Probably, the last expression to expect on the face of someone who is subjected to over two weeks of unimaginable physical and emotional torture, someone who is still in the hands of his captors who already sentenced him to death in absentia, someone who is portrayed as a “terrorist” while he is the very victim of his captors horrific terror like repression, is smile.
When Andargache Tsige, an exiled Ethiopian with British citizenship before his abduction by Yemen security authorities and forced extradition to Ethiopia on June 23, 2014, is shown on Ethiopian government television, well there is no such thing as Ethiopian in the sense that everything is pretty much under total control of the ruling ethnic Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), he managed to smile.
True, clear signs of physical and emotional exhaustion are there. In the video, the synchronization of the audio and video may be poorly performed- probably for reasons of cutting out materials that do not serve intended propaganda value. Besides, the person talking to Andargachew is not visible except that we see only handshakes.
For the regime, it is customary to hold prisoners in front of Camera and force them speak something of propaganda value without their actual consent. Dehumanizing political dissension with torture and forced disgraceful statement is very common for the TPLF led government yet what makes headline in the international media outlet is a story of “economic growth.” Even in that regards, there seem to be less interest to inquire as to why Ethiopia still remains to be the leading recipient of aid in Sub-Saharan Africa and as to millions and millions of Ethiopians struggle to feed themselves- often times with little success for many.
In any case, even in the not unexpected forced TV appearance, Andargachew does not seem to bear any signs of remorse for his resolve to bring about change for the better for his native country Ethiopia – the very thing that make him appear “terrorist” for the regime in power. And his tenacity in the face of torture is inspiring many Ethiopians.
All that he uttered in Amharic is that he is at peace with himself, he is exhausted and needs rest. It amounts to pure political nativity of higher degree or ignorance or both to think that political persuasion and convictions of conscience vanish like that.
The ruling party’s perception of a “terrorist” is bizarre. Political dissension is “terrorism” for the regime in power. Members of opposition parties are “terrorists,” journalists are “terrorists,” bloggers are “terrorists,” among others. In consequence, it has become virtually impossible to engage in opposition politics in Ethiopia. And in an attempt to escape repression, many are thinking in terms of armed struggle out of the conviction that the regime understands only armed rebellion. It is not untrue that many of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front officials – who control key structures of government – bluff the opposition and take a great pride with the guerrilla struggle for 17 years. Intended message is despise for opposition parties.
Andargachew was not captured in a battle field. As indicated above, Andargachew Tsige, secretary of Ginbot 7 movement for Democracy, Justice and Freedom, was abducted illegally by Yemen security forces. And he was forcefully extradited the same day in violation of international legal procedures of extradition.
There are rumors that he was flown to Ethiopia with a military aircraft. And this is one of the reasons why possible case of corruption on the part of Yemen security forces makes sense.
Apparently, the Ethiopian regime feared that Andargachew could be rescued, simply by legal procedures of extradition or other means through anticipated involvement of UK government , had he been allowed to stay a couple of days in Yemen. In fact, Yemeni authorities were acting as if Andargachew is not handed to Ethiopian authorities the same day. Ginbot 7 was negotiating with Yemeni authorities for about a week, according to Ginbot 7 statement, to avert extradition of Andargachew to Ethiopia.
If the extradition of Andargachew to Ethiopia was averted, it would mean a big political loss for the regime in Addis. So their rush to complete the abduction in a day by forcibly extraditing him to Ethiopia is understandable. What’s not understandable is the rush on the part of Yemeni security to bypass all the legal processes of extradition. How is that possible without a big corruption scandal?
The life of Andargachew is still in danger. The fact that he is shown on TV might have something to do with UK delegation discussion with Ethiopian officials.
It may be alright to suppose that UK government intelligence was totally oblivious about an enterprise to abduct one of its citizen in Yemen before, during or after the incident. But would it be alright to suppose that UK government can not influence at least to make the detention a little bearable – for example ending incommunicado detention of Andargachew, a visit by human rights group and regular visit by families and friends at home? It is not just Andargachew who is a British national. His wife and his children are UK nationals too. Forget altruism. UK need to give, at least, a meaning to the notion of citizenship.
Video below : Ethiopian Television News about Andargachew Tsige