bring peace, understanding and stable environment for ‘democratization’- in light of the increasing international pressure.

  5. Justice
    | #5

    Thank you Eskinder, you put it clearly what we most of the Ethiopian think. Birtukan, the only daughter of her mother, a single mother of a beautiful child, a young girl of mid 30’s has no other option to escape from the rotten and dark prison, and the belly of gluttonous, cruel, ill-mannered and deceptive TPLF, except to “say” what the unappeasable, spiteful, undignified and misleading Meles wanted to hear.

  6. Anonymous
    | #6

    Thank you Eskinder, well said. I am very worried about Birtukan’s emotional being. From what I observed, it is clear to see on Birtukan’s face that they forced her to do something without her will. It seems though she feels she doesn’t deserve the overwhelming welcome the Ethiopians have shown her. Very crucial that Birtukan comes to know how much she is loved and admired by over seventy six millions of Ethiopians more than she will ever know. I hope Birtukan understands fully that 76 millions of Ethiopians know the cruelty of heartless Meles and that she has done nothing wrong to be uncomfortable. My best wishes to Birtukan and her family.

  7. annanymouse
    | #7

    Now it is time and turn for Abebe/Legesse/Mathza/Meles and his boss Bereket Simon to wear Birtukan’s dress and spent time in prison indefinitely!!!

  8. koster
    | #8

    Birtukan is the hope for millions who are hungry of freedom and bread. Meles only proved that he is a black Hitler/Mussoloni nothing more.

  9. Anonymous
    | #9

    I am glad that Birtukan is out of the hell of Woyane prison to be with her only daughter and her loving mother and thank God Birtukan’s mother’s prayers finally answered to be with her only daughter and granddaughter in the same roof. But to say that Birtukan is “FREE” is stretching the real truth.
    Let’s hope and pray that God answers the prayers of the rest of thousands of Ethiopian mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters and brothers and relatives waiting for their loved ones to be released out of Woyane prisons.
    Birtukan and the rest of Ethiopians will never be free as long as Woyanes stay in power and continue to abuse their power.

  10. kentu
    | #10

    20 years ago goshu weldie make a big ethiopians meeting . at that time he said our country is invaded by shaibia and weyane so we dont have a choice only to fight back just i need only one thing from you contriut money and i and fellow ethiopian we are going to jangle then the people they start to give money more than 2000 people only 500 they contribut at that time goshu frastrated and angry said to the odions you are not ready forthis.you are only ready to tack from that he is out of poletics i was there at that time after 20 years he was real.we saw opposition,thaey did,t do any thinh finally they kick out from parliament like a dog ,becouse of them so many poor kids murderd in street of addis and many more they went jail weyane is poerlull than ever not becouse he has right policie but by creating fack oppoition partyshowing the world that we a democratic country but for all this sin in first place more than weyan they are responsible .

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