Which Constituition, Aite Tesfaye? by Wondemhunegn Ezezew

December 25th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

–Romans 12:19 (more…)

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

–Romans 12:19

“I was made, by the law, a criminal, not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for, because of what I thought, because of my conscience. Can it be any wonder to anybody that such conditions make a man an outlaw of society? Can it be wondered that such a man, having been outlawed by the government, should be prepared to lead the life of an outlaw, as I have led for some months, according to the evidence before this court?”
–Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom, page 479

The first biblical quote is for the revengeful and Mandela’s words are for the deceitful political cheerleaders of Meles Zenawi, including Mr. Tesfaye Habisso, whose latest article that appeared on Aigaforum elicited this response.


I must admit from the outset that I am not former Derg official; I belong to what we may call the ‘Woyane Generation.’ Nor any of my close kins have been convicted criminals for collaborating in the crimes and atrocities of the military junta of Mengistu Haile Mariam. But I cannot deny the fact that many of my cousins and a half-brother of mine had fought bravely against the secessionist, narrow-nationalist movements of the time, including TPLF, which sought to break the country into pieces for some real or perceived grievances stemming from ethnic discrimination and cultural oppression. I must also say that am proud of the sacrifices and patriotic devotion of all Ethiopians who paid the ultimate price so that Ethiopia could prevail with its sovereignty respected and its territorial integrity intact.

But I also recognize the fact that the period from 1974 to 1991 was one of the darkest eras in Ethiopia’s long and colourful history. It was a period of Red (and White) Terrors during which, to use the words of Harold Marcus, “unspeakable horrors were perpetrated on a largely defenseless civilian population for the sake of dogmatic purity, the broad masses, democracy, national integrity, and civilian rule.” It was a trying period for all Ethiopians, especially for the best and brightest young generation of the time, whose innocence or guilt depended on the capricious judgments and perverted opinions of heartless officials and political functionaries. Millions of Ethiopians were the direct victims of the brutal Derg regime and hundreds of thousands had been illegally hunted down from their houses, tortured, killed, disappeared, or forced into exile. It was a time of national grief and disaster most of which could be attributed to the ignorance of the communist leaders who had hijacked the popular revolution ignited by the student movement.

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

The last few weeks have been abuzz with internet news about the possible release from jail of former Derg officials. According to Aigaforum, the avowed online mouth piece of the Meles-led regime, a coalition comprising representatives from the four major religions in Ethiopia (Orthodox Tewahedo, Islam, Catholic and Wengelawit) has been playing the intermediary role. The goal of this religious coalition, we are told, is not only to secure their release but also to bring forgiveness and reconciliation between the victims and their victimizers. Thus, if things go as planned, we will manage to burry all the grudges and revenge that we have been nursing against each other for years and open a new promising chapter for the current and future generations of Ethiopia. Though the government has not yet commented on the issue, some insiders have hinted at the possibility of their release at the beginning of the New Year (a few days from now).

Many Ethiopians have reacted to the news, some positively and some negatively. However, as usual, Mr. Tesfaye’s piece is too provocative to ignore. While Mr. Aserat Kassa, a victim himself, courageously argued not to make ourselves prisoners of our revolting past, Mr.Tesfaye, in his typically hypocritical tone, blabbered that he does not have any grudge or discomfort if the former Derg officials got pardon from the government and the people of Ethiopia but, he continues to argue, the idea of pardon is naïve and has “no constitutional or legal cushion to make it practicable.” What makes the whole premise an oxymoron is that it is a staunch supporter of a bloodthirsty regime, notorious for violating its own constitution, who is ringing the alarm bell that the “constitution” will be violated. Mr.Tesfaye mentions the word constitution fifteen times in his three-page uncalled for rant! He even inserts articles and sub articles from the “supreme law of the land” to say that it is not lawful to release the ex-Derg officials!

But, does Mr.Tesfaye want to be reminded that his government is also one of the most barbaric regimes of our time? Did Mr.Tesfaye bother to read the recent 32-page report secretly released by concerned staff members of the Ethiopian security apparatus, a report that details some of the most horrific crimes being committed against Ethiopians among them innocent children under the age of sixteen? How would Mr.Tesfaye react if these teenagers were his daughters or sons, if he has one? Isn’t Mr.Tesfaye aware of such tortures, physical and psychological abuses and degrading mistreatments that are happening all over the country including the notorious-federal-torture centre of Maekelawi in Addis? Will Mr.Tesfaye accept that torture and dehumanization are the hallmarks of brutal and totalitarian regimes, and not of democratic countries? Will Mr.Tesfaye ever recognize the trials and tribulations of most Ethiopians who are currently being robbed of their farms and pastures as a result of the greed and betrayal of his government? Will Mr.Tesfaye muster an iota of courage to acknowledge the massacres and pogroms that have occurred since 1991 in different parts of the country? Can Mr.Tesfaye testify to the supreme court of his conscience that we are devoid of any “constitution” when aid money has been used to punish political opponents? Does Mr.Tesfaye understand that there was also an “Ethiopian constitution” during the Ethiopian Student Movement, in which he was also (an obscure) participant?

