‘It takes courage to do the right thing’ Serkalem Fasil – By Yilma Bekele
When Abune Petros came to the place of execution and was given to say his last words, he took his hand cross and removed the blue cloth that was rapped around it and blessed the people and said the following last words:
“… May God give the people of Ethiopia the strength to resist and never bow down to the fascist army and its violence. May the Ethiopian earth never accept the invading army’s rule.”
After that a swarm of bullets from the execution platoon pierced and killed bishop Abune Petros.
You see we came from a long line of brave and selfless ancestors. We have countless heroes and heroines to fall back on and re-inspire ourselves and continue the tradition of asserting our god given right to be free and independent. The swarm of bullets fired at Abune Petros came from the guns of fellow Ethiopians. They were called ‘Banda’ the predecessors to the Agazi soldiers of Meles Zenawi.
What inspired this article is the documentary by ‘International Women’s Media Foundation’ (IWMF) ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs-WZnVkGtM )It is recognition of the selflessness and courage of the human spirit as exemplified by this beautiful Ethiopian family. Serkalem Facil and her husband Eskender Nega are the symbols of freedom for Ethiopia.
Their main fault is that they told the truth. In a land where the government uses every available media to misinform and mislead the population, they had the audacity to print three newspapers to tell the truth. Asqual, Menilik, and Satenaw were three independent newspapers edited by Serkalem and Eskinder. Due to government created paper, ink and printing facilities shortage their paper was priced much higher than official papers. Distribution was regulated and vendors were routinely harassed, beaten up and their supply confiscated. But the Independent papers thrived. The people were willing to pay the outrageous price imposed by the regime and went out of their way to help the independent media.
In November of 2005 after the election debacle and Prime Minster ordered massacre of fellow citizens, Serkalem and Eskender were thrown into Kaliti Prison charged with ‘treason, outrage against the constitution and attempted genocide’ against the Tigrai people. Suffice to say that there in no truth to the charges. Two long years of kangaroo court trial did not present an iota of evidence. It was just a ploy to muddy the waters of stolen elections, massacre and failed policy of the Woyane regime.
Serkalem was pregnant. She was thrown with sixty other prisoners in a dungeon full of rats and other varmint. The supply of food and water was just enough to sustain life. It was no place for an expecting mother. In this time of agony, Serkalem got her strength from her fellow Kinijit prisoners and her deep love for her country. Her strength in turn was an inspiration for all the prisoners. Nafkot was born premature and underweight. Nafkot survived. He is as strong as his parents.
Serkalem and Eskender are testimonial to the fact that there is a price to be paid for freedom. It is personal. They did not close shop and abandon all hope when the going got tough. They did not wait for others to do the job. They did not lament the ‘indifference’ by others and made excise about the lack of unity. No, they just went about their business of telling the truth and informing their fellow citizens the best way they could. They took responsibility for their actions. They showed the rest of us by example that ‘courage in the face of adversity, principle in the face of wishy-washy stand, and love for Ethiopia instead of personal allegiance’ is what the struggle is all about.
Upon their release Serkalem and Eskender have asked their license back. The Woyane regime let alone pay compensation for two years of false imprisonment has refused to return their property back. They along with Sisay Agena of ‘Ethiop’ have been refused to publish. So much for press freedom.
Thank you Serkalem, thank you Eskender for you exemplify the true sense of what it means to be an Ethiopian. We share your burden and we promise to follow the path you have chartered for us. Nafkot is truly the real son of Ethiopia and deserves a special name and place. We are grateful and proud of you.