Meles Zenawi’s orchestrated Public Rape & national Humiliation – Neamen Zeleke

October 13th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Two or three decades ago , every Ethiopian from each imaginable sector of society would have been grossly offended by the utterly sad spectacle of the brave Birtukan Mediksa, (more…)

Two or three decades ago , every Ethiopian from each imaginable sector of society would have been grossly offended by the utterly sad spectacle of the brave Birtukan Mediksa, a defenseless woman, a mother of a child, paraded in public and forced to undergo televised self humiliation and public shame. Birtukan Medkesa’s ineffable inner turmoil and agony are, perhaps, best captured by Eskinder Nega’s acute observation when he wrote: “… 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 …” Then he poses the apt question: “…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?” The answer to Eskinder is that they have no moral compass. They never had one, nor will they ever care to have one. It should not be expected from sadist criminals who have savoured every bit, second and minute of the pain and agony they inflicted on an entire Ethiopian nation and millions of our people for the past twenty years, at every turn and interval.

It is known that the fundamental line of demarcation that separates dictatorship from constitutionally liberal democracies is the respect accorded in the latter for the sanctity and dignity of the human beings. Individual liberty as expressed by the concepts and practice of the rule of law and due process is at the very foundation of democracies. The glaring differences among the two political systems are the way they treat their citizens as subjects on the one hand, and autonomous individuals with dignity and humanity on the other. In democracies the weakest members of society—prisoners of war, convicts, and the mentally ill—are treated humanely and in accordance with the rule of law. The laws protect the personal dignity and liberty of the human individual. The Geneva Convention and other norms and laws of international nature are also meant to guide the behaviours of states and non-state actors alike on ways in which “enemies” are supposed to treat and deal with each other. In democracies, the laws and norms of society do not permit a prisoner to be paraded for a televised public humiliation, like what Meles Zenawi and his thugs imposed on Birtukan.

Even convicted felons, jailed for murder, express themselves and testify in public only if they agree to it. Nothing is as much a nemesis to the supreme and cherished values of liberty and human dignity as to have to speak against one’s self interest leave alone to engage in an act of forced self-humiliation. Indeed, watching Birtukan give the interview the way she did, under apparent and tremendous duress, violates the core of our essence as Ethiopians. Where the actual shame lies is in fact in the coercion against a defenceless woman like Birtuakn.

But what were the purposes of shaming and subjecting a harmless and powerless woman to public humiliation by parading her on national television to utter the words she did? Is the target only Birtuakn, the woman and the mother, the political leader, or does it have a further reaching objective beyond the public and televised rape of her humanity and individuality? The intended effect of crushing one’s self esteem in this case is also meant to crush the self–esteem of her supporters: The millions of Ethiopians who advocated for her release, held vigils, went to demonstrations and rallies, put her picture high in public places from US to Europe, from New Zealand to South Africa. In his lust for vengeance, that is what Meles Zenawi had masterminded.

What, indeed, happened to Birtukan during those lonely days and nights over the stretch of two long years? What was it that sapped her ability to speak her mind as before? What horrors, physical and psychological, was she subjected to break her sense of self? What cruelly creative methods did her tormentors use to cause all the unspeakable effects of physical torture in ways that wouldn’t leave visible signs on the outside when she steps out of the prison cell and among the Ethiopian people? What toll did complete and total deprivation of information and communication with the outside world, supplanted by constant infusion of government propaganda, exact on her spirit? In his lust for vengeance to punish Birtukan for her act of speaking truth to his power, Meles Zenawi subjected her to the unspeakable and the unthinkable, to coerce her in front of the television camera, and designed such a heart wrenching spectacle to humiliate the millions of supporters of Birtukan by parading her on national television while millions watched the chilling scene in angst.

After all, for these millions and for us all citizens–men, women, mothers, fathers, children, and the youth alike–Birtukan represents the struggle of the Ethiopian people for liberty and justice. She embodied their dreams and aspirations, for all those who watched her, the millions of Ethiopians longing for justice, equality, and liberty. Two years ago, Birtukan stood in defiance of the regime and its unjust demands. In “Qale”, a testament of her moral courage, she was defiant against an oppressive and unjust order of her captors and tormenters. During the nearly two years of languishing in jail she had to endure the torment of a solitarily confinement, and so much more by way of physical and mental terror, to exact a heavy toll on her mind and soul, until Birtukan was made to engage in an act of public shame and humiliation.

