Horrendous atrocities in Ethiopian prisons
By Assefa Negash, M.D.:
Dear readers, it is while I have been on vacation in a county located thousands of kilometres from my second home country, Holland where I live as exile, that I read this horrendous account of the atrocities perpetrated on fellow Ethiopians. It was while thumbing through the pages of the Ethiomedia website that I stumbled on this report that carries gory account of gruesome human rights violations taking place in Ethiopia. Words cannot convey what I felt while reading this account of the barbaric atrocities and I could not sleep that night. After having read the report, the least which I could do was to respond to one of the pleas (i.e. making the world community know about this atrocity) of the few brave Ethiopians who, at the peril of their life and in defiance of a vindictive ethnicist regime, compiled and wrote this report. So the next morning, I decided to translate it from the original Amharic language in which this report has been written into English. I have translated this Amharic document with the hope of reaching many people, dotted across every nook and corner of the world, who are concerned with human rights. Once the big hurdle of translating the original Amharic document into English has been overcome, translating the English document into other European or even Asian languages would be a minuscule task owing to the available technology at hand. And I will shortly embark on the task of translating the English document into different European languages (French, Dutch, German, Spanish, etc) with the help of some editorial help from Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian foreign friends dotted around the world.
For four consecutive days I stayed hooked on a computer (located in an internet café) translating this Amharic document into English on some days working for as long as 11 hours a day. As I could not afford the luxury of working on my own computer (as I have not taken laptop with me on vacation), I was not able to go through this document thoroughly to make detailed review of minor translation errors. But I believe that my translation would do justice to the original Amharic document in lucidly bringing out to readers what the few brave Ethiopians have compiled with extraordinary dedication, dexterity, sense of patriotism and above all, sense of humanity. Translating some of the offensive insults (directed at defendants by the Tigrean ethno-nationalists) into English was not an easy task as the nuances in Amharic cannot be adequately captured in the English language. So I had to search words and expressions in English which approximate to the Amharic nuances expressed in the original Amharic document. I have translated almost all of the documents except some of the introductory pages that I deemed are redundant. All the texts put between parenthesis signs are added by me by way of explaining the matter at hand. But I have translated the document pertaining to the defendants and the concluding part in its entirety. All the texts put between parenthesis signs are added by me (the translator) by way of explaining the matter at hand. Let me say that I take off my hat for those brave Ethiopians who compiled and wrote this report. I salute these brave Ethiopians for the altruistic effort in immortalizing the pain of the victims of these atrocities so that all human beings dotted around the world may do something to alleviate the pain of these forgotten Ethiopians that languish in the dungeons of the incumbent ethnocentric regime that has been ensconced in power in since May 1991. I also salute the exemplary Ethiopian from Tigrai (Mr. Ermias) who has been rendered physically invalid for putting his humanity before his Tigrean ethnicity.
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Shocking as the gruesome manner in which these Ethiopian prisoners were physically and psychologically tortured, any one who is aware of the hatred which some of these Tigrean ethnonationalists (the authors & perpetrators of the atrocities documented in this translated report) were brought up, hearing narratives of alleged victimisation of their ancestors by Amharas, cannot fail to fathom or understand their potential capacity and readiness to perpetrate such gruesome atrocities on Amharas and members of other ethnic groups (Oromos, Gurages, Somalis, etc). In addition to this, the ethnic ideology of hate they have embraced during the last 36 years of TPLF’s emergence and its pervasive influence or hold on the psyche of its followers has made them to consider any one outside their ethnic group as a sub-human creature. Even a member of their own group, who does not subscribe to their ethnic ideology of hate, is considered as a sub-human creature (what TPLF has done to Mr. Ermias corroborates this fact).
Let me say, in passing, a little bit about the effects of ethnic nationalism on the psyche of those who are afflicted by it. Ethnic nationalism has the extraordinary capacity of blinding its followers by suspending their sense of morality. It does so by suspending the conscience of its followers and dehumanizing them to the point of denying the humanity of the members of other ethnic groups or the ethnic others. Identity or ethnic politics, which is based on the ethnic identity of a particular group, demands that an individual suspends his/her conscience and he/she submits to the wish and ideals of the leader or leaders of the ethnic group or organisation such as the TPLF. In short ethnic nationalism de-individualizes the otherwise rational individual thereby converting him into an unreflecting human being. Such a de-individualized individual or human being (be him a learned professor at the university, Nobel laureate or a lay person) fails to differentiate between what is good and what is bad. He fails to discern between what is sane and what is insane, between what is morally sound and what is immoral, etc. In sum, an ethno-nationalist or an individual who is fired by ethno-nationalism and finds him/herself under the spell of its mesmerizing, if crippling, influence looses his human attribute i.e. rational thinking that sets him apart from animals. He stops to think and act as a rational human being as he has already sacrificed his whole being on the altars of the ethno-nationalist ideology he/she has enthusiastically embraced. The German people under the Nazis were fired and mesmerized by the virulent German nationalist ideology which defined the Jews, Slavs, Gypsies, etc as unter-mensh (the German equivalent of the word sub-human in English) and subsequently condemned millions of Jews, Slavs, Poles, Gypsies, etc to the gallows and gas chambers. Places like Auschwitz, in what is today, Poland and Dachau located in the Bavaria region of Germany, bear witness to the barbarity and inhumanity of German fascism. I had the chance of visiting the museum at Dachau and witness the horror it embodies and immortalizes when I visited this place in October 2008. The gruesome images etched on my mind as a result of that visit would remain with me for ever. By creating such museums which immortalize the worst aspect of humanity, the Germans have at least teaching their youth to distance itself from ethnic or racially based nationalist ideology which breeds hate.
The Tigrean ethno-nationalists in Ethiopia have, on the other hand, built many monuments and one great museum in their capital city Mekelle to teach the Tigrean youth hatred by propagating narratives of the alleged victimisation of Tigreans by Amharas. So in the hands of Tigrean ethno-nationalists even the recent history of Ethiopia (under the Dergue) has becomes a grist to the TPLF propaganda mill of hate that creates walls among the peoples of one country by fragmenting their common history of suffering, denying their common pain and the common adversity they all faced in those 17 cruel years of the Dergue. Under the Dergue, all Ethiopians (save for those allied with the Dergue) suffered irrespective of their ethnic, religious or political affiliations. But during the last 36 years, the TPLF leaders acted by denying this common pain of the Ethiopian people by creating a separate Tigrean identity out of this suffering thereby using the suffering which allegedly was solely suffered by Tigreans as a Chinese wall that separates Tigreans from non-Tigreans. It is this exclusive attitude, born out of this virulent ethnic-nationalism, that forms the political backdrop to (and informs) the report we present hereafter. I will take up the issue of Tigrean ethnic nationalism shortly and hope to share with readers my perspective on the whole issue of ethnic nationalism that is threatening the very coexistence of the Ethiopian and the continuation of this country in its present shape.
On behalf of the original authors of this report, I ask all those who read this document to bring this translated document to the attention of human rights groups and government officials and the public in your countries of residences so that the plight of these Ethiopian victims can be highlighted and eventually some action may be taken to curb these terrifying human rights violations.
Here follows the translation of the chillingly gruesome account of what transpired in the Central Investigation Office (CIO) otherwise known as the Maekelawi prison in Ethiopia.
Assefa Negash, M.D. The translator of this document is an Ethiopian exile who lives in Holland where he works as a psychiatrist. He can be reached at Debesso@gmail.com for any comment that you may have in regard to this translated report, the introductory note and the explanatory texts accompanying this translated document.
HORRENDOUS ACCOUNT OF ETHNICALLY-DIRECTED ATROCITIES IN AN ETHIOPIAN PRISON (the CIO)
Translated from the original Amharic document into English By Assefa Negash, M.D.Resident of Amsterdam, the Netherlands – 25th of December 2010 E-mail address: Debesso@gmail.com
About the Authors of this Report
“We the authors of this report are individuals who work within the TPLF controlled prison administration and Criminal Investigation system. Through what we have compiled in his report, we want to inform the Ethiopian and by extension the international community about the suffering, gruesome tortures and horrendous mistreatment of political prisoners across the country.
We want to bring to the attention of readers of this report the hellish condition obtaining in what is known as the Central Investigation Office (CIO) located in Addis Ababa”. According to the individuals, who prepared this horrifying report at the peril of their lives, what is reported here has bearing only on “the officially known major federal prisons under the incumbent government”. “This report has no bearing on what unfolds in those secret prisons that are dotted in the capital city Addis Ababa and the various regions of Ethiopia and are controlled by the TPLF security officials. This report has no bearing on the thousands of prisons dotted in all regions, zones and districts of Ethiopia and run by the regional overlords. Today the number of prisoners held in the various TPLF-controlled prisons is at least 50 times the number of prisoners that were held by the Dergue regime at the height of the 1977-1978 period when serious human rights violations were committed. All this is taking place at a time when, unlike during the Dergue period, there are no strong opposition groups waging anti-government struggle in the urban and rural areas. This disturbing reality heightens our worry. There is no way we can know, even if we had wished to do so, about all those legally, we mean according to TPLF’s definition of legality, and illegally held prisoners whose numbers run in the tens of thousands. This is so because we do not have the wherewithal or the means to collect such evidence. The report which follows hereafter is based on what we have seen with our own eyes and what we have heard with our own ears”.
