Saturday, July 14, 2012

The mockery of justice in Ethiopia

A blogger who use computer keyboard as his chosen weapon to write about liberty from dictatorial rule is accused of terrorism charges and thrown to jail by a ruler who is governing with means of intimidation & terror. What a travesty of justice! It is also sad many among us chose to keep silent. I can't understand why the Ethiopian Diaspora, especially some in the media business do not condemn such mockery of justice. Why we wait for statements by  FERENJI groups and chose to pass the information to others as if such events do not affect one of our own fellow citizen or YE MUYA AGAR etc.. ? Why can't we be counted saying this is not just, to say the least? As someone born in Ethiopia and a time-to-time blogger, I am outraged by the injustice done to the family of Eskinder Nega whose "crime" is to reflect on the possibility of Arab spring in Ethiopia & write about it.

As a naturalized citizen of a Western country, I also demand accountability from officials of my government who approved & gave millions of tax payers money for a project specifically targeted toward "independent judiciary" in Ethiopia. Since 1991, Western nations like USA & Canada through their foreign aid agencies such as USAID or CIDA have poured millions of dollars to Ethiopia for "judiciary reform" i.e. to make that organ of government independent from pressure of the executive branch which in Ethiopian case means the domineering ruling party - TPLF. My question to officials of these agencies is that do they have mechanisms to assess whether their aid is really leading toward making the Ethiopian Judiciary, independent?" Actually, I argue that the contrary is happening. W
hat we are witnessing repeatedly is that Ethiopian judges & courts under Legesse Zenawi regime are still giving verdict the ruling party (read the strongman) wants, even after such huge amount of our tax payers' money was spent for "capacity building" of institutions, training of these judges & court officials. Was there any time the judges show any sign of independence other than delivering what Meles wanted from them?  Human Rights Watch Institute's report on foreign aid has clearly shown how donors money is being used by this government to buy political loyalty. I argue here that the foreign aid money allocated for "judiciary reform" is being used to make the judges tow to the government's line. In an interview with one legal professional in Ethiopia published recently in one of the Amharic newspapers, it has become clear that  the Judges & court officials training institute established through funds from Western institutions is being used by the ruling party to buy loyalty. Only those Judges or Court personnel seen in good favor by the ruling party & its cadres get the benefit of the training. The unfortunate fact is even those promising legal scholars get the message that it is only by staying friendly with the ruling party's wishes that they would be able to get Western funded advanced training opportunities, future possibilities of scholarships and eventually career advancements.
Fellow citizens of Western nations, join me in demanding accountability for our tax payers' money wasted in Ethiopia for kangaroo court proceedings. It is also time to make these judges accountable for their actions. Their towing to the ruling party line thinking about their own career and giving verdict against legitimate dissident bloggers, writers etc. based on personal calculation is being watched. You think you can get away with such verdict and advance your career now but there would be time each one of you would answer for such miscarriage of justice. 
To conclude, I would like to leave you with the following inspiring words from conscientious religious leaders, gallant fighters for human dignity & justice. God bless their soul!

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ..In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends...."  Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"...the day of those who stand for justice will come, prolonged as the period of inaction may be. The dictatorships will not ultimately triumph...Although the time of waiting is tedious and heart-breaking in the extreme, we shall triumph in the end." Sylvia Pankhurst 
"My country men do not believe if they tell you that the patriots [political dissenters] are bandits[terrorists], the patriots are people who yearn for freedom form the terrors of fascism [tyranny]. Bandits [Terrorists] are the soldiers who are standing in front of me and you, who... terrors and violently occupy[rule over] a weak and peaceful country: our Ethiopia. May God give the people of Ethiopia the strength to resist and never bow down to the fascist [tribal regime] army and its violence.  May the Ethiopian earth never accept the invading [tribal regime] army's rule." Last words of Abune Petros [words under parentheses are blogger's additions for emphasis]

“I have got so many privileges in life. If I wanted to be like you and give judgments on things, I barely understand I could have. However, I chose to hear the cries of my people.  I chose to leave all my power and luxuries behind to give my country a better day. I feel sorry for you people. When Ethiopia realize what you are and what you did, I feel sad to think what it would do to you. ... All I wanted was to change my country and make Ethiopia a place where people are respected and treated equally regardless of their bloodline,  General Mengistu Neway to presiding Judges

The people of Ethiopia have struggled for their human dignity and rights in the past half a century.  However, the people have not been opportune to attain human and democratic rights. I, as part of this generation, believing that I, my children, and Ethiopians deserve democracy and freedom, have peacefully struggled with my capacity. I have not done this with any evil intention on anyone, have not trespassed the law, have not compromised the interests of my poor country, and never committed anything that sorrows/pains my God, conscience and the Ethiopian people. I have perfect serenity.  Longing for freedom has me standing before you now. This is not my first time when I was denied the justice Ethiopian courts.  Apart from compassionately swallowing the “Sip from the grail/goblet of atrocities” that my accusers want me to drink, I am so sorry to say that I am not in a position to seek ‘Commutation of sentence’ for crimes that I did n’t commit."  Andualem Aragie


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