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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Special Edition: Reactions to the Kangaroo court's Ruling


As promised, on today’s post we have for you reactions and comments from prominent Diaspora Ethiopians who are in the forefront of the struggle for democracy and human rights. The comments are posted in the order in which they were received.


Breakdown of the Summary Conviction Delivered by the Ethiopian Court


Statement by Donald Payne and Ana Gomes on the verdict


Kinijit International Leadership Press Release

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church


Reactions to the Kangaroo court's Ruling

Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam
(Ph.D., J.D. Professor of Political Science & Attorney at Law, Coalition for H.R 2003)

ETP -- Soon after we heard the news on the courts’ ruling yesterday, we asked professor Alemayehu what he thought of it. He had also just heard the news and we received his response shortly - passionate and raw.

This is what he said about his comments, “It is a very personal reaction, and I wanted it to be that way. I did not try to embellish it or otherwise make it philosophical or abstract. Except for typographical editing, the thoughts that you read were written as they came to me; and I did not even try to rearrange them”

Click here to read Professor Alemayehu's comment on the Kangaroo courts' ruling

Professor Mammo Muchie
(Chair of the Scandinavian chapter of the Network of Ethiopian Scholars; Professor and Director, DIR, Aalborg University)

"What God put together for the people to be living under one government between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean in Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, selfish and destructive elites fought to break it asunder.

The Kinjit phenomenon introduced a productive politics based on rule of law, respect for national values, togtherness, shared living, democracy, freedoms and above all a system for governance where those who govern will be governed by law under fixed terms for transition.

Those who have been unflinching in standing for such strong positions have been unjustly, unfairly, illegally, immorally and casually stentenced on triumped up charges and crimes based on a wilful degeneration of a political process into a legal matter. I condem the verdict and find it hugely insulting to any democratic norm, value and respect in the world."

Journalist Kinfu Assefa
(Editor of and Member of the Ethiopian free press)

"Many of us who were watching the current ETV peace and development propaganda were hoping that the regime would release all prisoners of conscience and open the door for dialogue in the upcoming Millennium. We now realize that this is easier said than done.

We can compare the kinijit court drama with that of Mandela and his companions who were put on trial facing serious trumped up charges carrying the death penalty. Nelson Mandela was tried by white racist judges. They used the judicial systems for bad politics. But they couldn't kill his spirit. The triumphant spirit of that charismatic leader rendered futile the attempts of the regime that tried to arrest the popular struggle.

Freedom and Democracy were on trial in Ethiopia. The widely condemned kangaroo court has found democracy guilty of fabricated charges. The next step is to sentence justice itself. It is very sad to see the court serving the regime as tool for spreading injustice and crime. But this will never hamper the popular movement which started in the May 2005 rigged elections. It will rather aggravate it."

Journalist Abraha Belai
(Editor and founder of and Member of the Ethiopian free press)

"The guilty verdict is the pinnacle of the bloody crackdown Meles Zenawi launched following his ignominious defeat at the May 2005 polls. The struggle now is how to liberate Ethiopia from an enemy whose self-acclaimed accountability is to Eritrea."

Lulit Mesfin
(chair of the Ethiopian-American Association of Portland, Senior Editor of

"Today’s ruling is a legal farce that is not worth the paper it is written on. The dictatorial, anti-Ethiopian regime of Meles Zenawi and his kangaroo court has neither the moral authority nor the legitimacy to convict the heroes and heroines of the Ethiopian democracy movement.

Hailu Shawel et al, the true patriotic sons and daughters of Ethiopia, have the proud and courageous Ethiopian people behind them. All Zenawi has is his guns, which he will use mercilessly against Ethiopians to stain his bloody hands even more."

Meron Ahadu
(Spokesperson for the International Ethiopian Women's Organization (IEWO); member of the Coalition for hr 2003, daughter of veteran journalist and diplomat, Ambassador Ahadu Sabure)

"The Kangroo Court found Kinijit leaders guilty today. Nothing new about that. Zenawi and his cohorts are being consistent in what they did on June 11. Over and over they have shown they are vindictive and small minded with no vision for Ethiopia and its people. To me it is wonderful news because it once again reaffirms the strength and tenacity of those in Kaliti dungeons. The Heroes in Kaliti have shown nothing will break them and that they will and/are resolute in their commitment to Justice and Democracy.

Today's ruling is wonderful news for those of us in the pro-democracy movement because it reaffirms our position that the lack of rule of law has been and is still prevalent in Ethiopia and that the whole judiciary system is rotten to the core and is not and will never be independent from Zenawi and its cliques' influence.

It is wonderful news because it shows that Zenawi and his cohorts are on their way out, they see that the end is fast approaching and are grasping at any straw to extend their days in power. They understand clearly that the Kinijit leaders in Kaliti have the love and respect of the Ethiopian people in Ethiopia and all over the world. What they don't understand is they cannot lock up the vision and spirit of the Kinijit leaders it is in the hearts of those that love and respect them. This love and respect, Zenawi and his cohorts will never see."(More..)

