Ethiopian government released a documentary entitled “Yefitih Sekoka”, which could translate to “Agony of Justice,” yesterday. It is in Amharic and is a story of torture and abuse of citizens in the hands of intelligence officers in what was once a notorious torture chamber (now allegedly closed), Maekelawi – and other secret torture chambers in the capital Addis Ababa.
It was aired on state owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) television and affiliated media outlets like Walta Information and Fana Broadcasting Corporations (FBC), and widely shared across numerous Ethiopian cyber media outlets and social media.
The office of the federal attorney general announced in advance that it would be released on TV. Whose production is it? Apparently the office prepared it by interviewing individuals who claim to be victims of unimaginable human rights violations in the hands of intelligence officers.
One of the victims featured in the documentary is Yonas Gashaw Demeke. He said he was arrested in 2016 following popular protest across the country on alleged grounds of being Ginbot 7’s (then an outlawed opposition) coordinator in Bahir Dar, Western Ethiopia.
He also says that former government security agents rolled over his brother in Bahir Dar and his mother died in connection with illegal measure taken by what was then TPLF government.
He was healthy and capable before his arrest but he came out of prison disabled and with emotional trauma due to horrifying torture. Among many other things, he says he was castrated and made sterile, his hands and legs were tied together and handed in a tree in the forest in Kotebe, the ourskirts of Addis Ababa in the north.
Kefyalew Tefera, another victim, says both his legs were amputated in connection with torture while he was in prison. Pro-TPLF activists on the other hand claim that he was an OLF operative and run into an accident while he was trying to throw “a grenade in a public place.”
Forcefully sodomizing inmates was also used as a means of torture, as per claims by rights abuse victims.
The controversy about the documentary
Ethiopian Human Rights council says, as reported by VOA Amharic, that human rights violations in Ethiopia in the past 27 years in worse than what was disclosed through the documentary.
From Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) report earlier today, Ethiopians in different parts of the country are shocked to the core with the documentary that government released.
“We have learned that many Ethiopians have been subject to inhuman torture and that the rule of law was in the hands of individuals,” residents of Bahir Dar are cited as saying according to AMMA report.
The dominant view is that victims of the abuse can heal only if the perpetrators are brought to justice and Ethiopians in different cities assert that government has a responsibility to maintain the rule of law by bringing criminals to justice. The office of the Prime Minister has issued a statement today and it is vowing to go after those who perpetrated human rights violations.
The reaction in Tigray is, however, a different story. Residents who spoke to EBC are of the view that the documentary made it seem as if human rights violations were perpetrated only by ethnic Tigreans.
And there are those who went further to claim that the documentary is intended to “target Tigreans and bring about conflict between people” (different language speaking groups particularly between ethnic Tigreans and ethnic Amharas).
Similarly, most activists from Tigray region tend to see the documentary as “hate propaganda against Tigreans.” Daniel Berhane, who is known to be a staunch but subtle supporter of TPLF, for example, labelled the documentary as “mockumentary.” He wrote on his facebook page:
- “After watching the anti-Tigrayan inflamatory mockumentary on EBC, my conclusion was that:
If it had really happened, perhaps they deserved it.
What a bunch of trash haters!
TPLF, an ethnic Tigray party which is governing Tigray region of Ethiopia, organized demonstration last weekend. The key message was “respect for the constitution.” Many Ethiopians, rather, saw the demonstration as one organized in defense of corruption and human rights abuse.
Video : embedded from EBC Facebook page.
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