Friday, June 29

Of Lies and Other Things...

Yesterday in Parliament the PM gave a pretty dry speech (apparently the objectives of this government are "peace, development, and good governance"--who knew!), addressing the 'very real threat' of an Eritrean invasion. Right.

Everyone expected him to discuss the negotiations (which explains why so many people were actually watching ETV at city cafes), which was finally kindly raised by an EPRDF official (nothing like damage control!) . Check the EZ post here.

It seems that Meles is now trying to pretend that the negotiations were the sole initiative of the Shemagles--a tradition that he tried to go along with, as any 'proper Ethiopian'would--but of course, he reminded us yesterday, no actual binding negotiations can take place (political or traditional) which would interfere with the Almighty Independence Of The Court. (Am I allowed to say bullshit on this thing?) Anyway, that's all it is, and I suppose we should have expected nothing more from him.

And there was more, as reported by AP: seems Meles is getting a little hostile with the international community, and now weilds the moral authority to condemn their appeals as both "shameful and wrong". According to the dillusional dictator,
"In Ethiopia there is nothing that can be resolved as a result of external pressure,"
. Hmmmm. HR2003 is set for mark-up a couple of days after the next scheduled court session. What a perfect time to demonstrate the magnanimity of the EPRDF, by sentencing them and then pardoning them "just in time". But no pressure, of course.

(Forgive the sarcastic tone of this post, I have long lost patience with the transparent antics of the government.)

Thursday, June 28


I still haven't been able to confirm whether Meles was in DC yesterday or not, though I have heard from numerous sources that Professor Ephrim is there.

Either way, the PM is still scheduled to appear here in Parliament later this morning. No one seems to know what the session will be about exactly--some here are speculating that it would be the perfect time to release the prisoners 'quietly' (as all the foreign correspondents will be inside without their mible phones), but this seems just another rumor.

(More later)

Wednesday, June 27

No Court Session

It is two hours before the court session was to begin. I just found out that the prisoners will not be appearing before the judges; instead, those who wished to defend are required to submit documents to the court's record office.
This is just my opinion, but things seem to be unravelling pretty fast for the EPRDF. First the finnd the prisoners guilty of charges so severe they carry a penalty of death, all the while continuing 'secret'political negotaitions. Despite the fact that the final agreement has already been reported by the international press, a court session was announced nonetheless to maintain semblance of an independent court. Suddenly, the night before they are to appear, the govnment decides to try their luck and blackmail the US State Department!! Fascinating!

Seems our dictator has become a bit dillusional and is losing sight of his rank in the global political heirarchy. Hopefully he is in for a rude awakening (I still have some faith in the United States--though they have agreed to postpone the bill for two weeks, Donald Payne has not taken kindly to these blatant bullying tactics.)
At least all of this chaos is finally revealing to the world what we knew all along: he is deceitful tyrant, willing to continually sacrifice his own people for personal gain.

Meles In DC ?

I just received word that Meles flew to DC yesterday to meet with State officials. This is definitely news to us here, as the prisoners were (unofficially) scheduled to appear in court today.

(I will do my best to confirm this and post more later)

Tuesday, June 26

HR2003 Postponed

I can't believe that they have decided to postpone bill HR 2003!

According to sources, as soon as the remaining prisoners signed the negotiation statement, mediator Professor Ephrimim immediately went to the US (I am told he will return next weekend), insisting that the bill be postponed in order to ensure the release of the prisoners.

This is truly amazing--Meles is holding his own people hostage while negotiating with the world's superpower. Even more remarkable--the US seems to be
actually negotiating with these tyrants (as if the prisoners themselves were American citizens)!

It makes no sense, and makes me wonder if the govn't had no intention of releasing the prisoners at all, intending to use the agreement as insurance in the face of future condemnation.

**I just received word that tommorrow's court session will be closed to the public and they will be meeting in chambers instead. Something very unsettling is going on here.
(I will post again when I get more information.)

Final Day in Court?

Everybody is confused over here as to whether the prisoners are, in fact, scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, and even more so in regards to what will be accomplished in this session.

