Urgent Call for Action: Stop the Intimidation-by-Imprisonment of Opposition Leaders in Ethiopia – Foreign Relation Committee of Andinet Support Group in North America

December 26th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

Mrs. Birtukan Medeksa, Chairwoman of the main Ethiopian opposition party:


Mrs. Birtukan Medeksa, Chairwoman of the main Ethiopian opposition party:

Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJP) has been interrogated twice personally by the Ethiopian Police Commissioner and is being threatened with a life time imprisonment for exercising her constitutional right of conducting an open and free exchange of ideas with her supporters abroad and at home.

Mrs. Birtukan has been made to appear for interrogation to the office of the high commissioner in December 10, 2008 and has been asked to respond to the statement she made in Sweden to the supporters of her party about the terms of release of the former CUDP leaders from prison. Following the interrogation, the government print and electronic media has opened a propaganda and intimidation campaign against the chairwoman. Again in December 23, 2008, the office of the police commissioner took the chairwoman to its office without due process and gave her ultimatum to officially renounce her own statement about the release of CUDP leaders. She was told by the commissioner that a process would be started that would lead to life in prison if she does not denounce her own statement in three days. This ominous threat is repeated in the government controlled TV and print media once again.

This is a clearly a calculated tactic by the Ethiopian regime to kill the legal and peaceful politics of the opposition either through the humiliation of its leaders and/or personal and physical incarceration of its rising and popular female leader.

We call upon international human rights advocates, democratic governments and particularly the diplomatic community in Ethiopia and the US government to use all the influences they have on the government of Meles to stop his intimidation of the chairwoman of UDJP and also stop interfering in the legal and peaceful activities of UDJP and all opposition parties.


Mrs. Birtukan Medeksa is chairwoman of the UDJP which was re-constituted by most former leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP). It is to be remembered that CUDP was the main opposition party which according to most independent observers won the election of 2005. The government of Meles declared a state of emergency even before the counting of votes is closed and threw the leaders of CUDP to prison for more than a year and half. Government security officers also gunned down over 193 unarmed civilians in the streets of Addis Abeba and threw to prison thousands of CUDP supporters, Human Rights activities and free press members. These atrocities of the government are well-documented by independent human rights activities who reported it to international organizations like the EU parliament’s human rights committee with pictorial proofs. This is also confirmed by the findings of the commission that was formed by the Ethiopian government parliament itself. The members of this commission now live in exile fearing persecution by the government of Meles.

After more than a year and half of incarceration of the leaders of CUDP, the intervention of national elders encouraged and supported by the international community succeeded in securing an agreement between the government and the opposition leaders for terms of release of the leaders and the continuation of their political activity. Since their release, the leaders and their supporters have been working hard to reconstitute the party from scratch. Unable to use their former name of CUDP because of an arbitrary ruling to give their name to an individual, the leaders were forced to rename their party as UDJP. The reconstituted party has started to be active again in organizing and reaching the people. The party has been able to re-open 35 of its offices in the several parts of the country and is in schedule to open 90 plus more offices before the 2010 election. The party has started organizing public meetings both abroad and at home. The recent tours to Europe by the chairwoman and the large public meeting in Addis and the positive responses by the people in these meetings are examples of such activities. The party has openly announced its plans to continue holding similar meetings with the public through out the country. These initial contacts with the people were done despite repeated interventions and obstructions by local government agencies at several levels. The government shamefully intervenes in the activities of CUDP even at the highest level. Pro-Government News papers routinely report on the minutes of highest level meetings by UDJP. These papers can do such things only through the help of government security forces whom we suspect are planting listening devices in rooms and halls of the party’s meetings.

The action of the government against the chairwoman of UDJP can be explained only as an attempt to obstruct the on-going political activities of UDJP. It is clear now that government agencies like its election board certifies legal parties for appeasing donor governments while its other agencies like local officials, the police and the pro-government press engages in subverting the legal and peaceful activity of parties like UDJP.

  1. Awqo lett yalew
    | #1

    Isn’t this “call for action” stuff tired? Do you have a base to make such a call? Is EPRDF doing what it does because there is a shortage of such calls?


  2. Lema
    | #2

    No Ethiopian would want Birtukan or anybody else to go to jail because of any remarks they expressed freely.

    But that is the nature of the TPLF government. We know it and above all Birtukan as a poltical activist should know it.

    But this is a theatre of Birtukan’s creation. If she goes to jail, this would be her own doing. This has nothing to do with the struggle. Everybody knows the CUD leaders released from a prison (which they shouldn’t be in) because of a pardon paper signed under duress. Ethiopian know the TPLF cooked the pardon saga. So what is the point of her denying it or bother to answer to a question asked by an ignorant or a TPLF agent in the Stockholm public meeting? Either this is a delibrate theatre or a crissis of Birtukan’s creation. This is one of many mistakes done by Birtukan. Going in to prison because of TPLF sponsored signed pardon paper which was in public display by the Tyrannt is utterly idiotic.

