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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ethiopia: November 1st, 2005 - Remembering the events of that day


A day earlier – the EPRDF led government of Ethiopia issues a violent statement on state run radio and TV. This statement drew parallels between the Rwandan Interehamwe militia and the popularly elected CUD leaders who, in reality, were advocates of a peaceful resistance. This statement leaves many angry and frustrated, what the government was trying to do was becoming obvious. It was trying to discredit the elected leaders and justify its grip on power.

November 1st – The government dispatches armed security forces to watch high schools and universities to look for signs of opposition.

Addis Ketema high School (Merkato) - security forces encircle the school without any given warnings. Students of Addis Ketema High School start protesting; troops start shooting at students. Stand byers seeing the students were brutally being massacred - fearlessly join the high school students in protesting. Troops start shooting into the unarmed crowd indiscriminately. News of what happened in merkato is heard all over Addis. Angry citizens all over Addis Abeba join in on the protest.

Massacre – Members of the Agazi unite, special branch of the EPRDF military, erratically start spraying bullets on protesters. The following are news excerpts of events that transpired on that day.

USA Today - "The violence spread across the city of 3 million people, reaching the doorsteps of the British, French, Kenyan and Belgian embassies all located in different parts of the capital. Workers at U.N. headquarters were told not to leave their offices. "

Reuters - The wounds are in the most dangerous areas. There are no shots below the knee. There are shots on the chest, on the head and other dangerous parts," the doctor told.

"I was on my way home when police attacked me with a stick. I was running for my life when I was shot in the arm," said Hunegnaw Teferi, 25, receiving treatment at St Paul's Hospita

Associated press - Witnesses also said police fired assault rifles and lobbed grenades indiscriminately against civilians Wednesday. Among the victims was Arabia Abdul, who was wounded by shrapnel in her stomach and legs.

"The police were looking for rioters and burst into our compound. They fired tear gas and then threw a grenade," said her father, a 44-year-old daily laborer. "The police then started shooting in the compound. My daughter has never been in trouble with anyone."

Witness reporting from Addis- "I was in a Taxi (Mini bus) on the way Abenet to Central Bus station. The area was not quite. The driver gets stopped, and then the soldiers arrived immediately. They took him out of the cabin. I do not know what he did wrong. They beat him hard & thrown him over the Police truck. All the passengers, including me jumped out of the mini bus. Following there was shooting. We run away. When I turn to a narrow street to the village I tried to see back many people were falling down. This was a tragic event for me in my life. Civilians get shot down by armed forces."

Arrest of the elected leaders - Police start arresting CUD (the opposition) leaders, including CUD's President Hailu Shawel, VP. Judge Birtukan Mideksa, Professor Mesfin W/Mariam (human rights activist), Engineer Gizachew Shiferaw, Dr Yacob Hailemariam, Dr Berhanu Nega, Dr Hailu Araia, judge Dr Befekadu Degifie, Tamru Gulilat, Major Melaku Admassie and many others. Ethiopia's civic organization leaders, members of the free press and human rights advocates are also hunted down and arrested.

At the end of the day; countless bodies lay in morgues in hospitals all over Addis, hundreds were left disfigured for life. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia calls the killings necessary and a few days’ later charges the arrested elected leaders of the CUD with genocide.

Also read:
-Ethiopian security forces massacred protesters: Associated Press
-Ethiopian forces killed 193 unarmed protesters: CNN
-Ethiopian protesters 'massacred': BBC

Interview of Judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha
By EMF and ethioguardian
Translation by Fikirte Hagos, ETP

.....On July 4 (sene 27), 2006, we voted 8 to 2 that the government has taken excessive force against civilians.

.....At this point it became clear to us that we were in trouble but we stayed around until 6 PM. After this some people around the office started to say “How can you sit quietly. You know you’re surrounded.” Alarmed and aware that we were in danger, we all retreated to our lodgings. We all went to the same hotel except for the Chairperson who lived there and headed home for the night. When we got to our hotel, there were also a number of new faces there we didn’t see before. We asked the owner of the hotel and he even responded that he didn’t know who these people were. Interestingly this was June, the time of the world cup and people, including myself, were all eager to see the games. However the power outage didn’t make this possible and it continued through out the night and finally came back, I think, around 5 A.M. (More...)

(Poem by Mamush M)