Mr.Tesfaye is some four decades older than I am. If he were “lucky,” this was the time that he would have been playing the role of a shimagle or an arbiter in accordance with our traditions and social norms. He should have been more tolerant in his views, more truthful in his accounts, more merciful in his personal and political encounters. Even if this is beyond his ability, he should have put his facts and evidences straight. No one has said that the former Derg officials are blameless. They have committed numerous inhumane crimes and atrocities against our people, and for that they have been punished appropriately, spending twenty years in jail. And I do not believe that twenty or even thirty years in jail is commensurate with the crimes they went away with for seventeen solid years. But, what do we, as Ethiopians, benefit from hoarding these officials in jail for life and from propagating hatred and vindictive messages to our children and grandchildren? Do we get our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers who were brutally killed by these officials back?

For Mr.Tesfaye, the TPLF/EPRDF government might be democratic, accommodating, plural and inclusive. But beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and we might not be surprised that someone who benefits immensely from the status quo will defend it by all means necessary so that they could continue to milk the system to sustain their material rewards and social-political privileges. But for those Ethiopians, who have been directly or indirectly on the receiving end, the system has been exploitive, oppressive, inhumane and vindictive.

My late father, though he eventually died of natural cause, was a victim of the barbaric system that Mr.Tesfaye defends with amazing zeal and enthusiasm. He was subjected to a number of physical and psychological tortures. He was summoned to court several times based on trumped up charges—at one time they accused him of trying to restore the feudal system by anointing a parish/church leader and giving him the title “Blata!” When they failed to produce any evidence to the kangaroo courts, they started to chase him from his life-time professional field. He was responsible for administering and managing church affairs at Woreda level (you can think of it as the equivalent of Woreda administrator in the carnal life) and had served in that capacity since the last years of Haile Selassie I. After obtaining collaborators from higher church officials (the main reason behind my assertions that church and state are re-united under TPLF/EPRDF regime), the Woyane cadres finally succeeded in demoting him to a less important position, and to make matters worse, they recruited his much younger secretary to take over his position. They also found another collaborator who claimed to have lent my father seven thousand Birr. Without his knowledge, without even giving him the chance to challenge the plaintiff in the kangaroo courts, they confiscated our house and gave it to the claimant (imagine for seven thousand Birr!). Upon my father’s death, an event which looked like an Epiphany than a funeral ceremony, the man who produced false documents to get our house, was a keynote speaker and “Qine” producer in the traditions of the Orthodox Church.

The judicious reader might be wondering what caused all this litany of persecutions as well as the egregious violation of my father’s human and property rights. All his crime was that he had opened an opposition political party office in Mekane Birihan, Janamora (remember Deresgie Mariam, the city of Dejach Wubie?) and had turned the whole community rebellious. Mind you, opposing injustice and waging peaceful struggle is illegal in Ethiopia and my father was condemned to go through all this suffering because of his bold decision to challenge the unjust system.

But despite all these injustices against my father and my family, I have never narrated my personal story out of my belief that all Ethiopians, including ordinary Tigreans, are leading similar nauseating life styles and mine is no different. You see, in today’s Ethiopia, not in Mr.Tesfaye’s Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, TPLF/EPRDF is everything: they are the courts, the plaintiffs, the testimonies, the prosecutors, the forgivers, the interrogators, the electoral administrators, the observers, the competitors, the judges, and what you have. They can do anything to eliminate anyone who opposes their parochial rule or to silence anyone who dares to criticize their poor human rights handling processes and procedures.

Why do I narrate my personal story? Because I believe that Mr.Tesfaye can learn something. Because I want to tell him that I nurse no grudge or revenge against any Woyane official, party functionary or against my fathers’ long time friends who had collaborated with the system to hasten his demise. Because I want to remind him that there is no “constitution” in Ethiopia, and even if there was one, it is we the people who can write or abrogate a constitution depending on the times and circumstances in the course of our history. I hope Mr.Tesfay remembers that a few years ago his rubber stamp parliament had passed a new law to deny his former comrade, Mr.Seeye Abraha, a bail grant. What if the same rubber stamp parliament passes another bill, this time round to promote national consensus through reconciliation?

As a school boy I was (and still am) convinced that education is the key to solve many of our multi-faceted social and economic problems. As I grew up I see that it is not so much the lack of educated and skilled man power that has hindered our progress and kept our people in poverty and endless hardships. The problems are hateful and crooked politicians and their dilettantish cheerleaders who waste our scarce resources and destroy our dynamic generations that could have been harnessed positively and productively to contribute to the country’s social and economic revival.

