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Ethiopia - Anti-poverty campaigners vindicated by court

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12/26/07

  09:01:17 am, by admin, 640 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Ethiopia - Anti-poverty campaigners vindicated by court

Daniel Bekele(L) and Netsanet Demissie(R)

Ethiopia - Ethiopian anti-poverty campaigners vindicated by court


26 December 2007 –
Ethiopian activists Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie may face brief additional time behind bars, as the court today sentenced them to two years and six months in prison on charges of incitement, despite demands by the prosecution that they receive the maximum sentence of 10 years.

"While we welcome the fact that Daniel and Netsanet may soon be reunited with their friends, families and colleagues in civil society, we are perplexed and dismayed by the additional sentence. Everyday they have spent and possibly will spend in prison is a deep injustice. They are true heroes of Ethiopia, true heroes of Africa and for everyone around the world who supports democracy, justice and the fight against poverty ," said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and Co-Chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) who was present at the sentencing this morning.

Daniel and Netsanet, coordinators of GCAP in Ethiopia, were today sentenced to two years and six months in prison by the Federal High Court in Addis Ababa for provocation and preparing incitement in the aftermath of the May 2005 elections. On Monday, they were acquitted of conspiracy to overthrow the constitutional order, but were found guilty on the lesser charge. CIVICUS and GCAP anticipate that they will soon be released, given the two years and two months they have already spent behind bars, as well as their good behaviour and their willingness to cooperate with the court.

Before sentencing them this morning, the judges read a statement recognising their contributions to peace, democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia. The presiding judge dissented from the verdict and has consistently maintained they are innocent of the charges, finding their actions to be fully within the constitution.

"The judges' statement today read more like a citation for the Nobel Peace Prize than justification for even a single day they have spent in prison ," said Kumi Naidoo.

Since Daniel and Netsanet's arrest in November 2005, civil society organisations in Ethiopia have come under increasing scrutiny, and many have been forced into silence on controversial issues for fear of meeting the same fate as Daniel and Netsanet.

Speaking from Ethiopian Federal court, Kumi Naidoo said, " This case has significance beyond the travesty of justice against Daniel and Netsanet. Their continued detention has had a chilling effect on civil society in Ethiopia. It is extremely important that the judges stated none of their actions were against the constitution and were in fact legitimate civil society activities. We hope that this vindication will enable civil society to fully exercise its role, including advocacy for human rights, democracy, peace and the eradication of poverty ."

Aside from their work with GCAP, Daniel is also head of the policy department at ActionAid International Ethiopia. Netsanet is also the founder of local human rights group Organisation for Social Justice in Ethiopia.

At the start of the trial in May 2006, 131 opposition politicians, journalists, civil society leaders and organisations stood accused of a range of charges from genocide to treason. They were among thousands who were detained following protests accusing the government of rigging the 15 May 2005 parliamentary elections. Many of the accused were acquitted during the course of the trial. Others were convicted but pardoned in July and August 2007 – all of whom signed a confession, admitting use of "unconstitutional means to change the constitutionally established government functions" following the 2005 elections.

Although they were asked to sign a similar statement, Daniel and Netsanet declined. They argued that their activities in 2005 were entirely legal and did not serve to undermine, but rather to protect and promote Ethiopia's constitutional order.

Recognised as Amnesty International prisoners of conscience, Daniel and Netsanet were consistently denied bail, even after seven attempts, including an appeal to the Supreme Court.

17 comments

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Comment from: Yeha [Visitor]
Yeha

prosecution is what the option for criminals. I do hope they lean well how to behaved during their lock up times.Yeha

12/26/07 @ 09:20
Comment from: Justice [Visitor]
Justice

From what I Understand you are on the rulling party side & things did not go the way you expected looser.
Daniel and Netsanet are true heroes of ethiopia. great job our future leaders.Thank you judge for being on the right side god bless you.

12/26/07 @ 09:54
Comment from: Tazabi [Visitor]
Tazabi

Yeha,

You don’t get it do you?

Read again the words of Kumi Naidoo, Co-Chair of GCAP:

“This case has significance beyond the travesty of justice against Daniel and Netsanet. Their continued detention has had a chilling effect on civil society in Ethiopia. It is extremely important that the judges stated none of their actions were against the constitution and were in fact legitimate civil society activities. We hope that this vindication will enable civil society to fully exercise its role, including advocacy for human rights, democracy, peace and the eradication of poverty.”

If anything, it will strengthen their resolve to fight against the human rights abuse that goes on unabated by the tyrannical regime of Legese (Meles) Zenawi.

12/26/07 @ 10:06
Comment from: sceptic spectator [Visitor]
sceptic spectator

oh,c’mon-justice shutyemouse-crook!that both guys are made to be heerose for CUDISTS-where is da avidance that deyare real heroes?!deyare too money countless of dat kinda “youman -rite-ectivists"hookaz-not sarving modda ethiopia-but for the sake of whity-don fuggat that olda socold “angie-ozz"(NGO’s) wanna patternalyze us in odda to be"hand-tame liddle black doggy” inda and too C_O_L_O_N_I_Z_E USS !!! olat pissy-shitty-gutter seeatre bout “youman-rite-acteevictimizm” izussing but da suppozitery intraseducing inmte uss -mike uss weekning-dat’s da poynt-LOOZZA likda loozass “netzanet and damnel"!!!