    Supporters of the UDJ in Diaspora and in Ethiopia should face the reality and act in the best interest of the country. The first thing the UDJ should do is to pressure Birtukan to retract her statment on the pardon paper. The second step will be to replace Birtukan with a competent leader who knows what to speak and do.

    If she goes to jail then nobody will do anything to get her released. Because most consider it a childish & stupid mistake.

  3. mohaaz
    | #3

    What are you trying to say Lema? Do you think thisis aout re-tracking a single statement? Your hate to UDJP or Birtukan is just making you an apologist for a dictator. It is about a well known tactic of humilating leaders of the oppositon and subverting their legitimate work. If this is not for this issue, the tyrants of TPLF another issue on her and other leaders sooner or later. Peaceful and legal struggle is about being firm on legal and peaceful terms. that is what Birtukan our hero is doing.Birtukan we are 100% behind you.

  4. Kiburgena
    | #4

    Loving jail is not the nature of TPLF.It is the opposition leaders proble.By the way, Birtukan has to pay the price for her media comment in diaspora. Why she has been confused? . Is she making her own money or what? why she depends on diaspora like her former husband Birhanu Nega?. Jail is not enough for her.She has confused totaly. Birhanu Nega is smart. He suck our dollar money and he lives in a very comfort place. It is better take rest a couple years and get marriage, have a baby then that is everything done.No excuse. No third chance for Judge Birtukan. Who cares. it’s her problem not UDJP’S problem. Debebe Eshetu was in his way to marry her but time is come to take her in jail. Yasazinal betam.

  5. atuba dolla
    | #5

    This is unintelligent tactic taken by the current unwanted and uninvited tplf,lootergangs to drag the progress made by Ethiopians and their democratic leaders in the struggle to release Ethiopians from being hosage in their own country by and against the undemocratic brutal regime of Meles Naziawi and members of the crimefamily.

    It is true and has been a fact that members of the crimefamily are engulfed with fear since millions of Ethiopians sent them a clear message that they should go back to where they had been hiding and waging anti-Ethiopia activities since they were hatched out of the rotten egg of foreign enemeies of Ethiopia.

    Soon,the invading forces will definitely kneel and bend down to the superime power of Ethiopians and receive the most awaited punishment tantamount to the crime and sin that they committed against Ethiopians.

  6. tigrain-people-are-united-against-meles
    | #6


    Free ethiopian political presoners. Free Tigrain political presoners. Meles Adawa gang part of weyane minority groups who creating hates among tigrays all around ethiopia including our old freinds eritreans. As Result of Meles & his adawa gang, we tigrain are cornered by our enemies. we tigrain are doom to fail. we must stand and speak out.

    Tigray People’s Democratic Movement (TPDM) is waging an armed struggle to remove the ruling (Meles Zenawi) from power. TPDM is operating in northern Ethiopia. The organization calls on all Ethiopians living in the country and abroad, opposition groups and the Ethiopian soldiers to stand alongside and give them their support in the struggle against the ruling (Meles Zenawi) in Ethiopian.

  7. Tigray-poeple-Against-weyane
    | #7


    Free ethiopian & tigrain polical presoners Agawa gang part of weyane minority groups who creating hates among tigrays all around ethiopia including our old freinds eritreans. As Result of Meles & his adawa gang, we tigrain are cornered by our enemies. we tigrain are doom to fail. we must stand and speak out.

    Tigray People’s Democratic Movement (TPDM) is waging an armed struggle to remove the ruling (Meles Zenawi) from power. TPDM is operating in northern Ethiopia. The organization calls on all Ethiopians living in the country and abroad, opposition groups and the Ethiopian soldiers to stand alongside and give them their support in the struggle against the ruling (Meles Zenawi) in Ethiopian.

  8. | #8

    Ayyyyyyyy! 1st of if you believe there are oppositions in Ethiopia then you must be the victim or believer of weyane news media. The so called opposition of weyane were slaughtered, imprisoned, tortured, harrassed, and run out of the country to save their live and family. Any so called opposition in Ethiopia today are made by weyane to hoodwink the donor countries for donation purposes. Ethiopia and Ethiopians are under the ownership of Legesse Z, Azeb Mesfin, Seyoum Mesfin, all the paedophiles from all kind of organization, and their Eritrean master/advisors. God save Ethiopia from the mafia family of weyane!

  9. Raza
    | #9

    First of all, Ethiopians have given support to the opposition leader in the 2005 election.But the opposition leadres were not ready to take over the power and were confused by the support given from the mass of Ethiopian people,given away the victory in thier hand and went to jail.
    Second of all, by the time the oppostion drugged to jail no single ethiopian was dare to defend them by all means.
    Third of all, the oppositions managed to be freed from jail by the help of the elederlies coopereting to sign that askes the pardon. ( here the mistake started ) ( Mandela never asked pardon. )
    Forth of all, after being released after pardoned by the so called government, the so called oppostions should have to learn how to keep the mouth shut.


