Inquiry commission decides that the government used excessive force against demonstrators
Two commission members leave to Germany with the report
Woldemichael Meshesha, the Vice president of the Federal First Instance Court was one of the most loyal servants of the TPLF regime. In May last year, he made a decision in favor of Meles Zenawi in case of Kinijit v. Meles Zenawi where CUD represented by Birtukan Midekisa and Yeneneh Mulat contended that the PM's ban of demonstrations was contrary to the constitution. A month latter, he sentenced a pro-CUD lawyer to jail for criticizing that decision. But even for a loyal judge like Woldemichael, what Meles did in June and November when he ordered the killing of scores of demonstrators was an assault to conscience.
At the end of November last year the Parliament established the commission of inquiry which was entrusted with the investigation of the June 8 and November 1 killings. It was thought that the investigation would be a white wash. The commission was carefully constituted with members who were supposed to be loyal to the Meles Zenawi government. Woldemichael was was one of the ten members of the commission. Three months into the the investigation, five members resigned from the commission citing conditions of their health. They were immediately replaced and the commission went on with its work. In May, it finalized the investigation. The result was shocking to the government. Eight of the commission members including Woldemichael decided that the government had used excessive force to quell the June and November demonstrations. Meles Zenawi personally asked the commission to reconsider its decision. The members refused. One member of the commission said he better die than play with the blood of innocent victims.Wolde's passport was confiscated. He was also watched very closely by the government.
In Mid August Wolde left Ethiopia to a neighbor country and then to Germany with the help of active Kinijit International Members, carrying the report of the commission in his hands, where he joined another of the commission members, Firehiwot Samuel, the president of the Supreme Court of SNNP. Firhewot's story is as epic as Wolde's. Although ever willing to work in the system, Firhewot was known for his compassion and morality as a judge. Midway into the investigation, he got three scholarships from three different universities in Europe. After the decision of the commission where Firehiwot sided with the majority, the government disrupted his plan for study. Newly married to a beautiful fresh graduate from Awassa University, Firehiwot's stable life was turning upside down. The government assigned him a driver who he thought was spying on him. His movements were carefully scrutinized. He decided he had to leave the country quickly. With utmost secrecy, Firehiwot arranged his travel and left to Germany in July. He was soon to be followed by his wife.
The result of the investigation was supposed to be presented to the Parliament and published before its summer recession but the PM prohibited the commission from publishing it. It was feared that it would never see daylight unless Meles Zenawi lost power. Yet the defections of two of the commission's most important members have given hope that the world will see the truth through the report.
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