The Goal of this Report
We are not sending this report to you our compatriots with the intent of making you hysterically cry about it in horror for a few days and then forget about it altogether. We have closed our doors and cried silently hiding ourselves behind the dark. We ask you to cry as we did. But let your cry be in public, although we leave the choice of crying in silence unto you. Cry profusely or intently saying Oh My People!!! Oh My Country!!! We want you to feel the pain of your compatriots and cry for these compatriots who have fallen into the hands of the TPLF regime and are suffering in its dungeons/prisons. But we do not want you to cry and then lapse into silence or obmutescence. Especially those Ethiopians in the Diaspora should let the world community know (United Nations Human Rights Commission, World Red Cross Organisation, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Genocide Watch, International Court of Justice based in the Hague, the American State Department, the Human Rights Commission of the European parliament, and all other human rights organisations and all those who struggle to bring to justice violators of human rights) about the human rights violations that ethnically target Ethiopian citizens and are carried out by an the ethnically organized, ethnicist TPLF regime in the prisons of Ethiopia.
You may question the very wisdom of appealing to these international bodies and ask “What of it or what is its validity?”. Yes, today it may not make much sense and may not have that much validity. Many of the governments and organisations know the barbarity and cruelty of the TPLF regime. Especially the Western governments know about it although they act as of they do not know anything or feign no knowledge of all these atrocities. It is the British who have financed and trained many of the members of the present police force including us, the authors of this report. As a debt of gratitude to the British for this training they have given to its police force and owing to TPLF’s hate for anything Ethiopîan, the TPLF regime has adopted alien British police titles thereby discarding Ethiopian titles. Thanks to this adoption of British police titles, today we and our people have been forced to use British police titles such as police constable, sergeant, inspectors, commissioner, superintendent, etc which we can hardly pronounce.
About what is dubbed Crime
This report concentrates on what happened on those individuals who were imprisoned by the TPLF regime in connection with the charges levelled against General Teferra Mammo. It deals with the shockingly horrendous suffering in this hellish place known as the Central Investigation Office. We would also say something about this prison and the suffering that takes place in it. There is a lot more we would let you know you in the future about the hidden face of the TPLF regime should we remain alive and should the TPLF fail to lay its powerful hands on us. You may say that the task we have embarked upon is very dangerous. You may also say that the task of uncovering or exposing TPLF atrocities on which we have embarked is a dangerous venture. Yes we realize that too. But since we believe that death is preferable to a life of humiliation; we have chosen to pay any sacrifice. And we trust that you our compatriots would not disregard our effort and sacrifice.
The preparations to apprehend or capture the defendants accused in connection with the Ginbot 7 political movement started two days before April 24, 2009 – the date on which most of the defendants were imprisoned. Our Tigrean colleagues, the members of the chosen ethic group, whose loyalty to the incumbent government is measured by their Tigrean ethnic affiliation or identity, were already informed about the planned or impending imprisonment of these defendants. But those employees like us, who do not have Tigrean ethnic identity, knew nothing about TPLF’s plans that were afoot and were kept in the dark. However, on April 22 2009 and April 23, 2009 when the group known as “the Security Service and Federal Police Joint Anti-Terror” group that is staffed by Tigreans was engaged in conducting uninterrupted gathering and its members were constantly moving back and forth.
They made movements characterized by unusal haste, made many telephone calls and whispered in each other’s ears. All these unusual movements hinted to us (the non-Tigrean employees of the CIO) that there was something very important which this group did not want us, the non-Tigrean employees who are considered as second class citizens, to hear about. What we had surmised or suspected came out true later. It was on April 24, 2009 in the afternoon hours that the capture of the defendants allegedly connected with the Ginbot 7 political movement began after these members of the chosen Tigrean ethnic group, who have deliberated on to draft their abduction plan behind closed doors and without consulting the non-Tigrean employees of the CIO, finalized their plan and carried out the abduction of the defendants by enlisting the help of soldiers, officers of the security force, the federal and regional police. Those who were involved in the abduction were Tigreans and some other soldiers from other ethnic groups that are considered loyal to them. All those non-Tigreans who were involved in the abduction and imprisonment of these defendants were only told about a mission they will carry out but were not informed beforehand about what the purpose of this mission was all about. But on the other hand, even the lowest ranking Tigrean police man was informed about the mission beforehand.
Those of us who are non-Tigrean employees of the Federal Police Force and Security Force know all too well that watching our movements was one of the tasks given to our Tigrean colleagues. And this is the standard practice in TPLF’s Ethiopia.
It was on April 25, 2009 that even those of us (the non-Tigrean employees of the Federal Police, Security Force) involved in the abduction of these defendants learned or realized what the mission of this action was after listening to, like the ordinary Ethiopian public, the communiqué of the Joint Anti-Terror Unit of the Security Service and the Federal Police” that was broadcast on radio and television. We realized that this mission targeted Amharas who have been embittered by the ethnicist policy of this regime. It has been particularly directed against those Amharas who are opposed to the effort of the TPLF regime, which owing to its vengeful attitude and hatred towards the Amharas, is bent upon breaking the back of Amharas economically, politically thereby humiliating them in a manner that is akin to the rape of a woman. It was with the goal of imprisoning Amhara individuals with known record of opposition to this onslaught of TPLF against the Amharas, that the abduction of most of the defendants mentioned in this report was launched.
In our belief and based on the alleged evidence that the TPLF regime claimed to have gathered, the majority of those defendants who were abducted from different places, are individuals who are opposed to the ethnicist system of government, based on the supremacy of one ethnic group, that has been set up by the incumbent government. The recorded videotapes of individuals such as General Teferra Mammo who have openly spoken against the ethnicist nature of the present regime in a meeting where hundreds of EPDM members were gathered are available at the CIO. Some of the defendants have told the court saying that they have already warned and told the EPDM officials (EPDM being the surrogate group which serves TPLF in the Amhara region) about the concern these defendants have regarding the suffering to which the Amhara people are exposed, the unbridled ethnocentrism and supremacist policy of the incumbent regime, and the adverse effect of this policy on the country and its people. Having heard all this at the court as was being told by the defendants, we were also able to learn from what was widely circulating in the premise of the CIO that the senior officials of the EPDM, who are believed to have sold to the TPLF not only their flesh but also their soul, have been instrumental in pressurizing the TPLF leaders to particularly imprison these Amhara officers that have now appeared in court as defendants.
It is on account of the foregoing fact we cannot believe that the imprisonment of these Amhara officers is related to the Ginbot 7 political movement. Although Ginbot 7 polical movement is a multiethnic group, all those imprisoned in connection with this organisation, with the exception of the one relative of Dr. Berhanu, are all Amharas. As such, owing to this fact there is nothing that justifies the imprisonment of these Amhara officers in connection with Ginbot 7 except TPLF’s need to label Ginbot 7 as a terrorist organisation. From all this what we understand or distil out is that the TPLF regime singled out and imprisoned Amharas whom it suspected of mobilizing other Amharas dotted in the army, the Federal police force and in society at large. The identity of those imprisoned defendants corroborates nothing other than this fact. TPLF is adept at undertaking such measures. This is the same method it has used in the past by imprisoning tens of thousands of Oromo intellectuals, army and police members opposed to TPLF by criminalizing them in the name of OLF.
Mr. Hassen – an Ethiopian Somali from Degahabur (ethnic Somali) He was abducted at gun point and is now in prison for more than two years and he has not appeared in court during all these years. For six months his legs and feet were shackled in chains and he has repeatedly been exposed to electrocution (administration of electric current into his body by way of torture) which is now routinely carried out in TPLF controlled prisons. His left testicle has atrophied and disappeared altogether in consequence of the severe and repeated torture he sustained. In short he has been castrated like a bull (In the Ethiopain cultural context; a bull is castrated not by taking his testicles but by pounding on his testicles. It is in this context the word castration should be read in this report). Castrating a male person like a bull or animal is unheard of and did not take place even during the terrible days of the Dergue regime. Under the TPLF regime, this method of torture is widely practiced. After the May 2005 elections, many found it unbelievable when stories relating to the castration of male Amhara men who strongly supported the CUD (Coalition for Unity and Democracy) were heard. It was reported that TPLF cadres forced male Amharas to take off their clothes and castrated them by beating on their testicles. But for individuals like us who work in TPLF-run prisons and closely watch at and hear about the things happening in these prisons, the occurrence of these gruesome things is not surprising as we see them happen daily here in the Central Investigation Office (CIO) where we work. The number of citizens and their family members who have become victims of such atrocities is difficult to enumerate here. The torture to which Mr. Hassan from the Ogaden region of south eastern Ethiopia has been exposed, makes one wonder whether or not those TPLF cadres who perpetrate untold suffering on this pitiful person consider him like an experimental guinea pig locked and held in a laboratory box for the purpose of experimenting new medicinal drugs.
