Open Letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown – Tibebe Selassie Abebe, Ph.D.
The Honorable Gordon Brown, Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London, SW1A 2AA
Dear Prime Minister:
I know you value dearly the issues of human rights, justice, freedom opinion and freedom of expression through out your political life. I also know you have dedicated yourself to fight those violators of democracy and the rule of law. Not least but last, I also know you are defender of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
As an Ethiopian, however, I very disappointed your invitation extended to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to attend the G20 meeting to be held on April 2, 2009. As a voice of the 80,000,000 voiceless Ethiopians, I question as to why your Honorable invited a child murder, oppressor, tyrannical and despot leader, Meles Zenawi. Meles Zenawi is no less than the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in committing all types of atrocities under the sun. One day, Meles and is collaborators will be brought to International Criminal Court and face Justice, that will be the day I would like your Honorable to remember.
Mr. Prime Minister, I would like you read, the following and question yourself, whom you invited to attend the April 2, 2009 meeting.
Ethiopia is signatory of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly – resolution 217 A (III) of 10th December, 1948. The Ethiopian regime led by Meles Zenawi, though incorporated the Declaration into its “constitution”, however, never abides or stood by it. Rather used it as a means to face-lift its image thereby deceiving the international community. Zenawi, since he grabbed power 18 years ago, never trusted his own shadow let alone believe in the so-called “constitution” his party crafted.
The regime has (1) imprisoned citizens on fabricated and altered evidence, the case of Tewodros Kassahun (aka Teddy Afro). (2) Imprisoned members of opposition parties, and thousands supporters and members of opposition parties (after math of 2005 election), (3) Continued imprisoning, killing and disappearing citizens whose ethnicity are different from its-own (Oromos and their elected leaders), (4) a war crime committed in the name of fighting terrorism (Ogaden Somalis); and (5) massacre thousands innocent citizens without any provocation for exercising their God given right the Anuak in 2003 and the Sidamas in 2002).
1. The injustice imprisonment of Teddy Afro
The 31 years old Teddy Afro is a political prisoner, nothing else but a political prisoner who is sentenced to languishing in one of sub-human prison of the regime for the next six years. Contra to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 10, the judge, Luel Gebremairam, who passed the sentence is neither independent nor impartial rather a ranking political cadre of Zenawi’s regime.
Teddy Afro is a patriot who loves his country Ethiopia and her children without reservation. As an artist all his lyrics and songs are enshrined with love and peace, promote harmony and human dignity, respect of human rights, national unity and integrity of Ethiopia. His lyrics and songs, especially Yasteseryal (Redemption) and later Shemendefer became an anthem of the young and the old during the ballot stuffed and rigged federal election of 2005. An election that resulted in public protest, the death of 200 and 750 wounded citizens. Ever since then, Teddy Afro has been on the watch list of Zenawi’s regime. Teddy is thrown to jail not because of any criminal offence; rather he refused to knell down, sell his soul, remain silent because of the human rights violation, and least but not last refused to entertain the regime during the Ethiopian millennium.
In order to show Teddy who in power is, the regime wrote and directed a melodrama. A melodrama scripted to accuse Teddy for a hit and run crime of a homeless man. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11(1) denotes that “everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence”, however, the regime’s prosecutor did not prove the alleged crime beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecutor’s evidence was not only fabricated be altered. As per the autopsy report signed by the duty physician, the victim died on October 22, 2006, a day earlier than the date of the prosecutor alleged the victim was killed on October 23, 2006. On October 22, 2006 Teddy was not even in Ethiopia. He arrived in Addis from North America the evening of October 23, 2006. However, with the help and order of the presiding Judge Luel, the autopsy report date was altered from October 22 to October 23.
Not only that, there was no expert testimony to give an opinion or otherwise as to whether the victims injuries are consistent with motor vehicle collision; no graphic reconstruction of the alleged accident, no forensic evidence to the vehicle that belong to Teddy, no blood, no dent, no hair fiber to be found on the vehicle which was under the protection of the prosecutor.
The court very well knows that the prosecutor’s case was not able to prove that the crime in which Teddy accused was not proven beyond reasonable doubt, even on the basis of the regimes “constitution” Article 22 (3), however, the court sentenced Teddy to a six years term on such fabricated melodrama.
2. The killing and imprisonment of members and supporters of the opposition parties
The stolen federal election of May 2005 by the regime of Zenawi forced citizens to hold a peaceful protest on the streets of Addis Ababa, and other cities in June and November 2005. Regardless of citizens right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression granted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 19 & 20(1)), however, the regime sent out his special Sharpe shoters called the Agazi, to shoot children, women, the young, and the elderly. The Agazi, killed 193 and wounded 763. At the same time, the regime arrested the leaders of the opposition and more than 30,000 of its supporters. Until today, the where about of thousands arrested is unknown? A committee appointed by the regime itself found out that the Agazi used excessive force and could also be considered a massacre. Since, the Agazi is under the command of Zenawi, and since he was the person who authorized the shooting, however, was not held accountable until today. Zenawi considers himself above his own constitution and international law. If this massacre is not considered a crime against humanity, then what else is inhuman?