Lack of capital is a drawback in many developing countries including Ethiopia but the klepto/plutocrats make it worse by looting the limited money and stashing it away in foreign banks. The absence of peace and reconciliation is fertile ground for the vindictive and revengeful. Congo and Sudan are known for their bottomless poverty but Mobutu and Al-Bashir have stolen 8 and 9 billion dollars respectively because heightened conflict and crisis present a great window of opportunity for thieves. This amount of money has been looted at a time when the majority of their subjects have no access to clean water or a roof over their head. Regarding our leaders, we do not know the size of their overseas bank deposits but we know for sure that they are ruthless thieves bereft of any moral scruples to the extent of diverting 95 percent of the 1984 Band Aid humanitarian aid for arms purchase deals. The future of Ethiopia and other poor countries depends on efforts aimed at fighting and removing these kleptocratic and revengeful elements for reconciliation is their nightmare.

Wondemhunegn Ezezew

  1. The Eritrean one!
    | #1

    As long as life must go on and there is a better tomorrow forgiven is a key to all of us human kind; especially to those of us from the horn of Africa because we were, A- victims of the cold-war between the last two super powers, B- victims of our own short sited so called leaders who have never worked or interested for their own people, country, or region; rather they are an instrument of foreing agents just like the weyane thugs and Djoubitian khat addicts; and C- forgiven necessary for all of us as individuals and family members.

  2. Zelalem
    | #2

    Those who argue against pardon are divided in to two. While one group argues with reason and logic, the other group consists of people who dance to the tune of fascism and ethnic zenophobia and want to live and relive the TPLF’s traumatizing revenge politics on practically all ethiopians including selected tigreans. Their argument suggests a bigger picture: that of zenophobic politics. To these brothers of genocide, any Ethiopian (to them) is a potential prisoner, that he can be grabbed and taken to court and sentenced to death or shot on the spot. Blinded by ethno-phobia these people fail to make any human or logical analysis. One discovers ethiopia itself is a big prison under the tplf ethno-fascistic rule. But these people are genocide worshippers and their wish seems very imminent. Every Ethiopian should potentially fear for his life under the TPLF rule and presence of this people.

  3. ዳግም
    | #3

    እነዚህ ሰዎች በመጀመሪያ ደረጃ ”ደርግ ” አይደሉም ::ኢትዮጵያውያን ናቸው:: ወያኔ የሚላቸውን ቅዋንቅዋዎች እና አባባሎች በፍጹም መጠቀም የለብንም:: 20 አመት ያለ ፍርድ ታሰሩ::: ምናልባትም በአለም ታሪክ ረጅም ግዜ የወሰደው የፍርድ ሂደት ቢባል ማጋነን አይሆንም::ለጠቀ እና እድሜ ልክ እና ሞት ፍርድ ተፈርዶባቸው እንደገና ወያኔ የፖለቲካ ዝቅጠት ከጫፍ እስከጫፍ ሲደርስበት በ እምነት አባቶች አሳቦ ሊፈታቸው ወደደ::ወያኔ ለመሆኑ እነዚህ የቀድሞ ባለስልጣናት ላይ [ ደርግ በሚለው አባባል አላምንም ወያኔያዊ ቅዋንቅዋ ስለሆነ ] የመፍረድ የሞራል ብቃት አለው ወይ?? እጁ ላይ የንጹሃን ደም ያለበት አሳፋአሪ እና ውወንጀለኛ አገዛዝ እንዴት ሆኖ ሌላው ላይ ወንጀለኛ ብሎ መፍደርስ ይችላል….ምህረት አድርጉ ካለስ ለምን በአመት እና ሁለት አመት ውስጥ ይህ ሁኔታ አልተፈጸመም?? ቂሙን ከተወጣ እና ከጨረሰ በህዋላ እና ግማሾቹንም ገድሎ ከጨረሰ በህዋላ ምህረት አደርግሁ ቢል የሚሰማው ማን ነው?? ለምሳሌ እንበል በ ሃውዘን ጭፍጨፋ በ እውን ተጠያቂው እውን እነሱ እንደሚሉን ‘ድርግ’ ነውን? ወያኔ ሲጃጃል አብረን ባንጃጃል የሚሻል ይመስለኛል::ምክንያቱም አንድም ግዜ ወያኔ የሆነ ነፍሱን ማቆያ ዘዴ ብሎም ጥቂት የፖለቲካ ትርፍ ለማግኘት ሲል የሚያደርጋቸውን ድርጊቶች ብንገነዘባቸው እንጂ አብረን ከልብ የልሆነ ለአገር የማይተቅም ተግባር በፈጸመ ቁጥር አብረን እጃችንን ባናጨበጭብበት መልካም ይመስለኛል::ወያኔ ወያኔ ነው::

