A Travesty of Justice on Treason, History, and Ideology in the Expediency to Set Precedence for a Utilitarian Pardon

January 17, 2011

In its December 21, 2010, news flash, Capital Ethiopia reported that “Abune Pawlos, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Patriarch, Sheikh Ahmedin Sheikh Abdulahi, from Ethiopian Muslim Affairs Supreme Council, Abune Birhane Iyesus, from Ethiopian Catholic Church and Dr. Wakseyoum Idosa, from Ethiopian Mekane Eyesus Evangelical Church intervened to facilitate the process of the pardon from the people and the government of Ethiopia”.

This is the third time since nearly 200 lives were gunned down in 2005 in Ethiopia’s capital under the direct command of Meles Zenawi that the term pardon is tossed out under dubious circumstances to the Ethiopian public and international community.

The first pardon was when the leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) were released after a politically motivated imprisonment in the aftermath of the 2005 legislative elections. The process was marred between a semblance of legality and negotiation led by a group that called itself “Elders Committee”.

The second pardon was when one of the former leaders of the CUD, Birtukan Mideksa, was released from prison again after she was imprisoned once more following her explanation to the public about the marred process between legality and negotiation in the release of the CUD leaders. This second pardon process would have the Ethiopian public and international community believe that Judge Birtukan Mideksa requested a pardon from the Prime Minister for “misleading the Ethiopian people and government”.

According to some testimony about the latest and third pardon, its process was started some three years ago and has the posturing of being led by religious leaders. As Capital Ethiopia reported, this latest pardon is from the people and government of Ethiopia. What is for sure, however, is the fact that no credible source has come forward to tell the story of how the people of Ethiopia demanded this pardon and how they were involved in its process. What is even more interesting is that even the immediate family members of the victims have not been meaningfully informed about this process before they heard it from the media.

In the absence of the involvement of the immediate family members and the general Ethiopian public in it, what this process boils down to is a shenanigan, under the cover of involving religious figure heads, between the current Ethiopian government, or more specifically, its core architects, and the imprisoned former leadership members of the country. This shenanigan becomes the way to put in place the Pandora’s box against justice, treason, history, and ideology.

To begin with, the mere fact that there is a historical conflict between Meles Zenawi and his clique that is running Ethiopia today on the one hand and the leadership members of the former Ethiopian government on the other hand makes this process a travesty of justice. It is a historically documented fact that both have committed crimes against innocent members of the public while waging war against each other. It is also a historically documented fact that while the leadership members of the former Ethiopian government committed crimes against civilians and its opponents under the pretext of perceived or real cause, Meles Zenawi’s government has been noted to have orchestrated crimes against civilians to create chaos and advance its sectarian interests.

As Meles Zenawi’s own cadres have come forward to testify, the assassination of Darara Kafani, a businessman, in Ambo is a case in point. According to this testimony, his and other civilians’ assassinations to purposely destabilize peace were meticulously devised by committee meetings in government offices under the leadership of Meles Zenawi. Never before in Ethiopia’s long history have we ever heard such a cowardice act orchestrated from office buildings. To give another example, Bekele Abebe was abducted in broad daylight from Ethiopia’s capital in the 1990s and his family members mourn to this day not knowing whether he is alive or dead and not knowing where his remains may be lying if Meles Zenawi’s forces assassinated him.

To the extent that the Ethiopian public faced injustice in the hands of self-imposed governments with no legitimacy from the people through a deliberate process that involved them in a meaningful way, both Menghistu Hailemariam and Meles Zenawi’s governments are guilty of crimes. To the extent that these crimes were committed without and with a cause, the contrast between Meles Zenawi’s cowardice actions to destabilize the peace of the people makes Menghistu Hailemariam’s zealous ideology to defend the country’s territorial integrity patriotic. By this ideologically driven patriotic standard, the willful encouragement of Eritrea to secede is a treasonous act willfully executed under the leadership of Meles Zenawi.

What the leadership members of the former Ethiopian government are guilty of executing, the entire Ethiopian student movement members, including Meles Zenawi, who subscribed to the motto of land to the tiller, are guilty of collaborating. It is not a secret that the feudal system in Ethiopia that the student movement and the leadership members of the former Ethiopian government helped bring to an end was overwhelmingly rejected by the Ethiopian people and its perpetrators found guilty in public court. That ideological fight was one that the parties in the current conflict willingly partook even though today one of the parties doesn’t seem to have the courage to stand up for what it stood up for when the accused party was leading the political showdown.

It is unfortunate that the rich Ethiopian tradition loses its value on the dawn of its Renaissance by a clique that professes to have accepted this quest that wise members of our community have charted. This clique has no moral high ground to orchestrate the pardoning of its historical opponents by denying the Ethiopian public, and, more importantly, the aggrieved the chance to hear from the perpetrators. This goes to not only those aggrieved Ethiopians under the leadership of the former Ethiopian government but also under the current Ethiopian government. If Menghistu’s government’s extrajudicial punishment of perceived or real wrongdoings is criminal, Meles' clique’s creation of a semblance of judicial system through an extrajudicial means should be no less criminal. The argument from some quarters that the entire process should be looked at as a national issue and the aggrieved should forgo their right to hear from the perpetrators and be healed is to commoditize the sacred life and family values; this desecrates the rich Ethiopian tradition. Anything short of the will of the aggrieved under both governments should be considered a travesty of justice on treason, history, and ideology to expedite setting the precedence for a utilitarian pardon, which the clique in the current Ethiopian government is likely to need more than the leadership members in the former Ethiopian government.

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