Human Rights Crisis in Ethiopia and the Implications of Accountable Government in East Africa:
Amnesty International has been at the forefront, exposing atrocities committed by the TPLF (Tigrean People’s Liberation Front) regime in Ethiopia for the past twenty-seven years. Those atrocities include the killing of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators, arbitrary detentions by security forces, extrajudicial executions, Inhumane torture in prisons and intentionally orchestrated ethnic cleansing, which resulted in displacements of tens of thousands. Along with other human rights organizations Amnesty has played a significant role in demanding and pressuring for the release of political prisoners languishing in TPLF prisons. The two Ethiopians coming to New York on June 8, 2018 are among the few political prisoners recently released from prison.
Human rights issues are not known to be limited by boundaries, and Ethiopia’s case is no exception. The recent flow of thousands of Ethiopians to Kenya is an example of how one country’s human rights issues could easily spill over and destabilize a neighboring nation and the whole region.
Eskinder Nega: A prominent award-winning Ethiopian journalist, blogger and human rights activist. Eskinder and his wife founded his first newspaper, “Ethiopis,” in 1993, published in Addis Ababa. Due to his writing, he has been jailed more than six times. Their publications were later banned and the TPLF denied them licenses to launch new newspapers. In 2006 he was arrested with his beloved and pregnant wife, Serkalem Fasil, who was also a journalist. The cruel regime kept her in prison denying her basic medical checkups until the last minute, resulting in her delivering the baby in jail. Eskinder was later sentenced to eighteen years.
The charge against Eskinder included conspiring with a banned opposition party called Patriotic Ginbot- 7 to overthrow the government. While Eskinder has no affiliation with the group, false evidence was orchestrated by the regime’s intelligence services which is well known for presenting such evidence to a “kangaroo court,” full of judges that are TPLF members. The state television channel, which is also a propaganda machine for the regime, shamelessly labelled Eskinder and the other journalists as “spies for foreign forces.” Ethiopians love Eskinder because of his dedication to the struggle towards democracy and they know that his only crime was publishing the truth. Eskinder was recently released from prison in February of 2018 after serving seven years in prison.
Bekele Gerba: An Ethiopian Academician and the Deputy Chairman of the opposition party, “The Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC),” is a leading figure advocating for nonviolent struggle which unfortunately is considered as a crime by the autocratic TPLF regime. His last arrest took place shortly after some peaceful anti-government protests in 2015. Security forces surrounded his home, terrorized his family and took him to the notorious Maekelawi prison. He was released in February 2018 after serving close to three years in captivity. While he was in prison, he translated Martin Luther King’s book “I have a Dream” into the Oromo Language.
Bekele was sentenced to prison for false crimes by the TPLF judges who had no consideration for the law and only cared about their party affiliations. He was beaten to unconsciousness during interrogations and was held incommunicado for months while his health was deteriorating. Based on his recent VOA interview, Bekele has witnessed so many atrocities committed by the ruthless regime while in prison, including a healthy man losing both his legs to torture by the TPLF cadres. Despite all he witnessed and personally endured, he is still hopeful and determined that Ethiopia will have a democratic system that treats all its people equal after 27 years of cruel ethnocentric dictatorship. Ethiopians love Bekele for his perseverance and determination towards establishing a democratic Ethiopia.
We would like to thank Amnesty International Bronx Chapter President Nick Ogutu, his staff and the African diaspora, for organizing the event and inviting these prominent East African Figures (including Professor Bekele Gerba, Eskinder Nega, Dr. Awol Allo, Hon. James Orengo, and Irungu Houghton) to New York.
Please register for the event using the following link:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ethiopia-humanitarian-crisis-and-implications-for-accountable-governments-in-east-africa-tickets-46081354572
NY/NJ Ethiopians Task Force (www.ethionynj.com)