A Call for Massive Hunger Strike!


That Isayas Afeworki is king of bluffs is not an exaggeration. Who could forget his swearing by the sun not rising and the palm growing hair and the rest? While a lot of his bravado was just hot air, he has followed through in some of his threats.

Following the onset of the Shaibia aggression, Isayas Afeworki boasted of how he will capture Siye Abraha by the throat and bring him to Asmara. Isayas boasted of such a mission because, unlike Meles Zenawi who was ready to surrender to Isayas's blackmail, Siye and his colleagues in the Guardian-12 insisted on doing away with the Shaibia menace once and for all.

Isayas had another bravado too. Prior to his move against our country, he equated the few industries in Tigray as missiles targeted against Eritrea. And it is an open secret that Isayas invaded Ethiopia to do away with these "missiles" and to extricate additional economic concessions from Ethiopia. Thanks to the Guardian-12, what he ended up with was with his army broken into fragments and a third of Eritrea under the occupation of our defense forces!

Thanks to Meles Zenawi, Isayas's misfortunes have changed since then. Since the split in the leadership of the TPLF/EPRDF, Isayas has accomplished through Meles Zenawi what he could not accomplish with his army of 200,000. Although they have not yet been transferred to Asmara, Isayas has "captured" Siye Abraha and his family along with Betow Belay! And the few industries in Tigray are being shut down! And if Meles Zenawi survives beyond this year, Isayas could well boast Eritrea as the Singapore of Africa and this time no one would call that boasting an empty one! At this very juncture not only are the gates of Ethiopia being widely opened for Shiabia but also our soil is being readied to be handed over!

We have, thanks to Meles Zenawi, lost in every field. Ethiopians from every corner died to teach Isayas the lesson of his life. But when our heroes returned from Badime, they learned that they won many battles but lost the war! They learned that as they marched forward into Asmara, Isayas's man in Ethiopia was laying the ground to squander their gain, hang their heroes and humiliate their country to the core! And Meles's treason and abominable inhumanity continues unabated.

Siye Abraha and Betow Belay imprisoned on tramped up charges are not only in the darkness of prison but they are being denied of everything! The families of Siye Abraha and Betow Belay told the ETHIOPIAN COMMENTATOR that their loved ones are denied from toothbrush all the way to time with their children. According to the families, these political prisoners are allowed ten minutes per week to see their families and that from a distance away. Imagine what a torture this would be to the children of Siye and Betow! In the world of Meles Zenawi, even children can not escape from his poisonous jaws! These very young are being denied even a ten-minute hug and tender touch from their fathers! If there is anything that demonstrates the utter cruelty and wickedness of Meles Zenawi, the torture he is imposing on the children ought to be the ultimate one! And this is the man preaching about "vision, renewal, revitalization and revolutionary democracy!" At the end of the day, they all mean Meles is a bag of inhumanity!

Siye and Betow are not only denied time with their loved ones but also the basic necessities for their daily needs. When they asked their families to bring them tooth brush and tooth paste, the families were told that these are needs of the bourgeoisie and hence not allowed in prisons! When they asked for the prison lights to be turned on and reading materials brought in, they were told a prison is not a library! Worst of all, Meles knowing full well that Siye suffer from Asthma and other allergic conditions, the "Prime Minister" is ensuring that the prison cell is a cesspool of allergens! At the writing of this article, Siye is ill and without the due medical attention!

An innocent man along with his innocent colleagues is suffering at the hand of a miniature demon. What makes the pain even worse is the Ethiopian Supreme Court, after an initial spectacular stand, has joined in the crime against the innocent. For the past seventy days, the Supreme Court has ordered innocent people to be kept in filthy conditions and deprived them of even the most basic rights under the law! Why the Court is ordering the innocent to be held behind bars without any evidence of compelling crime remains a mystery. But with each passing day, it looks as though the Court has switched gear from its duty as a guardian of justice to that of a rubber stamp for the Meles menace! Given the record of the court in the past seventy days, it would be pie in the sky to expect justice from the Supreme Court. What shall then be done?

What is needed is people power. We ask people who believe in justice to become cadres for justice. We specially ask people in the Diaspora to work for justice and work on behalf of Siye and Betow and the many others whose name we do not know. We are asking for people to publicize the plight of Siye and Betow and other political prisoners currently languishing in Ethiopian prisons. The idea we have is massive hunger strikes at key locations the world over. Some of the key locations we have in mind are the World Bank, IMF, the UN, the Department of State, Capitol Hill, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. Those of you in other countries can select the key entities with power/influence over the Meles regime. This includes the European Union, the International Court of Justice, the Vatican and head quarters of NGOs with major activities in Ethiopia.

We specially ask of Tigrayans to lead this mission for justice. We ask that each community of Tigrayans to organize and seek volunteers for the mass action in hunger strike to publicize the crimes of the Meles regime against Siye, Betow and others in Meles's dungeons. Our goal for the U.S. mission is about 250 volunteers. Our aim is to have between 30-50 people on the hunger mission at each location within the U.S. We ask members of the TISJD, TigrayNet, UTNA, REST, TDA and others to play a leading roll and organize volunteers for the hunger mission. We hope that the TISJD will consider our proposal in its upcoming August 25, 2001 meeting.

Siye and Betow have devoted the past quarter of century to fighting tyranny. They represented their country in the finest role possible in the war against the disciples of Mussolini. How can we sit idle when they fall prey to the creeping hand of Isayas? We ought it to our heroes to come to their aide and do everything we can to have them released from the dungeon of Meles Zenawi! We must not rest until our heroes are in freedom and Meles Zenawi held accountable for the crimes against our country, heroes and heroines! And all can be accomplished if each and every one of us can do his/her part! What is needed is a little pain for a big gain! Such pain we ought to our martyers, heroes, heroines, country and our children!