Press Release: Release Judge Birtukan Mideksa without any Preconditions – Ethiopian Unity Diaspora Forum, INC
The Founding Members of Ethiopian Unity Diaspora Forum (EUDF) demand the immediate and unconditional release of Judge Birtukan Mideksa who was imprisoned as of 29 December 2008 by the Government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
The excuse given by the Government for rearresting Judge Birtukan is that she had made speeches and interviews disputing the conditions of her “pardon” from life imprisonment passed on her and her fellow Kinijit leaders. We find that the statements made by Judge Birtukan Mideksa during her tour of European countries were absolutely within the bounds of her human and democratic rights of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed and recognized by all the laws of civilized nations around the World, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, and the 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia. We find further that Judge Birtukan is confined under despicable conditions, with very limited visitation rights, to a tiny dirty cell infested with bugs without proper ventilation or even minimal sanitation in violations of her rights.
We have objectively examined and studied the speeches and interviews of Judge Birtukan made while she was touring Europe and also statements she had made in Addis Ababa and her own “Kale” in response to the Ethiopian Government interrogative demand on her to answer certain questions. We have studied the conflicting statements by Officials of different organs of the Ethiopian Government and that of Meles Zenawi. We have examined also the statements made by other Members of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (Andenet) and in particular statements made by the Shimagles at different times. We find also the role played by the Shemagles in the setting of the “pardon” far less stellar than at first blush. We are convinced that there was no real trial, and the “pardon” was a result of negotiation as part of a scheme to save face for the Government of Meles Zenawi. However, one may consider the reason given by Meles Zenawi for the rearrest of Judge Birtukan as a form of smoke-screen, for the real intent of Meles Zenawi and his political group is to disrupt the increased popularity of Judge Birtukan among the people of Ethiopia and remove her and her political organization from the 2010 national elections.
Furthermore, we have been able to ascertain beyond all doubts that the EPRDF-controlled Government, headed by Meles Zenawi (as President first and Prime Minister currently) since 1991 has been engaged fully in the suppression of lawful protests and expressions of thought by Ethiopian citizens. We are certain that in the last five years through political infighting, Meles Zenawi has emerged as the sole dictatorial power in control of the EPRDF. The EPRDF controlled Government has been engaged in schemes of prolonged detentions and imprisonments of several thousand Ethiopians without charges. The EPRDF controlled Government is engaged in the physical and mental torture of those the Government deems in opposition to its political policies and programs, including those critical of its method of governance and its administrative and economic policies. The EPRDF controlled Government, particularly Meles Zenawi, has used deceit, manipulation, distortion of facts, and propaganda through the state controlled media to discredit and dehumanize legitimate opposition leaders including Judge Birtukan.
II. Corruption of the Judicial System and the “Pardon” Process
The Ethiopian Judicial system is totally corrupted and fully controlled by Meles Zenawi. It is common knowledge that judges are not free to pass independent judgments even according to the legislations and regulations and the Constitution designed and forced on the people of Ethiopia by the EPRDF. Meles Zenawi has used and abused the Ethiopian judicial system in order to convict all those opposed to his increasingly dictatorial power and governance. Therefore, we do not recognize any of the trials and convictions of Ethiopian political leaders, opposition leaders, owners of newspapers and journals, and journalists and social activists convicted of crimes of a political nature allegedly committed after the establishment of the EPRDF led Government(s) since 1991. We do not recognize all convictions and subsequent pardons entered against opposition leaders and their supporters of the last election that took place in 2005.
We find the “pardon” process espoused by Meles Zenawi and his Government to be a vicious political tool that is aimed both to discredit and personally humiliate political victims, such as Judge Birtukan and other Kinijit Leaders, distinguished journalists, and other patriotic Ethiopians caught in the grinding teeth of the current Ethiopian Government. The “Pardon” is an extortionist or blackmailing system that works by using first the judiciary to enter excessive prison terms or death sentences against opposition political leaders and truthful journalists, victims of Meles Zenawi and his Regime, and in a second round, after detaining such victims under horrible conditions for a year or two, offer the ”pardon” as an alternative of freedom tempting such victims to accept such humiliating and self-discrediting procedure.
We further find that such humiliating and degrading process to be the brainchild of Meles Zenawi. We are fully aware of the fact that it is in the tradition of the methodology of torturing and murdering of individuals even during the years before 1991, which is now being implemented disguised as the current “pardon” process. We find the “pardon” process simply an extension of such mentality and hateful behavior of the leaders of the EPRDF. We find the “pardon” process to be unconstitutional under the 1995 Ethiopian Constitution, illegal under most legal systems of the World, and a form of mental torture against prisoners convicted of alleged political crimes contrary to international norms and principles set in numerous United Nations Resolutions and Conventions.
III. Conclusion and Demand
We have concluded from such concrete evidences referred to above, the fact that the current Ethiopian Government under the leadership of Meles Zenawi has committed gross human rights violations on the person of Judge Birtukan Mideksa. We hold Meles Zenawi personally responsible for the illegal and capricious violations of the human rights of Judge Birtukan. We hold the Senior Members of the current Ethiopian Government responsible individually and collectively for the continued violations of the human rights of Judge Birtukan and all other Ethiopians imprisoned or detained for alleged political crimes committed since the time of the coming into power of EPRDF in 1991.
Thus, we demand that Judge Birtukan Mideksa be released from prison without any precondition. We demand that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his Government cease and desist from using the so-called “pardon” procedure as a political tool to humiliate, demoralize, and punish political rivals and or opposition leaders. We demand that Meles Zenawi stop interfering in the normal running of the judiciary in Ethiopia. We further demand the release of all political prisoners, and in particular all those convicted for political reasons based on their alleged involvement of the turmoil that ensued in the wake of the highly contested national election of 2005.
By inviting Meles Zenawi to represent the needs of African Peoples at the G20 London Summit 2009, Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has displayed utter disrespect and contempt to the millions of Ethiopians suffering under the brutal rule of Meles Zenawi. However, we trust in the statesmanship of a number of international leaders, including those attending the G20 Summit. Thus, we still call upon the international community to stand firm on its principles of democracy, respect for human rights, and rule of law, and that it demands the immediate release of Judge Birtukan. We urge also Prime Minister Gordon Brown to withdraw his invitation to Meles Zenawi. One must not lose sight of the real reason behind all the atrocities and all the violations of human and political rights in Ethiopia, which is to prolong the dictatorial rule of Meles Zenawi. We call on the international community to insist that the May 2010 Ethiopian national elections be conducted in a fair manner with a free Election Board, free judiciary, and free media reporting, as well as the presence of international observers in all urban and rural polling stations and areas.
Ethiopian Unity Diaspora Forum, INC.
March 20, 2009