By Wondimu Mekonnen, 1 April 2010 — Legesse Zenawi (aka Meles) must have felt the sense of greatness in the name of Ethiopia and rubbed shoulders with great leaders of the world when he was appointed to co-chair climate finance group in London on 31 March 2010 by Ban Ki-Moon, the misguided chief of the United Nations. However, he must have also sensed what will be cooking up for him at Downing Street as he knows well what London Ethiopians are capable of doing from his past experience.
Thank God the tyrant had no power to unleash his Agaazi murderers into the streets of London to round them all up and lock them up in Qaliti and throw the key. These are true patriotic Ethiopians! To his nightmare, they are living in a democratic country! After denying their sister and leader, Judge Birtukan Mideksa, the right to see a medical doctor, he must be out of his mind to come here to rub shoulders with leaders of democratic nations. After admitting jamming VOA Amharic Service programme to prevent Ethiopians from tuning in to an independent source of information, it is ironic that he comes here with a straight face, representing Africa. It is absolutely ridiculous that a killer who enjoys spilling the blood of innocent people has to be nominated by Ban Ki Moon as co-chair of the Climate Finance Group. These and others were the issues that brought out angry and noisy Ethiopians to protest at Downing street, residence of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Ethiopians came as far as from Leeds. There were also Ethiopians from other countries who were in London for a visit but joined their brothers and sisters at Downing Street. To begin with, few people who have stayed away from the struggle for the last few years due to minor personal grudges against each other shelved their grievances and came out on this day for a common cause. The organisers are so delighted to see them welcome back the sisters and brothers.
That is one nightmare Meles wouldn’t want to know. If only Ethiopians could leave their squabbles aside and come together like this, talk to each other, Meles could not have had any chance to rule over Ethiopia this long. Ethiopians could have removed the tyrant a long time ago. Meles started his diabolic mischief by dividing Ethiopians along every possible avenue, most notably along ethnic and blood lines. Now that cared is almost burned out.
Brother and sisters are coming together again. The other interesting event of the day was some supporters of OLF who have never been on such demonstrations came out for the first time to confront the tyrant together with their brothers and sisters on the mainstream. There is a progress. The organisers encourage that trend to continue. The other most striking event is the joining of our brothers and sisters from the neighbouring country of Somalia. The Somalis opposed to their current regime came and joined Ethiopians in condemning the butcher of Horn of Africa. That was unthinkable some years back. The presence of the Somalis was another progress. They all joined forces and rocked the Downing Street with their slogans: “Down! Down Meles!” They demand freedom and democracy in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopians had permission to demonstrate in front of the Prime Minister’s residence, Downing Street from 10:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m. but the London Metropolitan Police that well knew the plight of Ethiopians from a number of past demonstrations turned blind eyes and let the protest continue up to 5:30 p.m. – one-hour and thirty minutes after the designated time was over. Another most touching thing was the rank and file police officers were taking opportunity to talk to the demonstrators in a very friendly way and finding out what was going on in Ethiopia, whenever the commanding officers were not around. That was why they turned blind eyes after the time was over. Meles came to 10 Downing Street to the booming sound of protestors at 2:30 p.m. He was quickly whisked by his smart looking dump chauffeur. The speed at which the gates were opened and he was driven in was hard to believe. It was as if he was pursued by an Angel of Death. There was too much commotion. Armed Police force sprang everywhere. The Police were on alert. Yes, Ethiopians must have sent a cold sweat down the spine of the coward. Ethiopians continued their noisy protest for the next 30 minutes.
Thirty minutes later, four delegates from the ranks of the protesters were allowed to go inside Downing Street to hand in their protest letter. The security was very tight, but knowing Ethiopians were so disciplined, once they passed the security checks, no one followed them to their short walk to House No. 10. There were two guards on the door. The guards suggested the delegates take their own pictures in front of No.10. They did. One of the delegates, Zelealem Tesemma, knocked at the door of the Prime Minister using the wring for the purpose. The door swung open. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s aide came out with broad smile, greeted the delegates, received the letter and promised that he would deliver it to the Prime Minister. He was also happy to take a picture taken with delegates. To the surprise and amazement of the delegates who were sent in, there were three Woyyane journalists and Meles’s driver inside the compound of Downing Street. Astute Zelalem was the first to spot them. Initially, the delegates were not sure they were Ethiopians. As they drew closer, they heard them chatting away in Amharic. Once they realised the delegates were heading for No 10 were Ethiopians, they went into schtum – silence. Their video cameraman started videotaping the delegates as they went straight ahead. Once the delegates handed over their protest letter to be passed over to the Prime Minister and received assurance from his aide, the delegates turned their photo camera on the Woyyane newsmen. To the delegates’amazement, the three Woyyane newsmen covered their faces and turned their back on the delegates and faced the wall. Two men and one female coiled with fear and shame and could not face the delegates’ camera. The driver, who was sitting in the car, buried his face. The delegates waited and waited just in case they would brave the camera but in vain. Poor souls! One of the demonstrators who had snapped the picture of Meles Zenawi exactly a year ago at G-20 Conference had already snapped the pictures of unsuspecting four servants of Woyyane earlier before they knew it.
