What will you do when they come for you? – By Yilma Bekele

January 1st, 2009 Print Print Email Email

Judge Birtukan Mediksa has been arrested. According to reports civilian dressed TPLF cadres posing as the Federal police arrested the Andenet Party Chairwoman. Her colleague Professor Mesfin was roughed up and needed doctors care.

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Judge Birtukan Mediksa has been arrested. According to reports civilian dressed TPLF cadres posing as the Federal police arrested the Andenet Party Chairwoman. Her colleague Professor Mesfin was roughed up and needed doctors care.

The harassment of opposition Party members started a few weeks ago. The reason given by the TPLF party was that in an interview she gave in Sweden she denied asking for a pardon from the Prime Minister. That is according to Ato Breket Simon, advisor to the PM. As they have done it many times before to members of the opposition, the Federal Police hounded Judge Birtukan all week long. Four or more police cars followed her around endangering her and those around. In the new democratic Ethiopia the Federal Police are above the law. It was a psychological ploy to torment her and to try to break her resolve.

They did not bother to hide their illegal acts. The Prime Minster’s goons, masquerading, as Federal Police are known for their cruelty. Do you know that they have two categories of beating up a citizen? One is ‘Derek’ (dry) ‘ and the other is ‘erteb’ (wet). Derek is meant to break the victim’s bone and ‘erteb’ is to strike and draw plenty of blood. This is usually done in plain view of every body. The Federal Police are composed of Ethiopians from the periphery unfamiliar with the national language, led by a loyal Woyane cadre and trained to regard the population in contempt. It is an every day fact of life in TPLF’s version of democracy emerging in Ethiopia.

Thus armed Federal Police in four or more SUV’S followed Judge Birtukan. They play such dangerous games as blocking the road or nudging her car with their high bumpers. They verbally abuse her and threaten to bring harm to her and her supporters. Congressman Chris Smith’s aide was a witness of such outrageous act by the Ethiopian police against Dr. Berhanu and his passengers before the 2005 elections. All this training from EU, Britain and others have gone to create a well-equipped private army for the ruling class. Our benefactors in the West that make such decisions to train and equip a private militia do not suffer the consequences of their wrong, selfish and misguided action. Ato Meles has his Federal Police to assert his Constitutional order.

The regime owns the sole television and radio stations. A concreted effort was made to vilify Judge Birtukan. Forged documents were displayed. Threats camouflaged as advice was given to the Judge. Some masquerading as part of the free press did their defamation underhandedly. They are unable and unqualified to grow the economy, but when it comes to evil deeds no one can match Ato Meles and company in the TPLF politburo.

Ato Meles and his rubber stamp clemency court ruled that since Judge Birtukan’s interpretation of how the political prisoners were released did not match the regime’s version she will have to serve the life sentence imposed on her for her crime of attempted genocide and attempted take over of State power by illegal means. Believe me you are not in a time warp. It does sound like Stalin’s Russia though. For some reason the Prime Minister seems to have the ability to change the rules of the game at will. There is no need to check the Constitution to see if he has that power. It is just a weekend project to make it so.

The minority regimes actions are very perplexing. What do they gain by imprisoning Judge Birtukan at this time? Has striking blindly on all sides become the hallmark of the Woyane regime? Is this one of their clumsy attempts to scare the Ethiopian people? Is this a futile attempt to deflect attention away from the hasty departure from Somalia? Bullies are so boring. This how Wiki defines bullying:

“the act of intentionally causing harm to others, through verbal harassment physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation. Bullying can be defined in many different ways. Bullying is usually done to coerce others by fear or threat.” Psychologists theorize that bullies generally have been victims of bullying or usually come from an abusive environment at home. Some look at bulling as “a tool to conceal shame or anxiety or to boost self esteem: by demeaning others, the abuser him/herself feels empowered.” Furthermore a few researchers have “identified other risk factors such as quickness to anger and use of force, addiction to aggressive behaviors, mistaking others’ actions as hostile, concern with preserving self image, and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions.”

The TPLF fits this definition. Its capacity to understand reason and logic has long been compromised. The regime is not interested in compromise, sharing of power and civilized conversation to resolve differences. We are the ones always hoping that the Politburo of Meles, Bereket, Sebehat, Uqba, Seyoum and Azeb will come to their senses. No it is not going to happen. Bullies are not wired to listen to reason. Bullies get their fix by inflicting pain. Bullies understand the power of enough and NO more. Bullies respect power and resolve. Bullies have to be confronted. Each illegal act is taking them down further into the path of self-destruction and suicide. But they are unable to see it blinded by power and vanity.

The US President Lyndon Johnson once said, “You let a bully come into your front yard, the next day he’ll be on your porch” We have let the bully into our living room. When the bullies killed thousands of our people we kept quiet .We did not protest the Gambella massacre. We turned our face when Oromos were either shot at or imprisoned. We did not utter a word when the Honorable Bulcha Demeksa’s aide and his supporters were imprisoned. We shrugged it off when our Somali-Ethiopian citizens were arrested in mass. Some of us have even tried to justify the forceful deportation of our Eritrean relatives and friends.

We forget the simple truth that injustice to one is injustice to all. The African American freedom fighter Frederick Douglas wrote:

Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Ato Meles and company are doing everything to stay in power. They are waiting for a response from us. So what shall we tell them? We all need to make our decision and live with it. Last time they tried such naked aggression against our interest, we rose up and made our feelings known. We said enough is enough. We did what we had to do under our own circumstances. No one can ask for more. Following are a time proven and effective actions that we can take to help our people and ourselves.


