Wednesday, October 28, 2015

British Father On Death Row In Ethiopia Tells UK: "Bury Me In England" - BuzzFeed News

In a meeting with the UK ambassador to Ethiopia, Andargachew Tsege told his family to “be brave”.

Andargachew Tsege with his wife Yemi and their three children. Supplied
A British man currently on death row in Ethiopia has asked the UK ambassador to make sure that he is buried in England during a meeting that highlighted serious concerns over the handling of his case and his treatment in prison.
BuzzFeed News has seen a redacted copy of notes written by ambassador Greg Dorey of his meeting with Andargachew Tsege, 59, at Kality prison near Addis Ababa on 15 October.
Tsege, a father of three from north London, was snatched by Ethiopian security forces at an airport in Yemen last June while he was waiting for a flight to Eritrea. He was taken to Ethiopia having been sentenced to death in his absence for allegedly plotting a coup and planning to kill Ethiopian officials, allegations he denies.
Campaigners claim the real reason he faces execution is that he fell out with former prime minister Meles Zenawi after exposing government corruption.
Dorey writes in his notes that Tsege told him his status in Kality Prison was odd, “since he had no ‘warrant number’ (i.e. prisoner number), so he was ‘not even in the system’”.
Nothing had been said to Tsege about charges against him, Dorey writes, and so a formal charge sheet had been demanded. “He had only heard on radio, TV and the internet about previous charges against him,” Dorey says, “and had the right to know why he was in prison.”
The notes continue: “At this point he became a little more emotional. He said he would ‘take his own measures … I will not allow myself to be debased and dehumanised’ (no further details).”
The ambassador’s notes conclude:
I asked if he had messages for the family. He said “Hello, be brave”. He did not want “complications”. Finally, he asked us to ensure he was “buried in England” – it was important for children to know where their parent/s ended up. I said I would come and see him in a month. He commented that I had said that last time and then had been unable to visit until now, but he fully realised that was not my fault. I said I had been given a high-level promise that a visit in a month would be possible.
Tsege told the ambassador he was sleeping in a small cell with three other people and had not been outside the prison at any point. He said he was occasionally being visited by his 90-year-old father and his stepmother.
He said he picked up news from listening to other inmates’ TVs, and expressed surprise that his MP, Jeremy Corbyn, was now leader of the Labour party – “interesting, obviously the party is moving to the Left”.
He spoke at length to the ambassador about his political views. Dorey’s notes read:
He [said he was] was a prisoner of political masters but they were not applying the relevant regulations properly to him. Yet he was one of their friendliest critics, who understood them better than anyone and they shouldn’t demean him. He had served the regime in the past whole-heartedly and left it on principle. Some problems had since been resolved, others were still real…
When they had beaten and insulted him before in 2005 he had had no reason to go into opposition politics and was not even a member of the opposition – nor had he supported them. And actually Meles himself had said Ethiopia needed a “good opposition”. He had only spoken about politics by peaceful means.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ethiopia opposition groups say they are uniting for change - US News

By RODNEY MUHUMUZA, Associated Press
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Five Ethiopian dissident groups in exile said they have formed an alliance to bring a change of government back home, describing Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn's government as oppressive.
The new group is called the People's Alliance for Freedom and Democracy, according to a joint statement issued Friday in Oslo, Norway, where the groups met recently.
The alliance was formed by the Benishangul People's Liberation Movement, the Gambella People's Liberation Movement, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, the Oromo Liberation Front and the Sidama National Liberation Front, the statement said.
"The (alliance) will create an opportunity for all peoples in Ethiopia to co-create a transitional political order that is based on the consent of all peoples, where the outmoded hegemonic culture of a single group dominating the rest is dismantled and a new just political order is established, where the respect of the right to self-determination is genuinely granted to all," the statement said. The group said it "will conduct diplomatic, advocacy, information and other campaigns to change the current undemocratic political culture and oppressive system in Ethiopia."
Ethiopia's ruling party won every seat in parliament in May elections, raising questions about the credibility and fairness of the polls in a country whose government is accused by human rights organizations of harassing and jailing its opponents.
Human rights groups criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for visiting Ethiopia in July, saying his trip lent legitimacy to an oppressive government.
At the time, Prime Minister Desalegn defended Ethiopia's commitment to democracy and said the country needs "ethical journalism," not reporters that work with "terrorist groups."
Ethiopia is the world's second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa, after Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
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