By Al Mariam
TPLF: Does the LF stand for Lie Factory? Is it Meles or Melies?
The “LF” in TPLF stands for Lie Factory. Melies Zenawi was the chief executive officer of the TP Lie Factory.
With last week’s announcement of the so-called “release of political prisoners” by the T-TPLF, I am absolutely convinced the TPLF is a factory for lies, damned lies and statislies (statistical lies).
For a decade and half, the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF) regime boldfacedly claimed it holds no political prisoners in Ethiopia.
The late thugmaster Melies in 2006 boldly declared “There are no political prisoners in Ethiopia.” He repeated his barefaced lie claiming, “Nobody has been imprisoned for criticising the government. No one”, except, of course, criminals bent on “overthrowing the duly constituted government by unconstitutional means” and “pushing the country towards chaos”.
Meles’ minion-cum-successor Hailemariam Desalegn in 2012 blathered to Al Jazeera (forward clip to 7:53), “There are no political opposition that are languishing in prison.” His flunky-cum-spokesman Getachew Reda in 2013 repeated the fiction matter-of-factly asserting, “We don’t have any single political prisoner in the country.”
In his January 3 announcement, the T-TPLF puppet prime minster (PPM) Hailemariam also promised to shut down the infamous torture chamber known as “Maekelawi Prison”, which also did not exist like the political prisoners, and reopen it as a “museum”.
What a fantastic idea! Maekelawi should be aptly named, “The Museum of T-TPLF Horrors, Hate and Hubris”.
Lo and behold, in January 2018, political prisoners that never existed suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Were they hidden in the underground dungeons of Maekelawi?
The fact of the matter is, as the T-TPLF has claimed, there are no political prisoners in Ethiopia.
There is only ONE political prisoner. Her name is ETHIOPIA.
The T-TPLF has been raping, mutilating, torturing, robbing, mugging, pillaging, abusing and ransacking ETHIOPIA for the past 27 years.
Release, better yet, liberate ETHIOPIA from the iron shackles of the T-TPLF and there will be no more talk of political prisoners.
T-TPLF disinformation campaign on political prisoners
Of course, the T-TPLF is playing political football with political prisoners. They think they can get good public relations mileage out of it. Indeed, they did, if only momentarily. Accolades and commendations for the announcement came from the African Union, members of the U.S. Congress and various human rights organizations.
But few believed the words of the T-TPLF con men. They all demanded immediate action and prompt release of all political prisoners. Then within 24 hours, the t-TPLF began backpedaling and talking about “misquotes and mistranslations”.
Everyone knows there are tens of thousands of political prisoners in Ethiopia. Only the T-TPLF knows exactly how many political prisoners (that have not existed until a few days ago) are held in its official and secret prisons. But the T-TPLF says it cannot provide an accurate number because there are no political prisoners. In the T-TPLF’s circular logic, there are political prisoners but they did not exist until last week, ans may well not exist next week. Now you see them, now you don’t!
The political prisoners include not only well-known opposition figures, journalists, dissidents such as journalist Eskinder Nega and Woubshet Taye, Prof. Bekele Gerba, Dr. Merra Gudina, opposition leader Andualem Aragie, human rights activists Ahmedin Jebel, Nigist Yirga, Emawayish Alemu, Abubakar Ahmed, Okello Akway Ochalla, Col. Demeke Zewdu and so many others, but also ordinary citizens jailed on mere suspicion of opposition to the T-TPLF. The vast majority of T-TPLF political prisoners come from the Oromo, Amhara, Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples regions.
The T-TPLF jails anyone arbitrarily and without any legally competent proof.
For instance, on October 15, 2016, the T-TPLF issued its “State of Emergency Command Post” Decree imposing sweeping prohibitions against “incitement and communication that causes public disturbance and riots, communicating with terrorist groups, unauthorized demonstration and public gatherings, conducting strikes in educational institutions and sports facilities, obstructing vehicles’ movement, disturbing and causing incitement in religious, cultural, and public holidays and acts against tolerance and unity”, among others. Among the “measures to be taken” to enforce the Decree included, “detention without an arrest warrant”, keeping detainees incommunicado, “warrantless searches and seizures and arrests”, among others.
