Paris (ESAT News) — Former judge and pro-democracy icon Birtukan Mideka told the United Nations Human Rights Council here on Monday that Ethiopians would change the ruined relationship between the state and its citizens for the better.
Speaking at an event marking the 20th anniversary of United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Birtukan said: “It is difficult to remain hopeful while one routinely observes repression and abuse. But I have strong confidence in the human capacity for perseverance. I am confident that this generation of Ethiopians will be able to uproot the evil of intolerance from our political consciousness.”
Birtukan was one of the high profile victims of arbitrary detention that addressed the event along with Haithem Al-Maleh, a former judge and Syrian human rights defender and Burmese prodemocracy leader and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who addressed the event via video link.
Birtukan expressed her belief that Ethiopians can transformation and change the faulty relationship between the government and its citizens for the better. “I am hopeful that we will build a state which will never terrorize and brutalize its own people by making prisons their second homes,” she said.
She detailed the excruciating pains and trauma she suffered in jails and solitary confinement. She told the gathering that her illegal and unjust incarceration and the deliberate effort of the regime to break her spirit was an barbaric act. “As if this was not cruel and severe enough, the Ethiopian government stooped to barbarity and inhumanity and locked me up in solitary confinement. The government seemed to have a deliberate plan to destroy me both in person and in spirit.
“Once I was imprisoned, my situation got from worse to life threatening. I was not allowed to see family, friends, spiritual advisors, or legal attorney. I was not allowed a visit except from my aging mother and my daughter, who was 4. I was completely and deliberately cut off from the rest of the world,” she stated.
She underscored the fact that solitary condiment is in a way no less severe than physical torture as it has serious consequences of on victims adding that she was “astonished by the fact that international consensus is not yet reached to recognize solitary confinement as one form of torture.”
“That is why locking a fellow human being in a solitary confinement should be considered an attack which attempts to kill the entire person,” she noted. She further said that she finds hard to express the pain and suffering she went through in solitary confinement its serious consequences.
Birtukan appreciated the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in exposing the illegal act of her detention in 2009 and putting in unequivocal terms that her case was arbitrary detention, which she described as a violation of the articles of international convention on civil and political rights and the Universal Declaration of Human rights.
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