After General Seare Mokonnen, the Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian armed forces and his colleague Major General Gezae Abera were murdered in the home of the former by his own body guard in an attempted coup d’etat on 15 June 2019, four days later a funeral was arranged on 19 June 2019 at the city of Mekelle, the capital of Tigray.
Representing my party, the Tigrian Alliance for National Democracy (TAND) and to pay my last respect for the slain generals who were my former colleagues during the struggle to oust the military junta known as the Derg, I travelled to the martyrs’ monument in Mekelle where the funeral procession starts and a memorial service was taking place.
As I approached the site, a group of hooligans began shouting insults, like ‘’traitor” “banda” etc. directed at me. The chants were being aired earlier on the Tigray Radio and tv, also directed at Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and Mr. Abraha Desta, Chairman of the Arena Tigray Party.
The chants were followed by throwing stones at me, and the police on the spot had to intervene to protect me. Subsequently, I was whisked away to a nearby police station where the situation seemed calm. After a while, I demanded to fly back to Addis Ababa from where I flew the same morning. The officer in charge of the station, Commander Abadi Zegeye, appeared to heed to my demands and soon I began heading towards the airport of Mekelle escorted by four policemen.
The officer escorting me, however, instructed our driver to continue to Quha, a town about ten kilometers away from the airport. When I challenged the officer why change the direction, he replied “it is an order from above”. Soon, I ended up in Quha police station and was locked in a prison cell with my personal belongings taken away. There was no explanation to my incarceration.
After I spent the rest of day and the night in the prison cell, at about 10:30 in the morning, my captors set me free and accompanied me back to the airport from where I made my way back to Addis Ababa, but harassed, injured and without attending the funeral of my loved ones.
Meanwhile my close colleague, Mr. Amanuel Wolde Libanos, who drove to Quha looking for me was ambushed by four policemen, and at gun point he was led to the outskirts of Quha where the policemen forced a plastic bottle full of poison into his mouth. As he fought back, some of the liquid poison went through his mouth while the rest was splashed over his clothes and body. Luckily for him, passers-by ladies who shouted for help, rescued him from the deadly ordeal, and to this day he is undergoing medical treatment at Addis Ababa hospital.
Plainly, these criminal acts were perpetrated by agents of the regional government of Tigray – acts which are tantamount to state terrorism. Using the funeral ceremony as a pretext, subsidiaries of the regional government had assembled over 3000 hooligans from all the sub-districts of Tigray (150 from each) and had used the sad occasion as a political platform, reminiscent of the defunct Fascist Derg. Such hideous acts, especially during somber moment when everybody is poised to mourn, are alien from the culture of Ethiopians and humanity at large.
With best regard,
Aregawi Berhe (PhD)
12 July 2019
I have been a resident in The Netherlands since 1993 as a political refugee with Ä status. I did my MA in Politics of Development at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague and my PhD in Vrije University Amsterdam. Intermittently, I worked as a research assistant at Afrika Study Center, Leiden University for over seven years. I am also politically engaged in the process of establishing a democratic system in Ethiopia.
For futher details on our struggle to democratize Ethiopia, please visit our website, www.tand-tesfana.com