Ethiopians in London start anniversary vigil, hunger strike

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By Wondimu Mekonnen
October 31, 2006

LONDON – The Kinijit Support Organization in the UK (KSOUK) which is also called the CUDP Support Organisation, in collaboration with the Concerned Ethiopians Civic Group has started a candle vigil and hunger strike on Downing Street effective from 4:00 pm today in remembrance of the November 2005 massacre and the anniversary of the incarceration of CUDP leaders, journalists and members of the civic organisations. The vigil and hunger strike are planned to continue for three days, until Wednesday 1 November 2006, 8 pm.

The leaders of CUDP, have done nothing worthy of detention apart from legitimately winning the May 2005 Election at the presence of European Union observers, whose report Meles called “garbage”. The people of Ethiopian have unanimously rejected the regime of Meles Zenawi, but the dictator was not willing to handover power to the elected opposition leaders, the CUDP and the UEDF. In stead, it declared a state of emergency, massacred at least 193 confirmed innocent people, rounded up more than 400,000 citizens and transported them to remote malaria infested concentrations camps, such as Dedessa, Bir Sheleqo and Showa Robit. At the concentration camps, Meles ordered to shave the heads of the detainees with one shaving blade, as long as it could shave, deliberately exposing them to the risk infection by HIV/AIDS Virus. This is truly what does genocide would look like. Only time will tell how many are condemned to death from such in human act.Although the London weather can never be trusted, it looked fine. The hunger strikers are in good spirit, looking forward to carry on with theit message to London voters about Prime Minister Tony Blair’s association with a tyrant of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, and his failure to stop his friend, one of the former Commissioners of African Commission, from violating the basic human rights and abuse of his power.

The crime of Meles against humanity did not stop there. The regime then arrested all of the CUDP leaders, including the Mayor of Addis Ababa Dr Berhanu Nega, the renowned academic and human right activist, and founder of Ethiopian Human Rights Council, Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam, Engineer Hailu Shaul, Dr Hailu Araya, Dr Yakob H/Mariam and Artist, Debe Eshetu as well as 16 journalists of the free press and charged them with treason and genocide, which it had later corrected to attempted genocide.

Over the last one year, the international community has not been seen doing anything worthy to mention to tame the tyrant but stood aside and watched Meles Zenawi committing crime against humanity in Ethiopia. From the faces of the demonstrators, one can easily read the anger and frustration about the inability of the democratic nations to act decisively.

Ethiopians in London stage a hunger strike on the first anniversary of the massacres of innocent protestersIn the aftermath of the election, the embarrassed government of Prime Minister Tony Blair allegedly suspended a $36m (£20m) aid increase to murderous regime of Ethiopia after the June 2005 massacre following the protest against the hijacking of the election. However, the Ethiopians in Britain were gobsmacked by the British Government’s resumption of aid under the pretext of helping the poor. Hilary Benn’s policy of persuasion did not play a deterrent role. In November 2005, the regime in Ethiopia carried out similar atrocities without any regard to the cry of the international community. The darling of the West knows well that he can commit any crime and get away with anything as long as the US and the UK take him on board as an ally.

To counter such indifference of the British Government, The Ethiopians in London are holding a three-day vigil and starving themselves to carry the message through. Through their distributed leaflets, the Ethiopians in London are appealing first of to the sympathetic British public to:

  • Take up the issue of human rights in Ethiopia at local community and political meetings and seek ways of persuading your MP, MEP or other persons that can take up the issue with the British government and/or other organisation working in Ethiopia.
  • Help the campaign for the release of all political prisoners, including all leaders of the opposition and members of the private media, without any preconditions.
  • Create a condition where citizens can live in peace, the right of the individual is respected, and the basis of good governance established.

The attempt of the Ethiopians to reach Londoners did not fall in deaf ears, though there seems general news blackout on their activities. People have been stopping by, reading the posters, taking the leaflets and listening to the briefing of the sons and daughters of Ethiopia, who have volunteered to be the Ambassadors of their troubled nation.

In the dark day of 30 October 2006, Ethiopians displayed the pictures of CUDP leaders, defying the cold and demanding the immediate release of their leaders from the dingy jails of Ethiopia.

Vigil and Hunger strike

The Ethiopians are telling the British public that the British Government’s policy of ‘persuasion through co-operation’ is nothing but simply a clever way of turning blind eyes to atrocities. In view of the terrorist infiltration in the region, Britain and the United States have taken the Ethiopian regime as an ally. The reality is, however, that the Ethiopian regime is itself a terrorist minority dictatorship that is holding to power through brute force including killings and incarcerating citizens opposed to it. Therefore, Ethiopians are risking the British cold nights in London, determined to be the voice for the CUDP leaders, journalists and thousands of imprisoned innocent voiceless citizens.

It is ironical that the leaders of the Super Powers, the United States and the United Kingdom, took Meles Zenawi as a partner in fighting terrorism. To begin with, Meles is a sworn enemy of the West until 1991. Secondly, he has been the creation of the people whom he appears to fight today allegedly on the side of the USA and the UK. Let us not forget that he used Somali passport in his days in the bush and had been trained and deployed against Ethiopia by the Somalis, Sudan, Syria, Egypt, Lybiya and Iran. Ethiopians are saying doing business with the tyrant could bring nothing but only bring embarrassment to the leadership of the West. There are no good dictators.

The Downing Street is a very sensitive area. Very few people are allowed to hold vigils at this spot, leave alone a three day hunger strike. However, The Police and the public already know Ethiopians well. Both the Police and some the members of the public could be overheard talking that Ethiopians deserved to demonstrate at that spot because they had a cause to demonstrate. This is the second time in a year Ethiopians are holding hunger strikes at Downing Street. They are aiming at capturing the awareness and sympathy of the public and attract attention of the media to force the Government to act like the leader of a democratic country.

From the observation of the moods of the demonstrators and hunger strikers, it is evident those people meant business. The message will eventually get through, one way or another.

The Union jack is also displayed along the Ethiopian flag. This confirmed the spirit of the current exhibition displayed at The London Museum under the banner of “belonging”. Ethiopians are now part of the London community and are making their points through their democratic rights as British citizens.

The demonstrators ask Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia everywhere to pray for Ethiopia these three days. After reflecting on their past on years vigils and demonstrations for some time, London Ethiopians have gone back to action once more. They expect their brothers and sisters elsewhere to take similar actions. It is time of mourning and prayers for the safety of CUDP leaders, journalists and innocent citizens in jail. The hunger strikers and demonstrators at Downing Street count upon Ethiopians to take this week seriously and bring the plight of our people to the ears of those who care.

The struggle for the freedom and democracy in Ethiopia continues.

The report with more pictures can be downloaded here in pdf format.

The writer can be reached at

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