ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Reuters)
Thursday Jan 11, 2007
-- An Ethiopian court spared former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam from the death penalty on Thursday, sentencing him to life in prison for genocide during his brutal 17-year reign.
Ethiopia's Mengistu found guilty of genocide
Tue Dec 12, 2006 2:43 PM GMT145
By Tsegaye Tadesse
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Reuters) - Ethiopia's former ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam was found guilty in absentia of genocide on Tuesday at the end of a 12-year trial over his bloody rule.
Mengistu, now nearing 70, is unlikely to serve any prison time because he is exiled in Zimbabwe and the government there said it would not extradite him.
The genocide verdict, which carries a death sentence, was passed by two votes to one on the three-judge panel.
Mengistu was ousted by guerrillas led by now Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and in 1991 fled to Zimbabwe, where he leads a luxurious though reclusive life.
The 12-year-trial focused on the so-called "red terror campaign," carried out by his military regime, the Dergue. Amnesty International estimates 500,000 people were killed from 1977 to 1991.
Write down the names of your loved ones and tell us who they were to you. Ask your parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, neighbors, grand-parents; did Mengestu Haile-Mariam destroy some one you loved? Let us build our list, our monument and please let us tell the people of Zimbabwe about our pain, let us tell the world that we have not forgotten and we will not rest until he is brought to justice.
Here in the West, the semantic debate rages on . . . Did Mengestu Haile-Mariam committ Genocide? We may have become derailed from the heart of the matter. The victims, (if they could speak) and we the survivors know the tyrannical rule 1974 - 1991 was atrocious, the horific years where havoc reigned and millions perished. Those responsible have indeed committed crimes against humanity. A crime of such proportion must not go unheeded. Those of us who have experienced the wrath must acknowledge our fate. . . The world must be made aware of our outrage, the scope of our loss.
We must appeal to every Zimbabwean young, old and in between. We are not politicians, officials or special interest groups. We are just citizens of Ethiopia, citizens of the world. After waiting years of deliberation, the verdict is in, and the time has come to stand up and get counted . . .
How many of us lost a mother, a brother, an uncle, a friend, a son? Has the experience of the Red Terror in Ethiopia become so distant and vague? We have lived so long without them, have we forgotten? Did they not deserve to live, start anew like us in our journery in the Diaspora. Have we become so hard in our struggle to survive, to make it . . .? If we stopped for a moment and remember do we not weep, does not our heart want to burst with agony and despair for our loss. Losses that were so needless, reckless and without just cause.
Emama, I see you often in my minds eye your silver hair. . . I have become old, older than you. If only I could show you my children. What I would give to see you doting on your grandchildren whom you would never know.
Wondeme, your step was broken, you never got the chance to say farewell, snuffed out before your seventeenth birthday. What amazing feat lay ahead for you, I thought, no, I was certain you were the one to show us the way, my pillar, my honor. They prayed on you, shattered you, like a creature of no consequence.
Ehete, that fateful day you went to out to the corner, the bullet found you in its aimless glare. What of all those sleepless nights studying, your yearning to become someone, it was all for nothing? How could it be, what nonsense?
Gashaye, my confidant, my mentor, I will never tell you how wise you were, I would only know it years later. You will never see and smile with pride that my son is just like you, so wise, sensitive and gallant. One look at him, and you would have known that I was listening. I took to heart all your advice. Here, he is my witness. Like you he knows so much, how could he know, but thank God for love and hope . . .
Leje, oh my son, my mortal wound, you took with you the meaning of laughter, and joy, I will never know these things ever again. I will never find my bearing, my reason to be.
Have we forgotten? Tell me why do we know about the Holocaust? Is it not because the survivors would never let us forget? We know and have the experience of those victims because their loved ones told us and kept telling us and it became a lesson for humanity, one that will never be forgotten. Let us learn this great lesson, and let us speak for them (our victims), let us tell the world that the madness, the slaughter of the Mengestu Haile-Mariam was horrific. We have been crippled, fractured body and soul for life, because our loved ones never got justice. Let us revive them, let us remember their names, their faces and the terrible injustice done to these children of Ethiopia.
We welcome you to share your stories
The purpose of this blog is to collect testimonials of all survivors of Mengestu Haile-Mariams Dictatorship. We trust that good will prevail only if the Human race will choose to learn from past wrongs. We will redeem our humanity if we recognize our responsibilities. We sincerely hope that the validity of this endeavor will be self-evident.