Ethiopia releases former junta officials

October 16th, 2011 | by addis portal |

Senior former officials of the military regime who have been sentenced to death by Ethiopian court for genocide crime against humanity have been pardoned after almost 21 years imprisonment and the public reaction is positive with some reservations.


“We all make mistakes one way or the other. They did a terrible mistakes and this is proven by the due processes of law beyond any doubt. By this I hope all of us have learnt a lesson that no body is above the law no matter how long it may take.” Abdurrahman Yassen a political scientist said.

“Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness; instead it is a sign of strength and self-confidence. They the former officials by now they might have realised how wrong they were and they are getting old. Forgive them is morally and politically the right action.” Abdurrahman further added.

“I was young and what has happen in those days I may not visualised id right now. Indeed, I have lost my dada and my elder brother because of the red terror I grew up with out a father and it is hard to forget and forgive,” said Zewdu Abebe, 32 an engineer by profession.

Zewdu further stated, until few years ago I had the notion that the death penalty should be implemented on this people, however as time goes by I realized that the killing of this people want give me the chance to see neither my dad or my brother therefore I have no problem of their release.

It depends as how you see it says, Alemensh Wolde who had been a victim and who serve 5 years in prison during that era, “When you recall the suffering we went through and the death of your colleagues it is a pain full pill to swallow it.”

“Indeed killing them is a single act that will be over in a matter of seconds, but forgiving them is no matter how hard it may be you are giving them a hard life time torturer for the rest of their life, it is like living with guilty consciousness at every step at every minute.” Almensh further noted.

When I rewind the memories of that time the hardship I went through during those days, says Berhane Demisse, who had been jailed for 13 years I wish I could have seen them lining up for execution and see them falling in front of me from the hail of bullets like the did to my colleagues.

“Their deed is terrible and it is difficult to explain it in words. Having said this my personal dream was to see them executed, but having seen that they are not above the law and exposed publicly the untouchable of that time and spending almost 21 years behind bars I have no regrets that they are forgiven and released.” He Berhane further said

“I was not born that time and I have no knowledge of what has happen then. But from the records and narratives I have some idea. Indeed, they did a terrible thing but to forgive them seems to me a right act and hope other will learn from this.” Tesfaye Lemma, a university Student

“There is a lesson to learn from here, one is the power of law and justices, the second are the notion that no one is untouchable is no more credible any more. Who ever he is wherever he is he can not run away from the grips of his act and the law.” Dr. Belay Tamen a historian said.

“We may think this or that may escape the rule of law and justice, this case in question has proved to all of us that is not the case. It may take time but justice will be done. The former officials have never expected this but when the time comes justice has taken its natural course.” Dr. Belay further pointed out.

“The courts have done their duty and have proved that they are guilty, and they were unable to prove it otherwise. They final admitted their mistakes and have ask for forgiveness. So government action is timely and appropriate,” he added

The former officials had appealed for forgiveness to the government and the public with the mediation of religious leaders since last year, at the initial the government committed the death penalty into life imprisonment and released 16 of the 23 remaining higher officials who had served 20 plus years.

According to the government the remaining officials will be released ones they serve the 20 years imprisonments,

Out of the sixteen former officials are former Prime Minster, Capitan Fikersellasie Wegederes, former Vice president Fisseha Desta, Former in famous Capitan Leggesse Asefaw whose name is mostly associated with red terror and the bombing of Hawzeen in the North of the country where more than 2500 people are killed.

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