There should not be a shadow of doubt that this basest of acts, such barbaric and heartless act was done with the calculated agenda of killing the ideals of liberty and justice she championed for the people of Ethiopia; it was done to murder the noble ideals to whose height Ethiopian humanity has aspired to reach; and it was done to stampede over the millions of Ethiopians hungry for freedom, equality and democracy. By desecrating and discrediting the messenger, the embodiment of our aspirations, with her own words in an orchestrated televised interview, those universal values of freedom, liberty and justice are also put to public shame and humiliation.

No lingering doubt should be nagging the mind of any sane citizen. The aim of the cruel drama is clear and loud: Meles declares once again, we can break your leaders; we will make them bow and cow to our will; we can humiliate the pan-Ethiopian identity Birtukan represents. Derivatively, we can, at any given time, take away your self esteem, your dignity and your self-respect as Ethiopians. We can make you shiver with fear; turn you into a sheepish subject that can only function under our will and whim. In her essay on Courage and Resistance, Susan Sontag wrote: “…Courage inspires communities: the courage of an example–for courage is as contagious as fear and fear disperses them…” It was Birtukan’s moral courage that was the target, in an attempt to replace it with fear. Fear of the power of Meles Zenawi’s state, an unjust power. Fear pervading the human individual and society, the Ethiopian people at large, as has happened in the near totalitarian police state of Meles Zenawi’s ethnocentric dictatorship.

Surely, the inhumane acts of public humiliation and forced confessions of course have their precedents where totalitarian dictatorships have reigned. As is well known, during the former regime of Col. Mengistu, under the spell of its Marxist Stalinist ideology, people were forced to conduct the so-called “self criticism”, admitting guilt or an alleged “crime” in public, if not televised, and engage in an imposed self incrimination. It is a practice that has its origins from Joseph Stalin’ s infamous show trials and self-incriminating confessions of Bolshevik leaders, his onetime comrades—Zinoviev, Kamenev, Nikolai Bukharin, “the golden boy” of the Bolsheviks, and many many others. A practice that became the norm on the dark side of the Iron Curtain, whose millions of dissidents found themselves in dungeons in Siberia, known as Gulags. Prisons and solitary confinements that were designed to crush the human spirit in freezing Siberia and other desolate places that also meant to desolate the human soul and break the will. Human spirits whose stories are embodied by such renowned Russian dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov. The award for which Birtukan is nominated bears the latter’s name. Brutal dictators of our most recent times including Sadam Hussein of Iraq and Idi Amin Dada of Uganda employed similar practices as well.

Not coincidentally, the regime of Meles Zenawi has its roots in the Stalinist-Albanian brand—an ideology he and his TPLF comrades espoused during their formative years. But even more, the Meles and TPLF Stalinist mode of thinking was born and reared with another quasi ideology — a vehement hatred of Ethiopians and Ethiopiawinet. Such a worldview was at the core of TPLF’s ideological outlooks starting from their early days when it championed its original agenda of the secession of Tigray from Ethiopia and the formation of the Tigray republic. Meles Zenawi and his friends saw the universe and the problems of society through the prism of ethnicity or “nations and nationalities”. Society’s prime contradictions had their basis in the “question of nationalities”. And the prime agenda of its struggle? That of ushering in a society in which “nations and nationalities” are the core organising principle of identity and society. In contrast, the human individual’s sanctity and dignity, liberty as well as moral values that sustain society, values such as self realization, a higher spiritual and attainment and the realization of a truly free being of the human individual, do not figure whatsoever in this worldview.

The ethnocentric driven quasi ideology which Meles Zenawi’s TPLF erected as the edifice of the current Ethiopian state has become the alpha and omega and the standard bearers against which all and sundry policies, activities, and ideas are measured. Of course, sooner rather than later, the hidden agenda behind the official ideology of the state, and the attendant hodgepodge “Revolutionary Democracy”, proved to be a façade to mask ethnic minority domination and the all too pervasive hegemony of the ethnocentric elite of Tigray over the rest of the Ethiopian people. (The term here is used to differentiate the latter from the non-ethnocentric and democratic elite of Tigray). The current reality in Ethiopia reminds one of the proverbial Orwellian dictum found in Animal Farm that “some animals are more equal than the others”.

As argued in the preceding sections, when the cruel sadists chose to savour watching such a sad spectacle of a defenceless woman being paraded on national television, they surely have a dual pronged evil agenda. In the process, the tens of millions of Ethiopians are humiliated too; they are made to feel that they are powerless, and indeed are made to feel the pangs emanating from the mighty power of Meles Zenawi, at the helm of the ethnocentric dictatorship. The purpose is none other than exacting submission, subservience, and fear by the populace. Let us recall what was done to Tamrat Layne. The erstwhile prime minister of the TPLF/EPRDF regime was forced to confess his alleged crime in front of the so-called parliament, and the public watched him, dumfounded, on national television. The rest is a well known story of Meles Zenawi’s one time comrade in arms serving prison for several years on corruption charges.