By law, after handing down a verdict, the options of the court are limited:

1. Sentence: Due to the severity of the crimes with which they have been charged, the court must sentence them to death or life in prison.

2.Pardon : This seems highly unlikely, as a pardon is primarily reserved for individuals (in this case, there are 38 defendants, and the outcome of this trial may also serve as a precedent for other journalists, civil servants and human rights activists imprisoned throughout the country). A pardon would also negate the agreement reached through the recent negotiations, as a pardon does not erase charges from one’s record, thus restricting future civil, family and professional right.

3.Amnesty: According to the penal code, Amnesty “cancels both the indictment and the sentence and bars or discontinues any prosecution from the moment of its proglamation”. Further, “the conviction shall be presumed to be non-existent and the entry deleted from the police record of the offender”

There is speculation that the court will choose the latter, in an attempt to maintain appearances of an independent judicial system and, of course, to demonstrate the magnimity of government…which seems a little ridiculous considering the behind-the-scenes negotiations have already been internationally reported.

I guess we can only wait and see what unfolds. I will do my best to keep you updated.


Sunday, June 24

With No Room Left to Wiggle

It seems to me that Meles is in a bit of a bind. News of the negotiation agreement has already been widely publicized around the world (albeit with a sympathetic slant from the US State Department) and all eyes are on Ethiopia.

He managed to cancel a meeting with the Western ambassadors late last week after receiving word that they were planning to issue a strong collective statement condemning the verdict, but beyond that, I am not sure how much room he has left to wiggle…

This country is making the news.

Supporters around the world are staging demonstrations and lobbying their heads of state and members of Parliament incessantly. The frequently divided members of Kinijit International seem to be finally co-operating. Here, the ambassadors are ready, and even the foreign correspondents seem interested.
The rest of us are eagerly anticipating the day and hour of their release.

Should the Prime Minister decide to change his mind, the public backlash would be immense.

(And so we wait…)

Saturday, June 23


What a cause for celebration!

I am once again humbled by the incredible sacrifices these people have made for this country. We are all eagerly awaiting their release.

Thursday, June 14

In the Wake of the Verdict

I was wondering why there hasn’t yet been any visible reaction to the verdict here in Addis. Some say that the post-election momentum is gone and most have forgotten, but I know otherwise. I know that people still care, and will say so as often as they think it safe.

So why didn’t spontaneous protest erupt on Monday afternoon?

Well, the current crackdown is the 6th that has occurred over the past two years. Thousands have been imprisoned and countless tortured. Far more have died than have been reported, and in Ethiopia today, we are forced to learn from this. (I am ferenj, and I too stay inside more and talk less. ) I was reminded today that, including those taken during the initial crackdown, this means 1/10th of the city’s population has been imprisoned at some point during this period.

Immediately following the elections, there were dozens of papers to report the fraud, the injustice, the truth. Now such outlets are distant memories, and news obviously travels slower.

Before, one could feel an electric undercurrent of awareness here—even as recently as September, when the words of Dr. Berhanu gave the most faint-hearted among us courage—and it didn’t matter if there were no demonstrations; we knew who our real leaders were. There was still hope. We wanted peace.

Now, it seems people have reverted to a state of learned hopelessness, underscored by the increasing American support for this nation’s tyrannical ruler. What chance do we have as mere pawns in a far greater geopolitical scheme? How can we help ourselves if we cannot even gather for public discussion or peaceful demonstration?

I honestly don’t know. I do know that violence is NOT the answer (once embraced, it cannot be controlled, and we will all be at greater risk) but beyond that—I can’t see the way out from here.

(Not today, anyway…)

Tuesday, June 12

Crackdown Continues

The crackdown continues today in Addis with more arrests.

It seems a little early for the 'preemptive crackdown tactics'
used during the Christmas holidays--sentencing is almost a month
away, and (to my dismay) it seems there were no signs of protest
in the city today.

Monday, June 11

Guilty Verdict

Following a 2.5 hour delay and courtroom chaos, all defendants were found guilty as charged.Those who wished to defend were denied opportunity and charged along with the others.

Sentencing is to take place on July 2.