I Always Remember in November and in...[Prof. Alemayehu G. Mariam ]

Oh, Cruel November 2005! 

In 2005, Ethiopians faced unspeakable horrors. Following the parliamentary elections in May of that year, hundreds of Ethiopian citizens who protested the daylight theft of that election were massacred or seriously shot and wounded by police and security personnel under the exclusive command and control of the late regime leader Meles Zenawi. An official Inquiry Commission established by Zenawi documented that 193 unarmed men, women and children demonstrating in the streets and scores of other detainees held in a high security prison were intentionally shot and killed by police and security officials. An additional 763 were wounded**.

Meles Victim 1Every November since 2007, I have written consecratory (sanctifying) memorials in remembrance of the hundreds of innocent victims of the Meles Massacres. In my first memorial tribute in 2007,“Remember, the Ethiopian Martyrs of June and November, 2005 Forever!”, I reminded my readers that it was our moral duty “to bear witness for the dead and the living” in Ethiopia, to borrow a phrase from Elie Wiesel,  the Holocaust survivor.

We must remember the victims of the Meles Massacres  because, as Elie Wiesel said, we have “no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

I must confess that November is the cruelest month for me. If I could, I would skip straight from October to December. If I had the power, I would outlaw November. If there were no November, I would not have to remember. Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” He was wrong. If you tell the truth you remember everything, especially the lies, the cries, the crimes and the massacres.

Meles victim 2It is important for me to remember and to tell the truth about the crimes against humanity committed by the late Meles Zenawi and his criminal enterprise known as the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). When Meles Zenawi ordered the massacre of hundreds of unarmed protesters in June and November 2005, he wanted to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Ethiopian people that he is so ruthless that he will kill, slash and burn on an industrial scale to keep himself and his TPLF in power forever. Meles Zenawi was an astute student of Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler: “The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don’t ask for their love; only for their fear.”

Meles and his TPLF gang have always used the weapon of terror from their days in the bush; and today they practice terror using their so-called anti-terrorism law. Meles sought to command respect by committing acts of unspeakable cruelty and depravity. He did not get respect; he got the contempt and derision of the overwhelming  segment of the Ethiopian population. Meles and his gang always wanted to be feared. They are not feared; they are loathed and despised by the Ethiopian people.  That is just the naked truth!

When Meles massacred the hundreds of unarmed protesters in 2005, he had no idea that he had transformed a detached and disengaged Ethiopian academic and lawyer some nine thousand miles from Addis Ababa, who had not been to Ethiopia in over three decades, to become his most implacable and unappeasable adversary and relentless critic. The Meles Massacres turned out to be defining moments in my life. I realized that even though I had permanently moved out of Ethiopia, Ethiopia had not permanently moved out of me. It has been said that in desperate times we either define the moment or the moment defines us. In my case, it was both.

I did not choose to be a human rights advocate; Meles Zenawi chose me when he ordered the massacre of those unarmed Ethiopians. I never chose to become  a witness for the victims of the Meles Massacres; the victims of the Meles Massacre chose me to be their witness. That is why I have testified on their behalf before the court of world opinion every single Monday, without missing a single week, for eight years.

Before 2005, the late Meles Zenawi was just a miserable scalawag African dictator who did not even deserve my dismissive contempt; after he ordered the 2005 massacre, he became the apotheoses of evil, the Biblical Beast, in my mind. I must fight evil because evil never dies. I must fight evil above all because I have no doubts whatsoever in the final victory of good over evil.

That’s why every November, I must remember. I must remember the evil of November, December, September, October….

Meles z I must remember the evil Meles Zenawi and his TPLF gang have done in Ethiopia. I must remember what they have done to dismember Ethiopia. I must remember how they continue to divide the people just to cling to power. I must remember the billions they have stolen and stashed in off shore bank accounts while the people starve and languish in poverty.

I must remember the living victims of Meles Zenawi and the TPLF.  I remember my brother Eskinder Nega, the internationally-celebrated Ethiopian journalist,  languishing in solitary confinement at the Meles Zenawi Prison a few kilometers outside the capital.  I remember my young sister Reeyot Alemu, jailed by Meles Zenawi because she dared to ask questions about his white elephant projects.  I remember my brothers  Andualem Aragie, Bekele Gerba, Abubaker Ahmed, Woubshet Taye, the young Zone Nine bloggers, Temesgen Desalegn and so many others.

Why do I remember?