Consequently, in October 2016, following the Irreecha Massacres and declaration of state of emergency, the T-TPLF admitted imprisoning over 11,000 individuals within a few days.
Following the 2005 election, the T-TPLF arrested over 30,000 persons.
Some “experts” estimate there are about 1,000 persons held under the T-TPLF’s anti-terrorism law with another 5,000 cases still pending in T-TPLF monkey courts.
The key question is how one defines a political prisoner or prisoner of conscience? Unfortunately, there is no universal or widely accepted standard definition of “political prisoner”.
That has made it easier for the T-TPLF to play semantic and word games for years in denying the existence of political prisoners. They say they have jailed only “terrorists”, opposition leaders conspiring “to overthrow the constitutional order”, “mercenaries supported by Ethiopia’s enemies”, “anti-peace elements”, “corruption suspects” and sundry other “criminals”. They have even jailed their own members on dubious corruption charges to neutralize them to consolidate the power of the dominant group within the T-TPLF.
For lack of a better standard, I use as a guide the standard set forth by the Council of Europe (CoE) in determining whether a person is a political prisoner. That standard relates to a person’s imprisonment by state authorities for exercising the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; freedom of expression and information; and freedom of assembly and association.
Under the CoE protocol, a person may be considered a political prisoner if one or more of the following conditions are true: The detention is imposed for purely political reasons. The length or conditions of detention are out of proportion to the offense. The detainee is detained in a discriminatory manner as compared to other persons. The detention is the result of judicial proceedings that are clearly unfair and connected with the political motives of authorities.
My personal estimate of the number of political prisoners held by the T-TPLF, based on the CoE criteria and disparate data culled from publicly available records and other materials with substantial credibility, is approximately 100,000.
There is a partial list of political prisoners to start with if the T-TPLF is serious about releasing political prisoners.
T-TPLF bait and switch
Bait and switch is a common marketing tactic used by dishonest merchants who advertise what appears to be a great offer then switch the offer around when the customer comes to make the purchase. They will often use the excuse that the offer was “just a promotion”, the advertised item was “inadvertently mislabeled” or outright blame the customer for “misunderstanding” the advertised offer.
Bait and switch is precisely what the T-TPLF did with it offer of “releasing political prisoners”. They intentionally, deliberately and calculatedly made an announcement of political prisoners knowing that it will be understood by the public as “all political prisoners” and then backtracked on it after they have obtained the public relations mileage out of it.
Conveniently, after the day’s news cycle has ended and all the accolades and commendations from the African Union, members of the U.S. Congress and human rights organizations have come in, PPM Hailemariam’s aide stated that “only some imprisoned politicians will be pardoned” and that a “mistranslation” led to Hailemariam “being quoted as saying that all political prisoners would be freed to promote dialogue.”
What a crock of _ _ _ t!
Who “misquoted” or “mistranslated” the T-TPLF PPM’s statement?
What is the exact statement that was “misquoted” or “mistranslated?
For such a monumental announcement, why was there not a clear official written statement made public in Amharic or English or both languages?
Of course, there was no “misquoting” and “mistranslation”. It’s the old bait and switch trick. The T-TPLF is being slick and sly. It is how the T-TPLF mind thinks. It never ceases to amaze me how the T-TPLF thugs believe they are so smart and clever that they can outfox, outwit, outthink, outsmart, outplay and outmaneuver anyone, any day of the week. They really believe they can fool the donors and loaners and the Ethiopian people by making a half-assed announcement about political prisoners. Not a chance!
The fact of the matter is that the whole political prisoners’ announcement is a repeat of the old T-TPLF political theater, three-ring political circus, except this time nonexistent political prisoners are on the stage.
It is the old and tired T-TPLF game of mass distraction by mass disinformation.
It is a desperate game played by delusionally isolated men trapped in a siege mentality.
All of the talk about “political prisoners”, “closing Maekelawi torture chamber” and “opening the political space” is intended to distract Ethiopians and the donors and loaners from focusing on the tornadic winds of change blowing over Ethiopia.
The fact of the matter is that the T-TPLF “beast is wounded”, very badly.
Like any wild beast, it has only one choice: expire quietly or react impulsively and take with itself to the trash bin of history as many as it can.
