By Yilma Bekele
“Opposition UDJ party president Birtukan Mideksa, whose pardon was revoked and life sentence reinstated in December 2008, remained in prison throughout the year. She was held in solitary confinement until June, despite a court ruling that indicated it was a violation of her constitutional rights. She was also denied access to visitors except for a few close family members, despite a court order granting visitor access without restrictions. There were credible reports that Birtukan’s mental health deteriorated significantly during the year.”
The above is taken from the US Department of State report on Human Rights in Ethiopia. It is a very depressing document full of verifiable facts with names and places detailing the atrocities committed by the Meles regime against its own people. It is not news to the Ethiopian people. Seeing it in black and white confirms the nightmare is real. I am sure you have all heard of Meakelwi. What do you think they do there? I know I would rather not think about that, but here it is:
Numerous reliable sources confirmed that in Meakelwi, the central police investigation headquarters in Addis Ababa, police investigators often used physical abuse to extract confessions….. Abuses reportedly include being blindfolded and hung by the wrists for several hours, bound by chains and beaten, held in solitary confinement for several days to weeks or months, subjected to mental torture such as harassment and humiliation, forced to stand for more than 16 hours, and having heavy objects hung from the genitalia.
Ato Meles and his militia are nothing but sick gangsters. He has surrounded himself with mentally unstable people that get their fix by inflicting pain on civilians. The Woyane regime has built up an elaborate system to bully the population and have raised the rule by terror into a science. The whole country is one gigantic prison. You don’t think so. Go ahead read what it says in the State Dept. report:
The country has three federal and 117 regional prisons. There are several unofficial detention centers operating throughout the country, including in Dedessa, Bir Sheleko, Tolay, Hormat, Blate, Tatek, Jijiga, Holeta, and Senkele. Most are located at military camps and were allegedly used as overflow detention centers following mass arrests.
Do you notice we have more concentration camps than Universities, factories or research institutions? And the concept of ‘unofficial detention center escapes me. This is Woyane’s Ethiopia. Prison inside a prison.
This past week the Prime Minister gave interviews to both foreign and local reporters. The room is arranged in a horseshoe shape with a little dais for the PM. They always place five or six microphones to give the illusion that there are that many outlets. The fact of the matter is one is enough since there is no independent TV or Radio in the country. I believe one microphone is enough to give one version of the story. Foreign reporters question is handled one at a time. Local press gets no respect. They ask there or four question and our fearless leaders answers the ones he wants. No follow up is allowed.
I am thankful to Jason(?) of Bloomberg news for his question. The sound system is bad but this is what I understood his question to be.
… I just want to ask you about one point from the report because I know you want to give a response to that …Bertukan Mideksa is a political prisoner they mention in that report her mental health have been deteriorating in prison. I want you to respond to that if you have any information about her health status.’
Here is what the Honorable Ato Meles Zenawi, Prime Minster has to say about that:
I am not surprised that they have characterized Bertukan as a political prisoner because I understand they have also characterized the ONLF and OLF terrorists that have been taken to court and sentenced by the court as political prisoners (pause) it may sound strange but terrorists who have been taken to court of law have been characterized as political prisoners by the US which was a country that introduced the world to concept of ‘enemy combatants’ who are expected to live in legal limbo in perpetuity but that is life eh. I think the French say ‘C’est la vie” and that is how we characterize it ..uh.. the health situation of Bertukan the latest I heard she is in perfect health. She may have added some a few kilos but other than that and that may be for lack of exercise other that that I understand she is in perfect health ..’
How callous can one be? How cruel do you have to be to speak of a fellow human being like this? It is a very disturbing way of thinking to dismiss the agony of person with such indifference. Why Ato Meles is a good question? What turned your heart into stone is a valid question. Being entrusted with the welfare of eighty million human beings is a major responsibility. Eighty million starts with one. It is sad to think an elected leader of a party, hope to many mother to one is discussed as an ordinary criminal. Judge Bertukan is no ordinary criminal. She is a highly educated and carrying person with a deep sense of right and wrong.
From his answers it is clear the Prime Minster follows her situation closely. There is no reason to believe that he does not know she is kept in solitary confinement. He also knows despite his own court ordering that she be allowed to have visitors that his prison officials have refused to abide by the ruling. He also knows that she is in bad health and she requires medical attention.
Solitary confinement is torture. It is considered a form of psychological torture. It is illegal and it is a criminal act. It is inhuman. Senator John McCain knows about solitary confinement, here is what he wrote:
“It’s an awful thing, solitary,” John McCain wrote of his five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam—more than two years of it spent in isolation in a fifteen-by-fifteen-foot cell, unable to communicate with other P.O.W.s except by tap code, secreted notes, or by speaking into an enamel cup pressed against the wall. “It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.”
Terry Anderson the chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press was kidnapped by Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1985. He was released in 1991. In his memoir ‘Den of Lions” he recounts his bitter experience and ‘solitary confinement’ is a bitter chapter he would rather forget. He wrote ‘“The mind is a blank. Jesus, I always thought I was smart. Where are all the things I learned, the books I read, the poems I memorized? There’s nothing there, just a formless, gray-black misery. My mind’s gone dead. God, help me.”
After sharing a cell with other hostages he was thrown into solitary confinement and after a few weeks he recalled in his memoir “I find myself trembling sometimes for no reason,” he wrote. “I’m afraid I’m beginning to lose my mind, to lose control completely.”
Mr. McCain was an enemy prisoner and Mr. Anderson was a kidnapping victim. On the other hand Judge Bertukan is neither an enemy nor hostage. Judge Bertukan is in jail because the Prime Minister is afraid of her. She is one person in Ethiopia that followed the letter of the law when she was a judge. She took her oath of office very seriously. She refused to bend to the wishes of the Prime Minister.
Now we hear that the confinement and the psychological warfare waged against our sister is having its effects. She is only human and can only resist as much and no more. Last Sunday during a the weekly few minutes visit with her mother Judge Bertukan was trying to alert her visitor about her condition when the ever present female guard whisked her away cruelly. We heard Judge Bertukan was seen crying. That must be a very strange display of weakness for a strong lady like Bertukan. We are all sad to hear such a monstrous story.
We demand the Prime Minster release Judge Bertukan now. That is the right thing to do. We know he is not going to do that. We demand his enablers, the British and US government to use their influence on the rogue regime to allow Red Cross and independent doctors to visit and treat Judge Bertukan.
We put the Prime Minster and his underlings on notice that the Ethiopian people are watching their criminal acts. We might not have the power and resource to stop this insane tragedy at this time but we know in the long run good will triumph over evil. Today’s jailers are tomorrow’s prisoners. We have seen that in our country. Right now our concern is our courageous sister and we will do anything to set her free.
We urge women of Ethiopia to rally to save our strong sister. They should be in the forefront of the struggle to bring about the release of a mother, political leader and future prime minister of Ethiopia.
We urge Ethiopians friends of Ethiopia and all peace and justice loving people to contact their Senators and representative and urge them to demand the release of our leader. Use the following web address to locate the number to your elected official:
US Senate: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
House of representative: http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml