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Judge Woldemechael Meshesha’s Recent Judgement on Tesfaye Gebreab’s writings: Desperate Out of Touch Outcry

By Abbaa Malkaa

Having read the long story written by Judge Woldemicheal, about Tesfaye’s work, past and present, I came to the conclusion that it is worth replying in brief terms. I am forced to do this firstly because I am an Oromo person whose pain is addressed in the very eloquent terms of this marvellous author, Tesfaye Gebreab. So I feel obliged to write this response. I will try to tell facts and ask relevant questions all of which shall be meant to help us understand some facts as to who these authors are. In fact it would be a misnomer to call Judge Wolde an author, because what he wrote this time around is more of a loud shout, it didn’t convey any coherent message even couldn’t make sensible meaning. It looks a child’s painting, which is disorderly, messy but full of colour. So in this short message to him and his co-authors I would like to say that I am treating Judge Woldemichael as a judge though he chose to delve in to an area that doesn’t belong to him as a judge. I mean there was no point for him to mix literature with legal argument and legal theories with story telling. In fact the legal theories, which he used to beautify his story, reflected how poor level of understanding of how those theories should be applied in real life.

In short, despite his effort to use some flashy words such as presumption of innocence and his attempt to dramatize how he managed to apply this principle in his professional life Judge Wolde in fact revealed in his article posted on Ethioimedia was nothing more than a cry for attention. Like a child does when they want something he said the same thing again and again as a poor deprived child do.  Judge Wolde grabbed few points from here and there and tried to make his point, but failed to make any sensible point, even by using his Amharic words after all. To make his story spicy he brought in the presumption of innocence and tortured Oromos but his story turned out to be an old Abyssinian tale-tale as usual. He begun by telling the extent to which he was disgusted by the alleged stroy of Oromos as televised by TPLF media on ETV that as OLF soldiers they plotted to bomb some part of the capital city. According to him, he trusted the broadcasters right away and was disgusted by the intention of those culprits. According to his own explanation, he was foolish enough to be fooled by what he heard; that he believed it completely. Despite what he tells us about his knowledge about presumption of innocence his minds worked otherwise when it comes to Oromos’.

Later on, he tells us, his view changed dramatically when they appeared in court and when he saw the scars of their tortured body and the way the case has been handled. He further described and implied that he acted as a hero, if not like an angel, by speeding up the case and put the case on the right track and moved it on the right procedure. Indeed at last he set them free.  That is good work if true, but this is crap story and even if it is true it is nothing to be praised as such in the face of thousands of Oromo prisoners incarcerated and forgotten in the Federal prison by the order of his fellow judges including himself.

There is one crucial point here. If Wolde is really concerned about justice and what is right and wrong how this same person fails to accept the truth the book of Burqa Zimita brought to light, which among other things exposed the same line of story as he is claiming to have been witnessing first hand in his court. Burqa Zimita simply narrated the same type of repression: present and past. It narrated the brutal and mass killings of Bale Oromos by TPLF forces under the leadership of the late Hayelom Araya and explained the feeling of Oromos about it. As far as the books Tesfaye wrote in succession are based on historical facts, and as there are no lies about the dominance of the late Abyssinian rulers and their cruelty or the current regimes repressive policies, Judge Wolde shouldn’t have a problem about it and there is no point for him to discuss. There shouldn’t have been a reason for him to blame someone for the simple reason of describing repression. Judge Wolde as an Abyssinian judge seems to have chosen to portray this author and his book as dangerous without providing any sensible argument or facts to refute his presentations.  By a contrario reasoning it can be said that Wolde’s story seeks to see a situation whereby no one is allowed to talk about repression of the Oromo people; that no one should utter a word about the massacre of Arsi people by Menilik’s forces or the recent killing of Oromos’ in Bale by Hayelom Araya.  There is no legal postulate that justifies this position though. Indeed there is no moral authority for Judge Wolde to dictate us as to what we can or can’t do.

I have also something to ask, regarding the news Judge Wolde got from ETV and the conclusion he claimed to have reached because of that. How a man that seems to be professional could be emotional and dare to conclude immediately that those accused were brute forces that were about to blow the city? Why did he fail to realize the tension between TPLF and OLF at that particular time? Why didn’t he fail to anticipate the possibility that TPLF out of desperation could fabricate this story and try to portray OLF and its supporters as enemies of the people? After all wasn’t he a law graduate who should seek to see the other side of the story? Why should he conclude that one line of the story and that that only is the truth? Why did he have to rush to a conclusion without having the other side of the story? Hadn’t he been a person who went through some legal training? How judgeship only could help him to realize the possibility of presumption of innocence? I am sure presumption of innocence is taught in law class first, not in a court of law. The latter is the place to apply the principle as of rule, and the first is the place to learn theories. How did he fail to realize what he learned even before he became a judge? If what he is trying to claim is true, that he believed at the first instance that the accused are criminals, then how did he come to be a judge after all? How simple has he been to believe without questioning in the first place that someone stands in the city with a launcher and tries to take a target to blow such a big complex? Why did he fail to ask a simple question that most ordinary people managed to ask?  As far as I know many people, save those who used to despise the Oromo question, believed at the moment that it was a political drama, a game meant to portraying OLF as a terrorist.

Besides, Wolde claimed to have taken very long time thinking about the story he wrote but the way he wrote it reflects nothing more than a rush to express hatred for the Oromo culture and people. It has nothing to do with Tesfaye. His and his friends rush seem to have made them post this senseless story without giving to what they wrote a second thought. More importantly that story doesn’t seem to have come from a man of his level. Because it failed to reflect any sort of preparation and proper thinking as judge Wolde tried to tell us in his own story.  It rather seems that Wolde is stuck in the period before 1991 in which the oppressed people reached near a level of accepting repression as their destiny after 100 years of suffering under Abyssinian colonial rule. But things have changed after that and people moved on. The Oromo people and Oromiya moved on. Wolde is stuck somewhere in a period before 1991. Nothing is going to be the same again. If Tesfaye didn’t write about the facts before and after some of these historical events, then someone will; nothing seem to be able to stop the course of this change.

Among others I am impressed as to how a judge dared to praise theft. He narrated that a decent young man came to hem and asked to hand over to him nothing but a stolen document. Where lies decency in theft; and why Judge Wolde chose to put his level of judgement and morality in question? All that forced him to write this story is the note stolen from Tesfaye and the book he is about to publish. Judge Wolde seem to get lost in the middle of his story; disorientated by his own shiny and disorderly words and gone out of balance altogether. These serious of events and confusion reminded me of something about how he appreciates happenings and facts surrounding his life. When Poor Judge Wolde was demoted from the level of the Federal Supreme Court judge to a vice president of District Court, means to work as a deputy under his far junior person, it was evident from what he was doing that he not happily accepted the demoted position and have been enjoying it but used to express his loyalty by trying to speak loud in support of what the then leaders of the Federal Court were doing from top to bottom. Most young judges of his court have been laughing at him and no one took him seriously either. But this is not to say that he was not loyal. The problem is he didn’t even understand how loyal he was.

In fact it is this loyalty, which has gotten him become among the most loyal candidates to member of the Inquiry Commission that was established after the 2005 election scandal. One thing that has to be noted about this fact is that TPLF seemed to have been crumbling at that moment and the members of the inquiry commission like many innocent bystanders felt to take side with the winner. That is exactly what Wolde have done. It is good work and admirable though that he stuck with his first decision and stood by it up until the end, followed the Chairman in a country fleeing order and become the first person to talk about it. This will never make Wolde a brilliant judge and commentator on novels and historical facts, after all there won’t be nothing called comment as such without being able to show the flaws of ideas in the idea to be critiqued.