All of the T-TPLF gobbledygook about political prisoners, political space and the rest is just pretentious talk (B.S.) which betrays their deep anxieties and profound political angst about loss of control and power as a result of the popular uprising driven by the youth.
In my February 2016 commentary, “Ethiopia Under the Boots of the T-TPLF Beast With Feet of Clay”, I argued the T-TPLF is a Beast with feet of clay. When gazed upon, the T-TPLF appears awesome, formidable and infinitely powerful. It has guns, tanks, rockets, planes and bombs. Though the T-TPLF has legs of iron, its feet are made of clay. I predicted the T-TPLF Beast will be defeated by Ethiopia’s young people.
For over a decade, I have written dozens of commentaries about the T-TPLF’s smoke and mirrors, now you see it, now you don’t game with political prisoners.
In my August 2009 commentary, “Remembering Ethiopian Political Prisoners”, I laid out a strategy to engage in grassroots mobilization for the release of political prisoners in Ethiopia. I believe those strategies are still valid today.
The T-TPLF disinformation machine in Orwellian-style uses “political language to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
PPM Hailemariam’s talk about political prisoners and the rest of it is nothing but damned lies and his promise of release of political prisoners is pure wind.
The “misquoting”, “mistranslation” backpedaling on release of political prisoners is Orwellian newspeak, doublespeak, blackwhite”-speak.
The T-TPLF bosses will say and believe “black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts and forget that one has ever believed the contrary.” They will say, “political prisoners will be released”. Then add, “only some political prisoners”. They will keep on adding: “Those we think are political prisoners. Only after we have developed procedures for release according to the constitution. Only after the prisoners ask for pardon. Only after the parliament passes a law. Only after…. BS….”. The T-TPLF bosses are experts at con jobs, equivocating, evasion, dodging, stonewalling, and pussyfooting around the truth.
I coined a new word to describe the political crapola manufactured in the TP Lie Factory, “liestruth” (lie is truth).
The word describes the T-TPLF habit of impudently claiming lies are truth in contradiction of the plain facts. Liestruth ignores inconvenient truths. Thus, dictatorship is democracy. War is peace. Corruption is integrity. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. State terrorism is rule of law. State of emergency is state of peace.
In liestruth, political prisoners do not exist, but if they do, now you see them, now you don’t.
The T-TPLF has undertaken numerous disinformation campaigns. I have tried to keep up with their liestruth and speak truth to their faces on a weekly basis, without interruption, since 2006.
In my September 5, 2016 commentary, The Lies and Disinformation Campaigns of the T-TPLF, I exposed the disinformation techniques used by the T-TPLF to destroy what they claimed to be an “Amhara-Oromo alliance” against them.
In my September 18, 2016 commentary, “The Truth About T-TPLF Genocide Lies and Disinformation in Ethiopia”, I exposed the T-TPLF disinformation campaign to discredit the massive popular uprising in the country and re-write the true story of valor and courage by the Ethiopian people with systematic lies and deception.
In my September 25, 2016 commentary, “Disinformation in T-TPLF Land of Living Lies: Pinocchio Preaches Truth Against Perception in Ethiopia?” I exposed the crocodilian T-TPLF Reich Minister for Disinformation & Propaganda Debretsion Gebremichael’s weapons of mass distraction.
In my March 2017 commentary “The Lords of Living Lies in Ethiopia”, I unpacked the packs of lies manufactured in the TP Lie Factory.
In January 2018, I am unpacking the damned lies of the T-TPLF about political prisoners.
In my commentary in The Hill a couple of days ago, I posed several questions to unpack the T-TPLF’s damnable pack of lies, which I will answer here (in addition to other questions) :
1) Is the announcement on release of political prisoners a public relations stunt by the T-TPLF?
There is no question the announcement is a political stunt. It has two objectives. First, it aims to distract the Ethiopian people by pretending to take historic action while actually playing mind games. Second, it is aimed at buying international good will and trick the donors and loaners into giving the T-TPLF more aid and support given the apparent fact they are “making real changes”.
What is downright disgusting is the fact that the T-TPLF bosses think they can play with the heartstrings of political prisoners and their families by talking about a release, raising their hopes only to crush it in less than 24 hours. Such depravity, cruelty and wickedness are in the DNA of all the T-TPLF bosses. They are sadistic people. They enjoy seeing innocent people suffer. They are psychopaths.
