Ethiopia's human rights defender is ordered to defend by Sham Trial

In a remarkable precedent in Ethiopian legal history, the court in charge of the treason trial of CUD leaders, independent journalists and civil society members ruled today that Andargachew Tsgie, Mesfin Aman and Elias Kifle, The publisher of Ethiopian Review Website, are guilty of outrage against the TPLF constitutional order even before they are given a chance to defend their case.Although both of them are tried in absentia, they still have a constitutional right to defend their case.
The court either dropped or dismissed the case against other defendants who are tried in diaspora including Tamagne Beyene, Negede Gobeze, Abreha Belai, the publisher of Ethiomedia website, and Brehane Mewa.
Civil society leaders and the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) campaign coordinators, Daniel Bekele, a lawyer and policy manager of the ActionAid office in Ethiopia, and Netsanet Demissie, an environmental and human rights lawyer and chair of the Organisation for Social Justice in Ethiopia, were also ordered to defend their case. However, Kassahun Kebede, chairperson of the Addis Ababa branch of Education Iinternational(EI) affiliate, Ethiopian Teachers' Association (ETA) was set free.
Ethiopia's greatest civil rights advocate, a retired geography professor and author, an internationally-known human rights defender and the founder and former chair of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) for 14 years, Professor Mesfin Woldemariam was also ordered to defend the charge of outrage against the constitutional order. The court reasoned that eventhough as a non-member of the CUD council he didn't have collective responsiblity, professor Mesfin had made speeches advocating the dismantling of the constitutional order and institutions.
The Kangaroo trial continues on Monday.

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at7:08 PM


Blogger nicola said...

Jimmy Carter
The Carter Center
One Copenhill
453 Freedom Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30307

Dear President Carter,

My friend Yalemzewd Bekele is a human rights attorney in Ethiopia. She was arrested and detained in October of last year for simply exercising her free speech and fulfilling her duties as an attorney (see the BBC News for October 27, 2006 at

Amnesty International came to her aide and she was later nominated by the Index on Censorship for its "Bindman’s Law and Campaigning Award."

Democracy in Ethiopia is under attack by its own leadership. This comes as a huge disappointment to the world community and to me individually. I had the honor of being invited to Ethiopia in 1996 with Education for Democracy International and The American Federation of Teachers to train fellow teachers in Civics Education. I had high hopes for the government of Meles Zenawi and Ethiopia. I was holding out hope despite constant criticism from dissidents that Ethiopia would ultimately work out its problems as a nascent democracy and emerge a beacon of tolerance and freedom. I was in denial. I am now all too aware of the path President Zenawi has taken and it will lead to dictatorship.

I think you ought to reassess your conclusions about the 2005 elections in light of the violent crackdown on dissent following it. I believe your report, your good name and the reputation of The Carter Center are being manipulated by the Ethiopian government to abuse human rights in Ethiopia.

Please open a dialogue with the opposition to assess their views and also check the news about the detentions and killings that followed peaceful demonstrations.

You are the voice of human rights for America throughout the world. No president in the post World War II era has had a bigger impact on the everyday lives of millions of people, especially in Latin America with regard to human rights.

I follow your work in the developing world and am inspired. Please do not sit silently as Ethiopia deteriorates and looses its hope for democracy. I am requesting the honor of meeting with you to further discuss my concern for Ethiopia and the treatment of Yalemzewd Bekele.

Sincerely yours,
Nicola A. DeMarco, JD
195 Prospect Park West, Apt 2D
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215

cc: Meles Zenawi, President of Ethiopia

8:45 PM  

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