The evidence of ‘Widespread Torture’ the Pastor, the elder, the witness, the man of God – By Toshome Debalke
Pastor Daniel Gebreselassie is a famous Christian religion leader credited for spreading evangelism in Ethiopia in the mostly traditional Coptic Christians and Sunni Muslims believers. He is also the Head of Prison Fellowship, a Nongovernmental Organization that teaches evangelism to the prison population in Ethiopia. He sits on the Ethiopian Government’s Board of Pardon, and played leading role in the Elders Group. The group that facilitated the ‘pardoning’ of The leaders Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CDUP) that were imprisoned following the 2005 National Election demonstration.
Pastor Daniel Gebreselassie
The Prison Fellowship also credited to evangelize the former Prime Minster of Ethiopia, Tamerat Layne while he was serving 12 years prison sentence for corruption.
After he was released from prison Tamera Layne publicly announced he was out of politics to become a Born-Again Christian called to serve God. In various Media interviews he refused to discuss the past particularly on many alleged atrocities he was accused during his armed struggle days while he was with the now ruling party of Tigrian People Liberation Front (TPLF) and later after he was appointed Prime Minster of the country. He now lives in the United States with his family.
On one of the released wikileaks cables of April 2007, classified as ‘Secret’, from US Embassy in Addis Ababa where Pastor Daniel was presents at meeting and disclosed disturbing accounts of torture by the TPLF/EPRDF ruling regime.
According to document reciting Pastor Daniel:
‘Through meetings with these prisoners while detained and following their release, Pastor Dan learned that they were subjected to severe torture while in prison. Pastor Dan told Embassy officers that prison officials used Derg-era techniques) e.g. hanging prisoners from the ceiling in arm shackles, beating the soles of their feet and hanging boards from their testicles) to try to extract confessions. One of the prisoners reportedly died from injuries sustained while in prison, though prison officials maintain that he is “sick in the hospital.” Another of the former prisoners reported that when he was arrested, police dragged him out of his place of work and was pistol-whipped by plainclothes security forces on the way to the detention facility.’
When this revelation was obvious Pastor Daniel continued to engage the regime’s officials at different level, according the document
¶’8. (S/NF) Pastor Dan sits on the President’s pardon board,
and through his work with his NGO Prison Fellowship, is often given access to visit prisons when no other outsiders are allowed. Though some opposition figures believe he is too close to the GoE, Post has found him to be one of the few Ethiopians who can be truly be considered politically neutral. (NOTE: He is also one of the “Elders” that are leading negotiations with the CUD detainees. END NOTE) Post deems him to be a reliable source and his decision to brief a group of Embassy officials on this highly sensitive subject is noteworthy. During the brief, Pastor Dan was visibly upset in describing his discoveries and while he notes the need to act on this information, he recognizes that this is particularly difficult. Post and other Embassies, if addressing the issue, cannot name Pastor Dan as a source for ADDIS ABAB 00001277 003 OF 003’ http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/04/07ADDISABABA1277.html
Later in 2010, Pastor Daniel was the only person allowed to visit Birtukan Midekas besides her mother and daughter. The Chairperson of Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) was serving a life sentence in the notorious Kaliti prison after her rearrested for ‘violating the term of her pardon’, according the regime’s official statement.
The international campaign to free Birtukan coupled with rumor circulating her health condition declining in prison the regime once again gave Pastor Daniel access to visit her. He was accompanied by the only government run Television station crew that showed the world her pre arranged condition in the prison. The Pastor’s mission was clear for any observer. (See video). Birtukan that spent all her confinement in dark isolated cell were seen in a relatively conferrable room with bed and other accessories.
There is no explanation why the Pastor agreed to play a propaganda drama role for the regime not long after he spoke to the US Ambassador the horrible condition of the prisoners. It is also not clear why he told the US Embassy instead of coming out public or involves all concerned international community after witnessing crimes of this extent in the prison system where he often visited through his Fellowship.
According to the leaked document he also notified the higher-ups of the regime, including the Federal Police Commissioner. It shows torture was widely practiced and tolerated by higher-ups as many international organization documented before.
With Wiki leak revealing thousands of other secrets of the regime and its associates Pastor Daniel revelation reinforces what many accuses the regime with countless atrocity around the country. Pastor Daniel speaking the truth for the US Embassy personnel is commendable. But, his participation in the cover-up of Judge Birtukan prison condition on a national television contradicts his statements to the embassy stuff and needs explanation and clarification to the public as he have a firsthand knowledge of crime against humanity by the ruling regime of Ethiopia.
There was similar finding by the Inquiry Commission that investigated the massacre of 193 innocent civilians by regime’s security force in the aftermath of the May 2005 Election. The regime’s cover-up and treat forced some of the members of the Commission to flee the country and others in to silence. The evidence is widely circulating and waiting the day of justice.
The elders’ involvement in the pardon fiasco of the imprisoned Kinijit leaders accused of genocide and later changed to lesser charge is another of the regime games. They refused to revile what took place for unknown reasons to date. The rearrested and release of MS. Birtukan with another pardon fiasco has not been told by Pastor Daniel or anyone of the elders yet.
The continuing roundup of Ethiopians in the name of terrorism speaks volume about the mysterious regime crimes and cover-ups that involve many officials of the regime. The international community complicity allowing such atrocities to contnue speaks volume how the people of Ethiopia left on the mercy of a dangerous rogue regime.
Pastor Daniel, unlike any religious leader stumbles in the middle of it all; navigating between the regime’s cover-ups and the international community complicity to further allow the regime commit many more atrocities. His silence along the other elders played a role in prolonging the misery of the people of Ethiopia while more crime is being committed as we sepak.
While the massive wiki leak document is processed one at a time, the Woyane regime’s new waves of arrest in a name of terrorism is part of the diversion tactics from its documented crimes against prisoners and innocent Ethiopians .
Fallouts from Wiki Leak documents will make the regime more bold and brutal as times goes while it is covering up many more crimes. Diversion in the name of terrorism and development is underway and will continue to distract the public when the facts unravel. The massive corruption in every area of the economy has not yet been scratched yet. And the regime continued to play hide-and-seek at enormous cost to the lives and freedom of Ethiopians.
Pastor Daniel, the elders and all responsible parties have the moral as well as the legal responsibility to come forward to save the people of Ethiopia from the brutal regime they know well.