It is not only Mr. Hassan who is treated as an experimental guinea pig by the ethnicist Tigrean officials that form part of the TPLF. We are saddened enormously when we think about the fate and suffering of 12 Oromo youth from Nekemt, Ambo, eastern Hararghe and Kemise, who like Mr. Hassan were abducted and brought to the Central Investigation Office (CIO) prison where they are made to suffer immensely. The hands of these Oromo youths have been tied to the wall and they have been hanged upside down and beaten with electric wires. Three of these twelve Oromo youth have not been able to control their urine (a medical condition clinically known as urinary incontinence) in consequence of the torture and severe beating they have been subjected to. Some of these young Oromos prisoners have been rendered castrated in consequence of the torture they underwent. Some of these young Oromos have been rendered invalid, some have lost their sight or vision, the nails of some have been pulled out and the hands of some of these young Oromos have been broken in consequence of the torture to which they have been exposed. What is more, two of these twelve youths were abducted on the day of their wedding. Among these Oromo youth are two young people who are under age (both are under 15 years of age). They have been made to stay in dark rooms for long time after their hands and feet have been shackled with chains.
Among the three individuals who were accused of having made an attempt on the life of the Egyptian president in 1995, one had died in prison whereas the other two have been languishing in prison for the last 15 years without appearing at court during all this time. The defendants who have been abducted from all parts of the country and were imprisoned in connection with the Giunbot 7 Movement have been huddled together in a prison where members of the Tigre’an ethnic group belonging to the ethnicist organisation known as TPLF exclusively control everything and perpetrate horrendous crime on these prisoners. They perpetrated these crimes with a sense of impunity. As to your question regarding the fate which awaits these prisoners, we hereby present the report we have compiled as is germane or pertaining to the case of some of the prisoners under custody. For the sake of avoiding repetition, we first present what has happened to all prisoners.
Atroctiies Perpetrated On Individals Accused in Connection with Ginbot 7 As we stated earlier, many of the imprisoned were captured on April 24, 2009. The number of the imprisoned was far more than the 37 defendants that appeared at court. The likes of Colonel Yehiwas (was co-opted) and Gebeyaw Aychiluhim (under the pain of torture) testified against their colleagues and were accordingly released on April 24, 2009. In addition to those who were imprisoned on April 24, 2009, the TPLF regime imprisoned military officers and police members of Amhara ethnic extraction it suspected of harbouring grievance towards it on the basis of the alleged information it secured from those who agreed to testify against these individuals. The arrest of these suspected Amharas continued well into the beginning of May 2009. For example the military officers brought to Addis Ababa from Harrar city such as the 13th defendant Major Meskere Kassa, the 6th defendant Lt. Col. Abere, the 7th defendant Lt. Col. Alemu Getinet were captured on April 29, 2009 Few individuals have been captured around the beginning of May 2009 When they were brought to the CIO, all the defendants were dragged, blind-folded and hand-cuffed, into the prison cells prepared for them. Some of the prisoners were huddled together in one prison cell whereas those suspected by the TPLF of harbouring a lot of hatred for the regime were exposed to solitary confinement and made to stay in a very narrow room. We have chosen not to mention the deploring food and sleeping condition obtaining in the prison as it pales in significance when compared to the much worse suffering these prisoners underwent under torture. We would soon expound on the torture these prisoners underwent. It is important to mention though that there were prisoners who were not allowed any food or drink and were forced to sleep rough on extremely cold cemented floor with nothing else than the clothe they wear during the day. All these prisoners were transported blind-folded and hand-cuffed to the nearby court located close to the Arada Giorgis church a few days after their arrival at prison. They were transported to the court in a canvass-covered van that makes them invisible to sight of any one. They were later returned to the prison.
The court allows the police extra days and weeks (this legal sanction by the judge allows the police investigators to do whatever they like by way of extracting forced confession from the prisoners). It should be noted that the major police investigations accompanying the tortures were conducted during the time or period in which the police was allowed extra time by the judge to complete its investigation. It should also be noted that the anti-terror office of the government could not produce any shred of evidence to support its empty charges by way of providing any substantive proof that can convince any one independently functioning court of justice. Even those weapons which were displayed on television as evidence to support the allegation against General Teferra Mammo were weapons which he legally possessed and were given to him by the regime before the Teferra was suspected of anti-government activities. The other weapons were, likewise, in legal possession of the present civilian defendants who were licensed to possess these weapons by the incumbent TPLF government after they applied for legal possession of these weapons 16 years ago. The colt 38 pistol and Klashinkov gun captured from the home of the elderly prisoner Mr. Tsige Habtemariam and subsequently presented to the court as being weapons that were to be used for criminal purposes, were weapons he purchased from a Tigrean named Mr. Gebremedhin at the cost of 4800 Birr on the eve of Dergue’s fall. He also possessed these weapons as legally registered property.
Further no recorded evidence of the alleged fifty telephone exchanges between General Teferra and General Asamnew or the alleged telephone calls made by General Teferra to Colonel Demesew were presented to the court by the TPLF regime. The evidences which were presented as evidence to implicate the accused of an alleged anti-government activity on behalf of the Ginbot 7 political movement were the publications, political program and communiqués of this group which can easily be accessed from internet sites and other media outlets. The government claimed that it has captured two satellite telephones and satellite internet communication equipment that allegedly were to be used by the plotters of the coup d’etat. It is ridiculous for the government to present these as evidences to support its claims. For those of us who know the capacity of the regime to produce false evidences against its opponents, it is not unthinkable to assume that it planted these equipments in the houses of the defendants through its loyal cadres after the imprisonment of the defendants. As the government was not able to produce any incriminating evidence to justify the imprisonment of these suspected individuals, it rather resorted to beatings by way of forcing a self-confession or a denouncement of fellow prisoners as conspirators bent upon the seizure of power by bringing down a legally elected government by force of arms i.e. through unconstitutional methods.
In their attempt to extract confession, the TPLF investigators tried to single out those easy targets whom they thought they could easily persuade to make self-confessions and denounce their fellow prisoners i.e. prisoners that would not budge to threats of torture. So it is against those defendants who did not budge to their threats that the investigators turned their attention. So each prisoner was dragged into the investigation (torture) room blind-folded, hand-cuffed and was made to stand in front of investigators whom he could not see and remained under investigation from 8 PM in the evening till 12 PM (for 4 hours). There in the investigation room, the alleged crimes committed by each prisoner were read out to him/her and the prisoner was told by the investigators that they have already gathered enough evidence against him/her and that it was better for him/her to confess his/her crime before he/she is subjected to suffering (torture). None of the defendants or prisoners that later appeared in court budged to the persuasion and verbal threats of the investigators and admitted having committed crime. It was at this stage that the investigators resorted to brute force or torture at which they are so adept. Thus began the exposure of these defendants to psychological and physical torture (beatings) after being hanged upside down during all the 45 days in which they stayed at the Central Investigation Office (CIO). By way of sampling the cases of some defendants, we hereafter present an account of the torture to which some of the imprisoned have been subjected.
16th defendant Lieutnant Ababu Teferi (ethnic Amhara)
He was abducted from Bahir Dar town along with 16 other men. The torture of this man and 10 other men who were imprisoned along with him began at a military camp in Bahir Dar town long before they reached the Central Investigation Office located in the capital city Addis Ababa. The faces of these prisoners were bruised, swollen and their eyes were bleeding. As they were not able to walk properly, they were limping. Lieutenant Ababu was tortured blindfolded and hand-cuffed after he was hanged upside down and exposed to Falanga (Falanga in English or Wefe Lalla in the Ethiopian language refers to the type of torture whereby the inner feet of a prisoner are beaten after he has been hanged down upside down). He was forced to take off his clothes and lie down on the floor naked after his mouth was gagged with a stinking piece of cloth by way of preventing his scream and cry reach the ears of others. For days on end, he was beaten on his head, his hands, fingers, his legs, thighs and waist area with sticks and electric wires. In addition to this he was kicked by the investigators. The ears of this blind-folded prisoner who was put on a chair by his torturers and exposed to repeated bouts of blows on his ears by the torturers who took turns to beat him, has left him with a severe injury to his ears such that one of his ears remains injured to this day. On the days when there is no Amhara investigator among them, the Tigrean investigators at the Central Investigation Office, this subjected this prisoner to degrading and humiliating insults directed at his ethnic group (he belongs to the Amharaethnic group). Among the avalanche of insults and degrading ethnic slurs directed at him figure the following: “Rotten Amhara, smelly Amhara. Don’t you know that the Amhara is coward? Even if we were to roast you here, do you think that the smell in consequence thereof can ever reach the Amhara people? A person who has fallen into our hands and a person who is infected with the HIV virus are the same. Do you want us to inject you with blood infected with the HIV virus? We can kill you here. We can dump your corpse anywhere and without anybody being able to challenge us to give an account thereof”. These were the kind of dehumanizing insults and degrading remarks, ethnic slurs which were hurled at this prisoner by way of mounting a psychological warfare against him. This prisoner was finally forced to sign the alleged self-confession they wanted him to undersign. And these torturers were happy and overjoyed for having broken down the spirit of this officer.