As I noted in my 2009 commentary “Torture Inc.”, the T-TPLF bosses are simply sadistic thugs who derive great pleasure from the pain and suffering they inflict on others. Psychologists explain that sadistic persons suffer from an inferiority complex and resort to sadism as a defense mechanism. They pretend to be and act superior but deep down they feel inferior. By inflicting pain and suffering on others they seek to fill the void of inferiority they feel inside. They pretend and act like they are playing in the big leagues, but deep down they know they are bush league material (literally).
But they did not fool anyone with their release of political prisoner hogwash. It is a phony, deceitful and devious. The T-TPLF did not pull the wool over our eyes. Not this time.
2) Will there be a blanket amnesty, or only selective release?
The T-TPLF calculatedly made its statement to be ambiguous so that it can play word games later, as it did within 24 hours of the announcement.
The fact of the matter is that either all political prisoners will be released, or none will be released. By announcing release of political prisoners, the T-TPLF has made a legal admission that it holds political prisoners, that is people who are imprisoned arbitrarily for exercising their rights to free speech and press, religious or political beliefs, association and assembly.
PPM Hailemariam said the release of political prisoners will be “according to the constitution and the law”. I agree wholeheartedly.
Let every individual in T-TPLF prison claiming to be a political prisoner challenge his/her condition of detention in a real court, not monkey court, according to Art. 19 and 21 of the T-TPLF constitution and under the Article 177 (1) of the Civil Procedure Code which provides for “an application for habeas corpus may be made to the High Court by any person restrained otherwise than in pursuance of an order duly made under this Code or the Criminal Procedure Code.”
Is the constitution PPM Hailemariam brags about worth the paper it is written on?
3) Is the regime trying to buy time to prolong its rule by making empty promises about the release of political prisoners?
The T-TPLF bosses will say and promise anything to cling to power for as long as possible. They believe they can win the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people by feeding them empty words and promises. For nearly a decade and half, they have been promising to negotiate with the opposition only to handpick their own minions and call them “opposition leaders”. They have been promising to “open the political space”, only to nail it shut. They have been promising to institute the rule of law only to issue a state of emergency decree jailing tens of thousands of innocent citizens.
When it comes to promises, the T-TPLF always declares amnesia. Did we say we will release all political prisoners? Nah! That was lost in (mis)translation.
During the first ten days of the Ethiopian new year this past September, the T-TPLF tried to play a ridiculous ten-day propaganda charm offensive to endear itself to the Ethiopian people after 26 years of ironhanded tyrannical rule. The T-TPLF scammers pled with Ethiopians, “Kumbaya, let’s all kiss and make up. Let’s shake hands and make peace.”
Now, they have a new scam, release of political prisoners. They will release them and we can all get along like before, with business as usual and ethnic apartheid in place, alive and well.
4) Will the regime create bureaucratic snafus and drag its feet in releasing political prisoners?
The fact of the matter is that the T-TPLF will release no political prisoners. Eskinder Nega, Bekele Gerba, Merra Gudina, Temesgen Desalegn, Woubshet Taye, Andualem Aragie, Nigist Yirga, Emawayish Alemu, Col. Demeke Zewdu and the other high profile political prisoners will certainly not be released.
My prediction is that the T-TPLF, best case scenario, will create a bogus process for the release of political prisoners and drag it on for as long as it can. By creating the bogus process, the T-TPLF bosses believe they can hoodwink and bamboozle the donors and loaners and try to convince them they are making progress and genuine changes.
I shall predict that the T-TPLF will play a game of manana, (eshi nege), tomorrow if it ever starts a process to release political prisoners?
The bottom line is that the T-TPLF will try to play political football with political prisoners domestically and internationally for as long as it can.
There is one game the T-TPLF bosses should be aware of acutely. Game over for the T-TPLF!
5) Could the regime use political prisoners as “hostages” to extract concessions from the opposition?
When the T-TPLF jailed the Kinijit leaders in 2007, they tried to use them as hostages to extract concessions from the opposition parties and generate more support from the donors and loaners. There is no doubt the T-TPLF will use political prisoners as hostages in any negotiations with the opposition or the loaners and donors. They have a history of doing just that.
6) Could the announcement be a genuine gesture aimed at reconciliation and pull the country back from the precipice of civil war?
