Skip to content

Appeal to TPLF torture victims

By Teklemichael Sahlemariam

I do not doubt Ethiopian Review’s account of what happened to Artiste Debebe Eshetu and there is enormous evidence to suggest that TPLF agents abused him into confessing things he did not do. However, I do not agree with Elias Kifle’s suggestion of waiting for the victims to tell their story in their own time. I think we should urge and push the victims to speak about the abuse they went through, because that is the only guarantee for the other political prisoners.

If Birtukan told us and the world knew about what happened to her in jail, the TPLF would have though twice before trying to apply similar methods on Debebe. It is the silence of the victims that is encouraging and emboldening Woyannes to do it again and again. I do not see how Elias’s claim that victims of abuse, sodomy or any form of sexual assault “are too ashamed to tell even those closest to them,” because it is not something they did voluntarily. In fact, the shame and humiliation is on the perpetrators. Unless the victims speak out, how can we convince the world about our case? I wish Elias Kifle had encouraged the victims to speak about their horrific experience and showed them how speaking about it to the world would free them and help to advance the struggle.

The TPLF is doing what even Apartheid South Africa did not do to the ANC leaders or other political detainees. First, they make arrests alleging some terrorist plot, and then they torture the detainees to produce involuntary confessions and statements as evidence. That has been the TPLF regime’s modus operandi over two decades. They arrested the opposition leaders and journalists after the 2005 election and coerced them into signing a confession and an apology statement for crimes they did not comit. They arrested Birtukan Mideksa in December 2008 for almost two years and forced her (I do not think Birtukan would said what she said voluntarily) to admit on television that she regretted her denial of asking for pardon. And they did similar things to Debebe last week.

In Bereket Simon’s “Akeldama” documentary, something that struck me the most was that although when they detained the Andualem and others a few months ago they claimed to have adequate evidence, there is nothing in the video that shows the basis for their terrorism charge. Every alleged “evidence” they showed on the video is something they found after the arrest. We all know that not only does TPLF lie, but they also fabricate lies and force their victims to lie. The best prevention we have is telling the stories of brutality they perpetrated against the victims, such as Birtukan Mideksa, Debebe Eshetu and others, as they happen. If those who passed through these humiliating practices speak publicly about their experience, it will tilt the balance to our side.

Even a year after Birtukan was released, we do not know anything about what happened to her inside the jail that made her admit the crime she did not commit, other than the solitary confinement. I am not underestimating the solitary confinement. I also do not believe that Birtukan made a confession of the crime she did not commit in front of a camera only because of a solitary confinement. Because based on the story we knew, Birtukan allegedly made the confession long time after she came out of solitary confinement. Since we have not heard anything from her, other than some of the fragments of minor evils she told us about on a couple of occasions, we can only guess or speculate what happened to her. If we succeed in convincing Birtukan to tell her story to the world, then that will be one more piece of evidence of the cruelties this TPLF/EPRDF commits, and it will put the TPLF on the defensive. That will also help our heroes who are currently in jail.

Elias also said in his remark that he would do the same if he is in Debebe’s position. I would do the same if I were Birtukan or Debebe, too. However, I do not agree with Elias’s remark in our private email exchanged that “some people are criticizing me for even writing about Debebe Eshetu’s situation. Right now I want to focus on Woyanne, so I am trying to minimize controversial issues such as this.”

I have two answers for that. First, these days, I do not understand why politician and activists fear to confront controversial issues head-on. For example, TPLF is says working with Eritrea as a great sin, because we are not promoting the idea openly. The TPLF does whatever it wants clandestinely and it does not have a moral, political and legal integrity to set the standard of patriotism for us. Secondly, unless we are brave enough to promote controversial ideas openly, I do not think we will win support to our side when we engage in controversial projects. The Eritrean issue I mentioned earlier is a good example. Furthermore, there will always be some controversial ideas however hard we try to avoid them. If the thing you wrote about Debebe’s family being threatened with sodomy with a bottle or any form of sexual assault is controversial, it is not your problem; it is the problem of those who find it controversial. It is the problem of the TPLF that abused the prisoners and threatened to harm their families.

I know as usual some people will try to distort what I wanted to say. I am not by any means judging any one. In fact, as Birtukan herself told me to my face a few months ago, I may not have the moral capacity to judge these people or anybody for that matter. But, I believe that a politician’s position or action is open to criticism or judgement and I am only making political assessment or judgement. Politicians also consent to be judged when they enter to politics, as Dr Berhanu Nega agreed with me a few months ago.

Unless the people who experienced TPLF’s brutality tell us what exactly happened to them, Reyot, Eskindir, Andualem, Beqele, Woubshet, Olbana and other political detainees are next in line for brutalization and confessions of the crime they did not commit.