30th Defendant Vice Sergeant Gobena Belay (ethnic Amhara)
This defendant has experienced similar torture as the one Lieutenant Ababu has undergone. He was taken out of his prison cell during the night and has been beaten up like a snake with electric wires. He was further electrocuted (passage of electrical current through the body of the prisoner as a form of torture). After forcing him to take off his clothes (including his underwear), and made to stand naked, he was beaten up so much that his skin has peeled off. They have derided him by making fun of the locality of his birth known as Gayint and hurling such demeaning, humiliating and insulting words which not only insulted him but also insulted his locality, his local identity and his ethnic group (he belongs to the Amhara ethnic group).
“One Satan or devil is better than 50 Gayintes; you gluttonous Gayinte (Gayinte refers to his local identity who comes from a locality in north western Ethiopia that is known as Gayint)”. All this was done to force him confess what the investigators wanted him to confess under duress. This solider was finally broken by the severely incessant beatings and tortures to which he was exposed for many nights in a row. All this suffering was imposed him to force him in making self-confessions about the alleged crime he was accused of and to force him in criminalizing other prisoners. He was forced, under the pain of torture, to sign an alleged self-confession, which was already written down by the investigators themselves. It was on the basis of this self-confession, extracted from him under torture, that he and the other prisoners were convicted to sentences of life-time imprisonment. Ten investigators were involved in the investigation of Vice Sergeant Gobena and the other prisoners. Among these ten investigators, there are some who are known for their extreme cruelty. There is also a judge who, in spite of having seen the physical injuries suffered by these prisoners as a result of the torture they were exposed to, still chose to conspire with these investigators in ascertaining that these prisoners were not forced to make self confessions under duress. The names of these ten investigators and the notorious judge who conspired with them and worked hand in glove with them would be mentioned at the end of this report.
12th Defendant Col. Fantahun Muhaba Mufti (ethnic Amhara)
This prisoner was abducted on April 23, 2009 from the Western Military Command camp based in a place located in the Shire region of Tigrai in northern Ethiopia. At the time of his abduction, he was conducting his job and was called by the Tigrean Colonel Dessalegn (otherwise known Kibrit) to the administration office or bureau. After he voluntarily presented himself at the office, he was given a hands-up order. On April 29, 2009 he arrived at the Central Investigation Office in Addis Ababa to which he was brought. On his arrival at this office, unlike other prisoners, no visible physical signs of injury were noticeable on his face. The only things noticeable on his face were his exhaustion in consequence of the long journey he undertook and the anxiety which his face betrayed or radiated. The torture and beating of this defendant began after he appeared at the court located at the Arada Giorgis area and denied the false charges levelled against him on May 1, 2009. On this date and night around 10 PM local time, he was dragged to the investigation room like a sheep after he has been blind-folded and hand-cuffed. On this date, many more investigators (five investigators in all) were assigned for the task of investigating this officer who is considered by the investigators as being an arrogant person. The investigators have been instructed to reduce this arrogant officer to his smallest human size by beating the hell out of him; beating being the onlylanguage, which according the investigators, this arrogant defendant properly understands. This instruction was given by Tadesse Messeret, the head of the investigation at the Central Investigation Office (CIO). Tadesses Messeret is a notoriously cruel and ethnicist Tigrean official. During the many nights he stayed in this prison and when most of the prisoners were sleeping, Colonel Fantahun has been exposed to tortures which no human being on this earth can withstand. As the injury sustained by this defendant were so severe, he was being repeatedly exposed to torture after intermittently giving him treatment in the prison. Finally he signed, like all the other prisoners who were exposed to severe torture in this prison, albeit under duress, the statement which his investigators wanted him to undersign. After signing the alleged self-confession, his physical torture stopped.
22nd Defendant Mrs. Emawayesh Alemu (ethnic Amhara)
As if the investigators assigned at the Central Investigation Office (CIO) have no mother or sister, what happened to this mother of three children and grand mother of one child, is extremely horrendous or gruesome. As with other prisoners, the Mrs Emayesh has been exposed to torture and suffering during the night hours. As was the case with the other prisoners, she was led to the torture room blind-folded and hand-cuffed. She was hanged upside down and exposed to Falanga (beating of her inner feet). Her legs, hands, thighs and buttock were subjected to a gruelling torture and beating in such a cruel manner that defy any explanation or cannot be adequately conveyed in words. The investigators were interrogating her by asking if she knows certain individuals. They called the names of these individuals and asked her if she recognizes the said individuals by showing her the photographs of these individuals. They were accusing her of having met these individuals and told her to admit that she knew these individuals. While being beaten by the investigators, she was asked by them to witness against the individuals they named. From among all the torture to which this woman was subjected, what was strikingly gruesome was the fact that she was beaten with electric wires till her breasts were bleeding. This happened after she was forced to take off her clothes, including her underwear, and beaten naked. The pain which was caused to this woman in consequence of the beating she sustained on her breasts was such that it has not yet subsided even long after she was transferred to the Kaliti prison. And on the basis of the evidence we have gathered from the Kaliti prison, she has to use pain killers to decrease the intensity of the pain she experiences in consequence of the beating she underwent at the CIO. Mrs. Emwayesh has signed, albeit under duress, the alleged self-confession which her torturers wanted her to undersign.
36th Defendant Mr. Getu Werku (ethnic Gurage)
What distinguishes Mr. Werku from all the other prisoners is the fact that he is not an ethnic Amhara. He is a close relative of Berhanu Nega – leader of the Ginbot 7 Movement (who happens to be an ethnic Gurage). The CIO has no evidence to incriminate Mr. Getu Werku. But he has been charged with others in connection with conspiracy to undertake acts of terror against the incumbent government. This prisoner has been exposed to severe torture like the other prisoners. What sets his case apart though is the following. After he fainted and fell down consequent upon severe beatings he was subjected to, he was raised up from the ground by the torturers who subsequently hand-cuffed him and hanged him upside down for 19 hours on end. Yes here you may ask how can a person be hanged upside down for 19 hours? This is not an exaggerated or falsified statement. The investigators of Mr Getu, who were beating him all the night and having failed to find any evidence or admission of guilt from him, left him hanging by slamming the torture room shut. The next day during the afternoon, they opened the door and brought down Mr. Getu from the wall they were hanging him onto. We have evidence that the blood which was dripping from the hands of this man and was left hanged upside down for 19 hours, was all over the floor of the torture or investigation room. The injury which Mr. Getu had undergone was so severe that he was not able to go to toilet or properly use the toilet. In consequence of this, he has been forced to make use of a small metal container located in his prison cell as a toilet. Even then, he has to be supported by his prison mates who have to support him in making use of the small metal container in the prison cell where he and all his prison mates were housed. Mr. Getu has finally signed the alleged self-confession which his torturers wanted him to undersign. And after signing what they wanted him to undersign, the torture has stopped.
6th Defendant Lt. Colonel Aberre Assefa (ethnic Amhara)
This defendant was abducted on the 29th of April 2009 in the city of Harrar. He, along with two other officers, was brought to the CIO on May 2, 2009 at 12 AM. All three officers showed no visible signs of injury or anxiety except that they were hand-cuffed and their clothes looked dirtier. All three officers were brought on Saturday May 2, 2009 to the Arada Giorgis area court and were asked whether or not they admit or deny the charges levelled against them. They denied the charges levelled against them with regard to an alleged attempt of bringing down the incumbent government by force and cause violence. As usual, the police asked the court to allow it extra time to conduct and finish its investigation. This means the three officers would stay in custody till the time the investigators finish their investigation. The police made its request to a TPLF member by the name of judge Tariqua. She is some one who is notoriously known for her ignorance and loyalty to the TPLF regime. The judge gave the police the extra time the latter requested. All TPLF judges know what the police would do with the prisoners when they allow the police extra time to conduct its investigation. They know that they are giving the police more time to gather false witnesses and evidences. They know that they are allowing time to the police so that the prisoners would make self-criminalizing confessions under the pain of severe torture to which they would be subjected by the investigators. The judges are fully aware of the fact that by giving the police more time to conduct its investigation, they are actually allowing the police to subject prisoners to severe tortures. Although the judges are not involved in the torture of the prisoners by being present in the torture chambers, they are morally and legally accountable for the suffering they cause to these prisoners knowing all too well what the investigators would do to these prisoners. After this woman judge allowed extra time to the police to conduct and complete its investigation, the investigation on Col. Aberre began the next day on the evening of May 3, 2009 at 8:30 PM. First they started to make verbal threats against hem and later the verbal threat was followed by the usual bluff and dehumanizingly offensive insult meant to degrade and belittle his ethnic group (Aberre belongs to the Amhara ethnic group). The investigators who were assigned by Tadesse Messert to undertake the investigation were all ethnic Tigreans. The boundlessly rude insult and anti-Amhara verbal assault directed against Col. Aberre were uttered in full knowledge of the fact that all the investigators present were Tigreans. As such they thought no one could overhear what they were hurling at this prisoner by way of verbal assault. As the investigators trusted each other on account of their common ethnic origin, they were confident that no one would come to know about the offensive insults they were hurling or throwing at this prisoner. What these Tigrean investigators at the CIO did not know was the fact that amongst the torrents of insults they were vehemently and loudly uttering or blurting out, some were reaching the ears of individuals present outside the walls of the torture room. The fact that such kind of offensive insults directed against one’s ethnic group were constantly hurled at prisoners by the ethnicist Tigrean tortures has been reported at the court by General Asamnew Tsige (one of the Amhara generals who have been accused of being the ring leader of the alleged coup d’etat against the incumbent TPLF regime). These ethnicist Tigrean investigators and torturers were assaulting Col. Aberre with the types of degrading insults that we reproduce or present hereafter:
“Is it by your type of coward Amhara that the system of government we have set up through the sacrifice of so many determined Tigrean heroes is going to be demolished or brought down? We would make, not only you but, your whole Amhara ethnic group members and their descendants serve us as cooks in our kitchen after we have made you wear a woman’ clothe”. (To make a man wear a woman’s clothes in Ethiopian culture presupposes humiliating and condemning him to a task which is traditionally is seen as the sole preserve of women. As such this statement has a derogatory implication in when viewed against the back drop of the Ethiopian tradition. Translator’s explanatory note or addendum).