12/26/07 @ 10:24
Comment from: JIKS [Visitor]
JIKS

Dear Netsanet and Daniel!!!

Stay strong brothers to your self conscience. You stood fast with your belief of innocence and have shown us how strong you are to your commitment while all the politicians sold conscience and sign some damming letter to be let go from prison. But you two heroes rejected to sign any paper and here you are still fighting for your freedom bravely with total honesty to your selves. May go be with you and soon you will get your righteous freedom not from Man(woyane) but from God on his own virtue.
You see the politicians sold their conscience by signing surrenderd to Meles in order to go out and bite each other’s back. But I admire your resilience to the truth and not surrendering your conscience to the bully.

Stay strong ANBSOCH.

12/26/07 @ 14:44
Comment from: teshome [Visitor]
teshome

Discretion exists at each stage of the criminal justice system, that the police have discretion to give a tickets or not to give for minor traffic violations, prosecutors have discretion to charge or not to charge, defense attorneys have discretion to accept or refuse cases, and judges have discretion when they make rulings on sentencing time. In this particular case, I think our judges used their discretion while they made sentencing to those two individuals. I am very happy with the decision of the judges, and I like to say happy chrismas to Daniel and Nestanet, and please stay away from trouble.

12/26/07 @ 16:42
Comment from: GeTaHuN [Visitor]
GeTaHuN

I am very happy that Daniel and Netsanet are out of jail. They should not have been there in the first place. I was in Addis during the election period - Daniel was active during the election and he may have crossed the line for a country not fully matured. He was also attacked by the police – which was very cruel. He definitely miscalculated the situation at time. He defied the governments order after the election and he has to bear some responsibilities. I am more convinced now than before that the opposition claim was exaggerated. We don’t really know who won the election. I blamed the gov’t 100% during the crisis but it’s clear that Kinijit also did us from behind. It’s a shame where the Kinijit is today after so much hardship. The true Ethiopians are Daniel and Netsanet. Forget about the so called ‘intellectual leaders’. They were fancying to grab power but their dream was cut short. After, I witness their in fighting for power in DC. I thank God that these people didn’t take power. We need people, who are tasted by fire to unite and lead the country to much higher level. I give 100% credit for my people for doing well on their very first election despite the problems that we had faced. We have witnessed the killings in other countries. We have a very tolerant culture and people and we should continue to build on that… I hope that we as a people and country have learned something from the past mistakes. Hopefully, the government and the opposition will not lead us into another blood shed.

God Bless Emeye Ethiopia

12/26/07 @ 17:57
Comment from: Deder [Visitor]
Deder

Some Woyane pupetts think justice is given by Woyane or Meles that what “paid politician” can think or dream. It is really time wasting to say more about them. Justice is born from great cost paid by the people. These individual heros would not have been jailed rather rewarded for their contribution in empowering the civil society.

12/26/07 @ 18:25
Comment from: baymeno [Visitor]
baymeno

Guys, the case is closed. These adventurers are guilty and nobody is above the law. Which part of the law is difficult to understand? No hoopla from now on will change the fact that these adventurers will serve their prison sentence.

God Bless Ethiopia!

12/26/07 @ 18:42
Comment from: Abrac [Visitor]
Abrac

The people who vote for Kinjit in 1997 must fire a group of Berhanu Nega,Hailu Shawel give the mandet to led Kinjit for Daniel and Netsanet.

12/26/07 @ 19:05
Comment from: Tezebet [Visitor]
Tezebet

I am glad you guys are free and back to your community. As far as we concern you are a hero for million Ethiopian who are suffering under the bloodsucker Melese regime. We all pray for you guys long health… Keep fighting till you guys fulfill your dream…

12/26/07 @ 21:06
Comment from: kul [Visitor]
kul

What a very funny verdit!!!!! In its reasoning, the court said that these two guys contributed much to peace, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia. It analysed the facts of the case in favor of the defendants. Unfortunately, the court does not seem to have realized that it is being inconsistent when it drwas its conclusion. It is obvious that the judges in this case have lost all of their sense of logic.They desperately tried to prove that these guys are guilty of doing the right thing. Simply put, the court is saying that the acts of Daniel and Netsanet are commendable, yet they are guilty of doing such a remarkable job.

12/26/07 @ 22:14
Comment from: ethio [Visitor]
ethio

they are guilty.

ethiopia did not want guilty hero.

12/26/07 @ 22:29
Comment from: Taye [Visitor]
Taye

All this low life Tigray origin like Z- mice,Yeha etc. should not be allowed to comment on this web . After all they are not Ethiopian .

12/26/07 @ 23:42
Comment from: ethiopian man [Visitor]
ethiopian man

Taye, chicken headed kinijit looser, what are you talking about. This is Ethiopian forum and anyone has the right to post comments, thats the beauty of democracy, after all the forum is free for anyone from all part of the world. Please don be another hailu Shawel or Birtukan Medikssa. Don t try to fart when your leaders are farting, because its indiscent and stinks.

12/28/07 @ 11:37

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