If I do not remember, who will be there to remember? I remember because if I forget, the crimes and the criminals will be forgotten. If I forget, how will history remember? History remembers only when there is someone to remember. So, I must remember. I must remember by bearing witness every Monday in November, and in December, and in January, and… I must remember for  Ethiopia’s “youth of today, for the Ethiopian children who will be born tomorrow. I do not want the past to become their future,” to paraphrase Elie Wiesel.

No cheerfulness for me in November. True, November is a cruel month. In the melancholy verse of Thomas Hood:

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,

No comfortable feel in any member–
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,

In my own free verse, “No Justice for the Victims of the Meles Massacres”:

No justice for the hundreds Meles massacred,

No redress for the countless men, women and children,

No restitution for the survivors or victims’ families.
No reprieve for the tens of thousands illegally jailed,

No trace of those who disappeared,
No atonement for the crimes of September, October, November….
No absolution for the Meles slaughter of November…,

No repeat of November,
November is to remember.

To forget the massacre victims of 2005 would be to forget the monstrous crimes committed against them and excuse the barbaric criminals who committed them. To forget the massacres is to assure the criminals they will never be held accountable because the crimes have been forgotten. Ultimately, to forget is to extend an invitation to the criminals in power to commit the same crimes again and again and on a greater scale with impunity.

I remember because I cannot and will not forget! Never!

I remember the victims of the 2005 massacres. I remember each and every one of them. They are not numbers for me. The late Meles Zenaei and his TPLF gang would like to make their victims nameless, faceless, bodiless, friendless and families  obodies. For me, each individual Meles massacred and maimed is special. I remember the young women who will never get to be mothers. I remember the young men who will never get to be fathers. I remember the orphans whose parents were massacred. I remember the fathers and mothers who will never get to see their children and never have a chance to see their grandchildren because Meles massacred them all.

I do not forget the criminals. I remember the 237 policemen by name who pulled the trigger; the mastermind and arch criminals who pulled the fingers of the policemen who pulled the trigger.

I will always remember in November, and in December and in January and in February and in April…

Rebuma E. Ergata, 34, mason; Melesachew D. Alemnew, 16, student; Hadra S. Osman, 22, occup. unknown; Jafar S.  Ibrahim, 28,  sm. business; Mekonnen, 17, occup. unknown; Woldesemayat, 27, unemployed; Beharu M. Demlew, occup. unknown; Fekade Negash, 25, mechanic; Abraham Yilma, 17, taxi; Yared B. Eshete, 23, sm. business; Kebede W. G. Hiwot, 17, student; Matios G. Filfilu, 14, student;Getnet A. Wedajo, 48, Sm. business; Endalkachew M. Hunde, 18, occup. unknown; Kasim A. Rashid, 21, mechanic; Imam A. Shewmoli, 22,  sm. business; Alye Y. Issa, 20, laborer; Samson N. Yakob, 23, pub. trspt.; Alebalew A. Abebe, 18, student; Beleyu B. Za, 18, trspt. asst.; Yusuf A. Jamal, 23, occup. student; Abraham S. W.  Agenehu, 23, trspt. asst.; Mohammed H. Beka, 45, farmer; Redela K. Awel, 19, taxi Assit., Habtamu A. Urgaa, 30, sm. Business.  Dawit F. Tsegaye, 19, mechanic; Gezahegne M. Geremew, 15, student; Yonas A. Abera, 24, occup. unknown; Girma A. Wolde, 38, driver; W/o Desta U. Birru, 37, sm. business; Legese T. Feyisa, 60, mason; Tesfaye D. Bushra, 19, shoe repairman; Binyam D. Degefa, 18, unemployed.

Million K. Robi, 32, trspt. asst.; Derege D. Dene, 24,  student; Nebiyu A. Haile, 16, student; Mitiku U. Mwalenda, 24, domestic worker; Anwar K. Surur, 22, sm. business; Niguse Wabegn, 36, domestic worker; Zulfa S. Hasen, 50, housewife; Washun Kebede, 16, student; Ermia F. Ketema, 20, student; 00428, 25, occup. unknown; 00429, 26, occup. unknown; 00430, 30, occup. unknown; Adissu Belachew, 25, occup. unknown; Demeke K. Abebe,uk, occup. unknown; 00432, 22, occup. unknown; 00450, 20, occup. unknown; 13903, 25, occup. unknown; 00435, 30, occup. unknown. 13906, 25, occup. unknown; Temam Muktar, 25, occup. unknown; Beyne N. Beza, 25, occup. unknown; Wesen Asefa, 25, occup. unknown; Abebe Anteneh, 30, occup. unknow; Fekadu Haile, 25, occup. unknow; Elias Golte, uk, occup. unknown; Berhanu A. Werqa, uk, occup. unknown.