By crossing the person of Col. Aberre, these Tigrean investigators were bombarding the Amhara ethnic group with insults, the severe consequences of which they could not foresee at this moment. In the CIO, such kinds of ethnically-directed offensive insults are common and they are directed against any one prisoner who happens to be a non-Tigrean. Although these Tigrean investigators at CIO and their leader prime minister Meles Zenawi cheat people by verbally claiming that they are champions of the rights of nations and nationalities, what they harbour inside their hearts is an offensive ethnic contempt for non-Tigreans the smell of which can reach Adwa (the birth place of the incumbent leader Meles Zenawi). Any one non-Tigrean prisoner, who has fallen into their hands and has been at the CIO prison, knows the contempt that these Tigrean investigators harbour for all non-Tigreans dotted around all nooks and corners of Ethiopia. This is an extremely worrying and terrifying thing. After the degradingly offensive insult, the body of Col. Aberre was exposed to a barrage of beatings. He was given many blows on his face. When they told him to admit that “he was organizing people to demolish the constitutional order” he responded by saying that “I did not organize people to bring down the constitutional order. As I can glean or infer from what you are telling me now, I have been imprisoned because of the hatred you have for my ethnic group i.e. for being member of an Amhara ethnic group”.
The Tigrean investigators called names of senior founders and current Central Committee members and senior officers of ANDM (Amhara National Democratic Movement – a puppet political organisation that has been created by TPLF to serve it as a stalking horse in the Amhara region) alleging that they were encouraging and stimulating Col. Aberre and his associates to embark on the task of bringing down the constitutionally constituted political order i.e. the incumbent government. Further they were alleging that he was the only person who used to contact these ANDM officials and senior officers in order to prevent the exposure of the latter. The investigators told Col. Aberre to admit all these things. When he refused to admit what they were telling him to admit, he was subjected to gruelling sessions of torture every night and during many consecutive days. In one of these nights, when he was being tortured, the nail of his left large toe (of his left foot) was torn apart from his flesh and was left hanging. One of the Tigrean investigators proudly uttered the following offensive words and threatened by saying that he would deflate the alleged arrogance and contempt of Col. Aberre. “It is me who would drain off all the sense of pride this contemptuous Amhara and deflate him”. Having said this, the Tigreaninvestigator stepped with his shoes on the hanging toe nail of this Amhara officer. When the Tigrean investigator stepped on the hanging toe nail of this prisoner, Col. Aberre collapsed under the pain he sustained due to this cruel and inhumane action of the investigator. After Aberre collapsed, they stopped beating him. Although the next morning Aberre was seen by the medical personnel of the prison, the medical personnel who saw Col. Aberre could not do anything to help him except feeling very sad about what she saw. The only thing she could say was “what kind I do, it is for me a question of survival”. As a consequence of the severe beating he underwent, Col. Aberre has not been able to move about. He could only go to toilet with the support of other fellow prisoners. As he was not able to sit on the toilet alone, bricks have to be piled up to support him in sitting on the toilet. Finally all this pain and severe beatings broke down the spirit of this officer and he agreed to sign the alleged self-confession they prepared for him. Like his other brothers and sisters in the prison, he told them that he would sign whatever they wanted him to undersign.
13th Defendant Major Mesekere Kassa (ethnic Amhara)
Major Mesekere Kassa, was brought from Harrar along with Col. Abere and other officers. He has gone through similar torture and beatings like the others. He was subjected to 6 hours of severe physical and psychological torture each day during seven consecutive days after he has been blind-folded and hand-cuffed. The hubris and arrogance of the investigators and the kind of ethnically degrading remarks directed against him on account of his Amhara ethnic origin and the questions he was required to answer were similar to the ones Col. Aberre experienced. Finally Major Mesekere, like all the other prisoners, acceded to the wish of his Tigrean investigators and signed the false self-confession they prepared under the pain of torture. He had to sign the self-confession in order to halt his physical pain and suffering under torture.
31st Defendant Vice Sergeant Yibeltal Berhanu (ethnic Amhara)
This person who is a member of the Federal Police Force has gone through similar process of imprisonment and suffering. According to the classification criteria pursued by the Tigrean investigators at the CIO, this prisoner was classified or categorized as belonging to the group of those individuals that were assigned to be the executioners of the alleged terror and attempted coup d’etat. In other words, he was not classified among the group of plotters or authors of the alleged coup d’etat. As such the investigators wanted him to tell them the senior government officials whom the coup plotters wanted to be killed. Further they wanted him to witness against those individuals whom the Tigrean investigators considered to be the plotters that lurk behind the alleged coup d’etat. The saddest thing of all is the extreme cruelty and offensive attitude the Tigrean investigators show towards those prisoners who, in their opinion, are lower than themselves. All prisoners at the CIO have suffered a lot. But none have suffered so much as Vice Sergeant Yibeltal, the 32nd defendant Vice Sergeant Yeshiwas Mitiku, the 33rd Defendant Saergeant Wudineh Temesgen and the 28th Defendant Sergeant Amerrar Bayabel all of whom have been subjected to extremely severe physical and psychological torture, non-stop and for weeks on end. The Tigrean investigators wanted Vice Sergent Yibeltal Berhanu to witness against General Teferra Mammo and other high ranking officers they wanted to criminalize. The best witness which the Tigrean investigators could produce at the court was evidence in the form of a personal witness. The CIO investigators thought that by subjecting these low-ranking officers of the Federal Police to severe tortures, they would convince them to serve as testify against the alleged coup plotters. On the basis of the evidence we have compiled, we have not been able to establish that General Teferra Mammo has been subjected to the kind of severe torture the other prisoners have experienced. But many prisoners were severely tortured by way of forcing them to stand as witness against General Teferra Mammo.
The suffering of Vice Sergeant Yibeltal Berhanu is rendered very unique because he was required to testify against General Teferra. Although he has undergone the beating and suffering all other prisoners underwent, what makes the suffering of Vice Sergeant Yibeltal Berhanu unique is what transpired on the evening of May 11, 2009 during when he was taken out of prison blind-folded and hand-cuffed. He thought he was being taken to the torture chamber. But he was dragged like a sheep into a car. After having been put in the car, he was taken into a forest located nearby the capital city Addis Ababa. The Tigrean investigators clicking their automatic Klashinkovs and pistols and directing their weapons at him told him the following. “You have been condemned to being killed and dumped in this forest. If you have anything you want to pass on to your family, say it now”. He was subjected to an endless wave of psychological terror by being exposed to such threats. The investigators were discussing together and acting as if they were looking a favourable place in the forest where they could shoot and kill him. While doing this, all the time they made sure that he was hearing what they were saying to each other about what they were going to do with him. Subsequently seeing the anxiety with which he was reeling as all this drama was unfolding, the investigators were boasting by telling each other saying that “we have terrorized him to the point of making him urinate on his own clothes or piss himself”. They were repeating these words and laughing even after they returned to their office within the premise of the CIO prison. In that forest this prisoner was ordered to lie down facing the ground and subsequently the Tigrean investigators were telling each other to shoot him. The prisoner who heard the investigators talking about the impending killing, to which he would be subjected, pleaded with them or beseeched them not to kill him. Later these investigators were jokingly talking about the manner in which this prisoner has been crying and beseeching them so that they would not kill him. After forcing the prisoner to lie face-down on the ground for a long time, one of the investigators would say “kill him” while the other investigator says “This is just a poor guy, what does he know!!! Actually the ones who should be killed are his bosses who led him into all this mess!!!” This was the kind of drama they were enacting when they took this poor prisoner to the forest near by Addis Ababa where they were playing upon this poor soul – a method of investigation they were taught by their British trainers by way of extracting information from a prisoner under duress.
