Ethiopia opened Maekelawi torture chamber for public visit

Maekelawi _ Ethiopia
Maekelawi torture chamber open to the public as a museum. Photo. Walta Info

September 6, 2019

In the past, the name Maekelawi sounded for most Ethiopians as a name synonymous with torture.  For a reason. It has served nearly for four decades as a torture chamber during Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam’s regime and during TPLF regime whose main architect was the late Meles Zenawi.

That dark image of Maekelawi is now history as Ethiopian government turned the facility into a museum in what seems to be a gesture to signify a break from the past in terms of human rights violation (of course many Ethiopians do not seem to buy this narrative as the practice of arbitrary detention is still existent)

Located in the center of Addis Ababa, the government officially opened Maekelawi for the public on Friday in the form of a museum. It is opened on the occasion of Justice Day which will be celebrated on September 10, 2019.

As the ruling coalition, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), faced mounting protests across the country before Abiy Ahmed assumed office, the executive committee of the party held a meeting on December 2017 and decided to close down Maekelawi.

It has been closed for over a year now. Meaza Ashenafi, Ethiopia’s chief justice, said, as reported by Fana Broadcasting Corporation (FBC), that the facility is opened on Friday for the public as a museum with the intention to learn from past mistakes.

She also said that the way to heal from the past is by enforcing the rule of law.

Those who were once prisoners in the facility say that they have experienced horrifying torture.  Apart from physical torture, prisoners also experienced psychological torture in the form of unimaginable living conditions from the point of view of sanitation.  Some of Maekelawi prison cells did not get any sunlight as they did not have windows.

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