• Participate in protest marches organized in your cities and towns.
• Write/Fax/ email your Representatives in Congress.
• Sign petitions to be sent to the White House, Obama’s transition team, US Embassy in Addis, Amnesty International, Human Right Watch and other humanitarian Organizations.
• Approach local churches, synagogues, mosques, and civic organizations and urge them to help in the campaign.
• Stop flying Ethiopian Airlines. We all know it is the best; unfortunately it belongs to the Ethiopian state. The money is used to pay informants. Federal Police, Federal Judges and more.
• Do not invest in business directly and indirectly associated with the ruling class.
• If you go to Ethiopia do not patronize establishments associated with the ruling class.

This method of protest always works. Even dictators abhor international isolation. Protests and boycotts are just one component of resistance against injustice. The Indians under Ghandi refused to buy British Salt, the South Africans urged divestment and boycott, Martin Luther King urged civil disobedience, protest marches and boycott, Cesar Chavez urged boycott, Nelson Mandel approved both armed resistance and dialogue without duress, even the Security Council uses boycott to assert its wishes. It is a legitimate form of protest.

We find our selves in this problematic situation because we never seem to finish a job we start. We all share the responsibility for our failure. The thing to do now is learn from that and stick around until it bears fruit. We fight for justice not because we follow a certain group or philosophy but because it is a moral decision. We should insist because it is the right thing to do. Blaming Kinijit leaders and everyone else is an escape. The fight against tyranny should be independent of the action of ones friends, neighbors, political leaders or personal gain.

Judge Birtukan is probably sleeping in a small room on concrete floor being denied food and water, taunted by immature and uneducated cadres to humiliate her. It is a cold room with no windows and the light is kept burning 24 hours. She will not be allowed to sleep very much. She is facing all this abuse because she is one righteous woman. She knew that the path she choose is full of trials and tribulations. We saw her resolve earlier when she defied Meles and refused to use the court to settle political differences. We also saw the strength of her character during her US tour. She is like Daniel in the lion’s den. His faith in his God was unswerving. His God shut the lion’s mouth and he emerged unscratched. Judge Birtukan’s faith in the Ethiopian God and her strong belief in her people will give her unlimited strength. We are sure of that.

In this time of family reunions, holidays and time of renewal it is very sad Meles is still working hard to stifle dissent and deny basic human dignity to his fellow Ethiopians. It is very sad that one person together with servile and weak advisors is leading our country into a dead end and dangerous road. Our time will be better spent in building a free and stable society for our children and us. That is the wish of the overwhelming majority of our people. Opposition Parties have offered the olive branch on several occasions. Melese’s response has been to try to chop the hand offered in peace. TPLF is compounding its abuse and definitely has overstayed its welcome. That much is true in Ethiopia.

Meles and company are in power by the use of sheer force and terror. All sectors of society has shunned them and their constant feeble effort to show their power has become a joke. A cruel joke, but a joke nevertheless. As Judge Birtukan said in one of her speeches “ the regime is afraid of it own shadow”. Fear is what is driving it wild like a mad dog. Threatening Eritreans, invading Somalia, imagining OLF behind every Oromo, using collective punishment against Somali Ethiopians, distrusting every Amhara, inciting Christians against Moslems and the list goes on.

For eighteen years we have witnessed the often strange and definitely disgusting policies of these cadres in power. Now is the time to work to stop war by working for peace. Peace is achieved when there is equilibrium. There is no peace between unequals. Ato Meles and company should stop hiding behind their very ‘fluid’ Constitution and stop the abuse.

There is nothing to be gained by trying to rewrite history. The European Union, US Congress and other international agencies already have the evidence regarding the massacres after the 2005 General elections. Amnesty International, Human Right Watch, and Doctors without Border have submitted their reports concerning Ogaden and Somalia. It is not a good picture. It is full of filmed and photographed meticulously organized evidence. It would have been much better to refrain from illegal acts. Efforts to find some one else to share the blame is a sign of cowardice. Our advice to the politburo is you made your bed you sleep in it. There is no place to hide. We will hunt you down till our last breath and justice will be served. This is a promise from your victims.

What ever the Political prisoners signed is not worth the paper it is written on. Surely getting someone to sign a piece of paper while holding a loaded gun to his head is not considered binding. To argue differently is beyond bizarre. The real question is if you just sit still and watch gross injustice being done to others, who is going to speak when they come to get you?

Please, Ethiopia begs you with her arms stretched her head held high up, hoping her children have an ounce of dignity left in them and will stand up against the few to save the many. With or with out you some will forge ahead, is it better to stand beside your brethren and make the sacrifice a little lighter? The hungry, the cold, the hopeless are waiting for you. Let us start the New Year with determination to right that what is wrong. We can do it. We will do it. Next new year we will celebrate our holidays in a free and democratic Ethiopia. As the Jews used to say during their Passover dinner in exile “L’shanah haba’ah biyerushalayim — Next Year in Jerusalem.” It is an expression of hope fulfilling their dream of being a free people in their own land. I say to you ‘yememetaw amet be agerachin.’ – Next Year in Ethiopia!

  1. henny
    | #1

    Ay Girma. You know all what you are saying here is already tried. They all proved a total failure. wisha yewisha lij. dedeb masebiah aqumwal ende.

  2. Gurra Ummata
    | #2

    What do you expect from dictators? Devil? a mad dog? cruel bandas? cannibal?
    what do you expect where there are no rules; and still Ethiopians are patient.?
    People are under arogant regime.Government itself is under prison. Every body is under prison.It is exile.

  3. Teshome S
    | #3

    I endorse this article with all my heart. Very well done. Let’s start acting on the recommended actions which are proven to be effective. Let’s start now. We have no time to spare. Our leader is in prison and she is suffering and we have to stop it and stop it now.

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