By Hunde Dhugassa
The widely protested case of Birtukan Midheksa’s fabricated imprisonment was started, supported and is now finalized with wide media coverage from both the government and the opposition side. Clearly, Birtukan has suffered unfairly and her freedom is a relief for the majority and success for the campaigners. Her second imprisonment plus his poor 20 years of human rights record hunted Meles Zenawi in all of his oversea trips and served as a unifing factor for the Diaspora activists and politicians. As any peace and freedom loving citizen of that country, I am also happy to witness the freedom of Birtukan from the languishing prison of Kalitti. She deserves a hero’s welcome.
But after reading and watching all the news related to this fact, I started to think about thousands of other Ethiopians who neither have high profiles nor such big campaign but enduring much more hardship and torture in the same prison she left a day ago. My mind quickly remembered a Civil Engineer from Addis Ababa University, Mr. Mesfin Abebe, who was kidnapped from Kenya and sentenced to death penalty along with his friend, Tesfawun Chemeda, also a Civil Engineer from Addis Ababa University who was wrongfully sentenced to life imprisonment.
On the same day, the Kangaroo Court also handed down a long term prison sentence to 13 other individuals of diverse backgrounds including a CEO, lawyers, students, business men, and public servants. These innocent civilians were tagged as OLF supporters or conspirators. The government of Meles Zenawi is excellent in tagging and fabricating charges. In fact, the regime acts in total disregard to its own “constitution” and the basic democratic principles with which they trade in the face of western donors.
Dozens of Ginbot-7 tagged individuals of different backgrounds were shown on national TV screens as they were sentenced to death and life imprisonment, some of them in absentia. It is very sad to see an 80 year old person plotting a coup not to mention a much unrelated hate twisted charges and the predetermined sentences of life imprisonment.
Even if Oromos represent the lions share of the Kalitti Prison population as witnessed by the likes of Siye Abraha and Dr. Birhanu Nega, Ethiopians from all corners are languishing in different prison and concentration camps; specially in Kalitti and Ma’ikelawi. Some of them have not seen sun light in years and some have to endure torture every day. They all deserve freedom. They are there for so long and treated so painfully in a very unfair manner. Most of them are imprisoned for years before they have been brought to court with false and fabricated charges and evidences, some of them have never been tried before the existing court. Others were thrown in jails and forgotten by their captors.
We should take this moment not only to celebrate the freedom of Birtukan but also to think and work for the freedom of thousands, especially those who we have never heard of and millions of Ethiopians who became second class citizens on their own land. Tonight, at long last, Birtukan is at home reunited with her daughter but hundreds of thousands are passing the night with tears, wounds and anguish.
No matter how long the night is, the day is sure to come! Together we can!
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Bekele Jirata Calls for the Release of All Political Prisoners -Gadaa.com
- From Maikelawi to Kalati – Gadaa.com
- Ethiopia: Opposition Leader’s Release Just a First Step– HRW
- FACTBOX-Ethiopia’s freed opposition leader – Reuters Africa
- The leader we have been waiting for – Addis Voice