Friday, July 20, 2007

They are released

Three minibuses carrying the thirty eight prisoners came out of Kaliti prison, sped past the busy streets of Addis and headed to the houses of the prisoners. Birtukan Mideksa and Muluneh Eyuel showed kinijit's famous "V" sign to the cheery and whistling people waiting for their release outside the gates of the prison. Some of the people were waving flags.

Their release has put to rest EPRDF's legal theatrics, even though the relentless propaganda campaign is still going on as I write this news. For our heroes, the hard task just starts. There is the task of reorganizing the party which since their imprisonment has been rudderless and leaderless. Their imprisonment has revealed who the real democracy fighters and who the opportunists are within the party. There has also been one or two lessons about strategy and tactics. There is no party time. It is work, work and work. Work for us, who count ourselves as activists for democracy, and work for our heroes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Kinijit leaders reaffirm their commitment to the eight principles

Incarcerated CUD leaders will make enforcement of the eight points they stipulated as pre-conditions to joining parliament their priority if and when they are released from prison, Kaliti sources informed EZ Post. The party set the eight preconditions as fundamental principles underpinning democracy in Ethiopia. "These are our mantra. In or out, they are the guiding principles of our struggle," one prisoner was quoted as saying.

The leaders are, however, concerned that Meles Zenawi's recent propaganda may be affecting their work by sewing confusion among the Ethiopian people. According to Kaliti sources, the state media here is showing part of a deal that is signed by the leaders. Meles Zenawi's denouncement of the court decision, his avowal to open political space, and his promise to release them before sentencing and other commitments haven't appeared in the document being displayed by the media. The leaders have asked the Ethiopian people to wait patiently until they provide what they say is "the true spirit of the deal."
Breaking news: The president of Ethiopia will announce the release of the prisoners today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

UNECA blocks Ethio-Zagol Post

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa(UNECA) is collaborating with the Meles government to stifle free speech. The commission's media center where international and domestic journalists get free internet access has blocked this blog. Users who tried to access it received a message which said access to viewing the site is restricted.

User attempts to circumvent the censor also failed. It is a shame for an organization of ECA's mandate to collude with a dictatorship in attempt to trample upon the basic right of Ethiopians.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Case referred to amnesty board

The government media is announcing that the case has been sent to Amnesty Board. So the information I heard earlier is right.

Will Meles release the prisoners?

I may eat my words later. My sources are telling me Meles could give clemency for the prisoners tonight. It isn't yet confirmed, and I don't trust Meles. But that is the news I am getting right now.
I am hearing that the case has been sent to the Amnesty Board. Again, I advise caution. Take this story with a pinch of salt.

Reuters Journalist Gets Good Story from Life Imprisonment

Tsegaye Tadesse is a mess, or at least he has chosen to be a mess in service of the EPRDF. Read here his latest news on the life sentence of CUD leaders. The headline makes a sad, sad story look good.

Also, notice the first 11 paragraphs. All there are in them are the statements if the judge, the prosecutor and a passing remark that the sentenced had refused to defend themselves. Those paragraphs try to make the decision appear fair in light of the defendant's failure to defend themselves.

His spin is first class. But journalism isn't about spin. It is about conscience. Tsegaye is a disgrace to this great profession.

Breaking news: Court sentences CUD leaders to life imprisonment

The Federal High Court today sentenced all CUD leaders who were convicted of outrage against the constitution to life imprisonment. The other nine who weren't in CUD leadership got sentences ranging form 1 year and six months to 18 years imprisonment.

