Payne Calls for the Immediate Release of Ethiopian Political Prisoners – Congressman Donald Payne, Tenth District.– NewJersey

January 9th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

For Immediate Release, Contact: Kerry McKenney – (202) 225~3436


For Immediate Release, Contact: Kerry McKenney – (202) 225~3436

Washington, DC – Congressman Donald M. Payne, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, issued the following statement today:

Click here for Pdf Version of The Press Release

“I am concerned over the continued targeting and imprisonment of innocent civilians by the Ethiopian government.

Ms. Birtukan Mideksa, one of the most prominent political leaders and a staunch human rights advocate, has been imprisoned for the second time by the Ethiopian government. Ms. Mideksa, a freedom fighter and a courageous leader, has faced untold suffering over the past several years.

I first met Ms. Mideksa in Kality prison in 2006. Ms. Birtukan Mideksa is on a hunger strike and unfortunately has been separated from her young child. “

In October 2007, shortly after her release from prison, Ms. “Mideksa stated in a testimony before my subcommittee that, ‘The period immediately preceding the May 2005 elections was an extraordinary time in Ethiopia’s history. For the first time in Ethiopia’s history, the seeds of democracy were planted throughout the land, and on May 15th, Ethiopians came out by. the millions to harvest a bounty of democracy.

‘Unfortunately, instead of democracy, 193 Ethiopian civilians were killed and many more injured by Ethiopian security forces in demonstrations following the May 2005 elections. Additionally, more than 10,000 people were detained in the aftermath of the elections. According to the Independent Commission of Inquiry, the government used excessive force against civilians.

Ms. Birtukan also said in her testimony that, ‘…the most basic agreement we reached with the Elders to secure our release was nullified and used by the government for mind–numbing propaganda to isolate the CUDP [the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party] from the public and to instill fear in the public so that it will refrain from supporting the party.’ In her concluding remarks, Ms. Birtukan powerfully stated,’It will not be easy for all of us to confront the past. We must try embracing the rule of law and respect for human rights and democracy. The time is ripe for democratization in Ethiopia.’

I strongly urge the Government of Ethiopia to immediately release Ms. Birtukan Mideksa and other political prisoners, open the political space, and respect the rule of law. I will work closely with the incoming Obama Administration to ensure respect for human rights, regional stability, and the promotion of democracy in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government must realize that brutality and repression will never succeed in crushing the aspiration for democracy and freedom. Either one must embrace democracy and rule of law or face the same fate of the Mengistu’s of this world.”

  1. Maru
    | #1

    God bless abugida and Donald pain to give me this good news atleast I can sleep for now.

    Death for Woyanes.

  2. Sami
    | #2

    Here it comes back again…This is that maniac stupid tigras’ god worst nightmare. He is so afraid of Teddy Afro and Birtukan Midekssa, he put them in jail. When there is something good, Meles’ craziness gets worst. It is because he is possessed by evil sprite. The sad thing is that stupid tigrays let this evil bold guy run over them.

  3. gutema
    | #3

    the rotten mafias are going to burn in hell ther is no door or gate to escape for all ethiopians becarefull of the intruders death to woyane and its puppets

  4. Tadele
    | #4

    I am pleased to know that the world has not tuned its eyes on Ethiopia. Meles, your days in power are counted.

  5. Y-ferensai Lij
    | #5

    Oh God!!! You are with us and saw the tears of the people!!!

  6. Ewenetu
    | #6

    A friend in need is a friend indeed!!!Thank you Congressman Payne.

  7. girmay
    | #7

    The TPLf regime should givepower to the public. Lets stand togethr to remove repression from our beloved country.

  8. | #8

    that is good news EPRDF should respect opposition Idea as a politics not as direct enemy.

  9. Addis
    | #9

    This is really damn and stupid. We the Ethiopians know how ignorant and selfish CRIME minster Meles is.but how come the rest of WEYAnEs let this stupid guy ran them and be on the top for this period of time.a lot of people died to remove Megistu, with all respect of the rest of them in addis Abeba why didn’t they ask themselves. Why dictetator they fought for freedom according to there lies .not even one guriela of Tigray tried to kill Melese shame on tigray. The rest of Ethiopian never got power sharing from melese.
    Only the tigray people are on all the top spot. Even at Bole airport.if I ever get close to CRIME minister melese I will kill him then kill myself. But he knows he would not get any of us around him damn monky looking.I would sujest put some bomb around Batemengiste.

  10. genna
    | #10

    congressman we tankyou . you care those need freedom and justice . i wish you are our beloved country president

  11. sam
    | #11

    when will we rely on our self? are we waiting that the americans send a war ship to liberate us? till we unite we will make no difference. God bless ethiopia.

