Is offering a voice to the voiceless a crime? Journalist Temesgen Desalgen, the owner of the Amharic news magazine Feteh (justice) has been imprisoned since October 2014. He was charged by TPLF/EPDRF’s regime on incitements, false publications, defamations etc. and sentenced by the kangaroo court for three years in Ziway prison. Since then it was reported on several media his health conditions is deteriorating and access to medical help denied by the prison authorities. As recently as October 23, 2015, I listened the interview of Journalist Temesgen’s brother Tariku and his lawyer (Ato Amha Mokonnen) with VOA (part 2). Tariku said that two of his brothers went to Ziway prison a total four times to visit him in the past week alone. They were denied to visit him. Prison authorities bluntly told them you cannot see him. “We really don’t care whether you are his brother or not, you cannot see him”. The reason given was a rude one; “It is none of your business”. This is typical arrogant behavior of TPLF/EPDRF loyalist across the country.
Each passing day his family worries about Temesgen’s health condition. He has been incarcerated in inhumane living condition. He has been mistreated and denied medical assistance by prison authorities. Giving these stressful predicaments Tariku kept on making agonizing journeys to Ziway prison. As he arrived at prison compound initially he was denied to visit him, but he confronted them and told them that Temesgen should not be deprived from family visitation unless you (Prisoner authorities) are hiding something from families. He also told them I am not leaving the prison compound unless he has learned Temesgen’s condition. It appears that his determination forced the prisons authorities to take few minutes to consult each other. Finally they agreed to allow him to see Temesgen for two minutes. Tariku noticed that Temesgen back pain has worsened and has caused him difficulty when walking. The family continues to worry extremely about his health condition.
Nevertheless, the Temesgen’s lawyer stated that any prisoner shall have visitation rights and shall receive medical treatment when necessary under the government constitution. All his rights are denied. His lawyer also confirmed that there is a clear violation of law by referring to the prisoner rights. He plans to appeal to Human Rights organization and the court. Hoping they will intervene and compel the Ziway Prison authorities to allow the family to visit Temesgen and to get him the proper medical treatment.
It was indicated that the jailer has not told Temesgen that his families were denied to visit him. They kept him in dark to be a silent victim. One can imagine what is going in his mind not seeing his friends or family members for long time. It is one form of torture the TPLF/EPDRF’s regime often use and a retaliatory act against him. The VOA interviewer said he also made calls to the Ziway’s prison office to inquire about Temesgen. The calls were not answered.
The continuation of denying medical treatment and family visit by Prison authorities is a well-planned action of authoritarian TPLF regime. It is intended to punish him in this cruel manner. Journalist Temesgen’s articles has been voice for voiceless and exposed the TPLF/ EPDRF injustice, deception and violence. Writing articles should not have been a crime. Temesgen writing seen by many as watch dog role and inform the general public by publishing. On the contrary, what the regime actually doing to its own citizens in these manners is pure crime.
Temesgen earned trust by the general public for all his writings in the then free press that is granted by the Constitution. A free press as we know it in democratic countries provides equal rights for all citizens. In Ethiopia, the ruthless regime continued clamping down to silence critical voices for past 24 years. Temesgen has operated within the legal frame work established by the constitution, should not be in prison in the first place. We should continue our call journalist to release them unconditionally, and continue to expose the government misdeed and repression in all fronts.