Later the investigators were jokingly talking and laughing about what this prisoner went through in the forest when they knocked him with the butt of their guns/pistols; when he was being kicked by them and told to move forward in front of them thereby knocking him self against a tree as he was blind-folded and could not see what was on his path. In addition to all this, they used to threaten him saying “who would waste a bullet to kill you; we would hang you on a tree with a rope”. They looped a noose around his neck thereby tightening and loosening the noose by way of terrorizing him psychologically and physically. Even after having been forced to suffer all these tormenting physical and psychological tortures, this prisoner could not admit to committing any of the crimes they charged him with. So they returned him to the CIO prison and they forced him to take into his mouth an electric wire thereby electrocuting him by forcing electrical current to pass through his teeth and mouth. As a result of the electric shock, this prisoner had fallen down on the ground. Then the investigators poured water on him and asked him “Is it enough for you or do you want more?” thereby referring to the torture he was subjected. He said to the investigators, “it is enough, all what you say is right” and raised his hand as a token of agreeing with what they said.But the suffering of Yibeltal did not end here. The investigators had wanted Yibeltal to testify against many individuals whom they wanted to criminalize. As such on the evening of May 14, 2009 they took him again for further investigation. By naming the names of high ranking officials of the incumbent regime, the investigators asked him to denounce individuals who had promised to give him money after he has killed these high officials of the incumbent government. Yibeltal said he would not agree to do this and refused to comply with the wish of his Tigrean investigators. After this, the investigators threw him into a small room, which is specifically constructed as a place of torture, and where one can neither stand nor sit down. And they left him there. That same night, the investigators came back to his prison cell and angrily threatened him with the following offensive statements. “You blood-sucker Gojjame we will burn you”. Subsequently they dragged him like a sheep and subjected him to another gruesome suffering and pain. After having forced him to take off his clothes including his underwear, they did beat him. Subsequently, they filled a plastic container with water and hanged onto his penis and began to pull it all the while mockingly jeering at him. In order to spare their ears the painful scream of this prisoner and to prevent others from hearing his cry, they gagged his mouth with smelling socks and continued to torture him severely. Finally he collapsed on the ground and turned unconscious in consequence of the torture. As usual, they poured water on his body but he did not wake up. Subsequently he was sent, along with accompanying police personnel, to the Police Hospital. He was later returned to his prison cell after a few days of treatment at the hospital. We were able to verify that upon return to the prison, this prisoner was condemned to stay insolitary confinement till June 6, 2009All those investigators and employees of the CIO who have seen how Yibeltal survived all these tortures, have now understood that a human being can endure a lot of physical and psychological suffering and that a human being does not easily succumb to death. The case of Yibeltal has become something which is widely talked about and referred to as an example of the human endurance of suffering.
32nd Defendant Vice Sergeant Yeshiwas Mitiku (ethnic Amhara)
Vice Sergeant Yeshiwas has been taken to the investigation room blind-folded and hand-cuffed. He was subjected to torture on consecutive days after he has been hanged upside down. Subsequently, he was subjected to beatings (Falanga) with electric wires, stick and he has sustained severe hand blows to his ears till his ears were rendered deaf. We have been able to ascertain that he was subjected to all this tortures.
33rd Defendant Sergeant Wudineh Temesgen (ethnic Amhara)
Sergeant Wudineh Temesgen was abducted on the night of May 13, 2009 A Tigrean officer by the name of Chief Inspector Berhe was the officer that captured Sergeant Wudineh Temesgen. Berhe told Temesgen that he was wanted in connection with his work and took him by car to the CIO. After he reached the CIO, Temesgen was briefly seen sitting on the veranda that lies in front of an office within the CIO premise. After a few minutes, armed Federal Police members and few investigators returned with Berhe and took away Temesgen blind-folded and hand-cuffed. In full day light and in full view of the public who was hearing what the Tigrean investigators were saying; the following offensive words were uttered against Temesgen as they led him away thereby roughing up in due course.
“You gluttonous Amhara!! we were able to timely got hold of you having learned that you were bought with money and charged with the task of shooting at the incumbent government” Then he was brought into a room where the head of CIO – the Tigrean Tadesse Messeret and other Tigrigna speaking investigators were waiting for him. The beatings started this same day. The head of the CIO, Tadesse Messeret and all those ethnicist Tigreans, who gathered at his office hurled all the degrading and humiliatingly rude insults which they could think of by way of insulting the Amhara ethnic group. Depending on what pleased them to do by way of mistreating him, some slapped him on his face, others gave him a blow with their fist and still others kicked him. Subsequently they told this prisoner that his investigation will continue the next day and sent him to his prison cell. The next day the investigators did beat him for two hours on end i.e. from 8 PM to 10 PM and they quenched their thirst of causing suffering to others through beating. But what happened to Wudineh Temesgen on May 15, 2009 was very different from all the suffering he went through in the days prior to this day. On this day, they gagged his mouth with his own socks and subsequently took off his clothes. Afterwards, they pounded on his penis and testicles in a manner which enacted the castration of a bull (although castration involves the removal of testicles of a male animal or human. In this case, in the final analysis, the pounding on the testicles of this man, render him infertile indefinitely). Under this suffering, he collapsed and turned unconscious and remained lying naked on the floor for a long time. The Tigrean torturers poured water on his naked body by way of waking him up. When he was brought back to his prison cell, his hands, legs, feet and his head were swollen as a result of the severe beating he was subjected to. His head was bleeding. The severe pain he felt while trying to urinate was such that even his prison mates who felt his pain had to break into tears witnessing his searing pain and suffering. The urine which he passed out after having exerted himself with much pain was nothing but blood. (Passing out urine with blood is a medical condition known clinically as hematuria. Medically speaking, three major causes to hematuria i.e. a) cancer or malignity affecting the urinary system, b) infection and lastly c) trauma. In this particular case, as with all the other cases mentioned in this report, the hematuria has been caused by the physical trauma i.e. in consequence of the severe beating he was exposed to through torture and the pounding of his penis and testicles by the torturers). The names of those investigators who perpetrated this beating on this prisoner are known.
28th Defendant Chief Sergeant Amerrar Bayabel (an ethnic Amhara)
Chief Sergeant Amerrar Bayabel was surrounded by some 30 uniformed soldiers led by Commander Werku and Chief Inspector Berhe on April 24, 2009 at his place of work. Like all prisoners, he was rendered naked by the Tigrean investigators and went through similar suffering the other prisoners went through at the CIO. For 14 nights on end, Chief Sergeant Amerrar Bayabel was subjected to severe torture. During one of these torture sessions to which he was subjected, he was insulted by one of the Tigrean investigators in the following manner. “Dirty, a man of dirty ethnic origin”. At the same time this same Tigrean investigator, who was hurling this insult, poured hot tea on the face of this prisoner. This prisoner was accused of allegedly planning “to kill four senior officials of the incumbent government and he was subsequently asked to witness against those individuals whom he is presumed to know and who have allegedly instructed him to carry out the assassination of senior government officials”. The purpose of the investigation was to make him admit these charges levelled against him and sign the alleged self-confession on which the investigators have already written down these false charges. Finally he had to sign this alleged self-confession under duress in consequence of the torture he underwent.
20th Defendant Yeshiwas Mengesha (an ethnic Amhara)
The torture to which Yeshiwas Mengesha has been subjected began on the 27th of April 2009 around 9 PM and continued for three consecutive days. The torture was accompanied by a warning to him about the notorious record of the CIO as an investigation centre. The threatening warning is reproduced verbatim hereafter:
“There is no one hero who has entered this prison and left without divulging whatever he knows. We have forced so many arrogantly defiant persons, who initially claimed they would not budge an inch, into making them lick our boots and beg for our pardon. If you refuse to talk or admit what you know, we would talk to you in the language of the illiterate as you are illiterate. Your nails of your feet would be pulled out, we will hang you upside down with a rope and you will be smelted with electricity”.
When Yeshiwas told them that he knew nothing about the “charges and accusations levelled against him”, they put into effect all the verbal threats they made against him and subjected him to severe torture. During two consecutive days, they tortured him by hanging him upside down, fixing his body onto the wall and forcing him to stand on the nails of his feet and pouring torrents of insults directed against his Amhara ethnic group. They scolded him and scoffed at him by saying “Our Belay Zeleke!!!” (Translator’s note: Belay Zeleke was a very famous Ethiopian patriot from Gojjam who won national acclaim after he scored lots of victories against Italian fascist invaders of Ethiopia during the five year occupation of Ethiopia between October 1935 and April 1941). They spitted on his face and tortured him for long hours till he collapsed and turned unconscious under torture. While torturing him, they continued hurling insults directed at his Amhara ethnic group. They were calling him “An Amhara chauvinist who still remains with chauvinist sentiment and attitude”. Finally unable to resist the extreme torture he underwent, Yeshiwas gave in to their demand and signed the alleged self-confession they wanted from him. He accepted as being true all that they wrote down and presented to him and signed it.