  12. sintaye
    | #12

    waite people before we feel good about what has been said we should wait until it has been done.But god bless you Congressman Donald M. Payne for saying that but are you really going to work for the ethiopia people not not for the ethopia enemy. If did you will be my roll nodel of doin the right thing.thank you

  13. Wetuenwta
    | #13

    I am not a supporter of any of the parties in Ethiopia. But what is insulting about Payne is that this is a guy who does not even take care of his own constituents but continues to brag about how he is going to bring down the Ethiopian government. Don Payne, I have one message for you, Sir: Ethiopians do not respond very well when they are threatened. Please do your homework and learn how to speak as a statesman rather than like some of those who are the least educated in your own backyard!

  14. Girum
    | #14

    We must use every means available to expose the blood sucking regime. However, we MUST all remember that we are our own liberators.Do your part. We must Create one-person-army. Wherever you are brainstorm how to be useful in this struggle.We all ought to say enough of this humiliation. We are Ethiopians!! Get up !! Stand up!! Let’s do something that will hurt weyane killers. Let’s give them assignment so they let go off our people.Think!! think!!

  15. Tefe
    | #15

    We Ethiopians are under the any humanbeing because if we are considered as humanbeing Woyanne did not do 21 century Nazi in Ethiopian people. Everybody we should know that the main objectives of Woyanne is to earse Ethiopian and Ethiopian people from the world map.

  16. balager
    | #16

    Thank you Sir.
    It is I hope time for the changing of the Guard in Ethiopi as it is in The U.S.As the new adminstration takes power given by the people It is the hope of all Ethiopians that Our President Obama will fulfill the promise of the hope he gave US here to those who have the audacity of hope in Ethiopia by true Democrats and civil right advocate such as you. Thank you Mr Paine.

  17. tesfa
    | #17

    Don’t expect anything from Americans, they are the evils who are supporting wayanne for the last 18 years. America is anti-democracy .

  18. kiros
    | #18

    Ethiopia Saturday, January 10, 2009


    By Teodros Kiros ( PH.D)


    The intricate legal dimensions of President Birtukan’s case was recently handled by two sparkling articles by distinguished legal scholars: Professor Alemayehu G.Mariam and Professor Tecola W. Hagos, published in Ethiomedia and Tecolahagos respectively. And Professor Mesay Kebede, in Ethiomedia and Tecolahagos, most powerfully articulated the moral dimension of Birtukan’s arrest and imprisonment.

    I am most grateful to these scholars from whom I continue to learn.

    My own modest contribution is in the area of moral philosophy, to which I will return momentarily, and on which moral edifice, I will seek to ground the complexities of the legal arguments so ably articulated by the two mighty scholars.

    The legal arguments as presented by Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam are the following:

    (1) President Birtukan did not deny asking for pardon, but when asked a question pertaining to the pardon in Sweden , she specified asking for pardon as a matter of due process, which the detainees did not do, and signing for a pardon agreement negotiated by the Shimagles. She denied the first, as a matter of fact, but admitted the second, and that the prime minister has no shred of evidence for arguing that she denied receiving a pardon.

    (2) President Birtukan also stated that the person who submits an appeal for clemency ought to have been either the concerned person’s lawyer, or family member. This duty was illegally assumed by the Prime Minister, who felt obligated to stand for the detainees as their lawyer and took the document to the board and the president.

    (3) President Birtukan has the legal right to discuss, reflect and examine her condition at any time, any place, in the right manner, since the document that she signed did not precisely specify what she can and cannot say, regarding her condition. That is her legal right as a citizen, a person and a thinking human being.

    (4) Assuming that she has violated the law, the person who threatened to arrest her, unless she retracts her statement should not have been the police commissioner. According to Proclamation 395/1996, Arts, 16 and 17, there is a lawful process by which pardon could be revoked. The lawful process was flagrantly violated, since she was denied her due process, which was taken over by a police commissioner, performing an illegality, under the said proclamation.

    (5) Under the conditions, specified above, President Birtukan was arrested without a criminal charge.

    Professor Tecola W. Hagos’s earlier article is similar in several of his important views with Professor Alemayehu G.Mariam’s arguments in (1) and (2) and most specifically emphasizes the human and democratic rights of freedom of thought, speech, and expression which is emphasized in (3). We may surmise Professor Tecola’s views in the following three points:

    (1) Professor Tecola points out that the right to speak ones mind even includes the right to openly advocate the peaceful removal of Meles Zenawi from office. Thus, signing a pardon cannot possibly be used to muffle President Birtukan’s mouth. The Ethiopian Constitution itself grants her fundamental and inalienable rights of speech, expression and thought, thereby fully in agreement with Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam’s views in (1).

