Arba_Gorash wrote:Ethiopia: Mekelle University President “Muslim Students are Illegal and Going to be Punished”
In my reporting on the situation that was unfolding in Mekelle university, it was made mention of the hope of many of the Muslim students that they would be provided with a chance to discuss the situation with the university officials. Unfortunately, this hope of peace loving students had remained as it was. The students Dean office rejected any attempt by students to discuss and see together for any way out. In stead, it opted to effect its imposed rule and regulation, a decision which don’t have any room to take into account the need of its students.
Through a letter written on Hidar 11, 2000 the office of Students Dean gave a last warning letter to 12 representatives of the Muslim students. The letter which is an insult to the institution and higher learning in Ethiopia, the office described the students effort to practice their religion “illegal”. A copy of one of the letters sent to one of students is presented below.Warning letter given to Muslim Students of Mekelle University
Since the office of students dean sent its written warning to Muslim student representatives, the university continued taking further measures against the students. On Friday, Nov. 23, 2007, the place where students usually pray their Friday prayer was occupied by Police. They were then prevented from praying. As the number of students who came to pray increased, however, they changed their stand and allowed students to observe their Friday pray. So far so good! Can any one guess what would happen next?
No second passed after the students finished their prayer when they found themselves surrounded by police from all directions. They were then told with uncompromising words to leave the place immediately and never try to come back again. They were told right at the spot that all of them are “illegal students who attempt to transcend the law and regulation of the university”.
Students request to meet the university’s president was rejected. They have however received his message through representative from the office of students council. The president’s message stated that “all these students are illegal“ and he “is not going to discuss with them about any thing. They are all going to be punished.”
After receiving the presidential message, an offer the students council gave for the students (to elect three representatives and discuss the issue with the officials) did not appear plausible to the students. As far as they are concerned decision is already taken and all are declared illegal. After this they did no see any reason to agree to this deal and elect representatives. The students told the council representative that they all are entitled to seat in any discussion and if the university officials do not consider them worthy of discussing with them, there would not be any reason why they send representatives. The students then held a lengthy discussion among themselves on possibilities they are left with. They finally agreed that under the prevailing condition where all are declared “Illegal”, they can not stay in the campus. They then left the compound until such time that they are considered legal and worth of being considered as “equal citizens who have the right to education and religious freedom”. “The prevailing situation and the position held by the officials”, they observed ”is that no one is welcome as long as he or she is a Muslim.”
According to sources close to the administration, while students were deliberating on their options, university officials put on waiting external force - possibly from the military - which would use force to bring “these illegals” to prison should they decide to stay in the campus. This force, which still is not known as far as its precise composition was, was on its way to the university by the time students left the compound.
The latest info. negashi OJ (Saturday midday) received indicate that over 400 male students are gathered in the grand Mosque of Mekelle city. The city Muslim population came out and took the female students to their homes.
The same source indicates that the Muslims community of the city is very much disappointed with the action the university had taken.
Sources indicated further that the university may dismiss the 12 Muslim students whom it considers organizers of the students’ activities and issued a written warning on Thursday (letter above).
The speculation that other universities in the country may soon follow suit and take similar action is getting stronger. Similar attempt was made by the Haramaya university and in Addis Ababa Arat Kilo University. In Haramaya students were already told to stop praying in Jama’a while in Arat killo campus police chief told students that their gathering for prayer is “illegal”. No formal action is yet taken.http://blog.ethiopianmuslims.net/negashi/?p=178