Friday, June 21, 2013

I'm Reeyot Alemu

3 years/1000 days/15hrs/54minutes
Reeyot Alemu, Ethiopia's modern-day Jeanne D'Arc, was arrested two years ago on this day by TPLF (Tigray People's Liberation Front) security officials and now serving five years jail terms on trumped up terrorism charges at the notorious Kality prison with fellow prisoners of conscience and other violent criminals. Her only crime was being too critical of the regime's corrupt, inhumane, lawless practices against her millions fellow compatriots in that country where the late Prime Minister & Co. have been abusing their powers with impunity for the last two decades. Alemu worked as an English teacher and columnist for now defunct Amharic weekly newspaper called Feteh (Justice). After her arrest, Alemu was denied to have a legal counsel and detained without charge until September that year which is against her "constitutional" rights. What's funny and baffling about her jailers is that they accused of her
being part of an armed and outlawed Ethiopian opposition group which allegedly trying to overthrow the regime, guess what? She took pictures of a graffiti Beqa (which used to be a youth movement's slogan and literally means Enough in Amharic) and sent it to an Ethiopian diaspora dissident online magazine. Judges of the kangaroo court sentenced Alemu to fourteen years with this and her critical articles as evidence but to deceive (as if they haven't done it before) the whole world about their "independence", they dropped most of the terrorism charges against her and reduced her sentence to five years. Last January, the Cassation court  however dismissed her appeal for innocence and upheld Alemu's conviction and five years sentence.
I knew I would pay the PRICE
That's what she said in her written statement to the International Women's Media Foundation, which honored her as one of the three recipients at this year's Courage to Write Award. The regime offered Alemu clemency in exchange to testify against journalist colleagues but she refused and as a result she was punished with solitary confinement for 13 days. She is paying the heaviest price alone far away from her family and loved ones in a filthy, overcrowded, very hot/noisy and insects/rodents infested prison since June 19, 2011 for her defiance, integrity, honesty and conviction. Reports coming from Addis show things are not improving for Alemu and other fellow prisoners of conscience at Kality and various prisons across the country with the coming of the "new" Prime Minister. Prison authorities threatened Alemu with yet another solitary confinement last April for "disrespecting" prison policies and delayed several
times her much needed medical care for her breast. Alemu could have been "pardoned" like others and live "freely" or co-opted and run her own show on FM radio station or fled to the west but she didn't; because she knows how much price one should pay for the truth. She is a selfless, true heroin who is dedicating her young age in the struggle along thousands of fellow Ethiopians against TPLF's two decades of brutal tyranny. Injustice against one person is injustice to everyone; soon or later Reeyot Alemu and thousands of other prisoners of conscience will be free and their jailers will test the taste of their medicine, Amen!                  

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