One is hard pressed to pose the following question. Is it then only a coincidence that the only two high profile cases during the reign of the TPLF/EPRDF regime of Meles Zenawi’s ascent to state power who were made to endure the agony of public humiliation and shame happened to be non-Tigrayans? This line of reasoning and claim is not without a foundation. A glimpse can be offered of the thinking behind Meles Zenawi’s and that of his associates in the TPLF and their stooges in the so-called EPRDF. In the Aftermath of Birtukan’s release, the prime website of the Woyanes in the Diaspora wrote the following about a TPLF cadre known as Amora and in whose honor they produced a film: “Let us hope lessons have been learned here by every one! By now we should all know, after watching the story of Amoraw and others, if there is injustice and repression Ethiopians do know how to fight till the last drop so to speak. Amoraw died because he did not want to blink even when faced with certain death to save his life let alone a warm jail! He fought till death and brought about the current constitution. The constitution must be respected. The Government must be respected for it is the government of the people! And these are the lessons we hope Birtukan and others have learned, that no one is above the law!” So goes the editorial posted on the said Woyane Website. The message of is clear, only the TPLFites can endure pain, torture and death.

Be that as it may, for any one person who has any lingering doubt, what has emerged once again is further proof of the baseness of the characters at the helm of the Ethiopian state: Brutal, cruel, sadistic, and low life scum of the earth. A bunch of cold blooded thugs that have no moral compass whatsoever, as the prominent journalist Eskinder Nega tried in vain to find one. Today, such are the people claiming to rule over the eighty million plus Ethiopians, claiming to be the “government” of Ethiopia worthy of respect, acceptance legitimacy by the citizens of the Ethiopian nation. If there is a single soul who is not utterly outraged at the multiple crimes committed on Birtukan by the Meles Zenawi, it is telling as to the lowest depths we have sunk as Ethiopians. It is also telling of the degradation of our essence as human beings devoid of all moral values–compassion, empathy, forgiveness, respect and empathy for the weak and powerless—which have been the pillars of functioning societies throughout the ages.

We have seen our nation our people subjected to all forms of agonies; we have witnessed in agony piles of skeletons; we have carried heaps of humiliations against our humanity and Ethiopian identity until this very day by the Meles Zenawi’s regime. The people of Ethiopia have no choice but to redouble the resolve to fight and remove this sadist group of criminals from power by all and any means necessary. Let us then resolve and fight until the end to bring about a truly democratic political order, where the dignity and sanctity of human beings and the freedom of the individual are held the paramount values in our ancient land.

One bard stated some time ago: “I believe in aristocracy, though, if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure” The power to endure all trials and see the inevitable triumph of humane and just Ethiopia over cruelty, injustice, and dictatorship. No doubt at all, we shall overcome indeed!

  1. aha!
    | #1

    You can not maintain the sanctity of individual freedom and liberty in a a country where ethnic and secessionist politics and/or policies prevail and ethnic rights supercedes individual right. What you need to focus is on the the common goals that of unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians under liberal democracy to unwind the TPLF/eprdf regime not on the preservation of individual freedom and liberty alone, while leaving the other components of the current regime in tact that of ethnic and secessionist rights superseding individual rights and the sovereinigthy of Ethiopia is undermined. You clamour over single issues instead of looking at the bigger picture and rallying people to unite over a common goals with common strategies to save Ethiopia from disintegration by the negative forces of disintegration by standing up to the ethnic and secessionist policies and or politics created, which the cause to a divide and rule, ethnic strife, ethnic dictatorship, not regular dictatorship, exploitation and political and economic strangle hold by TPLF and TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprises with the help of teletafi parties and parties with ethnic agenda with entitlements for ethnic and secessionist rights.

    We lost the path of Constitutional Monarchy to a marxisist ideology, where the former would induced democratic revolution due the lack of vision of the socialistic student movements of liberation movements concerned about the oppression of nations and nationalities only to end up in more agony by the subsequent regimes.

  2. Saba
    | #2

    Great articles bro.

  3. Lafiw
    | #3

    “. . . the brave Birtukan Mediksa, a defenseless woman, . . .”

    The article is alright but the statement I posted above from the article is self-contradictory and condescending. Let’s get it, Birtukan is our ሱሪ ለባሽ eternal heroine.

