December 30th, 2008 Print Print Email Email


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For Immediate Release, December 31, 2008

It is with profound sadness and shock that Ethiopians residing in South Africa have learned the re-arrest of Judge Bertukan Medeksa, the leader of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJP, Andent); and the brutal harassment, intimidation and some injury of the distinguished academic and founder of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRC), Professor Emeritus Mesfin Wolde Mariam.

Miss Bertukan (35) is a single mother and responsible for her frail mother. Bertukan was born and raised in Addis Ababa. Before turning into full time politics, Bertukan was a high court judge who presided over the sensitive case of ex- Defence Minister Seye Abraha. Her verdict on the case and feminist activism brought her into the lime light. In the May 15, 2005 failed election, her newly formed coalition brought a major challenge to the minority regime that came to power through violence in May 1991. The disputed election resulted in the killings of some 200 people and the imprisonment of an estimated 40 000 suspected supporters of the opposition. About 135 elected parliamentarians and supporters, Bertukan included, were imprisoned for 20 months, and a “pardon” was granted after an arduous and delicate negotiation through elders with the minority regime.

Like millions of Ethiopians, Bertukan transcends the ethnic politics of the ruling minority that has been in power for the last 18 years. She comes from the majority ethnic stocks of Ethiopia:- the Oromo and the Amara. She is the only child left for her ailing mother. Her late half brother; Zewge, was a victim of the notorious Red Terror; in which thousands of young people were killed in 1977 by the military. Zewge died when she was only three years old, and his remains are not found to this day. Bertukan’s dynamism and popularity brought her into conflict with the minority regime. After her release from prison in mid 2007, despite overwhelming pressure Bertukan decided to remain inside the country to continue the unfinished business of bringing peaceful change to Ethiopia. Despite immense difficulties and personal risk, selfless Bertukan was able to stitch together a new coalition, the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (Andent). She quickly started to open regional offices in preparation for the 2010 election. Her recent visit to Western Europe and the Scandinavian countries, and the reception she got at government and NGO circles, created great anxiety to the increasingly isolated regime.

The re-arrest of Bertukan to serve life imprisonment is not only a great miscarriage of justice that must be condemned by all parties, but violets the Continuo Agreement and several of the conventions of the African Union. We therefore call upon the signatories of the two conventions to take appropriate interventions. The international community must also stop using double standards.


  1. TigrayPeopleDemocraticparty
    | #1

    Meles is eritrean. he is not ethiopian. He is ruling wrong country. chewing chat all these years screw his head. Meles don’t even know which country his from ,shame.
    We tigrain are victum of agazzie baby killer Meles eritrean governemnt. it is time for meles eritrean to resign power give power to ethiopian people.
    Agazzi baby killer policy have failed. We tigray people democratic party will like to join had with eritrean government and other opposition form a government. Eritrea have shown remarkable acheavemennt in bringing peace to sudan, somilia, sudan-chad. We tigrain people democratic party would eritrea help us share power with agazzi baby killer.

    tigray democratic people Party. We tigrain support our eritrean brothers to solve our problems.
    All ethiopian oppostion group join hand together to form government. Let eritrean government invove. True outside non bais true friends of ethiopian alike. Eritrean government have role in promoting peace at regional and international level are bearing impressive outcome.

    Mr. Osman described as exemplary Eritrea’s efforts in resolving conflicts in Africa in general and the Horn region in particular which emanate from its principled stance that conflicts should be resolved peacefully and respecting the sovereignty and equality of states on the basis of non-interference in internal affairs.

    Mr. Osman further outlined that Eritrea’s impressive contribution towards resolving the problem of Sudanese brothers and the reconstitution of the Somali nation, as well as normalizing Sudanese-Chadian relations are some of the impressive diplomatic accomplishments which won acclaim on the part of all parties.

    As regards Eritrea’s role and stance in the reconstitution of Somalia, the Foreign Minister pointed out that right from the outset its stance regarding the issue remains “Resolution of Somali Agenda through Somali Solution.” He went on to explain that the Bush Administration through its servant regime, the TPLF, carried out invasion of Somalia, and thus undermined the promising peace which surfaced in the country in 2006, thereby exposing Somalia to the worst battlefield. Mr. Osman further underlined that if at all peace and stability is to prevail in Somalia, the invading Ethiopian forces should immediately and unconditionally withdraw from the country and that the Somali people should be given the chance to resolve their issue themselves.

    Moreover, the Foreign Minister elaborated that the Asmara Peace Agreement between the Sudanese Government of National Unity and the East Sudan Front which was signed in October 2006 and the progress made attest to Eritrea’s modest role and clear policy of resolving problems through peaceful means.

    Regarding the Eritrean-Ethiopian border issue, Mr. Osman underscored that the issue has once and for all reached legal conclusion in accordance with international ruling and law, and that the sole remaining issue is the unconditional withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from the occupied sovereign Eritrean territories, as well as respect of the rule of law.

    Indicating that Eritrea maintains that IGAD should be reviewed and restructured, he explained that that Eritrea was compelled to suspend membership in the regional organization due to the fact that IGAD not only began to violate its own resolutions and that of the UN but also resorted to complicating issues instead of trying to resolve them.

    The Foreign Minister went on to say that over the past 17 years since the achievement of independence Eritrea has established relations with various countries and international organizations. In this regard, he stated that it has diplomatic representation in 85 countries.

    Noting that Eritrea’s foreign policy focuses on mutual cooperation and respect, as well as respect of the rule of law and fostering investment on the basis of partnership, Mr. Osman indicated that as a result the number of countries establishing embassies and consulates in Eritrea is growing from time to time.

    He further stated that the task of enhancing the effective participation of Eritrean nationals living abroad in national programs has borne fruitful outcome. In this respect, the Foreign Minister commended the major contribution of nationals abroad to portray Eritrea’s true image and back up development endeavors in the Homeland.


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