I am Blen Tamrat Layne, and I am writing on behalf of my family. My father, Tamrat Layne, was the former prime minister, and he has been in prison for more than eleven years. He got arrested when I was four years old and my sister was two months old. And we had to grow up with out a dad in our lives, especially my little sister. She was born the same year my dad got arrested and she hasn’t had a relationship with our dad her whole life. I can’t simply explain the pain of having to grow up with out a father. It is really hard to see other children with their father’s and my sister and I don’t even remember what his voice sounds like. We had to grow up with out our dad for many years and we miss him. When my sister was eight years old, we told her that our dad was in prison, and she was devastated. She cried for hours and hours. Every day she tells me that she misses him and she asks me when he’s coming home. Our mom tells us that he will be home soon and all we could do is hope and pray that our father would come home to us so we could be a family again. I remember when I was a child wondering why my dad wasn’t home, and I used to ask my mom where he was. When I finally found out that I wouldn’t see my dad at home, I was heart broken.
I remember seeing my mom cry, and I used to ask myself “Why did they take my dad?” Everybody knows after my dad got arrested, my sister, my mom, my auntie, and I left Ethiopia. It was very hard for my mom to leave our family and live in a foreign country, to get away from the hardships we had back home. Even though we were far from home I never forgot my dad and my family. I was hopeful that my dad would be released and come to us one day so we could be reunited and he could help my mom in raising us. I imagine what my dad was like and I dream that I woke up one day and I finally got to hear his voice. I dream that he would play with me and that he would go to my basketball games, I dream of having a loving dad. My sister tells me that she is Dad’s little princess and she wants to play with him, and she told me that she wants to tell our dad that she loves him and she wants to hear him say that he loves her.
I know that most of you have children and I know that you all want to be there to protect your son or daughter. But think of how your life would be or how your children’s life would be if they grew up with out a father. Imagine seeing their mom crying every night because she misses her husband. I know that when you get home from work you hug your children and tell them you love them. But we didn’t have that. I know that you put your children in to bed at night and show them you are always going to be there for them, but we didn’t have that. My sister and I are just children and we have suffered long enough, why for should we have to live without a father. We deserve a loving father for in our lives, we deserve our father to show us protection and to love us the same way you love your children.
I am writing this letter to ask you to please release our dad so we can live a life with a loving father and so he can be there when my sister and I grow up. During the Ethiopian millennium we heard that many prisoners were going to be released and we were hoping that our father would be one of them. But when we heard that he was not going to be released, we were very sad and very confused. Our dad has suffered enough and so have we, so please release him. I know that he has spent his adult years fighting with most of you for the Ethiopians. But he has been in prison for more than eleven years. When I think about his life it makes me sad, so please release him so we can be a family again.
Blen Tamrat Layne