Asehber A. Mekuria, uk, occup. unknown; Dawit F. Sema, uk, occup. unknown, Merhatsedk Sirak, 22, occup. unknown; Belete Gashawtena, uk, occup. unknown;  Behailu Tesfaye, 20, occup. unknown; 21760, 18, occup. unknown; 21523, 25, occup. unknown; 11657, 24, occup. unknown; 21520, 25, occup. unknown; 21781, 60, occup. unknown; Getachew Azeze, 45, occup. unknown; 21762, 75, occup. unknown; 11662,45, occup. unknown; 21763, 25, occup. unknown; 13087, 30, occup. unknown; 21571, 25, occup. unknown; 21761, 21, occup. unknown; 21569, 25, occup. unknown; 13088, 30,  occup. unknown; Endalkachew W. Gabriel, 27, occup. unknown.

Hailemariam Ambaye, 20, occup. unknown; Mebratu W. Zaudu,27, occup. unknown; Sintayehu E. Beyene, 14, occup. unknown; Tamiru Hailemichael, uk, occup. unknown; Admasu T. Abebe, 45, occup. unknown; Etenesh Yimam, 50, occup. unknown; Werqe Abebe, 19, occup. unknown; Fekadu Degefe, 27, occup. unknown Shemsu Kalid, 25, occup. unknown; Abduwahib Ahmedin, 30, occup. unknown; Takele Debele, 20, occup. unknown, Tadesse Feyisa,38,  occup. unknown; Solomon Tesfaye, 25, occup. unknown; Kitaw Werqu, 25, occup. nknown; Endalkachew Worqu, 25, occup. unknow; Desta A. Negash, 30, occup. unknown; Yilef Nega, 15, occup. unknown; Yohannes Haile, 20, occup. unknown; Behailu T. Berhanu, 30, occup. unknown; Mulu K. Soresa, 50, housewife, Teodros Gidey Hailu, 23, shoe salesman; Dejene Yilma Gebre, 18, store worker; Ougahun Woldegebriel, 18, student; Dereje Mamo Hasen, 27, carpenter.

Regassa G. Feyisa, 55, laundry worker; Teodros Gebrewold, 28, private business; Mekonne D. G.Egziaber, 20, mechanic; Elias G. Giorgis, 23, student; Abram A. Mekonnen, 21, laborer; Tiruwerq G.Tsadik, 41, housewife; Henok H. Mekonnen; 28, occup. unknown; Getu S. Mereta, 24, occup. unknown;W/o Kibnesh Meke Tadesse, 52, occup. unknown; Messay A. Sitotaw, 29, private business; Mulualem N. Weyisa, 15, Ayalsew Mamo, 23, occup. unknown; Sintayehu Melese, 24, laborer;  W/o Tsedale A. Birra, 50, housewife; Abayneh Sara Sede, 35, tailor; Fikremariam K. Telila, 18, chauffer; Alemayehu Gerba, 26, occup. unknown; George G. Abebe,36, private trspt.; Habtamu Zegeye Tola, 16, student; Mitiku Z. G. Selassie, 24, student; Tezazu W. Mekruia, 24, private business; Fikadu A. Dalige, 36,  tailor; Shewaga B. W.Giorgis, 38, laborer; Alemayehu E. Zewde, 32, textile worker; Zelalem K. G.Tsadik, 31, taxi driver; Mekoya M. Tadesse, 19, student; Hayleye G. Hussien, 19, student; W/o Fiseha T. G.Tsadik, 23, police employee; Wegayehu Z. Argaw, 26, unemployed.

