A PATRIOTIC FATHER AND HIS RESOLUTE DAUGHTER By Solomon Gebreselassie
አያዩም ዓይኖቹ ፤ጆሮዉም አይሰማ
አያዩም ዓይኖቹ ፤ጆሮዉም አይሰማ
ዘመን ደግሶለት፤ ዝና ያሰከረዉ።
Ato Alemu Gobebo Anjajo is the father of Reeyot Alemu whose daughter Reeyot is languishing in TPLF’s jail on trumped up terrorism charges. In its volume 2, #36, March 2012 edition, UDJ’s weekly paper, Finote Netsanet, carried an interview with Ato Alemu.
Ato Alemu himself is a retired judge and former lawyer, currently a member of MEDREK, the largest opposition coalition inside Ethiopia. The question put to him included whether or not his daughter Reeyot has applied for clemency by admitting guilt. Reeyot Alemu was recently sentenced to 14 years of jail plus the payment of birr 33,000. The charges against her include planning to engage in terroristic acts of sabotage, treason, working for Ethiopian Review and receiving money from a terrorist organization.
Reeyot was a teacher and a journalist before she was thrown in jail. According to her father, she has not applied for a pardon, and would not apologize based on what she told him. Of the five defendants under the same charges, one is missing, and one has told Ato Alemu that she has applied for clemency.
But Reeyot has resolutely said no to a pardon.
The interviewer, Bizuayehu Wondimu, pushed hard and asked Ato Alemu a very difficult question to any father in a similar predicament: “As a father, would you rather not advise your daughter to apologize?”
This is perhaps one of the most difficult questions a parent can face. As any one of us who are parents would readily admit, there is an innate biological chord that attaches us to our kids. We wish nothing but the best for them. We try as much as humanly possible to keep them from harm. As Reeyot’s father, Ato Alemu has obviously gone through thick and thin to raise and educate his kids, including the oldest, Reeyot. In doing so, he wanted his daughter to be a decent woman and a responsible citizen.
This was not to be. Not under Meles’s Ethiopia.
The young, the best and the brightest, the ones who dared to dream a better Ethiopia, and acted on their dreams through peaceful and legal means, are being persecuted.
How would most fathers answer that difficult question the reporter put to Ato Alemu?”As a father, would you rather not advise your daughter to apologize?” Ato Alemu could have easily answered, “As a father, yes, I ‘d advise her to beg for leniency. But you know today’s kids. They have their own minds”. Not him.
He said, matter-of-factly, “whether or not to beg for clemency is her right and decision. I would honor and respect whatever decision she makes”. Ato Alemu did not stop there. He continued, “to answer your specific question regarding my position on the issue by the fact of being her father, I would rather have her not plead for clemency, for she has not committed any crime”. Then Ato Alemu goes onto explain his fatherly human feelings, and the pain of seeing his innocent daughter suffer in jail on false charges.
Now we learn that (Finote Netsanet, #38), Reeyot is seriously ill and is sporadically allowed to see a doctor. The prison officials are alleged not to afford her constant care on flimsy grounds. One can easily surmise the pain of Ato Alemu at hearing the latest bad news about his daughter’s health.
Meles has said in the past that although he disagrees with opinions different from his, he respects those who steadfastly argue for what they believe in. Here is a test case for Meles: a father and daughter duo standing firm on principle. This should have stung his conscience even if we factored out the fact that he is also a father of 3 kids. Or, are we appealing to leaders who might fit the description of a writer who described the Nazi senior officer Adolf Eichmann as “a brain without conscience”? The description might be apt given the fact that even 21 years in power later, the TPLF has not reversed course at all and still engages in the same destructive policies of subjecting people to eviction and internal displacement, and continuing to defile Ethiopian nationalism by its recent act of decertifying the Ethiopian Literature and Folklore Department at Addis Ababa University.
In the meantime, UDJ continues to hold its monthly candle vigils to keep the memory of the unjustly jailed. At the same time, the bond sellers, the bond buyers, the owners of ill-gotten wealth, the money changers and fellow travelers are turning a blind eye to the gross injustice.