A call for international intervention in Ethiopia

by Anonymous
I am a Canadian citizen who has just returned from Ethiopia where I was working with two American journalists. My initial intention was to research a specific aid initiative, but instead found myself immediately consumed by the unfolding political events.
I am writing to share my deep concern about the current political situation in Ethiopia and the severe and ongoing human rights violations that are occurring there.
In the past month, I have witnessed increasing police (government) brutality in response to the publication and distribution of an Amharic book called “The Dawn of Freedom” written from prison by (mayor-elect) Berhanu Nega. Though there has been no ‘official statement’ issued yet regarding this book, it has become a serious crime punishable by severe beatings and arrests/imprisonments to have one in your possession! There were frequent ‘random searches’ throughout the city, and almost nightly road-blocks, serving the same purpose. I have also heard disturbing stories - from very credible sources - of children who were caught selling the book in the street being mercilessly beaten.

However, despite such oppression, the book is rapidly circulating throughout the country. It seems everyone in Addis had a copy (necessarily disguised, of course) or had read it. At least nine secret study groups to discuss this book’s content had started up throughout the city. Through our random interviews of people locally and observations of events, we learned that this book (not yet available in English) is a political manifesto of sort - outlining the democratic principles of the CUD opposition party - and an inspirational message of peace and hope that urges all citizens to take individual responsibility for their freedom. It was truly amazing to see through Western eyes the kind of hope and courage this book so quickly inspired throughout the country!
In the past few weeks, a ‘civil disobedience’ calendar has also been released - suggesting 14 non-violent actions such as boycotts citizens can take since peaceful public demonstrations are no longer possible. It too is being circulated throughout the country, and the government response has been equally severe. It is reported that three students have already been killed for merely ‘distributing the calendar’, and dozens more are arrested every day. I just learned that a businessman and a friend of Berhanu Nega whom we met during our travel, Allemayou Fantu, has been arrested on 10/05/06 on grounds of ‘distributing the calendar’. This is a complete farce and appallingly unacceptable! We are very concerned that he has been or will be tortured as he was reportedly taken to “Enkulal Fabrika”, a notorious ‘torture chamber’ we learned about during my trip. I ask you to please call your government officials in the world for their intervention and to press for his release. Such extreme and brutal government actions simply cannot be allowed to escalate like this - there MUST be international intervention! I am growing more concerned everyday for the safety of many good friends I met there that remain in the country.
As a Canadian citizen with no former ties to Ethiopia, I am absolutely shocked and deeply saddened by what I discovered in this country. I am currently in the process of compiling a report on our findings and will share with the public at large just how urgently the situation requires an international intervention.

I would like to remain anonymous but can be reached through info@berhanunega.com

Source: Ethiomedia

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at6:16 AM

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