  4. kush-kush
    | #4

    I was saddened and frustrated by some irresponsible individuals who claim that we have to forgive to those criminal gangs . I am not a lawyer and I can not play with any law to that matter . But what I know is when some thing horrible thing happen, we all have to say some of the basic thing the right from the wrong . I will leave the law to the expertise,but the church leaders are meddling with the law if this forgiving of the criminals idea comes from them . I really doubt it that the so called the four groups of religious leaders initiated this . What I believe is it was initiated by the TPLF/EPLF ethinic tribalist and handed it down to the religious hierarchy(High priest) . What ever law we have, those derg members should rot in prison . I am the living witness and the innocent victim of that period . I was arrested many times, tortured and humilated . Some of my tortures are even living in the Washington DC area and it is the matter of time they will be locked up and should be sent back home . There is a saying in Amharic language, ” Yalitenka Giligl Yawekal .” The same is true to our readers that they just want forgive and reconcile becuse they did not experience torture and prison . I do not know where they get this kind humanity . What I believe is that if one commits a crime , that person must pay the price . An example of this is lat month an Ethiopian young man was killed mercilessly by the night club owner and employees . I am wondering that if those so called religious leaders were in America, they would have asked a pardon to those heartless killers, and our kind hearted readers will also reconcile and forgive to the brutal killers ? In my part I want justice and those criminals must be punished and rot in jail for the rest of their lives . I condemn the religious leaders and if they have any concern and conscience about humanity, they should have opened their doors to the needy and spoke on behave of the helpless and the poor . This was the kind of things we all expect them to do, not to be the mouth piece of the barbaric junta military and blood thirsty members . It is not only a shame it is also a disaster for the religious community and it encouragres to commit crime and get away with it . I am strictely an atheist and wonder how ridiculous those religious leaders are . What I know for sure is that all religious leaders are hippocrates . I can poof this a million times . I will give one example which is an open secret to the Ethiopian public . The current patriarch of the ortodox church dethroned the former formally elected patriarich . What does he feels about the over throwen patriarch who leaves in exile? Is it not a hippocracy to say one thing and to do the opposite ? I hate the religious leaders more than I hate very irresponsible act by the know it all individuals . In the end, to Wondehunegne, I want say this : Your father had experienced difficulty by the derg and by the TPLF/EPLF ethinic tribalists and if he were alive today, he would not collaborate with you and so did I . It is not because I believe in revenge . The main reason is that I want justice for all and not the one you explicitly mentioned the kangaroo court . Selam Tenayestligne !

  5. Lucy in America
    | #5

    Misreading the concept of pardon and forgiveness
    By Tecola W. Hagos | December 26, 2010

    “Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” Immanuel Kant, [Trans. Isaiah Berlin]


    I read the heart wrenching recent letter of Mekonnen Endalkachew, the son of the last Prime Minister of Emperor Haile Selassie I, Endalkachew Mekonnen, who was murdered along with about sixty high Ethiopian Government Officials by the order of Mengistu Hailemariam. The decision to execute the Officials, which included retired Patriots who fought the Italians five years occupation, was taken by a unanimous vote of the 109 Derg Members that included individuals who are at the present time either waiting execution or serving their prison sentences. It is our duty both as our national commitment to carry out justice and also as our international obligation to international norms to render justice to both criminals and their victims.
    I fully share in the pain of Mekonnen and support his demand for justice. In fact, I even go further demanding that the Ethiopian Government carry out its legal duty that those who had been sentenced to death be executed in public without further delay. However, some individuals such as Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, are living in exile, and such execution may not be carried out right away. There should be a way to carry out such justice not only to Mengistu but to all those hiding in foreign countries. In case of those brutal murderers who are under the control of the Ethiopian Government, individuals who had spilt so much innocent blood, execution should be carried out by hanging them from Bole Airport to Meskel Square and also in other Squares, on electric power poles. Some should also be sent to provincial cities and towns for such public execution.

    Definitely, Captain Fikre Selassie Wogderes, Colonel Fisseha Desta, Major Berhanu Bayeh, Captain Legesse Asfaw, Major Addis Tedla, Lieutenant Colonel Endale Tessema, Captain Gessese Wolde-Kidan, Major-General Wubshet Dessie, Major Kassaye Aragaw, Colonel Debela Dinsa, Captain Begashaw Atalay, Second Lieutenant Sileshi Mengesha, Colonel Nadew Zekarias, Lieutenant Petros Gebre, Second Lieutenant Aragaw Yimer, Major Dejene Wondimagegnehu, and Lieutenant Desalegn Belay should be publicly hanged in major squares around Addis Ababa. These men were the most vicious merciless individuals who have either directly or indirectly ordered the murder, torture and dehumanization of thousands of Ethiopians. They are individually and collectively responsible for the death of the sixty High Officials of the Ethiopian Government, the death of the Emperor, the death of the Patriarch and countless student activists and political leaders. Their guilty has been established in a court of law. It is in fact, a perversion of justice that they were allowed to live this long. Steps should have been taken against them when their bloody government collapsed in 1991.