Melaku M. Kebede, 19, occup. unknown; Abayneh D. Orra, 25, tailor; W/o Abebch B. Holetu, 50, housewife;  Demeke A. Jenbere, 30, farmer; Kinde M. Weresu, 22, unemployed; Endale A. G.Medhin, 23, private business; Alemayehu T. Wolde,24, teacher; Bisrat T. Demisse, 24, car importer; Mesfin H. Giorgis, 23, private business, Welio H. Dari, 18, private business, Behailu G. G.Medhin, 20, private business; Siraj Nuri Sayed, 18, student; Iyob G.Medhin, 25, student; Daniel W. Mulugeta,25, laborer; Teodros K. Degefa,25, shoe factory worker; Gashaw T. Mulugeta, 24, student; Kebede B. Orke, 22, student; Lechisa K. Fatasa, 21, student; Jagama B. Besha,20, student; Debela O. Guta, 15, student; Melaku T. Feyisa, 16, student; W/o Elfnesh Tekle, 45, occup. unknown; Hassen Dula, 64, occup. unknown; Hussien Hassen Dula, 25, occup. unknown; Dejene Demisse,15, occup. unknown; Name unknown; Name unknown;  Name unknown; Zemedkun Agdew, 18, occup. unknown;  Getachew A. Terefe, 16, occup. unknown; Delelegn K. Alemu, 20, occup. unknown; Yusef M. Oumer,20, occup. unknown.

Mekruria T. Tebedge, 22, occup. unknown; Bademe M. Teshamahu, 20, occup. unknown; Ambaw Getahun,38, occup. unknown; Teshome A. Kidane, 65, health worker; Yosef M. Regassa, uk, occup. unknown; Abiyu Negussie, uk, occup. uk; Tadele S. Behaga,uk, occup. unknown; Efrem T. Shafi,uk, occup. unknown; Abebe H. Hama, uk, occup. unknown; Gebre Molla, uk, occup. unknown; Seydeen Nurudeen, uk, occup. unknown; Eneyew G. Tsegaye, 32, trspt. asst; Abdurahman H. Ferej, 32, wood worker; Ambaw L. Bitul, 60, leather factory worker; Abdulmenan Hussien, 28, private business; Jigsa T. Setegn, 18, student; Asefa A. Negassa, 33, carpenter; Ketema K. Unko, 23, tailor; Kibret E. Elfneh, 48, private guard; Iyob G. Zemedkun, 24, private business; Tesfaye B. Megesha,15, private business; Capt. Debesa S. Tolosa, 58, private business;Tinsae M. Zegeye,14,  tailor;Kidana G. Shukrow,25, laborer;Andualem Shibelew, 16, student; Adissu D. Tesfahun, 19, private business; Kassa Beyene Yror,28, clothes sales; Yitagesu Sisay,22, occup. unknown; Unknown, 22, occup. unknown.

Police and security officers killed by friendly fire (security officers  killed in each other’s crossfire):  Nega Gebre, Jebena Desalegn,  Mulita Irko, Yohannes Solomon, Ashenafi Desalegn, Feyisa Gebremenfes.

List of prisoners massacred while trapped in their cells at Kaliti Prison on November 2, 2005:

I remember…

Teyib Shemsu Mohammed, age unknown, male, charged with instigating armed insurrection. Sali Kebede, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Sefiw Endrias Tafesse Woreda, age unknown, male, charged with rape. Zegeye Tenkolu Belay, age unknown, male, charged with robbery. Biyadgligne Tamene, age unknown, male, charges unknown. Gebre Mesfin Dagne, age unknown, male, charges unknown. Bekele Abraham Taye, age unknown, male, charged with hooliganism. Abesha Guta Mola, age unknown, male, charges unknown. Kurfa Melka Telila, convicted of making threats. Begashaw Terefe Gudeta, age unknown, male, charged with brawling [breach of peace]. Abdulwehab Ahmedin, age unknown, male, charged with robbery. Tesfaye Abiy Mulugeta, age unknown, male, charged with instigating armed insurrection. Adane Bireda, age unknown, male, charged with murder. Yirdaw Kersema, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.

Balcha Alemu Regassa, age unknown, male, charged with robbery. Abush Belew Wodajo, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Waleligne Tamire Belay, age unknown, male, charged with rape. Cherinet Haile Tolla, age unknown, male, convicted of robbery. Temam Shemsu Gole, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Gebeyehu Bekele Alene, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Daniel Taye Leku, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Mohammed Tuji Kene, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Abdu Nejib Nur, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Yemataw Serbelo, charged with rape. Fikru Natna’el Sewneh, age unknown, male, charged with making threats. Munir Kelil Adem, age unknown, male, charged with hooliganism. Haimanot Bedlu Teshome, age unknown, male, convicted of infringement. esfaye Kibrom Tekne, age unknown, male, charged with robbery. Workneh Teferra Hunde, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.

