The Inhumane Caging of a Heroine to Escape from the Responsibility of Criminal Actions
October 10, 2010
On December 27, 2008, Judge Birtukan Mideksa wrote to the public a brief testimony about the negotiation processes between the former Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) leadership members and Meles Zenawi, the extremely controversial Prime Minister of Ethiopia, after the former were jailed subsequent to the mysterious circumstances following the 2005 legislative elections in Ethiopia. In that testimony, she clearly expressed how she upholds the rule of law by unequivocally stating that the supremacy of law or constitutional government is the grand value that she always lives for, stands for, sometimes imprisoned for, and released.
In that historical testimony, she further wrote: “It is my belief that it doesn't appear that I am subjected to all this unlawful order and scaring because of playing with words, or distorted truth, or a law that was broken. The message is clear; not only for me, but also for all peaceful compatriots. That the possibility to engage in a peaceful and constitutional political struggle is possible not according to the outline in the constitution but only according to the will of the ruling party or individuals. It is very hard for me to submit or say yes to this.”
She was immediately put back in jail. For any individual with conscience and integrity, hers come through loud and clear. Many international human rights organizations and reports, including Amnesty International and the U.S. Department of State’s Human Rights Report, have found her a Prisoner of Conscience. We are yet to learn about her ordeal in jail for nearly two additional years.
However, a poem she wrote during her previous incarceration gives us a glimpse of the inhumane conditions to which she was subjected. Below is a translation by Finfinne Times of one of her poems that she wrote in jail.
Go ahead, exhaust your power on me
You are being cruel
Show it on me
Bring on something new
Fully reveal your wild nature
To please yourself in my suffering
For the sake of my dream, to be exemplary
Let me die today if necessary
I was jailed and came here because of it
It is not a load on me, it is my vision
This life of yours, your wild nature
Here is my chest for your cheap bullet
There won't be sorrow
It will be my virtue
Let me tell you, raising my head high
You snatched me from among the people
Speed up, speed up, hurry, hurry
Leave everything in today's day
Of course, tomorrow is not yours
It has escaped from your hands
It has passed, it is not here
It is my baby's that I bore
That I brought to this world through painful labor
Of the star
Of Halle [name of Birtukan's daughter]
The shining one
Her world has no residue
Since you have drained it
Propelled and brought
It was after Judge Birtukan Mideksa wrote her prophetic testimony back in 2008 that the 2010 legislative elections in Ethiopia were conducted and Meles Zenawi’s ruling party claimed to have won 99.6% of the seats in Ethiopia’s parliament, wiping out virtually every alternative political party seat. When Meles was recently asked at Columbia University how it was possible for his party to win 99.6% of the election results, he shamefully responded that his party won not 99.6% of the votes but the seats, revealing his deceitful modus operandi, not the reality, at one of the premier educational institutions in the world.
Days after forming a new government out of a pool of loyalist party members that gave him this utterly unrealistic 99.6% victory, especially given the political arrangements in Ethiopia in recent times, he quietly released Judge Birtukan Mideksa from where he had her caged and possibly tortured psychologically in an inhumane manner. What is revealing about this possibility is what is written in a purportedly pardon request by Birtukan.
According to this letter that is being circulated by Meles’s mouthpieces, Judge Birtukan Mideksa requested a pardon from the Prime Minister for “misleading the Ethiopian people and government”. Interestingly, this is an alibi that Meles himself needs more than Birtukan by any stretch of the imagination. There are ample documented evidences that show the political dealings of Meles in Ethiopia for a long time, which have been misleading the Ethiopian people and his own government. In his recent book titled Liberty and Justice in Ethiopia, Seye Abraha, Meles’s longtime deputy, has amply documented the latter’s deeds, especially during the Ethiopia-Eritrean war of 1998 to 2000 that reportedly cost the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers recruited from the Ethiopian people’s poor families. In his own words, Meles titled his unpublished manuscript “dead ends and new beginnings”, sometime after the 2005 legislative elections. We have documented how he has been trying hard at soft landing from his dealings prior to the 2005 legislative elections as well as his orders in its aftermath that left nearly 200 people dead in an inhumane manner.
As the Oromo saying goes, look not where you fell, but where it was slippery. Evidently, Meles seems not ready to look back to see where it was slippery to take responsibility and not afraid to trek along his self-imposed slippery path to escape from it in history books. In doing so, he hasn’t failed so far to leave behind a trace of his unwitting revelations along the way that can be compiled in a voluminous history book for the world to learn from and judge as well as for psychologists to research about his persona and what drives it. Judge Birtukan Mideksa has become a legend for an embodiment of a civic virtue that she clearly expressed ready to die for honorably. No amount of inhumane treatment of her to rush away from the shackle of responsibility of misleading the Ethiopian people and his own pool of loyalists will ever erase that civic virtue.
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