    II. The Unthinkable: Those Murdered were not Dogs

    I am appalled that the unthinkable is happening now. The pleading for the pardon of Derg Officials is happening now spearheaded by none other than the discredited Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, who had embarrassed us all, the Faithful, through his inequities and corruption. And the last being his vainglorious edification of his own person in a statute. I have been informed by some concerned Ethiopians that the Patriarch is a blood relation of Fissiha Desta and that the Patriarch is trying to have the release of that bloody criminal who should be hanged right away. Here we are witnessing a misplaced piety. There is no socially justifiable reason to pardon any of the Derg Members who were given due process and convicted for their brutal crimes.

    There is absolutely nothing to gain by having those brutal former Derg officials around, but a lot would be gained by a just judgment of execution for the murderous crimes they committed. The cry for justice of the tens of thousands who suffered and some who died, and some who were tortured et cetera is still waiting for a just answer. Such voices of pain and cries for justice all over Ethiopia for the last twenty years were never properly answered by the current Ethiopian Government. The current Ethiopian Government had failed us by delaying unnecessarily the fair trials of such criminals and using those criminals as some kind of bargaining chips or as items for propaganda purposes. Now that judgments had been entered, such judgments must be carried out.

    Mekonnen wrote a public letter on December 23, 2010 succinctly and rightly stating why pardoning such convicted criminals would be an injustice to the victims and to Ethiopians as a whole. It seems to me that the Ethiopian Government might be playing a dubious role of trying to convince the Ethiopian public that it has the approval of the families of the victims for it to grant pardon to those criminal Derg Members. “Some of the articles which were printed suggested that the families of some of the victims of the Dergue had been contacted about the issue of a pardon and had stated that they had no objections to the idea. I can categorically say that no one contacted any member of any family that I know of to request comment on this issue. For that matter, no member of the committee which manages and maintains the Memorial for the 68 Former Officials Executed by the Dergue was asked for their opinions on this matter. Therefore, it would be interesting to know who was asked and what their rationale (if any) was for giving their blessing for this ludicrous venture.”

    If people were truly interested to bring justice to the people of Ethiopia, they ought to be concerned about the dictatorship of Meles Zenawi and his EPRDF political party that had rigged elections and have transformed the country into a one man show. The unemployment of the young and the hopeless condition of life in Ethiopia is truly a far more serious matter than the issue of pardoning a handful of convicted criminals. The leasing of millions of hectares of fertile land to foreigners while Ethiopians do not even have ownership rights on their own land, the lack of political rights, et cetera are all unconscionable situations that should be addressed right away. It is hypocrisy for anyone to spend time and effort on convicted criminals who had caused so much damage and murders rather than care about innocent Ethiopians who have been abused, tortured, imprisoned, and disfranchised by the current Government.

    I agree with Mekonnen when he stated, “For those that are actively pursuing this issue and suggesting that justice has been already served, I have but one thing to say……SHAME ON YOU! Using this very sensitive issue to advance whatever personal agenda you might have is despicable and a major disservice to this blessed country of ours, and shows great disrespect for the many valuable Ethiopian lives which were lost during those dark 17 years of Dergue repression.” A mere twenty years does not even start to register as a punishment for the murder and torture committed by those Derg brutal officials listed above.

    Let me say to all that as Dostoevsky facing a firing squad, later stated that the experience of facing death concentrated his mind quickly, I too suffered a similar situation in the hands of those same Derg Officials when I was dragged out from my Alem-Bekagn Prison Cell chained with another Prisoner to face their brutal firing squad that murdered the sixty Government Officials on November 23, 1974. At the last minute, just before we were lined up with the other victims, we were informed that there was an error and returned to our Cell. However, my fellow prisoners and I heard the barrage of gun fires and some screaming from our prison Cell. And in the morning I learned first hand from the accounts of fellow prisoners who collected the dead bodies, mutilated body-parts et cetera and put them in a mass grave right in the prison compound, the gruesome detail of the massacre. The detail was the most harrowing that I hesitate to repeat here. For years I had nightmares of that night, but I also lost all fear of dying, and greatly developed excruciating empathy with all those who suffer in the hands of brutal dictators.

    III. Justice not Vendetta

    I am not writing here simply seeking vendetta or vengeance, but justice. It is impossible to build a civil society without taking steps against criminals who violate the rights of individuals in the guise of political goals and state craft. We cannot afford to allow such known criminals go free after they have committed horrendous crimes against innocent individuals. Pardoning them is the worst thing to do, and it is like murdering and torturing the victims all over again. I quote Mekonnen here for his wise conclusion: “Due process was followed, and justice according to the Ethiopian Code of Law was delivered. That is more than can be said of the mock justice meted out by these individuals during their long time in power. As such, they should suffer the consequences of their actions and serve their sentences without any interference from supposed ‘concerned’ external factions…… justice and history demands that, at the very least.”

    Here below are names of the first sixty high officials of the Ethiopian Government victims of the Derg. These individuals were as real human beings as anyone of us, who were never given any fair trail but brutally murdered by the order of the Derg whose Members are now campaigning pleading for pardon through shameful surrogates.