11th Defendant Major Adugna Alemayehu (an ethnic Amhara)
Major Adugna Alemayehu was captured on April 24, 2009 His imprisonment is different from all other prisoners on two counts in that he was imprisoned along with his wife and his 1 ½ years old child. Secondly after he appeared at court, he denied all the torture and suffering he and his wife were subjected to in prison. In addition to this he testified against other prisoners. He did all this hoping that he would be freed as was promised to him by the investigators. In spite of his denial of the suffering to which he and his wife were subjected, and the false testimony he gave against other prisoners, the court sentenced him to by 15 years of imprisonment without parole. The inhumane suffering which this man, his wife and child had gone through till the day he agreed to testify against other prisoners, need to be documented and told here. Both he and his wife have been taken to the investigation room blind-folded and hand cuffed and subsequently subjected to severe torture after their mouths have been gagged with piece of clothe. According to the prisoners who heard the cry of this child, when the wife of Major Adugna was being taken from her prison cell for torture, her 1 ½ years old daughter was crying in a very heart-breaking manner. The woman prisoners imprisoned with the wife of Major Adugna, unable to calm this child and unable to stop her from crying, began to sob along with this child as they were helpless to do anything by way of helping the child. Although Major Adugna Alemayehu and Major Adefris Asamnew had acted in a shameful manner by cooperating with the prosecutor general of the incumbent regime in falsely testifying against other prisoners, we have here documented what has been done to Major Adugna Alemayehu, his wife and daughter by way of letting the people of Ethiopia and the international community know about it. Although the TPLF regime tried to cover up what it has done to Major Adugna and his family and tricked Major Adugna into cooperating with the incumbent government in return for release and subsequently reneged on the promise it made to him, we have here exposed the whole truth the TPLF regime wanted to bury about this whole case.
21st Defendant Mengistu Abebe (an ethnic Amhara)
As of the 24th of June 2009, Mr. Mengistu Abebe has suffered torture for 45 days. This young engineer is among the few civilians imprisoned in connectionwith the Ginbot 7 political organization. When he was thrown into prison, he was taking care of his 3 years old child after his wife, who like him is an engineer by profession, was sent abroad in connection with the pursuit of higher education. The investigators of CIO, have appliedn him all types of torture methods, including Falanga (beating of his inner feet). In consequence of the blow or beating he sustained on his penis, he was passing out blood with his urine (a clinical condition known as hematuria and is secondary to trauma or beating in this particular case). As he was not able to stand on his own or sit down, he has to be supported by other fellow prisoners in all the movements he made. As he was not able, unlike other fellow prisoners, to sit on the toilet, bricks have to be piled up by way of giving him support in order to facilitate his use of the toilet. Although the investigators have denied any knowledge of having tortured him, at the court, Mengistu has bravely, courageously and defiantly spoken about the gruesome torture and beating to which he was subjected by the Tigrean investigators. Although the investigators denied torturing him, he was able to ask his prison mate who shared prison cell to serve him as witness in testifying what this elderly prison mate has known about the torture to which Mengistu was exposed. The 83 years old cell mate of Mengistu, named Mr. Tsige Habtemariam (who happens to be the father of Andargatchew Tsige, one of the leaders of the Ginbot 7 political movement) testified at the court by stating that Mengistu was severely beaten by the investigators. Mr. Tsige was himself humiliated and made to suffer in prison. Mr. Tisge himself has been taken to the investigation room blind-folded and handcuffed on more than nine occasions. The investigators who were worried that the leakage of the torture and beating to which Mengistu was subjected would lead to the publicization of the tortures of all the other prisoners, had tried to convince Mr. Tsige not to testify in support of Mengistu. The investigators have even tried to reach a settlement or deal with Mr. Tsige by telling him that they were ready to negotiate with him on the condition of his incarceration should he cooperate with them. But Mr. Tsige did not budge to their effort at cheating him and putting pressure on him. He answered them by saying the following: “If I cannot tell the truth about what I have seen at this advanced age, when will I give my testimony? You can do whatever you like”. Thus he gave his testimony about the beating ofMengistu Abebe by testifying in favour of the latter at the court. Mr. Tsige is not only weak and frail on account of his advanced age. He is also some one who suffers from Diabetes Mellitus and a worrisome heart condition. On account of the testimony he gave at the court, he was labelled by the investigators of the TPLF regime as a “cursed old man”. This old man has been sentenced to life time imprisonment and languishes in prison now. Although Mengistu Abebe told the court that he was forced to sign a false statement written and presented to him by the investigators under duress and in spite of the fact that the old man testified at the court that Mengistu was indeed tortured, the court judges rejected Mengistu’s plea to invalidate what the investigators presented as a “genuine self-confession by Mengistu”. The court concluded by saying “more than the testimony of Mr. Tsige, we give more weight to the statement Mengistu Abebe gave by stating that he has signed the written statement without being put under any pressure. The court also added that it gives more weight to the statement of judge Shemsu Sirgaga mentioned on the statement prepared by the investigators. The court said that the alleged torture of Mengistu Abebe by the investigators is a fiction fabricated by Mnegistu Abebe and Mr. Tsige”. The attempt of Mngistu Abebe to get justice was in vain. The court judge passed verdict of death and life-time sentence by referring to article 35 of the Ethiopian Criminal Code thereby falsely adding that Mengistu Abebe has voluntarily stated at the court he signed the written statement without pressure being put on him by the investigators. So who were these torturers and what was the role of judge Shemsu Sirgaga in this aborted judicial process that has itself become victim of an evil conspiracy? Our next focus will be on these issues.
Those who Give Orders to tortures and the Torturers
What makes the case of our country (Ethiopia) worrisome is the fact that those who control the rein of power and the army, the security, the federal and regional police force and do what ever they want (imprison, kill, beat, etc) are members of one ethnic group i.e Tigreans. They do anything with impunity and are not in any way accountable to the law or any one. This ethnically-based power structure is the main cause of the cruelty and suffering perpetrated against Ethiopians – including crimes which one cannot imagine would be committed against human beings in this age and in this contemporary world. Some one who is poisoned with ethnic hatred cannot see people from otherethnic groups as human beings. An ethnicist cannot see children of ethnic groups outside his own as children; cannot see women of other ethnic groups as women; cannot see the elderly from other ethnic groups as an elderly person. This is so on account of the fact that an ethnicist is some one who has lost the human lens that allows him/her to see all human beings as humans. The German Nazis, the Rwandan Hutus used to consider Jews and Tutsi as pests and cockroaches respectively thereby dehumanizing and reducing them into sub-human creatures before they subjected them to genocide. The fact that the Tigrean ethnicsts or ethnonationalists harbour similar outlook about non-Tigreans in Ethiopia has become clear from what they are doing today and from their records of the last 20 years.
The only problem facing the Tigrean ethnonationalists who wield power today is the fact that they have not been able to materialize their ethnicist project on the scale of the Nazi Germans and Rwandan Hutus. The fact that they belong to a minority group has not allowed them to perpetrate a massive genocide on the scale of what the Nazis in Germany and the Hutu ethnicists in Rwanda have perpetrated. However, the Tigrean ethnonationalists have the ethnicist hatred which allows them with the potential capacity of perpetrating mass genocide on non- Tigreans. Clues pointing to the genocidal capacity of Tigrean ethnonationalists have been abound as can be gleaned from whattranspired in Oromia, Gambella, Ogaden, Sidama, Hawassa, Gondar, Gojjam, Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia and as witness what they did in Mogadishu (the capital city of the neighbouring failed state of Somalia). These Tigrean officials who consider themselves to be members of the chosen ethnic group, have under them people who come from different ethnic groups, work for them and whom they order at will. As these Tigreans control everything in their hands, including all the power the whole wealth of the country, salaried employees who happen to be citizens of a poor country with no other means of livelihood, have to obey and enforce the order of their Tigrean overlords. Some of these non-Tigreans go beyond the call of duty to serve as the right hand of these ethnicist Tigreans. This last group of non-Tigreans who serve as right hands of the Tigrean overlords are individuals who have no respect for the very community they hail from. Moreover, they tend to be obsequious and self ingratiating individuals who prostrate themselves before their Tigrean overlords. The Amhara National Democratic Movement members we mentioned earlier in this report are good examples of this latter group.