    (2) It is Professor Tecola’s understanding that in discussing the pardon, President Birtukan, was making a fine legally analytic distinction between constitutionally supported processes (Due process) and an ad hoc improvised process mediated by a third party, the Shimagles, a point that Professor Almemayehu G. Mariam also sharply noted in (1).

    (3) One could argue that President Birtukan might have played with fire, when she spoke her mind at the wrong time, in the wrong place and to the wrong authority, in this case, a relentless dictatorship, an instance of a lapse of judgment but excusable, as plainly stated by Professor Tecola.

    Haimanot Lakew, also shrewdly noted the same point in a thoughtful article, “Magnanimity Should Have Been The Order of the Day” (Aiga Forum) Summarizing considerably, and with a sincere attempt of not sacrificing the technical legalities, I now move to articulate the moral dimensions of this perturbing case, by following the important lead most eloquently put forward by Professor Messay Kebedes’ eye-catching argument.

    For Professor Messay Kebede, what is at issue is the moral status of the very idea of asking for pardon, when one is not convinced that one has committed any wrong, in light of the indisputable legal facts that Professors Almayehu G. Mariam and Tecola W. Hagos compellingly presented, with both concluding that President Birtukan did not commit a crime. According to Professor Messay Kebede, the intention then was not that President Birtukan committed a crime and that she must be punished by the rule of law, but that the Dictatorship wanted to humiliate her publicly.

    Disagreeing with the view that it was a lapse of judgment, Professor Messay Kebede, praises the heroine for being true to herself by speaking conscience to power. For him, President Birtukan did not lack in judgment, she chose the path of the moral virtues, and presented herself as upright, principled, courageous and selfless.

    To Professor Messay Kebede, President Birtukan is a moral heroine, the voice of principle, the path of resistance, the orchestration of revolutionary political action in the agora.

    She has set a standard of moral greatness—an example to us all by presenting herself as a catalyst of change, and a barometer of what Dessalegn Asfaw, luminously called, “An inward struggle.”

    Indeed, she is a moral figure that the regime attempted to silence by life imprisonment, by using her as a spectacle, and sending signs to the masses that the prize of courage is prison and torture, and that material comfort and government appointments are the rewards to the servile, docile and those who live only for bread.

    President Birtukan has proved them wrong, and that we the Ethiopian masses must now assemble, protest and be vigilant citizens, working on our inner selves, and make Birtukan’s struggle our very own, our very moral fiber, and fight docility with moral action, comfort with suffering, alienation with vibrant moral life, fragmentation with Andent, and Ethnicity with Ethiopianity.

    We must move on full speed and use the complex legal arguments as the justifications for the exercise of the moral virtues.

    Now is the time, in which we can fight by the use of the moral edifice on which stand the legal defenses.

    Teodros Kiros ( PH.D)

    January 7, 2009

  19. tewbel
    | #19

    There is no point in arguing over legality in a country where there is law. The Meles regime is an tribal dictatorship. It has been supported by the US, the EU, China, India, the World Bank, the IMF and others who are well are of its vilations of Human Rights,murders, arbitrary arrests,unbridled corruption,siphoning of AID money and countless misdeeds. They responsible for what is going on in Ethiopia. We cannot expect antyhing from them, the salvation is with in ourselves by getting rid of the regime.

  20. MelesSudanawi
    | #20

    Agazzzi baby killer lead by sudanawi meles zenawi killing, looting in its final days.
    TPLF regime heading to ultimate demise,
    President Isaias underscores – Shabait

    All Ethiopian, despite our differences should join EPPF and Ginbot 7!
    Unity First!

    Isayas is with us ethiopia. Isyas belive in united ethiopia. no one will stop united ethiopia. Therefore, my beloved country, lets smash those agazzzi woyane TPLF gangs our people are crying

    The Tplf mafia group seems preparing and getting ready for any eventuality as thier final demise is fast approaching. The mafia group is confisicating and converting looted Ethiopian Birr in to any foriegn currency and stashing away to foriegn Banks. Here is what Africa Intelligence says —

    The Indian Ocean Newsletter
    N° 1253 10/01/2009

    Now that the EPRDF has been in power for almost two decades, its leaders have had time to accumulate wealth. We make a roundup – by no means exhaustive – of their activity.