    The list of Officials of the Imperial government that were brutally murdered at night on November 23, 1974 without trial. Titles are in italics

    * Prime Minister Tsehafi Taezaz Aklilu Habtewold
    * Prime Minister Lij Endalkatchew Makonnen
    * Lt. General Abiye Abebe
    * H.H. Prince (Leul Ras) Asrate Kassa
    * Prince Rear Admiral Iskinder Desta
    * Ras Mesfin Sileshi
    * Ato Abebe Retta
    * Ato Akale Work Haptewold
    * Lt. Colonel Tamirat Yigezu
    * Dejazmatch Kifle Irgetu
    * Lt. General Kebede Gebre
    * Lt. General Issayas Gebre Igziabiher
    * Lt. General Asefa Ayana
    * Ato Mulatu Debebe
    * Dr. Tesfaye Gebre Igzi
    * Dejazmatch Workineh Wolde Amanuel
    * Lt. General Debebe Haile Mariam
    * Brigadier General Deresse Dubale
    * Lt. General Asefa Demisse
    * Dejazmatch Aemero Selassie Abebe
    * Dejazmatch Solomon Abreha
    * Dejazmatch Sahelu Difeye
    * Dejazmatch Worku Inqu Selassie
    * Dejazmatch Legese Bezu
    * Colonel Solomon Kedir
    * Blata Admasu Retta
    * Ato Nebiye Leul Kifle
    * Ato Solomon Gebre Mariam
    * Ato Tegegn Yetashework
    * Afe Nigus (Lord Chief Justice) Abeje Debalke
    * Lt. General Haile Baikedagn
    * Lt. General Abebe Gemeda
    * Lt. General Yilma Shibeshi
    * Lt. General Belete Abebe
    * Dejazmatch Kebede Ali Wele
    * Major General Gashaw Kebede
    * Major General Seyoum Gedle Giorgis
    * Major General Tafesse Lemma
    * Lij Hailu Desta
    * Fitawrari Amde Abera
    * Fitawrari Tadesse Inqu Selassie
    * Fitawrari Demisse Alamirew
    * Kegnyazmatch Yilma Aboye
    * Brigadier General Wendimu Abebe
    * Brigadier General Girma Yohannes
    * Brigadier General Mulugeta Wolde Yohannes
    * Colonel Yigezu Yimene
    * Colonel Alem Zewd Tessema
    * Colonel Tassew Mojo
    * Major Berhane Mecha

    On this same day, the following men died fighting the Derg protecting Lt. General Aman Andom who refused to sanction the execution of the Imperial Officials:

    * Lt. General Aman Mikael Andom
    * Leutenant Belai Tsegaye
    * Leutenant Demisse Shiferaw Goshiye
    * Lance Corporal Bekele Wolde Giorgis
    * Sub-Corporal Tekle Haile
    * Lance Corporal Tesfaye Tekle
    * Junior Aircraftsman Yohannes Fitiwi

    These are known today in Ethiopia as “Silsawochu” or “The Sixty”. Their deaths marked the beginning of the Derg’s reign of terror. Later, Emperor Haile Selassie and Patriarch Tewoflos were murdered by Mengistu Hailemariam.

    No one is claiming that the above named former Officials of the Ethiopian Government were perfect men. Now having lived through the Derg’s brutal and violent Government and the current corrupt and anti-Ethiopia Leadership, I can say without hesitation that the individuals listed above were far more honorable and civilized men, and some of them were outright great heroes by contrast. It is a tragedy of circumstances with an aging Emperor and a tired bureaucracy that the least knowledgeable and the least capable members of society took over power and committed the worst violence and mass murder in the history of Ethiopia. It had been a downward spiral ever since.

    To the above list of victims add tens of thousands who were murdered during the Red Terror in 1977 to 1978 and there after until the Military rule ended in 1991. The total death by some is estimated over a million. These same individuals on whose behalf the shameful campaign for pardon is being undertaken were part of the criminal Government of Mengistu Hailemariam that caused havoc and devastation on Ethiopia and Ethiopian Citizens. Just because we are faced with another brutal and savage Government now, it does not mean that we have to exonerate the Derg criminal officials now.

    Here below I am discussing the concept of public “Pardon” or “Forgiveness” its limitations and its power to enable society to move forward. There is some confusion between the meaning of “pardon” and “forgiveness.” Moreover, people tend to use these two distinct terms interchangeably. At any rate, for the purpose of this essay, “pardon” refers to the act of the legal authority of a State, whereas “forgiveness” is far more closely related to the psychological commitment of the individual aggrieved party. I have added this section from a previous research material posted in my Website, http://www.tecolahagos.com, a few years back. It is meant to enhance the concept of forgiveness and deepen our understanding of such difficult concept.