I appeal to them to speak out.

(You can reach the writer at [email protected])

7 thoughts on “Appeal to TPLF torture victims

  1. I agree with Teklemariom Sahilemariom,”It is the silence of the victims that is encouraging and emboldening Woyannes to do it again and again.” Let alone individuals our coutry Ethiopia already has sodomozed. We should break this unnecessary silince (HAFRET) and shOULD talk the reality to the world and ethipians. I belive this could born new Ethipian hero.

  2. To confess or not to confess; to be or not be. That is the question. :)

    It seems to be easy and simple matter asking torture victims to stand witness as case against torturer tyrants.

    But we forget the living fact that torture victims are very much diverse, with regard to friendship and support networks, individual personalities and mental make ups, age grades, educational levels, family makes ups, income levels, ethnic affiliations, religious affiliations as well as a lot of other more relevant variables.

    Add to these lots of what kind of mentally and physically deep freezing Pol Pot-Stalin-Hitler-Enver Hohxa torture techniques they have directly and indirectly gone through, that is to say, what sorts of mental psychological and physical tortures and brain manipulations they have experienced which may inhibit their free willing normal and open expression of their ordeal in public.

    To be able to talk, torture victims need support and defreezing assistance in secure and free atmosphere. You can hardly impose from externally from the outside. Those who tale their ordeals freely are people with strong personality, sufficiently conscious, have sufficient near and far support and security networks. Place yourself in Debebe Ishetu’s place or try to go through what he has gone through and then come out to talk and try to talk afterwords. Only then you may understand as to what I am talking about.

    Add to these again the feeble and unreliable current levels of lousy opposition unity to do anything viable in favor of the country and the people as a whole even compared to those Torture Mafias.

    Fist better put once home in order, and then convince the people and the tortured to come out and u what they are being requested to for the country and themselves.

  3. It is bad enough that they have been tortured by the regime why would we want them to relive that horrible experience again and again? Please lets us refrain from such demands unless we are a professionals ready to help torture victims integrate well in this society and make their already damaged lives better We should leave them alone to cope with their problems in their own way and time as suggested above. Lets not say, “Show me your scars from what they allegedly have done to you.”
    To continue to do that will only make us no different from those who enjoy to read about the sufferings of others in the tabloids and who watch shows of that nature just to make themselves feel better.
    Lets not salivate to know ‘the truth – ጎጂ ወሬና አሉባልታ’ about what has been done to these victims. We will only be making their victimization to continue and to get worse. Lets leave Birtukan alone.

  4. A documentary is for reality based films. In Hollywood, Akeldama it is called “Mockumentary” that is a mocking/satirical material presented as a non-fiction narration.

  5. I agree 100% with the writers analyses about Birtukan Mideksa’s silence I personally blame her for her silence I am sure it had contributed for others to be treated badly so Birtukan and Tedros Kassa must speak or shut their mouth forever remember Solomon Teka use to be an enemy of TPLF so if Birtukan Mideksa does continue to hold her jail time situation we should thank Birtukan for her past and forget her for the rest just like Solomon Teka. I personally have done my best by emailing to different USA officials including to Yamamoto so even though I was not in jail with her I have tried everything in my power so Birtukan has the responsibility to tell what had happened to her at the TPLF jail. I actually have heard from people that she has been raped by different individuals I am sure if it is true or false Elias can you ask her why she is holding please.

  6. Totally I do not agree with the idea of telling what happened to former prisoners in TPLF jail. These prisoners had moral value and religious culture, they need an institution which take care of such problems. Being living in Western culture where help is adquate and professional are in place. It is hard to speak of people living in Ethiopia. On ESAT mr Mokenen Zelem had made it clear the sex culture of TPLF. From that interview any person can guess their dirty sex.

  7. It looks like there is fishing expedition to find more facts or more ugliness on the ugliest face of woyane or a.k.a crime syndicate. Better look for family members of brutally tortured and massacred people in the last twenty some years and take the case to the UN or international court or tribunal ASAP. For example follow the blood trail of the testimony of Dr Aregawi Berhe, Ato Mekonnen, the victim’s head blown by Samora Yunis, innumerable cadres shot by Meles and his gang in the field and in the bank roberry hostage theatre… and so on and so on.
    Does any one has the stamina to follow this trail???
    Please please leave the tortured victims alone since they in the survival instinct mode.
    Just be civilized and have common sense.

    It will be less aggravating if you you you in the so-called opposition take these certified criminals to court or at the end hang them from the highest tree just like the good old days,

Leave a Reply