Justifying Charges Against Prof. Mesfin, Dr. Berhanu
An Unenviable Task to Prosecutors
The detention of Professor Mesfin Wolde-Mariam, founder and former head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council and Dr. Berhanu Nega, a prominent economist and former president of the Ethiopian Economic Association, does not come as a surprise.
For weeks prior to their detention, the two academics have been targets of blatant accusations by the government security and law enforcement apparatus and by the state media, and their detention now only constitutes a logical conclusion of these campaigns of character assassination.
According to the charges filed against Prof. Mesfin and Dr. Berhanu, they were arrested in connection with their presentation at a meeting at the auditorium of the National Lottery Administration where both allegedly " agitated AAU students into violence." As far as the AAU students are concerned there has not been any violence perpetuated by them. In fact, they were victims of violence, committed by police, who broke into the University campus. This is a well-established fact, and the Addis Ababa Police Commission has even admitted its action in this regard.
The law enforcement agencies have repeatedly said the riot and looting, had nothing to do with the protests of the students of the AAU. And the academics ‘crime’, if it could be describe as such, was lecturing the students to fight for their rights. It is, therefore, hard to imagine where Dr. Berhanu and Prof. Mesfin fit in the riot, looting and killings they are being accused of orchestrating. The entire argument for their detention flies in the face of justice.
The wrongs that both academics are being accused of do not make much sense. The only way their prosecutors can justify their action is by ensuring a quick and fair trail to the two academics and human rights activists.