Is the goodhearted gesture of the fox to protect and make peace with the chickens in the henhouse genuine?
The T-TPLF over the past 27 years have cornered themselves and now look at their own graveyard in ethnic federalism.
Reconciliation comes only after the T-TPLF does three things: 1) Apologize for their crimes over the past 27 years. 2) Publicly accept they are at fault. 3) Propose specific measure to make their wrongs right.
But the other side of reconciliation is truth.
As Desmond Tutu put it, “True reconciliation is never cheap, for it is based on forgiveness which is costly. Forgiveness in turn depends on repentance, which has to be based on an acknowledgement of what was done wrong, and therefore on the disclosure of the truth. You cannot forgive what you do not know.”
There can be no reconciliation without the truth of T-TPLF crimes exposed to the Ethiopian people and before the court of world public opinion.
The T-TPLF can never handle the truth, therefore, it is impossible to have reconciliation with them!
7) Is the political prisoner announcement too little, too late as the country slowly slips into a creeping civil war?
No words or half-assed action by the T-TPLF will stop the creeping civil war.
As I noted in my December 17, 2017 commentary, “The U.S. on the Horns of a Creeping Civil War Dilemma in Ethiopia”, the country today is at a tipping point where civil disobedience is slowly mutating into civil war. Uprisings, protests, demonstrations, open rebellions and defiant challenges to T-TPLF rule are visible in every part of the country. The people are angry, frustrated, outraged, resentful and defiant against T-TPLF rule.
There is only one outcome when the rage and defiance passes the tipping point.
8) Is the promised “pardon” to political prisoners today the same as the pardon offered to Birtukan Midekssa and the Kinijit leaders in 2007?
We have seen the T-TPLF pardon game before with the Kinijit leaders and Birtukan Midekssa on two occasions. The T-TPLF will send elders and what have you to the prisoners to tell them to acknowledge guilt and ask for a pardon in exchange for release. If the prisoners file a petition for pardon acknowledging guilt, they would have, ipso facto, legally accepted responsibility for crimes they did not commit and shamed themselves before the public. By using the pardon process, the T-TPLF accomplishes two things:. First, the T-TPLF aims to establish the ground for future claims that the prisoners were properly convicted of the bogus crimes and the pardon is factual admission and legal proof of guilt despite their claims at trial they were innocent, or even after they are released. That’s precisely what the T-TPLF did with Birtukan Midekssa when they jailed her for the second time in 2009 for “denying receiving pardon”. Second, the T-TPLF aims to completely discredit and neutralize the prisoners as political or opposition leaders.
The T-TPLF can take their pardon and shove it.
9) Is it possible to trust the words of the T-TPLF?
I do not trust the words of a regime that bold-facedly claimed for over a decade that there are no political prisoners in the country, and shamelessly declared it had won all the seats in parliamentary elections.
I do not trust the words of pathological and sadistic liars!
This is what I have say to the T-TPLF, “Talk is cheap. Action is very expensive. Put the political prisoners where your mouth is. Show me the political prisoners that you said do not exist and then we can talk your cheap talk.”
T-TPLF: Stop playing political football with your political prisoners!
Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino. His teaching areas include American constitutional law, civil rights law, judicial process, American and California state governments, and African politics. He has published two volumes on American constitutional law, including American Constitutional Law: Structures and Process (1994) and American Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights (1998). He is the Senior Editor of the International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, a leading scholarly journal on Ethiopia. For the last several years, Prof. Mariam has written weekly web commentaries on Ethiopian human rights and African issues that are widely read online. He blogged on the Huffington post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ and later on open.salon until that blogsite shut down in March 2015.
Prof. Mariam played a central advocacy role in the passage of H.R. 2003 (Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007) in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007. Prof. Mariam also practices in the areas of criminal defense and civil litigation. In 1998, he argued a major case in the California Supreme Court involving the right against self-incrimination in People v. Peevy, 17 Cal. 4th 1184, cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1042 (1998) which helped clarify longstanding Miranda rights issues in California criminal procedure. For several years, Prof. Mariam had a weekly public channel public affairs television show in Southern California called “In the Public Interest”. Prof. Mariam received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1984, and his J.D. from the University of Maryland in 1988.