The condition obtaining in the Central Investigation Office (CIO) is also the same. The officials, the holders of chief or key positions in the CIO are all Tigreans. Those who give orders to torture prisoners are these same Tigrean bosses or officials. Although he is currently removed from the CIO, the official who ordered the torture and beatings of all those individuals that have been imprisoned in connection with the OLF (Oromo Liberation Front), CUD (Coalition for Democratic Unity), ONLF (Ogaden Liberation Front) and the Ginbot 7 Political Movement and the person who made the CIO a notorious centre of cruelty and suffering was the Tigrean Tadesse Messeret. The immediate head of Tadesses Tamirat is Getachew Assefa (the Ethiopian Security Chief). And the immediate head of Getachew Assefa is Meles Zenawi (the strongest man of Ethiopia). What connects all these three individuals is not the government structure of which they form a part but the ethnicist structure which is premised on the fact that all three hail from the same ethnic group (i.e. Tigrean ethnic group). The order or instruction which passes through this ethnic structure of power is communicated in the Tigrigna language (the language spoken by members of the minority Tigrean ethnic group who represent 6% of the Ethiopian population on whose behalf TPLF controls now state power in Ethiopia). On account of the Tigrean ethnicist ideology that permeates the CIO and issues from Tadesse Messeret and his two Tigrean bosses (Getachew Assefa and Meles Zenawi) that symbolize this ethnicist ideology, the CIO has been converted into a torture institution where non-Tigrean prisoners are insulted, dehumanized, humiliated and degraded because of their ethnic origin in addition to the torture and beatings they undergo here. The CIO has under its control a Tigrean cabal group composed of Tigreans who have been brought together through benefits that accrue to them and are organized in such a way as to perpetrate any crime against any one deemed enemy or opponent of the regime. This ethnicist structure is omnipresent in all regions of Ethiopia and in all structures of government, army, police and security organs.
Today in Ethiopia, in addition to what is officially known as the Ethiopian government, there is another government of Tigrean ethno-nationalists composed of looters and cruel people who are not amenable to the rule of law and are not accountable to any one. The incumbent regime is a government which is constituted by members of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). It is not without reason that the TPLF has not changed its name even 20 years after it has assumed power in Ethiopia. The only way the TPLF can prolong its stranglehold on Ethiopia and continue to control Ethiopia is by remaining beholden to its ethnic political structure and by maintaining an organisation that is composed of Tigreans who are organized on the basis of ethnicity.
The exceptionally horrifying ethnically motivated torture and cruelty perpetrated at the CIO, and elsewhere in the country, is carried out by this ethnically organized Tigreans. On account of the ethnically structured nature of the system and the ethnic reinforcement this ethnic structure affords and the mutual benefit it offers to its Tigrean employees, the divulging of information pertaining to the gruesome tortures and the cruelty obtaining at the CIO and other Federal Police stations has been very minimal. It is only 10% of what transpires in these torture centres that gets to the ears of the Ethiopian public. Even this information could only be gathered mostly thanks to the effort of members of other ethnic groups i.e. non-Tigreans and thanks to those brave and courageous individuals who suffered in TPLF prisons as victims. And some times information has been leaked out by Tigrean individuals who, like any one human being, put their humanity before their ethnicity. There are also informations that are some times leaked out by Tigrean individuals who refuse to carry out the orders of their bosses. Here we have the duty of reporting the case of a Tigrean individual, former employee of the prison system, who was instructed to torture General Teferra Mammo but refused to carry out this order of his Tigrean bosses and was subsequently fired from his job. This brave Tigrean was later chased by a car and hit thereby being rendered invalid. We wish we could not mention his name, knowing as we do, that the TPLF officials would cause more harm to him than they have already done. But the harm that would be caused to him by not mentioning his humane deed would outweigh the harm that would be done to him by the TPLF. We say to Ermias (the exemplary Tigrean who conscientiously refused to carry out the orders of his ethnicist Tigrean bosses) let God protect you. The greatness of the debt of gratitude the Ethiopian people and particularly the Tigrean people owe to Ermias, who refused to carry out the ethnicist orders of Tadesse Messeret and his ethnicist friends can only be measured in the future. But an ominous fate awaits Tadesse Messeret, his bosses and the torturers they have ethnically organized.
The names of the torturers who tortured and subjected the prisoners who have been incarcerated in connection with the Ginbot 7 Movement by even going beyond the call-of-duty specified by Tadesse Messeret and subsequently accomplished their “duty” are the following:
1 – Yohannes – inspector
2 – Tezerra Bogale – inspector
3 – Ketema – inspector
4 – Seyid Ali – inspector
5 – Tadesse Ayalew – inspector
6 – Berhane – inspector
7 – Belete – inspector
8 – Gebre Medhin Nure – inspector
9 – Mulugeta – inspector
10 – Assefa Atikut – vice inspector
Among these torturers, the ones who are notoriously famous for their boundless cruelty are Yohannes, Ketema, Berhanu and Tezerra. These torturers are sadist individuals who enjoy the suffering of others and whose enthusiasm to subject others to suffering appropriately qualifies them in the category of the mentally sick patients. Yohannes Ketema and Berhanu are the torturers who took the 31st defendant (Vice Sergeant Yibeltal Berhanu) to the AA forest and subjected him to untold suffering (described earlier) in this report. They are the ones who later hanged a plastic bottle filled with water unto his penis thereby causing great pain and suffering to him.
The investigators or torturers who led the investigation that was carried out on Sergeant Wudineh Temesgen were Seyid Ali and Mullugeta. With the exception of Inspector Gebre Medhin Nure about whom we could not find many incriminating evidences in regard to acts of cruelty that may have been perpetrated by him, the other nine inspectors are individuals who used to enjoy seeing the suffering, tears and blood of the prisoners they subjected to torture when each time five of these inspectors were carrying out the tortures on these prisoners. These inspectors wrote the alleged self-confessions of the prisoners and subsequently forced these prisoners to sign these alleged self-confessions after they have subjected the latter to severe tortures. Subsequently these inspectors presented these allegedly voluntary self-confessions of the prisoners to the court thereby allowing the judges of the ethnicist regime to pass verdict ranging from life-time imprisonment to the death sentences. We believe that you our Ethiopian compatriots would do all you can to see to it that these notoriously cruel and ethnicist officials of the Central Investigation Office (CIO) would be brought to justice and be penalized for the suffering they have caused to innocent victims during the last years.
The Conspiracy of the Investigators and Judge Shemisu Sirgaga
According to the laws of the country, the statement of admission or denial of transgression of the law given by an individual suspect to an investigator cannot be regarded as valid evidence unless it is presented to the judge at the court and is verified by the judge. The judge who has been chosen to execute such task of verification is judge Shemisu Sirgaga, the notorious TPLF-appointee +++known for violating the process of justice thereby causing much suffering to the people of Ethiopia. Shemsu is a judge who even after having witnessed the bleeding body and swollen faces of the prisoners that enter the court room supported by the investigators (as they cannot walk properly owing to the severe beating they underwent), poses to this prisoners the following question:
“Is this self-confession you made given voluntarily or not?”
Shemsu says “well done” to those prisoners who answered his question with a yes answer although he knows that the prisoners say yes in order to spare themselves another round of severe torture that awaits them should they give a No answer. With regard to those brave and defiant prisoners who answer his question with a No answer, judge Shemsu orders the investigators to take these prisoners and subject them to further investigation thereby sanctioning more rounds of severe torture. In short, although he is officially known as a judge, Sehmsu is some one who works incahoots++ with the investigators or torturers and perpetrate cruelty in the name of administering justice.
Shemsu has committed many crimes by conspiring with the investigators or torturers. None of the prisoners were told that they would be presented to a judge when they were presented to judge Shemsu. Shemsu has never told, even mistakenly, the prisoners who appear before him that he is the judge who would preside over their cases. As the day and time at which the majority of the prisoners are presented to judge Shemsu do not fit with the normal time in which judges work, it would not be is possible to consider Shemsu as a judge. On account of this Shemsu was rather considered or suspected, by the prisoners, to be a top official of the Central Investigation Office (CIO). Judge Shemsu appears on the day and at the hour the investigators need him. Even on the official National Day of Liberation of Ethiopia May 4 (Miyazya 27), judge Shemsu convenes a court session at will and performs what the CIO investigators ask him to do. It is not an exaggeration to state that judge Shemsu is someone who has been making mockery of the justice system by colluding and conspiring with the investigators, sitting in judgement on Sundays or during the evening hours in locations which are not clearly and officially marked as court premises. On account of all this, judge Shemsu is some one who has been harming the interest of Ethiopia and its people. The 21st Defendant engineer Mengistu Abebe was presented on the evening of May 4, 2009 (on the official National Day of Liberation of Ethiopia from Italian fascist occupation) with his bleeding body at the court presided over by judge Shemsu Sirgaga). It was on this evening and day that engineer Mengistu was asked by judge Shemsu whether or not the alleged self-confession given by him to the investigators was made voluntarily (although his bleeding body bear witness to the fact that there was nothing voluntary in the alleged self-confession made by defendant Mengistu Abebe). It was on the evening of this same National Liberation Day of Ethiopia that judge Shemsu sat in judgement to serve as a testimony that the alleged self-confession by Mengistu was voluntarily made. What kind of justice is this? We leave the judgement to readers of this report. We have herewith presented to you our compatriots this documented history of injustice which we have compiled after encountering a lot of problem. In doing this, we believe that, we have somehow discharged our responsibility due to us as citizens. We hope that you our compatriots who read this report would do all you can to halt or stop this injustice”.
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