After they finished their mission, the delegates returned to the waiting London based Ethiopian presses, at the gate. The delegates explained the content of the letter submitted at 10 Downing Street and the general spirit of the demonstration. Even the Burmese junta did not commit such cruelty against Aung San Suu Kyi as compared to what tyrant Meles Zenawi is doing to Judge Birtukan Mideksa. The delegates explained that the letter that was submitted was explaining to Gordown Brown to stop appeasing the Ethiopian dictator, and to use his office to secure the freedom of Ms Birtukan Mideksa as her health has deteriorated to a critical condition. He was also urged to secure the release of all political prisoners in Ethiopia, such as Abera Yemane Ab, Tsegaye Gebremedhin, Sitotaw Hussien, Aberash Berta and many others.
Meles is not just a dictator, but also the face of tyranny. In a country where there is repression, fair election is unthinkable. His tyrannical action has been confirmed by the incarceration of Judge Birtukan Mideksa and holding her in subhuman condition. Meles is punishing three generations. Hale, the daughter of Birtukan, is five years old. She needs her mother, but her mother is in jail. Weizero Almaz Gebreigzihabher, the mother of Birtukan is now too old; she needs help herself, let alone to look for her five-year-old grand daughter Hale. She needs the help of Birtukan but Birtukan is in jail.
This is a crime that everyone should fight against. The demonstrators were saying Birtukan Mideksa was a symbol of glory of their past history, a symbol of their current struggle for freedom and a symbol of their future hope. Therefore, until every political prisoner is released, until they would see the back of tyranny from their country, Ethiopians vowed in one voice never ever to give up on their struggle for freedom, equality, democracy and justice.
There were many dignitaries inside 10 Downing Street. However, only Ethiopians were protesting in the vicinity. The visit of the delegates from the developing countries was a highly guarded secret. However, Ethiopians dug out the venue although they were not sure of the time. Woyyane representatives in London were very worried when they learned the length of time the demonstrators were going to stay. They stayed as long as it took. The noisy demonstration attracted the attention of both locals residents as well as international tourists. Everyone approached the demonstrators to find out what was going on. Ethiopians grabbed the chance and explained. There were many people who were taking pictures. Some of them were professional photographers from news agencies. Others were simply onlookers. Everyone stayed to the end to see what was going on. Here is a story what this writer encountered. There was a family who just stood next to the demonstrators. A boy of 10-12 asked his dad: “Dad! Why are they shouting at Prime Minister Gordon Brown so bitterly? What has he done to these people?” The knowledge of the father was stunning. The mother and a daughter gathered around the dad. He started talking.
“My heart goes out to Ethiopians. Terrible things are happening there. After getting rid of a military dictator the people ended up in the hands of separatist group called the TPLF. TPLF’s leader is led by ‘Meles Zenawi’. He is the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. He is a very bad person. Ethiopians have been fighting to get rid of this tyrant over the last 18 years. They are unable to get rid of him because of various reasons. Getting rid of him by election is unthinkable. When his party lost election in 2005, he killed many people. He locked up all opposition leaders that won parliamentary seats. Now, there is this charismatic young lady. Her name is Birtukan. She is a threat to his power. He locked her up. On the other hand, the dictator is the favourite man of Gordon Brown. These guys are now saying to Gordon Brown how dare he sits with such a tyrant! They are shaming him for siding with a dictator rather than the people. He is going to come out. Let us go closer and take a good look at him when he comes out.”
With that the family crossed the road and stood by the gate of Downing Street. It was already 5:15 PM, which means 1:25 hours after the demonstrators should have been dispersed. They defied the call of the Police to do so and stood their protesting. The Police just left the demonstrators to continue. There was commotion again. Three motor bikes arrived at the scene, and remained in the middle of the road. Armed military police took up key positions. The police tried to contend the crowd. The crowed went mad. Five minutes later, one head of the delegates came out. Ethiopians sent out deafening screams of protest. It was not Meles. One motor and the car disappeared. Ethiopians went on protesting, blowing horns and whistles and shouting “Shame on you, Gordon Brown, for wining and dining with blood tainted dictator.” Another five minutes went by. A second delegate came out. The second motor cycle led the way. Ethiopians ran after him. It was not Meles. Another five minutes went by. The inevitable started happening. First the three newsmen of Meles boarded a black van. That is it! Meles’s car followed, driven by the poor unlucky but well dressed up chauffeur. The deafening sound of Ethiopians, the whistles and the horns made a hell a preferable place than the Downing Street. The husband and the wife of the family that crossed the road took a good look at the tyrant while he was driven by. Some managed to escape the police and started chasing after him. A third motor bike led the way. The coward disappeared. We will catch up with him one day. That is a promise.