The re-arrest of Birtukan Midekssa magnifies the violation of the rule of law prevailing in our country.
The letter of the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia written on Hamle 12, 1998, [July 19, 2006] guarantees that W/t Birtukan Midekssa, accused of “attempting to overthrow the Constitution and the constitutional system by force, has been granted full pardon. The pardon certificate given by the President further guarantees that the full pardon would hold as long as W/t Birtukan did not participate in similar actions, carries out her civic responsibility of respecting and defending the Constitution and accepts and respects the duties and responsibilities of government institutions established under the Constitution.
W/t Birtukan has in no way violated the preconditions to which she had committed herself. Nor is there any accusation from the government based on a violation of the preconditions.
Proclamation No. 395/1996, Article 16 identifies the conditions under which pardon is granted. Among these are:
a) After the pardon decision reaches the beneficiary of the pardon, if it is ascertained that the pardon had been obtained through falsification or deceit, it is decreed that the pardon could be revoked.
b) If the pardon is granted under a precondition and later that precondition is violated, the law decrees that the pardon be revoked.
The pardon granted to W/t Birtukan was revoked, according to a government statement broadcast through the media, under the pretext that she had denied asking for pardon. This could in no way be taken as an action that warrants the revocation of a pardon. This being the case, when the pardon that was given to W/t Birtukan was revoked, the procedure stipulated by the law has been fully violated.
According to the procedures stipulated by Proclamation No. 395/1996, Article 17, when there is an adequate condition warranting the revocation of a pardon, the reason for the revocation has to be made clear and given to the receiver of the pardon in writing. However, W/t Birtukan was taken to prison in a manner that violated her human rights, without a written notification according to the law and without the benefit of the 20 days granted to her by the law for examining the charge and for making her response.
Because W/t Birtukan has not violated the precondition under which she was granted pardon; because the pardon was revoked in a manner that violated the procedures stipulated by the law and because the violent manner in which she was arrested and taken to prison violated her human rights protected by the Constitution, the law calls for the revocation of the pardon to be annulled and for the pardon granted earlier to be confirmed.
In view of the fact that W/t Birtukan is the Chairperson of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ), it is believed within the UDJ, that the illegal measures stated above are designed to hinder the activities of the party.
On December 29, 2008, at about 2:00 pm, W/t Birtukan was arrested by individuals who did not identify themselves or produce a warrant in a manner that violated her human rights. Professor Mesfin Woldemariam and her chauffeur, Ato Abdurahman Ahmmed, who happened to be with her at the time, were also physically beaten. The illegal acts described above indicate not only the violation of the rule of law but also the trampling of human and constitutional rights of citizens.
The Ethiopian people must note that the illegal measures taken by the government against the Chairperson of UDJ go beyond Birtukan as an individual and are aimed at the existence of our party. UDJ wishes to make it clear that W/t Birtukan, its Chairperson, has the full support of her party that firmly stands by her side.
Furthermore, UDJ declares as being out of the truth and not representing the position of the party, a statement made by the December 30 issue of Awramba Times in connection with the arrest of W/t Birtukan and quoting Dr. Hailu Araaya as saying:”It has been pointed out to us that this is the private affair of W/t Birtukan and concerns her and her alone.”
UDJ calls upon the Ethiopian people to take note of what is behind the measures taken against W/t Bitukan, to stand behind UDJ and to redouble its efforts to strengthen the peaceful struggle to bring about democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia. It also calls upon governments and other international institutions dedicated to the cause of human rights, democracy and the rule of law to be supportive partners of our common cause.
Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ)
December 30, 2008