The court also decided to take away the political rights of CUD leaders to elect and be elected. It decided that the judicial interdiction is absolute. It means the interdiction is applicable throughout their life time.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Siye, The Healer

I heard Siye Abraha's passionate defense of the importance and value of the rule of law in Ethiopia. That says a lot about where the man stands. But more importantly, his articulation that he now understands the fears, aspirations and hopes of both the pro-democracy group and EPRDF supporters is remarkable. One of the contributors to this blog once wrote that we had to take Siye seriously. I say as a person who has experienced the injustice millions of Ethiopians go through everyday, but at the same time as a person who has large following in the EPRDF, Siye can act as a healer of the national wound.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Yalemzewd Bekele free on bail

(by Meqdela)
The Federal High Court yesterday decided that that Yalemzewd Bekele, the lawyer working for European Commission's representative here in Addis Ababa, has a right defend the charge of attempting to overthrow the government, without being in prison. The court rejected the prosecutor's request for the denial of bail.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


(by Ethio-Zagol)
Having read Sean McCormack's interview, I am asking linguistic wizards, analytical philosophers or even lawyers to tell me what the following really means:
We call on the Ethiopian government and High Court to take action in making a
final sentencing determination, which is consistent with the greater objectives
of bolstering the rule of law and promoting much-needed reconciliation.

Is there a possibility that punishment of "treasonous criminals" by death is consistent with the two objectives read together? If there is a theoretical possibility that the objectives of bolstering the rule of law and promoting reconciliation which is much needed- not necessary- read together are consistent with the punishment of "treasonous criminals" by death, I am wondering whether there is a possibility that the US may support, or at least not oppose, the decision of the high court, and then ultimately the Ethiopian government, if a death sentence is made?

Siye Abraha released

(by Ethio-Zagol)
The Federal Supreme Court today sentenced former defense minister Siye Abraha to five years imprisonment on charges of corruption. Since Siye has already been in jail for more than five years, he will be released. Siye, who many suspect, was jailed by the Meles administration because of his serious differences with the Prime Minister on the issues of Ethiopian sovereignty, looked happy when the decision was read by the court.
The court sentenced the other defendants on the case, Fitsumzeab Asgedom, Beshah Azmete, Assefa Abaha and Tamrat Layne to five years, eight years, nine years, and three months imprisonment respectively. It means Fitsumzeab will also be released.

EZ's verdict:
I am still unconvinced that Siye deserves the five years sentence. But expecting justice in Ethiopia at the moment is a joke. So I am glad that he is out.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Human Rights Activist and Businessman Charged of Attempting to Overthrow the Ethiopian Government

(By Meqdela)
The prominent human rights activist Yalemzewd Bekele and top businessman Alemayehu Fantu have been charged of attempting to overthrow the existing Ethiopian government. The two were both arrested by the Federal police last October for disseminating the civil disobedience calendar which calls for non-violent actions from the citizenry until imprisoned political leaders are freed. EZ Post reported that Alemayehu Fantu was tortured then.

The charge was filed by the prosecutor last week. The defendants were due in court today. In the charge the prosecutor alleged that Yalemzewd Bekele and Alemayehu Fantu, jointly and severally, with the intention to dismantle the constitution through violence, and to obstruct the exercise of constitutional powers, having fully participated directly and indirectly in criminal act and consequences thereof, had designed and printed a calendar which lists 14 forms of struggle under the title ""I will fight for the release of our leaders, will you?", and had attempted to overthrow the government in power, to obstruct its functions,to disturb the authorities, and impede their functions, by creating in them fear, insecurity, and lack of self-confidence, and especially, to destroy the economy.

The charge entails fifteen years imprisonment. Yalemzewd was this year's nominee for the Bindman's Law and Campaigning Award for her projects relating to civil society and women's rights. Alemayehu is one of the most respected businessmen in Addis Ababa.

See Today's court proceeding on the case of Hailu Shawel et al below.

Final Statement of the Prosecution

Today in court the prosecution presented their final statement. The prosecutor asked for capital punishment for all defendants--those facing single and multiple charges--and that their rights be denied. What rights he thinks still exist for prisoners who have been convicted but not yet sentenced is unclear.

In three days the group of nine Party members, journalists and others who have chosen to defend will present their defense to the court.

The sentencing is scheduled to take place next Monday, July 16 2007.