Organized by International Network against Repression and Injustice, Ethiopian held the third worldwide rally today to mark the May 15, 2005 elections, and remember the innocent citizens massacred by Meles Zenawi regime (Pictures by Abebe Belew & Tewodros Mekbib, ).
In a letter handed over to the Whitehouse and American embassies in Europe, the protesters have also asked the Obama administration to stop supporting the genocide regime of Meles Zenawi. Read the letter to president Obama below.
International Network for Human Rights & Justice in Ethiopia (INHJE)
1334 9th st., Suite # 1, NW, Washington, D.C. T: 202-462-0556 F: 202-462-0557
President Barack Obama
President of The United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington DC 20500
Date: 15 May 2009
RE: REPRESSION AND INJUSTICE RAMPANT IN ETHIOPIA
“To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” President Barak Obama.
Dear President Barack Obama:
The above words were inspiration to millions of people around the world yearning for freedom and liberty, including Ethiopians living under the iron fist of a repressive and ethnocentric regime. These words of yours also sent a strong message to dictatorial rulers like Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, whose hands are drenched with the blood of thousands of Ethiopians.
Dear Mr. President,
On 15 May 2009 Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia are holding a rally outside the White House and Embassies of the Unites States of America in cities around the world. May 15 marks the fourth anniversary of the national election held in Ethiopia in 2005 where the incumbent authoritarian regime rigged the election. But the ruling party the TPLF/EPRDF refused to accept the will of the people as expressed through the ballot box by overwhelmingly voting for opposition political parties. The regime forces under the direct command of the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi massacred nearly 200 innocent civilians on the streets of Addis Ababa. Thousands of opposition political party members and supporters were also sent to concentration camps across the country.
Consequently, the hope of millions for a new era of freedom and justice was dashed as a regime found on the wrong side of history turned the clock back on the democratisation process in order to maintain its undemocratic grip on the levers of state power and society at large. Ever since, Ethiopia has been steadily descending from a nascent democracy to an authoritarian state. Indeed getting closer to that of a totalitarian one.
The lack of unequivocal condemnation and resolute action on the part of the western democratic world against the most egregious crimes committed by the security forces of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has only emboldened him to commit even more horrendous crimes. The state Department Report of 2008, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, among many others, have extensively reported the catalogue of gross violation of human rights committed by the regime.
On 23 March 2009, in a letter addressed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Genocide Watch has called on the organization to initiate an investigation against the government of P.M. Meles Zenawi. Genocide Watch cited the atrocities committed in Gambela region of Ethiopia against the Anuaks and ethnic Somalis in the Ogaden region as examples of the crimes against humanity that have not been seriously investigated by the UN body.
In an open letter Genocide Watch President Dr. Gregory Stanton wrote to the Commissioner, he commended the International Criminal Court for indicting the Sudanese President, Omar Hassan Al Bashir, but noted that “one of the first leaders to defend Omar al-Bashir and condemn the warrant was P.M. Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, whose government has also been implicated in a pattern of widespread perpetration of serious human rights atrocities in Ethiopia and in Somalia.”
Human Rights Watch and other credible international human rights organisations have reported time and again that thousands of innocent Ethiopians are incarcerated in prisons set up in different parts of the country. These prisoners find themselves behind bars under horrible conditions for expressing dissent to many of the ruling party’s unpopular policies, while those living outside prison gates are not allowed to exercise their basic and inalienable rights to speech, assembly and the right to elect their leaders freely and without duress from external forces. Membership to the ruling party has become a condition to get a college education and job opportunities. In a country with six million people requiring emergency food aid from donor countries including the United States of America, food aid is being used as political weapon to starve people in dire need of assistance. This is done so that people are cowed and desist from speaking out for their basic rights for fear of government reprisal in the form of starving them to death.
The recent draconian civil society law which punishes dissent and the bill restricting the activities of charity organisation (both local and foreign) are designed to silence independent voices from reporting repressive activities of the regime and the plight of innocent citizens. This is a regime heavily involved in controversial rendition activities and detention of foreign citizens in subhuman conditions on its soil in the name of supporting anti-terrorism.
The latest causality of Mr. Meles Zenawi regime’s gross violation of human rights is Ms. Birtukan Midekssa – Chairperson of Unity for Democracy and Justice Party ( UDJ, aka Andenet) a new popular legal opposition party. Ms. Midekssa , a former High Court judge, who has been hailed as Aung San Suu Kyi of Ethiopia, has been re-arrested on 29th December 2008. The re-arrest of Ms. Midekssa, also considered prisoner of conscience have drawn chorus of condemnations by human rights organizations, members of the US Congress, the European Parliament and other parliamentarians.
Ms. Midekssa has been in solitary confinement for nearly 140 days denied her right to be visited by a legal representative or the International Red Cross. The re-arrest of Ms. Midekssa is not about inaccurate statements or rules broken, but shows the intension of the ruling regime to curb a credible democratic opposition party emerging in the country. This is done to kill the aspiration of Ethiopians for genuine democracy, liberty, and the rule of law. Thus, allowing the continuation of the authoritarian grip of the Zenawi regime on all aspects of Ethiopain life unchallenged by any credible and strong political opposition.
We acknowledge that within the last 100 days of your administration you have taken remarkable decisions to undo the foreign policy blunders of the previous administration, which have been inconsistent with the values of the United States of America. This will surely help regain the respect and moral stature the United States of America deserves across the world. We would like to see these changes translated to specific policy measures touching the lives of millions around the world fighting for freedom and democracy. Millions in African countries such as Ethiopia are gagged by authoritarian rulers masquerading as democrats due to the support rendered to them by successive US administrations based on narrow and short sighted considerations of purported national interest.
Inspired by the audacity of hope for freedom your inspire people around the world and the strength of your moral principles based on the rule of law and the rights of human beings, we appeal to you and respectfully urge you in the strongest possible terms to allow the passage of a law that holds the Ethiopian regime accountable for its gross abuse of human rights and make meaningful democratic governance a condition to any non-humanitarian financial support from the people of the United States of America. As a champion of civil rights and an advocate of democratic governance, we humbly ask your good office to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Ms. Midekssa, the popular artist Teddy Afro and the thousands of all political prisoners who have been incarcerated with out due process in Ethiopia. It is time for the United States of America to invest in a true and lasting friendship with people of Ethiopia by acknowleging the aspiration of the Ethiopain people for genuine democracy, liberty, and the rule of law. .
Please accept the assurance of our highest considerations.
International Network for Human Rights & Justice in Ethiopia (INHJE)