I am Eskinder Nega. To be sure, I am the voice of Eskinder Nega.
It is impossible to scare, arrest, muzzle or jail the voices of truth. I can claim that I, the voice of Eskinder Nega, am as free as the birds in the sky and free to speak out to those terrorized by the truth.
So many people across the globe who have heard of Eskinder’s plight may think that he is a totally helpless prisoner. But that is not true. Neither his fellow detainees accused of “terrorism” nor Eskinder, a faithful and passionate advocate of nonviolence, are prisoners. In the absence of courts run by sane judges and justices with conscience, there can be no prisoners held lawfully. Dissenters, opposition leaders and journalists like Eskinder, Andualem, Debebe, Bekele, Reeyot, Woubishet and countless others are victims of the rule of thugs.
“If they are not prisoners,” you may ask, “what are they doing in jail and dungeons?” That is a question best put to one man who holds an entire nation prisoner. As far Eskinder and other others are concerned, they are not prisoners, only kidnapped hostages of a gang of thugs that have seized state power through violence and acts of terrorism.
That public face of Meles Zenawi’s “terrorism”, Shimelis Kemel, was once accused of treason by the very masters he is serving now for publishing his opinion. During the TPLF-EFLF bloody conflict he wrote that deporting Eritreans was an act of ethnic cleansing. Meles and Bereket were quick to put him in jail and charge him with treason. That was before he sold out his soul and conscience to those who wanted to hang him. Today Shimelis is a torture czar in Ethiopia. In 2006, he demanded the death penalty for the imprisoned opposition leaders, journalists and others. The fake attorney Shimelis is a man without a conscience. He was ready to put to death even his former friends including that real lawyer Daniel Bekele. For Shemilis, vengeance is justice and the law the weapon of choice to exact vengeance.
As chief prosecutor for the Meles regime, Shimeles has effectively declared Eskinder to be neither a journalist nor a writer. In the eyes of Shimeles and his bosses, Eskinder Nega is a high-value terrorist much like Osama Bin Laden. Shimelis had once studied law at Addis Ababa University, but he seems to have forgotten much of it as seen in his courtroom melodrama. In his mind, Eskinder Nega is a convicted terrorist. Taking orders from Zenawi and Bereket Simon, Shimelis was one of the authors of the “press freedom”, “terrorism” and “civil society” laws. The gang makes, interprets and applies the “laws” to ensure they remain in power and eliminate all opposition and dissent against their criminal tyranny.
Serkalem Fasil, the international award-winning Ethiopian journalist and Eskinder’s wife and partner in the struggle for democracy in Ethiopia, should have been beating her bosom, wailing and weeping when Eskinder was arrested. But she did not. She said when one Eskinder is shackled, thousands of other Eskinders will arise. I am one of the thousands of Eskinders, a “terrorist” in the eyes of the thugs in power.
The thought of thousands of Eskinders must be terrifying news for those who practice terrorism from the comfort of the palace. Soon enough, the thousands of Eskinders, Andualems, Debebes, Reeyots… who now suffer in silence will rise up and demand an end to repression, torture and human rights abuses. What will the masters of terror do then? Will they declare a state of emergency? Will they do what they did in 2005 and send their bloodthirsty goons in the streets to shoot indiscriminately on defenseless civilians?
Excessive fear, anxiety and insecurity are symptoms of chronic paranoia. Abusing, killing, jailing and dehumanizing an entire nation must surely be a very stressful job. They alleviate their stress by killing and jailing more people. But I suppose there is no cure for those suffering from the sickness of the soul and heart. They try to cleanse themselves with the blood of the innocents.
It must be said that true liberty is not a distant dream or a fantasy for Ethiopians. When the abused majority says enough is enough, nothing can save the thugs who impose their will through brutality. Neither Eskinder nor any of the others committed any crimes; they simply stood up to the thugs who have denied Ethiopians the right to live in peace. But change will inevitably come and that will be Ethiopia’s Spring.
We live in interesting times. The gathering clouds of change in North Africa have created trepidation and terror among abusive and wicked dictators across Sub-Saharan Africa who feel that oppressing a nation is their birthright. The battle for freedom is not easy, but tyrants who have tried in vain to defeat the oppressed have never succeeded to cling to the mantle of tyranny for life. When ordinary men and women refuse to fear and be silenced, dictators get terrorized and start shooting at their own shadows.
Ethiopians are tired of carrying burdensome tyrants that abuse and terrorize the nation. This is a self-evident fact. When the people say no more oppression, how could they tell them that we should remain under their boots? When people say that they are hungry, how could they tell them to keep on starving in silence? When people say that they will no longer get abused, how could they tell them to enjoy their miseries? The projects of tyranny are not sustainable no matter how they tried to complicate inter-ethnic relations. We shall overcome!
The voice of Eskinder Nega and the rest of Ethiopia’s heroes and heroines who have stood up to tyranny will never be silent. Those who cling to power should not try to stop the time and the changes it brings. I am the voice of Eskinder Nega…I will continue to speak fearlessly. I refuse to be silenced…