Call from the Family and Friends of Detained Leaders of Ethiopias Coalition for Unity and Democracy sign now

December 14, 2005
President George BushThe White House Prime Minister Tony Blair10 Downing Street, Whitehall, London SW1A 2AA - England, UK Josep Borrell Fontelles,President of the European ParliamentRue WiertzB-1047, Brussels

Dear President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and President Borrell Fontelles:
A tragedy of epic proportions is unfolding in Ethiopia as the world is watching seemingly silently. Contrary to official reports, the number of people who are being killed and maimed in terror unleashed by the government of Mr. Zenawi since November 1, 2005, is counted in the hundreds as most of the dead are not even taken to hospitals. Mothers and fathers are watching helplessly and unable to protect their loved ones as the security forces round up the youth throughout cities and towns in the country. Some who tried to protect their children by attempting to prove their innocence are gunned down at point blank. People are not even allowed to take dead bodies from hospital morgues unless they sign a paper stating that the opposition party, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), is responsible for the death of the deceased. Tens of thousands of youth are being taken to huge concentration camps in different parts of the country. Tens of thousands of youth are herded in a concentration camp in the Deddesa Valley in Western Ethiopia, an area heavily infested with malaria. Prisoners are given a small piece of bread and a glass of water to take them through a day. Thousands of family members dont know where their loved ones are taken to. We are hopeful that the recent trend in the media to expose the degree of repression in retaliation to the publics having voted its conscience will help shed the necessary light on the actual gravity of the situation.

All the leaders of the opposition including leaders of civic organizations are in prison. All editors of newspapers, except those serving the regime, have stopped publishing as the reporters are either in hiding or in prison. Some among these prisoners were physically abused. A long time human rights activist, Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, was taken from his home where he had been staying for the last four months, rarely going out, due to a medical problem.

The Prime Minister has already described leaders of the opposition as criminals preempting the judicial process. The Prime Minister has been preparing for this assault by stripping the leaders of the opposition of their immunity as elected representatives of the people a month ago. Most of the leaders of the opposition are believers in nonviolence and did nothing other than asking their followers to peacefully protest until their demands for a negotiated solution of outstanding issues are resolved. These outstanding issues have been consistently and wrongly described as a contention in the number of seats, while in fact, the contention has always been in the hijacking of the process. This is very different. The issue has never been about the number of seats in Parliament, and it is unfortunate that media and the various diplomatic missions have been made to understand it as such. We believe that this misconception is one of the very dangerous ones that have helped marginalize and jeopardize the safety of the individuals who are currently in detention. As we write this, six months after the election, there is no complete, official report on the election by independent observers. However, we have sufficient information both from news reporters and members of observer teams that the entire process, campaign, election, and post election investigation were deeply flawed.

The incidents that led to the current impasse are created by deliberate provocations by the government of Meles Zenawi. Claims that demonstrators threw bombs and shot at police are complete fabrications. The current impasse started when police began beating and killing people who heeded the call of the opposition to protest the governments actions in civilized and peaceful civil disobedience. These acts are universally recognized as being least disruptive, non-violent, and entirely legal. Yet, the Executive has been accusing these civic and political leaders of treason. We are sure you will agree that such a statement from the highest executive office is inappropriate, and revealing of the heavy-handed nature of the crackdown.

The Ethiopian people are suffering for one and one reason only their belief in Democracy. Ethiopians for the first time in their history believed that the only way out of their tragic poverty is to use democracy as the tool. They decided to change their government through an election and came out in droves in a 90\% turnout that amazed the world. As the votes were being counted and when the results began to trend in favor of the opposition, Mr. Zenawi declared victory and an unprovoked state of emergency at the same time. This is the reason that angered Ethiopians and led them to peacefully protest.

We have family members currently in detention. Most have been there since November 1, 2005. Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, age 75, has refused food since, and has announced that he will refuse fluids if transferred to the Kaliti Prison, which the court has ordered. The democratic process in Ethiopia has been hijacked, and our loved ones are held hostage by a government that has abandoned tens of thousands in malaria and crocodile infested camps. We understand this to be an extremely tense situation that if unchecked can rapidly deteriorate.

Since this government has been in power, politics in Ethiopia has become ethnic based, literally endangering the very existence of Ethiopia. There is no truth to the ruling governments assertion that the CUD is based on a certain ethnicity and promotes a sectarian agenda. The record is very clear. The CUD fully embraces national unity and democracy as its name implies, and is founded on the principle of INDIVIDUAL and not group rights.

We know that the donor assistance that this government receives is critical to the military might that has been unleashed on the people suspected of supporting the opposition our loved ones. We also know that this untenable situation can readily deteriorate.

Ethiopians all over the world call for a strong intervention by the donor countries particularly the United States and the European Union. Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa, needs to be saved from dangerous instability that will mostly come if Mr. Zenawis government is allowed to continue with its intransigence. We believe the only solution to the problem is the unconditional release of the CUD leadership and all political prisoners and engage in civilized dialogue as the CUD has been calling for over six months now.

We need your voice to stop this crime against the people of Ethiopia and save the country from a disastrous instability. I kindly ask you to do this now. Tomorrow would be too late.

Waiting to hear your voice on this serious matter,

Sincerely, The Undersigned

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Clyde TrevinoBy:
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President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and President of European Parliament Josep Borrell Fontelles


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