Zenawi since he came to power in 1991, has arrested more than 100 opposition members of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party leaders. No body knows the where about of these citizens. All appeals made, be it through a third party or elders did not produce any result. Another injustice carried out by the regime is the case of Mr. Abera Yemaneabe, also a member of an opposition. He was sentenced to a ten-year jail term. Release after serving the term, to again back thrown to jail, because Zenawi did not like Mr. Abera’s advocacy for peace and equality of all citizens of Ethiopia.
3. The killing, disappearance, torture and false imprisonment of the Oromos
The minority regime of Meles Zenawi, has been killing, torturing, imprisoning and disappearing tens of thousands of Oromos, their elected leaders for the last 18 years. This fact has been documented by Human Rights Watch and even by the State Department of the United State. Human rights Watch has documented on its May 9,2005 report that “governance in Oromia has long been marked by widespread acts of intimidation, arbitrary arrest, torture and other serious human rights abuses targeting the people who criticize the government. Many of those targeted for abuses have done nothing more than to criticize local officials or participate in student protests.” The trend of putting the Oromos in secluded concentration camps by thousands has continued, and never slowed down. The Almighty God knows how many of the detained Oromos are still alive. The regime to stay in power has long been preoccupied in routinely manufacturing false pretexts citing terrorism for suppressing any opposition and arbitrarily imprisoning and torturing the Oromos. For the last 16 years the regime was engaged in accusing the Oromos as supporters of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in order to crack down the political dissent among the population.
Just over a few months ago, the regime arrested more than 100 Oromo Ethiopians on the pretext of “terrorist act”. Of the arrested 53 are still in detention without charges. The arrest includes: Mr. Bekele Jirata (later release on bail), secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), an opposition political party with seats in the regime’s parliament, teachers and University lecturers; and several prominent businessmen and hotel owners. Some of the detainees, at a court appearance said they were taken out of their cells at night and have been tortured. Torturing a detainee is a norm with regime’s prisons, in complete violation of Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights.
4 A war crime committed in the name of fighting terrorism – Ogaden Somalis
The Somalis, in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia have one of main target of the Zenawi’s regime to systematically, repress, violate their human rights and starve them to death by hunger. Like in the Oromo region, the regime classified innocent civilians as supporters of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONFL). The subcommittee on Africa, Chairman Donald Payne in his October, 2008 press release stated that “Ethiopian security forces are deliberately targeting innocent civilians. The raping and hanging of civilians are used routinely by Ethiopian security to intimidate and to psychologically torture innocent civilians. I met many of these victims in a refugee camp in Kenya. Since when does starving a child or handing a young woman publicly qualify as a counter insurgency operation? I have witnessed many tragedies around the world but the one unfolding in the Ogaden is by far one of the worst”.
Human Rights Watch in its June 2008 report accuses the government forces committed numerous violations of human rights, violation of the laws of war that amount to war crimes, and crimes against humanity against the civilian population. The committed crimes include widespread of forced relocations of civilians, destruction of their villages, totally or partially burning down villages, willful killings, and summary executions, and torture, rape, and other forms of sexual violence. It is agonizing to see why the international community has failed the ethnic Somalis of the Ogaden region of Ethiopia.
5 The massacres of the Anuak people and the people of Sidama
Between December 13 – 15, 2003 the Ethiopian Government forces commander called Nagu Beyene, with the authorization of Dr. Gebreab Barnabas has massacred over 400 Anuak civilians. Dr. Gebreab Barnabas, an official and high-ranking central committee member of the minority regime. The pretext for the massacres was the ambush of a van on December 13, 2003 by an unidentified gang who murdered its eight occupants. There was no evidence that the killers were Anuak. The response of the Ethiopian forces was not limited to killing 400 innocent civilians but, also the burning down of their homes. Although there are other ethnic groups living where the Anuak have been living, the regime forces singled out and killed only the Anuak. The Genocide Convention outlaws an intentional destruction of part of an ethnic group. Ethiopia is one of the first countries to ratify the Genocide Convention in July, 1949, however, it did not stop the Zenawi regime from such act of massacre. The State Department of the United State protested these massacres at the highest level, but ended in dough ears. Until today, either Mr. Beyene or Dr. Gebreab has been questioned and or brought to justice, for the Ethiopian government has convinced itself there is nothing wrong and no one to be brought to justice.
One year earlier on May 24, 2002 the Sidama people for exercising their freedom of expression, in the town of Loqqe, a suburb of Awassa, 70 innocent citizens were killed, and over 300 wounded by brutal Zenawi’s army.
The above are a few of the many atrocities committed by Zenawi’s regime. As such Zenawi and his regime must to be brought to War Crime Tribunal, and I hope when that happens, Prime Minster Brown will stand by the side of the tortured, massacred and the voiceless of 80,000,000 Ethiopians.
Tibebe Selassie Abebe, Ph.D.
The writer can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org