    Azeb Mesfin, the wife of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, takes no mean interest in the world of business and sometimes has been highly interventionist in defending the commercial interests of those close to her. She recently put the spoke in the wheels of the firm Nyala Motors over the importing of UD Nissan lorries; conversely she has lobbied in favour of Sunshine Construction whose executives Samuel Tadesse and Fetlework Elala are close to her. Moreover, Azeb Mesfin is believed to have a stake in Alfa University College and in property in Addis Ababa.

    The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Seyoum Mesfin, is for his part at the head of a unit producing ceramics for the construction industry. It is winning all of the contracts, to such an extent that it has pushed some of its rivals to close down. Asefaw Yirga, the manager of Ase Marble, is believed to be one of them. He committed suicide on 20 December. Seyoum Mesfin also owns several tens of lorries registered in his name. Addisu Legese, the Deputy Prime Minister currently on the way out, owns a hotel at Bahr Dar, which is the stopping place for all the officials visiting this town. The State Minister for Public Works, Arkebe Oqubay Mitiku, owns two buildings in the capital, while one advisor to the Prime Minister, Bereket Simon, owns a rental building and a fleet of lorries transporting oil products from Djibouti. The Police Commissioner Workineh Gebreyehu is at the head of an import-export company which has no difficulty in getting foreign currency when it needs it. A band of generals is very active in the property market, buying and selling villas and plots of land, beginning with the army chief of staff, General Samora Younis, who owns a building in the smart neighbourhood of Bole.

    The Ethiopian government recently attributed plots of land in Addis Ababa together with money for building, to some generals, mainly Tigrayans. Samora Younis, Yohannes Gebre Meskel and a few others are among the lucky beneficiaries of this scheme

  21. DuDu
    | #21

    Payne is a failed and exposed shabea adocates.
    But there is no Banana republic in Ethiopia.
    Try a futile attempt again and again that is your full time job abroad.

  22. DuDu Jr.
    | #22

    Dudu, don’t thnink as bull,the only constant variabl is chang in this sheet world ,thnink in your maind rather than etinc.

  23. Dawda
    | #23

    If you keep quite about Birtukan arrest rather than empty talk ,
    Birtukan probably might be released with gray hair after her quarter of stay in prison like Tamrat layne.
    But the Diaspora talk and ble bla that led this poor lady to be arrested will probably make the government might tied the noose and will stay long life.
    Because Birtukan proofed good for nothing in her poor politcs and her arrest doesent bring any reaction since she is sent to prison.
    Her hunger strike even is put to the level her party considered it .
    She is gone!

  24. Hakku
    | #24

    Eventhough Ethiopia is no Banana republic, I really appreciate any body who speake out to tyrannts. In that regard, the congressman´s statements are right and everybody who worked out to this end has done a wonderful job.

  25. Hakku
    | #25

    Hey Dawda,
    Are we talking about a kid or a government?

  26. dejen
    | #26

    Ethiopians are problems for themselves and its neighbours,,,,,,i hope one day ethiopia can be divided into pieces.Oroomo, Oganden and Somali ppl can live peacefully. Ethiopia is an African shame.Aid and war ,not go togethers.

  27. gutema
    | #27

    evry thing can be changed with the system that is why we have war disease and poverty all these problems could be solved by agood governace but ethiopia has always bad government the ppl are the poorest ppl in the face of the earth so we have to stand up and fight against injustice and poverty

  28. wey mealti
    | #28

    Egzio Mahrene Kristos!!!

    Thank you Mr.Congressman Donald Payne.
    God bless you. Advocate for the opressed
    ppl. of Ethiopia. This will build an anti
    Terror society in Ethiopia and neighbouring countries. Democracy for black people, freedom for Africa

    Aluta continua!!!!!!!!!

  29. TED
    | #29

    I would like to express my appreciation to Congressman Donald Payne of New Jersey. I know there are many more Congressmen and officials in the Department of State who agree with Congressman Payne.
    “I strongly urge the Government of Ethiopia to immediately release Ms. Birtukan Mideksa and other political prisoners, open the political space, and respect the rule of law. I will work closely with the incoming Obama Administration to ensure respect for human rights, regional stability, and the promotion of democracy in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government must realize that brutality and repression will never succeed in crushing the aspiration for democracy and freedom. Either one must embrace democracy and rule of law or face the same fate of the Mengistu’s of this world.”
    God bless Congressman Donald Payne and seventy five million people of Ethiopia salute the Congressman.

  30. kebede
    | #30

    Melles being encouraged by the Bush admimstretion has commited enough crimes against certain Ethiopian tribes ,violated the human right of the people, invaded soveregn countries .Ethiopians are dying every were while his own people are sucking the wealth of Ethiopia, it seams his regn is over!!!

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