Arena Tigrai for Democracy and Sovereignty has been trying its best to advance its objectives through peaceful means since its establishment in 2008. It was one of the strongest candidates during the national and regional elections that were conducted in 2010. It had fielded its candidates in 33 constituencies out of the 36. Its popularity in the region has increased since its formation. However, it was operating under very difficult political landscape. It is remembered that one of its candidates for the national parliament, Ato Aregawi Gebre Yohaness, was cold bloodedly murdered and several were harassed and intimidated. It was ostensibly seen that deciding to run for election in Tigrai was like going to war. We would like to inform all peace loving and democratic minded people and institutions that the harassments and intimidations on members of Arena and the public are being intensified since the passing away of the prime minister last August. The following are some of the recent violations of human rights on members Arena and the public.
1. Arena is trying to communicate with the public and has once again published and distributed its organ throughout Tigrai. Several issues including the complaints of the public on mal-administration, high taxations and the forced recruitment of public servants to the ruling party were addressed in the paper. The paper was well received despite the arrest of several senior members of the party. Ato Yohanes Kahsai and Sultan Hishe in Samre, Ato Ayalew Beyene and Ato Tekalign in Sheraro, Ato Tsegay Hiluf in Abergele were arrested while peacefully distributing the papers from December 12 to 18,2012. We did complain to the relevant authorities but did not get the right response.
2. The worst harassments and intimidations have occurred recently around Humera. Our members in Humera had opened a new office in the town of Adebay, not far from Humera, on December 21, 2012. On the eve of opening the office a member of Arena, Ato Mesele, was arrested on the pretext that he did not carry the identification card of his party. He was released when our office in Mekele complained to the police. On the wake of the opening of the office the flag mast was dismantled and taken away by the administration at night. Finally, they destroyed the building of our office on the pretext that they are going to construct a road across it. They had also confiscated all the materials that were in the office. In the mean time, they have destroyed the house of Ato Gebreabezgi Nayu a member of Arena and the one who was in charge of the office on December 28, 2012. He is a father of five kids and now forced to leave in the open air with his family suffering from the burning sun of the day and cold weather of the night. He has also lost all his properties. The house of his colleague, Ato Giday, has also been destroyed. The administrators say that it is in the public interest to dismantle the houses. They say that they are going to build a new road across it. But even if that was the intention it was done without any warnings and compensations. The house of Ato Gebreabezgi was destroyed at night and was deliberately done to intimidate him.
3. Harassments and intimidations have been intensified on all members of Arena since the death of Ato Meles. You might remember that on the wake the Ethiopian new-year the party cadres had passed resolutions that vow to destroy Arena and had included it in their yearly program. We would like to remind you that this is a gross violation of human rights being perpetrated on alls peace loving and democratic minded people of Tigrai. It is under this circumstance that they are propagating that democratic elections will be conducted in the country. It is time for all democratic minded people to raise their voices and say enough to the atrocities being perpetrated on our colleagues and the public.
4. Arbitrary destruction of houses in different parts of Tigrai has continued this year, too. Several hundred houses around Alamata, Mokoni, Korem, and other area of the south are being destroyed without due process of law. Elders who went to the Tigrai administration to complain on the case have been ignored and have gone back without any solutions. All these show that the current administration in Tigrai, as well as in Ethiopia, has decided to continue the rule of the thumb ignoring the just demands of citizens.