[dehai-news] (AI) US Congr. Payne: Ethio govt must release political prisoners or meet Mengistu's fate

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From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (eritrea.lave@comhem.se)
Date: Sat Jan 10 2009 - 22:11:43 EST

Payne Calls for the Immediate Release of Ethiopian Political Prisoners
Congressman Donald Payne, Tenth District.- NewJersey / January 9, 2009
For Immediate Release, Contact: Kerry McKenney - (202) 225~3436

Washington, DC - Congressman Donald M. Payne, Chairman of the
Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, issued the following statement
"I am concerned over the continued targeting and imprisonment of
innocent civilians by the Ethiopian government.
Ms. Birtukan Mideksa, one of the most prominent political leaders and a
staunch human rights advocate, has been imprisoned for the second time
by the Ethiopian government. Ms. Mideksa, a freedom fighter and a
courageous leader, has faced untold suffering over the past several
I first met Ms. Mideksa in Kality prison in 2006. Ms. Birtukan Mideksa
is on a hunger strike and unfortunately has been separated from her
young child. "
In October 2007, shortly after her release from prison, Ms. "Mideksa
stated in a testimony before my subcommittee that, 'The period
immediately preceding the May 2005 elections was an extraordinary time
in Ethiopia's history. For the first time in Ethiopia's history, the
seeds of democracy were planted throughout the land, and on May 15th,
Ethiopians came out by. the millions to harvest a bounty of democracy.
'Unfortunately, instead of democracy, 193 Ethiopian civilians were
killed and many more injured by Ethiopian security forces in
demonstrations following the May 2005 elections. Additionally, more than
10,000 people were detained in the aftermath of the elections. According
to the Independent Commission of Inquiry, the government used excessive
force against civilians.
Ms. Birtukan also said in her testimony that, '.the most basic agreement
we reached with the Elders to secure our release was nullified and used
by the government for mind-numbing propaganda to isolate the CUDP [the
Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party] from the public and to instill
fear in the public so that it will refrain from supporting the party.'
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Birtukan powerfully stated,'It will not
be easy for all of us to confront the past. We must try embracing the
rule of law and respect for human rights and democracy. The time is ripe
for democratization in Ethiopia.'
I strongly urge the Government of Ethiopia to immediately release Ms.
Birtukan Mideksa and other political prisoners, open the political
space, and respect the rule of law. I will work closely with the
incoming Obama Administration to ensure respect for human rights,
regional stability, and the promotion of democracy in Ethiopia. The
Ethiopian government must realize that brutality and repression will
never succeed in crushing the aspiration for democracy and freedom.
Either one must embrace democracy and rule of law or face the same fate
of the Mengistu's of this world."
Click belo for Pdf Version of The Press Release


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