We tasted democracy, it was so sweet – Kinijit EU delegation report

October 5th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

Dr. Yacob Hailemariam conducted interviews with several Dutch Media on his visit to the Netherlands. (more…)

Dr. Yacob Hailemariam conducted interviews with several Dutch Media on his visit to the Netherlands.

He had an interview with Sybilla Claus, International editor of the Daily popular News paper, Trouw. (Conceptual English translation by Abiy Ashenafi)
He had also interviews with [ VOA Amharic] and [Radio Netherlands international]

He was incarcerated for twenty months in prison in Addis Abeba. “When you realize the reason of your struggle, you can bear it.” Says lawyer Yacob Hailemariam during his visit to The Netherlands. For long time he taught at Norkfolk State University. He had to flee out of his country because of the Red terror. In 1996 he became prosecutor at the Ruwanda tribunal. After two years he went back to the State until Prime Meles Zenawi announced in 2005 that Ethiopia would hold its first free and fair elections. Dr. Yacob decided to be part of it. “It is my turn to do something for my country”.

“My study is paid by many poor peasants. I had to pay back and do something for my country” said dr. Yacob remembering his enthusiasm. He joined CUD and campaigned around his birth place Gurage. “It was a very exiting time, with a free and lively press and interesting debate. The government pulled his ‘topguns’ and we did too. We tasted democracy and it was so sweet” says dr Yacob.

Could the illiterate peasants follow the discussion? “We intellectuals underestimate them often. They understand the issues very well, they want to own the land, and not leas it. They want to sell their products on the market instead of being forced to sell to the government”.

The 250,000 voters in Gurage area were very involved to let a fraud happen. “young people were waiting under the trees guarding the election bureaus.” Dr Yacob won with 97%. The government candidate was crashed. The opposition won all the 24 sits in Addis Ababa and according to Dr Yacob the CUD won in the villages and other cities. But Meles appeared to be addicted at the power and claimed to have won the election. By massive citizen protests against this, the police killed 193 citizens. The new members of parliament and the chosen MPs and mayor of Addis Abeba refused to take their seats, when the government refused to negotiate.

Hundreds of CUD members and journalists were then thrown in to prison. “I remembered my friends during the Red terror and thought this is it”. The suffering of dr. Yacob and his colleagues become longer. Twenty months in Kality prison in a room for thirty men. We were first charged on treason, not very uncommon in Africa. But when they added the charge of genocide, as a genocide specialist I was deeply hurt. Whom are we trying to kill? We love all Ethiopians and we fight for them”. [Picture: Dr. Yacob Hailemariam conducting interviwe with Radio Netherlands, by Jonny.] yakob's Interview with Radio Netherlands

The released leaders of the CUD are touring Europe and America to talk and thank their supporters and the EU governments for their support.

In the Netherlands the delegation spoke with Minister Koenders, Minster of foreign affairs. The minister said the democratization of Ethiopia is one of the priorities of the Dutch government. Besides, Ethiopia has to be on the top of Brussels agenda.

In related news, Kinijit delegation to Europe met Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs – Development Cooperation Minister, Bert Koenders in the Hague on Monday, 01 October 2007. The delegation led by Kinijit secretary general Muluneh Eyuel have also met with several Dutch authorities. Several Issues were discussed During the Meeting held at the office of the minister. Kinijit delegation to Europe met Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs

The delegation thanked the Minister for its effort in securing their release and asked the minister to help facilitate national dialogue, freedom of the press and democratization process. Minister Bert in his part appreciated the gesture of the CUDP. He said that he follows the development seriously and do his best for development of democratization process in the Country. [Picture: Delegation meeting with Minister Bert Koenders and other Dutch authorities, by Kinfu Assefa.]

Kinijit Delegation Arrival in The Netherlands Kinijit Europe Delegation is doing a successful job in Europe. In Brussels they met with EU MPEs, EU commission, ACP-EU high ranking officials and Office of Human right commission. Intensive discussions were held with the EU authorities during the sessions. The delegation, which started its tour in London, is having similar sessions and lobby works in major European countries, namely Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Holland, Austria, Switzerland and Germany.[Picture: Delegation reception in Amsterdam airport, by Jonny.]
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