Sunday, February 18, 2007

Could it be a last visit?

Today, the guards at Qaliti had a very hard time registering thousands of people for more than half an hour who are coming to the prison to visit their loved ones. Many more who do not know the prisoners personally but in spirit were among the visitors.

It was no surprise looking at all the crowd today as tomorrow is what everybody have been calling it since the “final trial” our leaders had at the court, “The Day”.

February 19 (Yekatit 12), with whatsoever so much going on lately, many are optimist it would be a day for some kind of miracle. Had it been a real trial and a real case, it might have been possible to throw some logical predictions. But this isn’t one of them. This one is about miracle. It’s not a trial at all. It’s not about law, justice, even the judges, the prosecutor or anyone. It’s just about one man’s decision. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s. Looking at his history, under normal circumstances, there’s no way he’d just let go of the prisoners. He’d love to do more than just keeping them in prison. By keeping them, he has become one of the sides of a coin with the people he presumed to be ruling, the people being the other side of the coin. He cannot stand us as we cannot stand him. He knows the tension would lower if he let go of the prisoners but yet again what would he tell the world? Where would he put all those “genocide and treason” songs he sang to the world? A song which he thought would be best selling in getting along with whatever he did to the people of Ethiopia but which turned out to be empty box.

Two months back, I had little hope February 19 would really be the day. With all the reputation going down, I had little hope the so called the International Community/ the Western would intervene and affect tomorrow’s decision in favor of us. After what happened with the Somali invasion and the so called “AU” summit, the guy seems to be back on the track … atleast outside home. He’s getting the aids that have been suspended for sometime in different forms, he’s appointed as the next NEPAD chair, HR5680 is silenced, critics from the Western are gone…. With his attitude, this would just might be what he needs to do whatever he wants to do.

So my visit was not as optimist as I would want it to be. But I wanted to know what our leaders see tomorrow. I tried to collect some of their opinion about tomorrow from the different cells. The responses I got are almost all the same. Almost all expect the “verdict” to be postponed. Few said they might keep some and release many of them which is totally unacceptable with them, as one of them put it “they might try to keep some of us and release many of us. But that’s not where we are… we all go out together or we all stay here together.”

Another scenario I noticed is what I call “the American negotiation”. Release them all but make them leave this country for good. Those whose passports have been taken by the police during the search at the time of their arrest are being unofficially told they’d collect their passports escorted by police. One would ask of all the time and of all their belongings why now and why their passports? Knowing our leaders’ spirit, I’m sure Meles would be disappointed if he thinks he’d end the whole thing like this. This reminds me one of the incidences why I called this scenario the “American negotiation”. Back in the 1970s, there was this famous Indonesian poet who had been jailed by the government for fifteen years. He was originally arrested in the 60s using the information given by the US government. After 15 years he spent in prison, it was the Americans again who were negotiating his release. They told him “here is your visa, money and everything… you will be released if you leave this country and live somewhere else”. His response was plain and simple, “if I know there would be no freedom in my country, I would rather stay in this prison.”

Tough decision Meles has to make. Could tomorrow be the day our country would go out of this impasse? Could the visit I had today at Qaliti be my last visit? Could it be his last birthday celebration at Qaliti for Daniel Bekele (he celebrated his 30th birthday yesterday – his second time birthday celebration at Qaliti)? Could it be a déjà vu of what I had during the trial of Prof. Mesfin and Dr. Berhanu I attended as a journalist? Just like the one they had back in 2001 with the AAU students case, when everything was all over (prosecutor finished all his case and all that – still with a sham case) and everybody was expecting bail but court postponed it for more 15 days. At that time, the bail actually happened after 15 days.

I pray the joy, happiness and hope I saw in the visitors at Qaliti to become true tomorrow. I pray their wish come true – today be their last visit to Qaliti. Some were even saying goodbye to the prison guards as they leave the compound in tears (of joy? hope? ….) I pray the wishes of all Ethiopians all over the world come true.

My prayers to all the prisoners and all of us before I go to sleep.


God bless the Blogger and Google. The have made blogs at blogspot to be accessed from another server for those countries where blogspot is blocked.
Now anyone in Ethiopia can access blogs at blogspot with the address where blogname refers to the word which stands before the (usually the blog name).
For example in this blog’s case since it’s address was now it can be accessed through the new server as without any proxy.