Ethiopia: Letter - to All Human Beings Who Are Human, By Jou

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Ethiopia: Letter - to All Human Beings Who Are Human, By Jou

Unread post by zeru » 02 Mar 2014 20:34

"Discussing these types of issues is forbidden," said the warder rudely and added, "You are only allowed to discuss family matters". You might suspect that these words were spoken by one of our beloved mother Ethiopia's prison officers. However, they are actually taken from Maxim Gorky's 1906 story Mother (page 102). The story was written 108 years ago - so very long ago! But it doesn't seem so long to us - why? Because what we are living through now is even worse. And it is worrying how fast things are deteriorating.
Prison is now where everything leads. Every day we are told by the media that what is needed is "strong measures; measures to ensure it won't happen again; measures to remove etc". These words are not legal principles but are spoken in hate. These statements, which are only a fraction away from a declaration of systematic state terror, are especially damaging for those of us who are held in Ethiopia's prisons.
Following programmes which have been broadcast about 'revolutionary measures' on ETV, horrible things - which could upset so many families if I listed them here - are being carried out in a calculated manner. Let's take a look at some of them. We are denied permission to be placed in prisons close to our relatives. Zeway is the Ethiopian version of a Siberian prison. After travelling across the lowlands to reach our 'Siberia', our families have to undergo a tiresome and intrusive search before they can eventually see the prisoner. When they do so, officials are listening in, even to talk about family matters. We hug and kiss our children even when the prison officers look disapproving. Even though the insults and intimidation that follow these displays of affection are not too bad, our children get scared. Our fear comes across to them. They always go back home feeling upset.
Even though the time allocated for visits is clearly specified, we are often told "Enough! Wind it up soon", just as we've started talking. Since the aim is clearly to torment us, intimidate us and punish us, we are not allowed to have more than 100 birr (about $5 US), even if we need more to buy toiletries, spices, tea and coffee, underwear, water purifiers etc. This only happens in Zeway prison. This is how our human rights are violated.
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