    IV. The Issue of Pardon or Forgiveness as a Legal Regime

    Delaminating ethics from law was considered by many jurists (Austin, Hart et cetera) as a step forward in legal development. Is it possible to make similar claim by disassociating ethics from politics? May be the question is not a fair one, since politics is more of a process than a series of rules and limits as is the case with law, and thus far more difficult to distinguish questions of ethics from questions of politics. This dissociative outlook may be due to the empiricist and materialist view of ethics to be based or a result of emotion and not of reason wherein “Law” is perceived to be purely a process or result of reason. For example, Aristotle in his Politics stated that “the law is reason unaffected by desire.” [Aristotle, Politics, Book III, chapter 16, Benjamin Jowett translation]

    It is impractical if not outright impossible to structure a legal regime around the concept of “forgiveness.” If a legal system uses “forgiveness” as one of its tools, it will be undermining far more important legal concepts such as equal treatment, fair and just resolution of controversy, consistency and certainty et cetera all very fundamental concepts in any legal system. In Ethiopia’s legal tradition, before the modernization of the legal system was initiated by Emperor Haile Selassie in the 1930s, the Sovereign was the ultimate judge of capital crimes and serious crimes; however, in the punishment phase of the process, family members of the victim were allowed a say in what type of punishment to impose on the criminal. Both oral tradition and the Fetha Negest are great sources of cases where the justice of past Ethiopian kings and Emperors could be studied and admired.

    There are many troubling questions in connection with the concept of forgiveness especially if the implementation of which ends up freeing individuals or groups who have committed serious crimes of murder, torture, and imprisonment in the name of national security or political change. Obviously, what is needed in such situations is justice in accordance with the criminal law of the state of jurisdiction and/or the use of international legal concepts that are peremptory norms of customary international law and practices whether derived from treaties or judgments of international courts, tribunals, or arbitration forums.

    Foremost, in the discourse underway at political forums, universities, civic organizations et cetera on the issue of national “reconciliation,” there may be serious confusion or misunderstanding of conceptual terms such as “forgiveness,” “amnesty,” “mercy,” “immunity,” and “clemency” in association with truth and/or reconciliation commissions. There have been several truth or reconciliation commissions (tribunals or committees) in the last thirty years in many parts of the world in almost all of the Continents. However, I do not believe the human condition has improved at all due to such effort. Very many well intentioned individuals inadvertently have polarized the issue of justice with their advocacy of forgiveness and reconciliation. There is a degree of confusion in the approach of placing the idea of forgiveness as part of the process of political and legal solutions to the injustices suffered by many in Ethiopia or elsewhere in the World.

    If we assume, for argument sake, that to forgive a criminal or an organization (community) that had committed some harm to an individual, a family, or a community is an ethical act and may even be considered as a courageous religious/spiritual behavior, there are certain conclusions that flow logically from such assumptions that we may not endorse. The obvious question that comes to mind is why the victims and their families should bear the burden of a difficult moral judgment to benefit the rest of society, especially when such society had failed to protect them from atrocities to begin with. There is no point referring to events or ideas from any historic time.

    Where the atrocity or criminal act is a result of civil disobedience, it may be far more difficult to withhold special considerations such as forgiveness or mercy. However, even under such circumstances of civil disobedience, philosophers, such as Rawls, suggest that those who participate in activities of civil disobedience must not committee any violence or expect immunity from prosecution for their activities. But that approach does not address non-violent actions harmful to the security of a state. For the assumption in such form of dissention is that no one can be forced to live under laws that contravene fundamental human rights of individuals.

    There are precedent setting international conventions such as the Genocide Convention and others through the United Nations system that are relevant to the resolutions of conflicts. For example, international customary law principles such as the Nuremberg Principles, the Japanese war crimes Commission, the Rwanda Commission, the decisions of the International Court of Justice, the recent International Criminal Court process et cetera that maybe used as the basis for setting standards to effect justice in the world before implementing a system of forgiveness and reconciliation.

    As indicated in my introduction, the granting of “pardon” or “forgiving” the criminal acts of an individual or that of a group that violated international standards under the Genocide Convention or any other bilateral or multilateral treaties may itself be considered a violation that may be a subject of sanctions imposed by the international community. The Rome Statue has created the International Criminal Court, and the Court is already fully functional. Thus, signatory states to the Rome Statue have the obligation to cooperate with the International Criminal Court in the prosecution of individuals who have committed such crimes such as genocide or crime against humanity. If individual states negotiate with criminals and grant “amnesty” or “forgive” such crimes, such states would undermine the role of the International Criminal Court. The question is whether we are putting the cart before the horse with such ideas of forgiving criminals? It is impractical and counterproductive to use the concept of “forgiveness” or “pardon” as a legal remedy or as public policy.

    The provocative article “On the Pleasure of Hating” by the Nineteenth Century celebrated curmudgeon William Hazlitt6 is a proper essay to bring to your attention in order to remind you that there is more to seeking justice than mere philosophy and legalism—the psychological components are as important. In this regard, the ancient Greeks have a most expressive term ???a?s?? “catharsis” that describes the psychological state of mind an individual undergoing such “catharsis.” The term can be roughly translated to mean “purification of” or “purging of” oneself from the pollution of the feeling of being a victim. In other words, it is not only “forgiveness” that allows the human inner self to clean itself of polluting feelings to move away from the confinement and negativity of victimhood, but properly conducted retaliation or “catharsis” would do as well. For the sake of our sanity and for the sake of the wellbeing of future generations we must punish criminals such as the brutal and violent convicted criminals of the Members of the Derg.