Dr. Dadimos Haile
(Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM), University of Antwerp, Belgium, former judge)

"There is a lot to be said about the ourageous travesty of justice that is dignified as a trial in Ethiopia. By all counts, however, yesterday's ruling demonstrates that the authorities have abondoned what little legalistic pretentions they used to project and embarked upon a new and audacious phase of lawlessness.

Elsewhere, let alone unjustly accused pro-democracy activists and dissidents, even duly charged war crime suspects are not convicted before they were given all the possibilities for defending themselves because, in criminal proceedings, it is justice itself that is at stake and not just this or that accused.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, for example, goes to the extent of appointing lawyers to present the defense's side of the case even against the will of the accused. In the up-side-down world of Ethiopian judges, however, all that is needed to convict the accused is a communication between prison officals and the judges. The accused have no oppotunity to refute what their jailers say about them in their own trial.

It is simply outrageous.

However, I would like to join others in reminding fellow Ethiopians that this shouldn't be a cause for dispair but for further mobilization. We should channel our outrage and anger to more constructive and creative ways of achieving jusitce in Ethiopia. We should learn from the South African Trials and the long and bitter struggle the people of that country went through. In the end, truth and justice shall prevail!!"

[Audio - Dr. Dadimos on VOA]

Journalist Abebe Gelaw
(Editor of, and Member of the Ethiopian free press)

"The guilty verdict passed by the widely condemned and ridiculed Kangaroo court presided by a hireling of Meles Zenawi called Adil Ahmed is not surprising at all in an empire of injustice.

The theatrical court staging the highly charged political drama was hastily constituted with the help of his butlers of injustice for the sole purpose of serving as an abortion clinic commandeered at the helm by the tyrant himself who is known to have absolute disregard to the whole nation he misrules. His hands are soaked with the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent souls that he has terminated and ruined in over three decades. Fortunately, his crimes are written all over his forehead.

No amount of guns, masks and propaganda can help him conceal his crimes and we won’t be scared away from declaring his guilt far and wide. The despicable tyrant, who is cock sure that he can deceive the whole world, has declared his innocent victims guilty of the crimes he has been committing with impunity for so long. He never doubts that he has mastered the art of deception"(More...)

Mesfin Mekonen
(Ethiopian American Council, Founder)

"The words of a handful of courageous members of Congress are not sufficient. The United States, European Union, and the international community must condemn the verdicts and press for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Ethiopia.

...Any government that remains silent in the face of this blatant injustice is complicit. This is particularly true of the United States, which is collaborating with the Ethiopian government to battle terrorism.

The Ethiopian regime is creating the conditions that breed terrorism, poverty, corruption, tyranny, censorship of the media, and promoting sectarian violence; and the U.S. government's apparent acquiescence is making a volatile situation worse. The Ethiopian people's faith in democracy, in their power to enact desperately needed changes peacefully, is rapidly fading, and hope in democracy, once lost, will be very difficult to regain."(More...)

Professor Berhanu Abegaz
(Economics Professor, College of William and Mary; member of THE CITIZENS’CHARTER GROUP)

"Needless to say, the odious verdict against these exemplary citizens is contrary to the Ethiopian tradition of magnanimity--not to mention elementary notions of justice. The irony is that Woyanne could not have found a more credible and "loyal" opposition than in Kinijit. To the consternation of many, Kinijit chose to participate in the elections on the basis of Woyanne's constitution and captive institutions. Even after it became clear that the elections have been rigged, it incredulously succumbed to Western pressure to accept the results this time on the condition that the next elections are free and fair. What seems to have enraged Woyanne is that, by calling its bluff, Kinijit and the rest of the Opposition exposed the impossibility of engaging in "normal" politics under a regime whose notion of victory over independent-minded political competitors is total annihilation. Sadly for the country, the age-old alternative to peaceful struggle is too ghastly to contemplate. May God save us."

Kifle Mulat
(President of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association, EFJA)

"This shameful verdict shows the true face of these dictators and enemies of Ethiopia. It's time to stand solidly and free our beloved nation, sons and daughters of my country, from woyane. I call on all true Ethiopians, particularly the young generation, to do their best to ramshackle the rule of dictators and tribalists."

News Headlines

-- IFJ Condemns Conviction of Journalists
-- U.S. expresses concern about convictions of opposition leaders
-- Washington Post: 38 Convicted After Political Crackdown
-- [Audio] Human Rights Group speaks out against Eth. Govt.
-- CPJ: Ethiopia convicts editors, publishers
-- RSF: Convicted by high court journalists face the death penalty
-- BBC: Bereket Simon (B.S) says verdict 'not political'
-- AfricanPath: Biased Ethiopia court predictably convicts
-- Associated Press: Ethiopian Opposition Leaders Convicted (The trial has been widely condemned by international human rights groups as an attempt to silence opposition)