Ethiopia: An Insincere Ethiopian Government Pardon
The Government of Ethiopia Must Stop Confusing Citizens and the World Community
February 11, 2018
It has been over a month now since-in a surprise move- the Ethiopian PM, Hailemariam Dessalegn on January 3, 2018 announced plans to drop charges against political prisoners and close a notorious prison, the murder chamber Maikelawi in what he called “ an effort to widen the democratic space for all.”
Since then, a meaningful effort to bring the opposition political organizations in a platform has not been seen on a scale large enough to justify what the PM called “an effort to widen the democratic space for all.”
Even though the government has not disclosed how many political prisoners it holds currently in its legal and secret prisons (where the political prisoners forcefully disappeared were confined), it has slowly started to release a few prisoners in the past weeks. In the first- round, 115 federal prisoners were released, according to the government owned media report on January 17, 2018.
The second-round of the prisoner release was announced on February 8, 2018 by the state-run Fana Television: the government will free 746 political prisoners including Eskindir Nega and Andualem Arage. However, Eskindir Nega and Andualem Arage were asked by the prison authorities to sign false confessions in exchange for their release. Both refused to sign and remain in prison as of the time of this statement was compiled.
Eskindir Nega is a journalist and blogger who was sentenced to 18 years, and a young politician Andualem Arage was given a life sentence by the same court on July 13, 2012 in the capital, Addis Ababa on terror charges, in a ruling that critics descried as politically motivated.
Asking the prisoners to sign a false confession after giving a pardon clearly shows the government’s unwillingness to solve the deep political crisis the country is facing now. To solve the multi-dimensional crises in the country, a genuine and sincere approach is very crucial. First of all, the TPLF/EPRDF authorities must clearly disclose how many political prisoners they hold in legal and secret prisons. Ethiopians who lost their family members over the past twenty-seven years are waiting to hear from the government the whereabouts of their stolen beloved fathers, mothers, sons, sisters, and relatives who were snatched by TPLF/EPRDF security forces from their homes, workplaces and streets.
To halt the looming political uncertainty which could lead to an intractable conflict between the citizens and the government, the TPLF/EPRDF government must stop confusing the citizens of the country and the world community with its internal reform (Tehadiso) and think out of the box and embrace the true reason for the political crisis the country is facing now.
It is indisputable that the political prisoners to whom the government gave a pardon are the members or the supporters of non-EPRDF political organizations mostly those whom the TPLF/EPRDF called “Terrorist Groups”
On the contrary, Ethiopians never called the political organizations such as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the Ogden National Liberation Front (ONLF), Ginbot Seven and others “Terrorist Groups”. They are calling them liberators, those who fight for the equality and justice.
In the past two and half decades, thousands have been killed, tens of thousands have been forcefully disappeared, tens of hundreds have been incarcerated and tortured for their support or just for being members of those organizations.
Therefore, to solve this long-standing problem of the political uncertainty in the country, the TPLF/EPDRF authorities must focus on what they called “an effort to widen the democratic space for all.” This space must include the political organizations the TPLF/EPRDF has labeled as “Terrorist Groups”.
HRLHA once again calls on international donors, Ethiopian government alliance governments and peace lovers to put pressure on TPLF/EPRDF led Ethiopian government to fulfill its promises (“an effort to widen the democratic space for all.”) that it has declared on January 3, 2018 to bring a sustainable peace in the country.