Addis Ferenji: My visit to Kaliti Prison

September 6th, 2006 Print Print Email Email

Sorry but”¦ I treat my horses betterI was in Kaliti on Saturday afternoon to pay my respects and say good-bye to jailed CUD leaders. I will fly back soon, Junior is expected in his new Italian school. I will not be back for a while but this time I move because I have decided to. A great satisfaction!

kaliti Prison

I put my pride in honest reports, so here is the great news. Maeklawi ignorant and brutal Federali and guards have a lot to learn from their Kaliti “alter egos”? who are, at least, polite, some even charming… So polite and easy-going I suspect they were instructed to act so ;-).

The Saturday and Sunday afternoon visits are reserved to political prisoners, mine was not a diplomatic visit though the main gates, in cleaned offices but the casual one with mud, wood barriers, guards and security forces listening. The Adebabay description of the whole exercise is better than the one I could write and I will join my voice to his: Go to Kaliti !
Of course you will have to show your ID at the entrance which will put you on the long list of CUD supporters but remember there are mainly CUD supporters in this country, they certainly cannot arrest them all.

kaliti prison

I really appreciated the sudden improvements in the attitude of your staff, Woyane. They have guns but do not show them, they do not threaten the visitors with truncheons, and do not bark orders, at least not in my presence. I noticed too I did not receive on this blog’s comments or in my mail-box the usual insults, threats or even”¦ vicious calumnies suggesting my husband is cheating on me with beautiful Habesha ladies. ï?Œ Thank you so much not to have ruined my holydays ! Yet, I have a few suggestions to lift up the standards even more.

Kaliti Prison

Kaliti is a huge waste ground full of big shacks of iron sheet that look built at random. During the rainy season it is muddy, damp and cold. You are not allowed to check the conditions in which the prisoners are living. Yet some views from outside ““ see below – give a disastrous impression.

It reminds me, in bigger, of our stable when we first arrived in this country. We had inherited from my husband’s predecessor 5 horses ““ they are now seventeen -. and I am afraid they live in a better environment and conditions than Judge Birtukan Mideksa, CUD # 2, Dr Berhanu Nega, Phd and elected mayor of Addis-Ababa, Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam, founder of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, most respected Ethiopian scholar and their companions.

According to my experience of stable manager iron sheet shacks are not suitable for horses, they are cold in winter, hot in summer and likely to bring contagious diseases. We preferred rebuilding their house in the Ethiopian traditional way ““ mud and straw ““ conscious that other materials would have been indecent.

According to my experience of stable manager, on a waste land (as was our stable before we cleaned up a little) , where there are iron sheet and food, there are rats”¦ and big ones. Cheep products are available to get rid of them.

According to my experience of stable manager, where groups or herds of mammals are kept, flees and parasites prosper. Here again, clean sources of water, a good hygiene, regular use of disinfectants and adapted products for their coats settle the problem. I can forward on request a whole bibliography about. “How to take care of your horses, dogs and other pets”?. I do not know any on the correct way to treat prisoners but I suggest you ask a good veterinary.

I was surprised to hear than Woizero Birtukan, for example, was sharing a cell with 70 other female detainees. My horses have their own boxes with their names on it, their own door and wood shutters. I saw very little windows in Kaliti”¦ Finally and sincerely I am not sure it is wise to keep a 76 old man just recovering from pneumonia in your detention camp ““ honestly THIS cannot be called a jail – unless you want his death.

Of course, you will have understood I have very very fond of horses. There are sensitive, delicate animals, able of sadness, joy, affection and even despair”¦

Sure, horses’ well-being is not yet a priority for Ethiopian development and I understand it perfectly.

But do not you think that improvements in detainee’s daily life is compatible with the World Bank Protection of Basic Services ? Since Ethiopia is still desperately poor despite your endless “efforts”? (1), do not you think than USAID or the EU would be delighted and probably relieved ““ they care for their public opinion – to grant you a few hundreds of thousands dollars more to buy as soon as possible cement, bricks and anti-parasites?


I am sure you will kindly study my request.

As for the prisoners of conscience I met, I will tell in my next post, how I found them, what they said but if there is a message they want me to forward, it is certainly this one :

“Trial will take a long, long time. They have no illusions about the duration of their unpleasant stay, after almost one year”¦ But they all are in high spirits and will not give up.”?

So long friends


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