Monday, October 21, 2013

State Sponsored Terrorism in Ethiopia

Special room for Female detainees

3'12'' "they raped me and other women."
3'18 "my friend was fainting all the time while being tortured with water and electricity,  eventually he died."
3'28'' "they took 5-10 of us and then abused us."
BIG Sigh! I don't even how many times I watched (with awe, disgust, helplessness, despair, you name it) this documentary released by the Swedish National TV channel last week, which shows very disturbing and gruesome crimes that had been/being committed against detainees and innocent civilians by members of a police force called Liyu Police (it means special Amharic, Ethiopia's language) in the Somali region of Ethiopia. On  October 18/2013, Human Rights Watch released a report how torture and ill-treatment practices are being used at Maekelawi prison in the supposedly Capital of Africa to extract confession from journalists and Ethiopian opposition party leaders/members/supporters. But,  this report is just the tip of the iceberg. Officers of Liyu  Police in Somali region of Ethiopia admitted doing much worse practices against prisoners. The testimonies at the beginning of this piece were given by victims from this region who fled the country because of these abuses and are now living in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. There is more twist to these crimes; the perpetrators had the audacity to
record their crimes and brag about it in front of their bosses at a public meeting; I just don't know what they were smoking or if they were clear in their minds. Rape, extortion, torture, killing and other forms inhumane and degrading abuses of the civilian population seem to be the job descriptions of these people in uniform who are supposed to and paid to protect the safety and security of the very citizens they are abusing and terrorizing on daily basis. Interestingly, these caring and loving special police officers set-up "special rooms" for pretty female detainees...I don't have to go in detail what's going on in that special room; these helpless and defenseless women/girls have to offer their bodies either for their cases to be seen in a "court" ( I doubt if there exists one) or to be
"pardoned" for the crimes they didn't commit. Nobody
knows except these women/girls how much they had been/are being through in those special rooms; one thing is however obvious, they either carry or gave birth children's of their rapers - some of whom are still in prison and while others were "pardoned" and released. Many of the children were fathered by head of the prison, according to testimonies of his subordinates. Sadly but truly, these victims have to take all the unimaginable atrocities and live with them or fled the country. I believe most of them are illiterates or semi-illetrates; they can neither lodge complaints nor blog/tweeter about all the infringements against their constitutional and universally declared human-rights. To add more insult to their wounds, TPLF-led regime in Addis Ababa closed down the region to local and international media; anyone who dares to go there  to do reporting pays a heavy price.

Regional officials turn out Film directors
Ethiopia is one of the few countries in the world which exerts its utmost effort in helping its officials at federal and regional, to exploit their untapped potential, meaning film directing and public relations. I

think, the rulers in Somali region should be awarded the country's medal of honor as far as film directing is concerned. I hope everybody remembers the saga surrounding the arrest of the two Swedish journalists who were captured while 'fighting' along the outlawed ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front) guerrilla group. OK, suppose Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were caught in a clash between the rebles and government troops, but weren't their captors supposed to give medical treatment to their surrenders according to universal decleration to which the country is a signatory? No, no! There was a big task to be done and the order had to come from Addis Ababa. Persson's gunshot wound was open and badly infected until the region's vice president arranged the reconstruction of their arrest in the middle of nowhere. The two Swedes had to do the casting over and over until the film director was satisfied and then sent product to his masters in Addis Ababa to use the footage as evidence at the Federal high court aginst the Swedes. Ethiopia's Steven Spielberg got the final result, after undertaking mock-execution on one of two subjects at his mercy. It is not rocket science, what these film directors would do to thousands of defenseless
citizens endless time. Water, one of the basic necessities which
most of us take it for granted, is being used as a tool by officials to humiliate and degrade their compatriots. Heaven knows how many times those water points built by taxpayers' money, have been inaugurated and re-inaugurated to be shown to the donors and to the general public on their local TV channels. It feels so good to live in a well-furnished/fancy house with housemaids while your compatriots are struggling to survive in leaking, ramshackle huts. You sit at the back of $25 thousand worth 4 wheel drive with the company of  pretty girls, escorted by security guards and all of a sudden show up with a bottled water in one of the remote villages where you made an order the only water pump had to be shut down for months.  There is no such good feelings like meeting those thirsty, hungry, bare-footed children whose faces are covered with flies; it  makes you feel like you are on the top of the world.

Mini-Tyrants in name of "Federalism"

This whole glitch in the administration of Somali regional state of Ethiopia reminds me when the fancy decentralization was introduced back in the mid 90s to reform the civil service in Ethiopia. I was in Gambella (western periphery of the country) working as teacher at that time; many of my colleagues became heads of various new governmental offices overnight. Large numbers of these officials were alcoholics, had previous disciplinary problems and their only merit was either being native to the region or loyal to TPLF; Adios poverty and those key posts were/are one-way ticket to live at large. minister was asked about this issue he arrogantly replied that "advisers" will be assigned to these incompetent, inept officials; how convenient, creating yes women/men to pull out the country from poverty. The story didn't stop there some of my students quit school ( I was teaching in junior high school) to join the bandwagon. The late prime-minister & co. never got there on merit, other than  through armed struggle and then after that started manipulating the constitution and rigging elections. Now they cling to power by suppressing opposition surrounding themselves with opportunists/ mini tyrants who would do anything to please their masters. In the end we have a bunch of strongmen/women who are merely thieves and looters of the country and hold it a ransom. These are the kind of people who 'leads' various parts of the country with the help of  "advisers" appointed by TPLF; and those in Somali region are no different from their counterparts in Gambella. This is how Mohamud Abdi Omar, who was equipped with minimum education but bellicose personality ended up as president of Somali region. Ethiopia's federalism is nothing but a joke whereby the big capos at Menelik's palace created mini-tyrants in their images to stay in power and loot the country with impunity.
The whistle-blower Abdulahi Hussien submitted the video material, which details about the atrocities of Liyu police and regional officials against civilians, to the Swedish War Crimes Commission to file charges against the perpetrators at the international level. Fingers crossed, these criminals will serve time for the crimes against humanity they committed against defenseless, helpless and voiceless resident of the regions. All this noise by Hailemariam Dessalegn & co seeking immunity from the International Criminal Court, is nothing but self-serving and to get away with their crimes with impunity.

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