I am sorry to say that I have some reservation on Wolde’s portrayal of the Oromo people as good for there is nothing good or bad people as such. Every people on earth are made up of good and bad persons. There are good and bad edges of culture, beliefs, practices etc. So is the case to the Oromo people. Such flatters are not going to work and you can’t fool anyone by the choice of such empty words and rhetoric while your views are based on deep seated hate rights based facts about the Oromo people including authors and novelists who write about Oromo and Oromiya.

To conclude I would like to go back to the time when dissented on very clear points such as the cases involving Siye Abraha. It is good to do that. But you and the likes of you fail to understand that despite the corrupt nature of the system there are many who do the same thing everyday and stay unnoticed.  In your case you did justice to someone who openly cooperated with the TPLF repressive machinery and is responsible for most of the crimes TPLF committed.  I think you expect admiration for that but don’t forget that is your duty.  When you tell about the flawed justice you made to Siye Tesfaye shows us the true picture of those people for who you rightly stood.  Yours is right in terms of procedure Tesfaye’s presentation of facts about them addressed the underlying truth about them which you was not able to reach. Your episode, for example in Siye’s case tells how the regime tried to use you as a judge to incarcerate Siye even when the law doesn’t say so, Tesfaye without restraint was able to show the entire reality about these guys, that they willingly participated in the repressive machinery of TPLF administration, that they were equally responsible for many crimes the regime involved in including the killings of many people up until their dismissal from office and their responsibility for taking part in diverting public wealth and money which still continued to be so through EFFORT.  It is good you and the likes of you took the right course when it comes to making procedural justice such as bailing them out even when it is related to the personalities who willingly took part in the furtherance of this tyrant regime’s repressive agendas and established a well corrupt system. But how you keep your mouth tight and somehow seem to be their close friend and in away give retrospective approval to what they believed and what they did. But, there is no any strong reason to persuade us that he is on any moral high ground and that Tesfaye is somebody that should be dictated and criticised by him. It doesn’t look like that. Tesfaye seems to be far too brilliant to be overshadowed and told what to do by Wolde. Judge Wolde by taking on Tesfaye brought his status to the level of traditional orthodox debtaras who to recite the verses of their churches bibles without reading them.

Judge Wolde, I am sorry to tell you the fact that you are completely on the wrong side in this, off the middle of the road. Like I said, based on no any credible fact you cried out like a poor child and blamed someone and someone’s work. You wanted something to be written and needed someone to do it for you; but you couldn’t even manage to articulate what you wanted to be said, indeed it seems your run out of words to present your case. Even your other Abyssinian friends who some times try to present themselves, as elites couldn’t help you to gloss over the horrible facts Menilik and Hayelom did to the people of the Southern Nations, peoples and Nationalities. But as I said Tesfaye Gebreab is too sharp for you to take on. The fact is that the Oromos, the Shekachos, the Somalis, the Sidamas, the Wolaitas and the oppressed people turned down the old Abyssinian myth and began living a new life and still try demand change. You couldn’t get even Amharic words to crash him. You tried to imply that Tesfaye is an Eritrean and worked for the independence of Eritrea and presented that as his weak side, but don’t forget that he looks more progressive Ethiopian as compared to you; actually he did great justice to your culture to your Amharic. Why is that? Now I think he can even beat you in legal arguments if you choose playing the same way as you did in this particular story. So please for the sake of your profession don’t try to delve in unnecessary dialogue and reveal the level of your legal knowledge, which as we now see is evidently very poor. It is also wise for a person who claims to be a judge not to reveal such deep-seated hatred not only to justice but also to the people whose sad story has been told. All of these things won’t be the good choices and not a good thing to do and not sensible, I think. At this level we expect something reasonable from you, and at least we don’t want you be seen praising theft and cry out without challenging facts with better facts of course.

Truth is Truth!

Abbaa Malkaa


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