  6. Lucy in America
    | #6

    I want to say some thing about the above article which is prepared by one of the anti Amhara’s tegere. T.H. Immagine ethiopians are calling from every corners of TPLF’s hell prison houses, the former Meles advisor and the TPLF memeber came out with his trash article about the fake pardon of the former derg’s criminals. Other ethiopians are running from one corner to another corner to be the voice of voiceless TPLF’s victims in meakelawi , where as tecola hagos who is [ semi amhara and semi teger], borned and grew in wollo in his amhara’s mother hand and at the same time the well known anti Amharas tegere is trying to tell us the derg criminals have committed more crimes than his tegere’s criminals. The derg officials killed ethiopians mostly [ over 90,00 Amharas , but Tecola’s former best friends are both ethiopians and ethiopia as a nation. Even Tecola hagos is calling ” the ethiopia’s government”. Tecola was one of those weyanes who wrote a letter to UN and gave a green light for the separation of eritrea by considering ethiopia as colonizer of eritrea. he was meles’s advisor and meles could not do with out having advice from his advisor. Finally derg killed mostly from Amharas ethnice group and tecola has been living with anti amhara and anti ethiopia’s mentality. So why does he so worry about those who were killed by derg when he has deep rooted Amhara’s hatred? Even if the tegere’s thugs will pardon those derg criminals, they will face again justice on the grave of TPLF and tegere’s criminals, when ethiopia will have democratically elected leader. Any one who took the rights of others to live will not allow to walk freely. She or she must pay for her or his crimes. Finally I have some messages to the so called “prince” mekonnen endalkachew. Ethiopia doesnot need any dog’s prince any more. Your grond father hanged ethiopia’s hereo like belay zelek and gen mengistu neway and other so many ethiopians under his repressive regime. Your grond father killed leji eyassu before he ran away to euorpe by leaving the country and the people behind . And more over , Derg was the out come of your greedy grond father and even your father’s mishandling of the ethiopia’s people.If your greedy grond father transform the political power to the new generation, the military junta could not come to menilik’s palace.Your greedy grond father had contributed so many contribution for the whole messes during derg and TPLF.It was very sad that your father returned from aboard and became the last minister when otheres refused to continue working with dead regime, because the political crisis was out of hand almost according to my information. Even your greedy grond father was agree to work with derg by denying others. The so called crown families are a sick people and sham families. some of the so called crown families are working with weyanes who insult Amharas and treated like dog. Who do not see any one arround the strugle against weyanes to save ethiopia. You are all run aways from the battle filed as your grond father did before. What is very interesting, you bought wabishebele hotel according to some media out lets. That is really sham again. The money which you paid to TPLF will be invested in killing of ethiopians and ethiopia. The hotel is neither you nor weyanes. It belongs to the ethiopia’s people . Your grond father stolen over 45bnl dollars from the mouth of starved ethiopians as TPLF did in 1984 in the jungle. So in this way or another you will be the owner of the hotel. I assure you. AND you will not have a right to live in ethiopia. period. Those the so called crown families are criminals that is why you all of them will face jsutice one by one along with the derg’s criminals.

  7. messy
    | #7

    Kush kush were you member of the EPRP, TPLF, EPLF, ELF? How many did you kill before you were caught? Please tell us and entertain us with your gangster history.You seem so mouthful of revenge as the sychophant tecola hagos.

  8. Zeygerim
    | #8

    Lucy in America,

    I do not know what Tecola Hagos was smoking when he wrote the above article. a while ago he had also written this: “…Of course, the ultimate courage is to forgive those who do harm us, as the Christ did forgive from the Cross, in great pain, those who were responsible for his suffering. Such a life would be authentic and sublime.”

    you can read the whole article visiting his website at this link http://www.tecolahagos.com/Bonsai_Ethiopia.htm

    my question to Tecola Hagos is: what happened to the forgiveness-after-crucification analogy he raised earlier? i think many people do not re-read what they wrote previously

  9. messy
    | #9

    Zeyegerem you have diagnosed tecola correctly. I think Mr. Tecola hagos wakes up every day to be a different person. His political stance is a weave of empty biggotery, hatred, venegeance, assertiveness and inferiority complex. I think it is ok to ignore him.

  10. another movement needed
    | #10

    today i saw the murderer Samson Wubshet who was third person in dergue time in Addis Abbaba, zone 3 which is around kazanchis.. he is one of the murderer dergue who killed hundreds of young ethiopians and he run away through russia and now living in united states…a lot of them after sucking blood of many youngsters are hiding in america and you can make them men of the year as usual…. my head is to expload to see this dirty murderers walking with no problem and bastard like you stupids who barks empty…are touting your mouths

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