  10. Rassa Chele
    | #10

    Jeb Eski Neks yankesal, yebalal. I agree with Raza. let alone a leader to be a lay man should never sign a blank paper. TPLF knows how to trap and it sure did prepared for a rainy day. Never deal with a mafia govt. People, think ahead of tplf otherwise you will never catch this devil.

  11. Dambelo
    | #11

    Bertukan is a judge, and she knows the law about the pardon. I don’t think we properly understand her when she explain about the process of the pardon. Woyane is deliberatly creating confusions. It would have been good if one of the pal talk rooms asked her to explain it in detail for the people at large. I guess that might be why she is now on a firm stand not to change what she said. I don’t think the current conditions will let Woyane to take her to jail. Now the election is approaching, I do think woyane don’t want the comming election to be conducted with big problems. International conditions are not in woyanes favour. Thus woyane is trying to creat fear throughout all opposition party leaders by trying to intimidate etc. If the strugle needs a sacrifies, Bertukan has to be ready to face it. I don’t advise her to be part of those loyal opposition groups in the parlament.

  12. tesfa
    | #12

    Violence represents the absolute line of action

  13. Selamawi tegel
    | #13

    stop crying we told that selamawi ntregel is not going to work with woyane(parasite) Kill them or die like a women. We will support an armed struggle as long as it takes we will not cry again infront of state departenet anymore infact if woyane put this stupid in jail it will help a lot for our struggle against the parasitic(cancer) woyane. we shall win.

  14. GOMIDA
    | #14

    VIVA EPPF ??? hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah
    hahaha hooooof sorry Iam just geting grazy by the freedom fighters EPPF. KIKIKIKIKIKIKIKIKIKI

  15. Lema
    | #15

    I think this is a Drama. Leditu and the TPLF fools the foolish in 2005 by house arresting him.

  16. Tedla Asfaw
    | #16

    Our discussion on the ultimatum given by TPLF to honorable judge Birtukan Medeksa is excellent. However, things are moving fast and we should now focus on the letter judge Birtukan wrote, “Kale” that was posted fist on http://www.qatero.net yesterday.

    I suggest abugida to post, “Kale” also read it on their TV, to help us carry on our lively debate here.


  17. kuesa
    | #17


  18. DemocraticMovement
    | #18


    Free Birtukan Medeksa & tigrain
    Meles & adawa gang will go down 09. they doesn’t repesent tigrain or ethiopian people.

    Tigray Peoples Democratic Movement Fighters – Field Report; SkySat (London) – Interview with Ethiopian Journalists; Tigrayan youth join Tigray People Democratic Movement (TPDM) in droves and More news.

  19. teodros kiros
    | #19

    We must resist the imprisonment of our leaders by any means necessary
    By professor Teodros Kiros

    Enough is enough, the people must say. We cannot take it anymore.

    God, please speak.
    God please speak sense to our leaders, who are taking away our existential rights, to choose our leaders, to organize our people, to fight for their rights. Our rights are being chipped away. Our ears are muffled with unbearable pain. Our eyes are shattered by misery. Our mouths are being denied their rights to speak, through our leaders. Dear God, speak, please speak, and save our historical nation, from entering into a civil war that we cannot afford. We have patiently waited for change. We continue to silently bare the pangs of hunger. Our mothers cannot nurse their babies. Our fathers, permanently unemployed, squander their days at Bars, wishing that the pain will go away by the power of Tej and Tela. Our young bodies bored and hopeless take it on reckless sex, to only discover that our bodies are now ravished by AIDS, and let it be we say, let the body part company from the soul, so that when we are gone, we shall meet God to purify us from pain, hunger and hopelessness.

    I leave the legality of Ms. Birtukan’s right to recant or not recant, to our able lawyers, as important as the question might be. That is not what concerns me here.

    My concern goes deeper, to the marrow of the bones. If our leaders, who are peacefully organizing the people to demand change cannot exercise that right, what rights are then allowed them by the constitution? Should not the rights of the people who are coming in record numbers to listen to their leaders, count for something, or is the democracy that the regime never fails to mention, a democracy that listen only to those who sing its praises?

    I say to the people, this time we must resist the intimidation of our leaders by marching on every street, every road, and every corner within Ethiopia and its Diaspora. \

    Resisting regimes which do not respect our leaders are simultaneously violating our existential and legal rights.

    We will be remiss if we do not resist Ms. Birtukan’s right by the right constitutional measure of protest at the right time, for the right reason, at the right place, and for the absolutely right reason.

    I must add, we must do this in millions, and Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia must take the lead, and put the Ethiopian people toward rendezvous with victory.

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