  4. Alem
    | #4

    Look Mr. Zeleke, you don’t have to use all these fancy words to express yourself. If your intension is to be recognized that is fine but if you are trying to reach the community you are not communicating. The people need someone to lead ‘em and direct ‘em, not to confuse ‘em. And certainly saying ‘ … Removing by all means necessary’ is endorsing violence. That isn’t what the people need right now. Wake up dude!

  5. Temachu
    | #5

    Alem, Mr. Zeleke is already recongized. I do not think he needs your recognituon. I agree with him too we must use all means neccsary to out this fascsit scoundrles.

  6. Drama
    | #6


  7. Alem
    | #7

    What the hell are you talking about! If you can’t express yourself in English, then this is not your forum, bro! Just
    listen to Amharic radios on the weekends and suck your lips, man!

  8. Abiy Ethiopiawe Segawe We-Menfesawe
    | #8

    Bro,Neame Zeleke
    I read your articles many times,they were poerful and reasonable,but now on this article I don’t know why you did put poison:”“. . . the brave Birtukan Mediksa, a defenseless woman, . . .” .I don’t want to plagiarize your words,phrases or paragraphs from your article,but I just want to remind you it is not a good idea to justfie Zenawis lienig.Anyway nice article!!!

  9. Tilahun Bekele
    | #9

    Support for Birtukan Mideksa

    As we all know, Mrs Birtukan Mideksa has been nominated for 2010 EP Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.

    We cannot fight against darkness and win. The light of consciousness is all that is necessary. Birtukan is that light. Few wise men of Europe understood that thought of freedom in Ethiopia and brought Birtukan’s name to the highest order of humanity.

    The Geneva conventions 1949 international treaties binding on all states including Woyanne, limits barbarity of any sort. No wonder all Develop nations regard supreme law of the land as Humanitarian laws. Hence the birth right of every man and women on the face of the planet. Now imagine what is in store for him that mocks and degrades the highest order of humanity.

    Now we all know what happens to Soviet Union after few years of Sakharov prize. Europe closed up all avenues for escape, Soviet Union dismembered beyond recognition, and gulags and all the rest went to their death camp. History is repeating and woyanne is no exception.

    Let us galvanize and exploit this extraordinary prize nomination for Birtukan, so that darkness is wiped out as far as west is to east and north is to south.

    Now you wish your support message reaches as many MEP’s as possible and it is very important that we should do so.

    Follow the following simple steps.

    1) Copy and paste the following MEP’s email address to your send To: Line

    2) Copy and paste “Freedom of thought in Ethiopia” to Subject: line

    3) Copy and paste “This Sample letter” to body space and sign it

    4) Click send

    5) Introduce “Birtukan the Light” to a friend of Ethiopia and ask them to support you.

    I am inspired by many young Ethiopians, as young as 13 years old. US, Canada
    And all over the world who spread the word of love of Birtukan the Light.

    Love you all

    Tilahun B
    1) MEP’s email address:

    2) Freedom of thought in Ethiopia on subject line
    3) “This sample Letter”
    Dear MEP……
    I am sending you this brief note to humbly request you to lend support to Birtukan Mideksa’s nomination for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Birtukan is an unsung heroine that needs the attention and unreserved support of people like you in her struggle for freedom, human rights and justice in Ethiopia.
    Young lawyer and former judge Birtukan is a single mum and leader of the Unity for Democracy and Justice, who was jailed twice in the last five years for standing against the criminal repressions being committed by the forces of injustice led by Meles Zenawi. Her last incarceration, though it ended last week, lasted 646 days in Kality jail, where she was subjected to untold brutality and solitary confinement. She was also denied visitation rights, access to a lawyer and proper medical care.
    Your support for Birtukan’s nomination will undoubtedly add momentum to the struggle of the Ethiopian people for dignity, human rights, justice and democracy in our country and can also draw attention to the thousands of political prisoners languishing in harsh jails across Ethiopia.
    In anticipation of your kind support, I appreciate your kindness to add your voice in recognition of the struggle of Birtukan Mideksa and the entire oppressed people of Ethiopia.
    Yours sincerely

  10. Del Letyopia Hezb
    | #10

    We can control what we feel about being humilated, but we don’t have to humlate Brtukan about bing raped in public. We have to select our words even while defending her. We have to be very considerate.
    Thank you

  11. kentu
    | #11

    PEOPLE, people, please walk up stll you are sleeping now the time is 2pm and now weyane come back with a new face,peace deal with ogaden, release birtukan all this are not real enemeys just they are looking money, job that is weyane need to stay in powerand the opposition of medrek they come back as a new face but at night they are have only one chioce not through peacefull movment, birtukanor other playing weyane cards . do it good or leave it. organise your people insid and abroudreal fight otherwise don,t wast poor peoples time.

Comments are closed.