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Who is cardiologist, Dr Fikru Maru, imprisoned in Ethiopia now for over four years? (by Dr. Frank Ashall)

Dr. Frank Ashall
July 5,2017

This is a plea for signatures for a petition to support Swedish cardiologist, Dr Fikru Maru, who has spent over four years in Ethiopia’s dreadful prison system, and – despite being cleared of all charges recently- remains in prison, now charged with a new crime.

Here is the petition in support of Dr Fikru Maru. It occurs at the bottom of this article also. But many signatures are urgently needed, because his health is failing. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/673/281/424/

So who is Dr Fikru Maru and how did he end up in one of Ethiopia’s ungodly prisons?

He is a 66-year-old Ethiopian-born Swedish cardiologist. In 1975 he fled the communist regime that recently had overthrown and murdered Emperor Haile Selassie I. He went to medical school in Sweden and became a cardiologist. For 40 years, he practiced as one of Sweden’s top cardiologists.

In 2006, Dr Fikru helped establish, and was CEO of, a heart hospital in Ethiopia, his country of birth. His aim was to bring advanced cardiac procedures to Ethiopia, where they were sorely lacking.

In fact, if you go to the Addis Cardiac Hospital, Addis Ababa, web site, you will see, under “Board of Directors,” a photograph of Dr Fikru Maru smiling, as CEO of the hospital. But he has been unable to go to the hospital he helped establish, and has not smiled genuinely, for over four years, because he’s been in prison since 2013.

His nightmare with Ethiopia’s appalling and flawed legal system began in 2010, when he was arrested while trying to bring essential cardiac equipment, needed for the new heart hospital, through Addis Ababa’s airport. A year later, the charges were dropped, but in 2013 he was re-arrested on a politically motivated charge relating to the previous one.

With delay after delay after delay of his court hearings, and after three years in prison, he was convicted and given a 4 year 8 month jail sentence in one of Ethiopia’s crowded, disease-infested prisons.

Then, after four years in prison, in May, 2017, he was cleared of all prior charges!

But, instead of releasing him from prison, the Ethiopian government has now brought new charges against Dr Fikru, accusing him, along with 37 other prisoners, of being involved in a prison fire and revolt, even though he was hospitalized when the incident happened.

Please watch the following video to see how Dr Fikru, whose health is failing, barely gets the chance to hug his daughter. But be prepared to weep.

The current Ethiopian government has a long history (throughout its 26-year oppressive rule) of delaying court cases and charging individuals with non-existent and trumped-up crimes.

There is no due legal process in Ethiopia, because the judiciary is controlled by the ruling Marxist-Leninist-inspired political party and its allies, which won every parliamentary seat (547/547) in the last (2015) election, through harassment, banning, jailing and killing opposition party members.

Swedish doctors groups and politicians have failed, time after time, to convince the Ethiopian government to change its inhuman and unjust treatment of Dr Fikru.

The link below shows the Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn and Ethiopia’s previous Foreign Minister, Dr Tedros Adhanom (yes, now Director General of the WHO!).

Foreign Minister criticized in case of jailed Swedish doctor

Though Hailemariam Desalegn and Tedros Adhanom smile charmingly in the photo at the Swedish PM, no mercy has yet been given to the unfortunate and good cardiologist, Dr Fikru Maru, as he suffers in one of Ethiopia’s squalid and crowded prisons, where he has to live in a small room with around 100 other prisoners, often without a mattress to sleep on, and at risk for infectious diseases.

Tuberculosis, for example, is a huge problem in Ethiopian prisons, where the disease occurs with up to a nine-fold higher incidence than in the general population.

Enough is enough with the unconstitutional and politically motivated torture and ill-treatment of prisoners in Ethiopia! Thousands of civilians, in particular those belonging to ethnic Oromos and Amharas, are in prison simply for disagreeing with the ruling party; many have been tortured and killed. Thousands have fled the country in fear of their lives, many separated from their families and fearful ever to go back to Ethiopia.

Even recently, several professors at Addis Ababa University were dismissed and jailed simply for peacefully opposing the current government. Dr Merera Gudina, for example, is a peaceful leader of one of Ethiopia’s main opposition groups and is now in jail, facing similar consequences to those of Dr Fikru Maru. Read the following link: Ethiopia: Arrest of opposition leader an outrageous assault on freedom of expression

In 1993, Ethiopia’s most famous and respected surgeon and doctor, Professor Asrat Woldeyes, the first Ethiopian Dean of Addis Ababa University Medical School, was dismissed from the university, and soon after arrested for opposing the government. He was jailed, and died after over four terrible years in prison, simply because he formed an opposition political party aimed at unifying the country. The same government in power today jailed Professor Asrat Woldeyes then and is doing the same thing today to other professors, journalists, opposition party members and civilians!

Many of the medical students I taught in Ethiopia for 4 years until January 2017 even today tearfully call him their “beloved professor Asrat Woldeyes,” yet I am hearing even now that the regime is dismantling the tomb of Prof Asrat Woldeyes in Addis Ababa. You can read a poignant true story about Professor Asrat Woldeyes here: Asrat Woldeyes: An extraordinary life

The international community- medical and otherwise- must speak out against these atrocities, and hold the Ethiopian government accountable.

By speaking out for Dr Fikru Maru, you are also speaking for many, many more oppressed people who have been unjustly tortured, jailed or killed by the current government.

Please sign the petition, express your sadness and horror at the plight of Dr Fikru Maru, and demand that the Ethiopian government release, without delay, this humanitarian cardiologist, and allow him to return to his family in Sweden. Here again is the link to the petition, and thank you for signing and being a voice for the voiceless and oppressed.


And please, if you can, share this post and the petition far and wide across the internet so that we can get as many signatures as possible.

Please also visit the official #FreeFikru web site: http://www.freefikru.com/

Thank you for your compassionate consideration.
The writing appeared first on Dr. Frank Ashall’s LinkedIn page

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