Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Take No Break !!

While we join our voices to those of concerned humanity in the demand for immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Ethiopia, my foremost concern is in the fate of our dear friend Kifle Tigeneh and those charged with him, to whom we bow our heads in respect for the heroism and self sacrifice and whom the fascist oppressors intend to add to their sinister constellation of crimes. We shall not rest until he, his compatriots and all other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia are released, and until Ethiopia is liberated from the TPLF rule.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Freedom Isn't Free


Our leaders have shown their willingness to endure imprisonment, torture, even risk death itself for the promised benefits and blessings of liberty. Failure to pay that price would only serve to destroy that liberty.
Democracy means fighting everyday for what you deserve, and fighting even harder to keep those weaker groups of our people get what they deserve. Democracy is people of all races, colours, and creeds united by a single dream. Democracy means never having the TPLF secret police show up at your door. Freedom and democracy come with a price tag. Some of the price has been paid on July 20, 2007.

God’s Compassion is the freedom of our body
God’s Concern is the freedom of our dwelling
God’s Love is the freedom of our life.

To all my 38 friends, thank you for your courage and your bravery. Thank you for your endurance.

Kinijit Ashenefowal

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Women’s Human Rights & the Need for Political Reform

In Ethiopia, human rights violations against women remain rampant because they are largely hidden. Since 1991 a growing number of people whom Amnesty International and other human rights organizations consider to be prisoners of conscience, including journalist and civic society leaders have been arrested and sentenced on different false charges. The TPLF leadership claim that there are no political prisoners in the country. Of course, this is far from the truth. The TPLF leadership routinely imprison and sexually abuse women. TPLF’s, systematic torture and rape against women have been used as an instrument of political repression. While dissidents with a high profile may in general enjoy some protection from severe torture, for women, high profile means more vulnerability to torture and sexual violence.

As we all know, Criminal laws are used as provisions to jail political oppositions but the most common reason in almost all cases has been their political views, ethnic origins, language or social origin. In the aftermaths of May 2005 election, people have been jailed under other provisions in the Criminal law on charges of “disturbing public order”, “hooliganism”, “assembling a crowd to disturb public order” etc. The vague language of many of these provisions permits the prosecution and conviction of anyone whose words, actions or associations can be constructed as disruptive of public order, or critical of official policies. A growing number of Ethiopian women have been arrested for non-violent offences often without appearing in any formal justice system.

In our country, torture is inflicted on political and common criminal prisoners alike. Anyone is at risk if they cross the TPLF authorities. Since May 2005, hundreds of mothers who are not suspected of any crime have been arrested and even tortured simply because they were involved in arguments with the police while attempting to protect their children from being illegally arrested. Female victims of human right violations come from all walks of life and include young girls, mothers and the elderly. The most vulnerable to human rights abuses are the less educated or less privileged, such as peasants, the unemployed and vagrants. Of course, women are overrepresented in all these social categories. Today, many wives are suffering for refusing to accept quietly the wrongful jailing or killing of their husbands. They face not just harassement and repression from the TPLF authorities, but also daily worry about their spouses' health in prison and how to keep the family going.

The routinely torture methods used against women are: severe beatings, fisting with a variety of instruments, whipping, kicking, the use of handcuffs or leg-irons in ways that cause intense pain, and suspension by the arms, often combined with beatings, hanging up-side down, the use of electronic wires which gives powerful electric shock in sensitive body parts (often combined with sexual violence), and immersing into frozen water container.

For millions of Ethiopian Women, TPLF has only meant terror, rape, deprivation and the imperative of fighting for justice. Today, what unites Ethiopian women nationally and internationally – transcending class, race, culture, religion, nationality and ethnic origin – is their vulnerability to abuse of their fundamental human rights, and their dedicated efforts to claim those rights. In addition to torture perpetrated by the TPLF authorities, physical, sexual and psychological violence in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children, in some areas custom of dowry-related violence, marital rape “telefa” and female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices harmful to women. Other abuses are non-spousal violence, and violence related to exploitation, physical, sexual and physiological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking especially to the Middle-East and “forced” prostitution.

Now is the right time that the extent and severity of such human rights violation against women are recognized if we are fully to address the context human rights violation in Ethiopia as a whole. By knowingly tolerating abuses such as violence, female genital mutilations and trafficking, the TPLF leadership itself has become part of both the domestic and public violence against women. Hence, these human rights abuses need political solutions.

In order to get solutions for these problems, both the civic organization and all the male-monopolized opposition parties, including, those Diaspora political movements need to consult women. Kinijit International Leadership (KIL) and those Kinijit Chapters should be pioneers in creating a political atmosphere that allows the voice of women is heard, including allowing women participate in the currently male-dominated leadership. One of the future visions of KIL and Kinijit Chapters should be to run programs through established civic organizations and NGOs in promoting development assistance projects for the implementation of human rights, particularly focusing on young girls in Ethiopia.

Today, no one is safe in Ethiopia. Torture against women is endemic. Thousands of political dissidents remain in jail simply for expressing their views. The world cannot ignore what is happening in Ethiopia. As the second most populated country in Africa, Ethiopia plays an increasingly significant role in global affairs and this international cooperation must include human rights issues. Women’s voices must be heard all over world: demanding justice, protesting against discrimination, claiming rights, morning dead husbands and comforting raped young daughters. The job of the opposition movements must be focused on human rights, ensuring that the world listen and making sure that the international community take action to promote women’s human rights in Ethiopia. The Diaspora should stand united and call the international community to take urgent steps to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of 77 million people.

Kinijit Yashenefal !!