Sisay Mitiku Hunegne, charged with fraud. Muluneh Aynalem Mamo, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Taddese Rufe Yeneneh, charged with making threats. Anteneh Beyecha Qebeta, age unknown, male, charged with instigating armed insurrection. Zerihun Meresa, age unknown, male, convicted of damage to property. Wogayehu Zerihun Argaw, charged with robbery. Bekelkay Tamiru,  age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Yeraswork Anteneh, age unknown, male, charged with fraud. Bazezew Berhanu, age unknown, male, charged with engaging in homosexual act. Solomon Iyob Guta, age unknown, male, charged with rape. Asayu Mitiku Arage, age unknown, male, charged with making threats. Game Hailu Zeye, age unknown, male, charged with brawling [public disorder] Maru Enawgaw Dinbere, age unknown, male, charged with rape. Ejigu Minale, age unknown, male, charged with attempted murder. Hailu Bosne Habib, age unknown, male, convicted of providing sanctuary. Tilahun Meseret, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Negusse Belayneh, age unknown, male, charged with robbery. Ashenafi Abebaw, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Feleke Dinke, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Jenbere Dinkineh Bilew, age unknown, male, charged with brawling [public disorder].

Tolesa Worku Debebe, age unknown, male, charged with robbery. Mekasha Belayneh Tamiru, age unknown, male, charged with hooliganism. Yifru Aderaw, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Fantahun Dagne, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Tibebe Wakene Tufa, age unknown, male, charged with instigating armed insurrection. Solomon Gebre Amlak, age unknown, male, charged with hooliganism. Banjaw Chuchu Kassahun, age unknown, male, charged with robbery. Demeke Abeje, age unknown, male, charged with attempted murder. 58. Endale Ewnetu Mengiste, age unknown, male, no charges indicated. Alemayehu Garba, age unknown, male, detained in connection with Addis Ababa University student  demonstration in 2004.  Morkota Edosa, age unknown, male, no charges indicated.

For the Record: There is a certified list of at least 237 police and security officers known to be directly involved in these massacres.


I remember Yenesew Gebre.

On 11/11/11, Yenesew Gebre, a 29 year-old Ethiopian school teacher and human rights activist set himself ablaze outside a public meeting hall in the town of Tarcha located in Dawro Zone in Southern Ethiopia. He died three days later from his injuries.  Before torching himself, Yenesew told a gathered  crowd outside of a meeting hall, “In a country where there is no justice and no fair administration, where human rights are not respected, I will sacrifice myself so that these young people will be set free.”

Never again

Massacre after the 2015 “election”?

There is no question that TPLF and its leaders will massacre, slash and burn to stay in power. They know they will win the so-called 2015 election by at least 99.6 percent, but they are running scared. They are jailing journalists and dissidents  and shuttering independent newspapers. They are harassing opposition parties. Why are they afraid?

They are afraid because they know they have no support from the Ethiopian people. They know their hold on power is tenuous. They are afraid the people will one day turn against them and uproot them from power. They believe the only way they can stay in power is by maintaining a terror state where they have no opposition (opposition parties and dissidents) , no criticism (free press) and no free and fair election.  They seek to rule by sheer fear, terror and violence.

Will the TPLF massacre, slash and burn to cling to power? Hell, yeah! They got away with hundreds of murders in 2005, and they feel perfectly at ease that they will get away with thousands more in 2015. That is just the way thugs roll!

If we do not want a repeat of 2005 in 2015, we must get up and stand up and fight for the rights of our Ethiopian brothers and sisters. Each and every Ethiopian  in the Diaspora must stand up, speak up, face up, back up, pull up and act up  against the crimes of the TPLF.

Fight collective amnesia, remember the victims of Meles’ Massacres….  

Join me as “I remember the killers, [as] I remember the victims, even as I struggle to invent a thousand and one reasons to hope. Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair. Hope is possible beyond despair.” Elie Wiesel.

Remember the Meles Massacres of November, and December and….



** The Inquiry Commission completely exonerated the victims of the massacre and pinned the entire blame on the police and paramilitary forces.  The Commission concluded, “There was no property destroyed [by protesters]. There was not a single protester who was armed with a gun or a hand grenade as reported by the government-controlled media that some of the protesters were armed with guns and bombs. [The shots fired by government forces] were not intended to disperse the crowd but to kill by targeting the head and chest of the protesters.”

The Commission’s list of 193 victims includes only those deaths that occurred on June 6-8 and November 1-4, 2005, the specific dates the Commission was authorized to investigate. The Commission has an additional list of victims of extra-judicial killings by regime police and security forces which it did not publicly report because the killings occurred outside the dates the Commission was authorized to investigate.

Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino and is a practicing defense lawyer.

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