The Ethiopian Government Arrests Menderin Tessema, the only Female Photojournalist of the Sidama Media Network

The Ethiopian Government Arrests Menderin Tessema, the only Female Photojournalist of the Sidama Media Network

By The Sidama Observer, 28 August 2019

The Ethiopian government genocide on the Sidama people took a new twist when the most barbaric security forces harassed and arrested the only female photojournalist in Sidama, Menderin Tessema, who was visiting the renowned Sidama young intellectuals, SIdama Media Network Managers and other Sidama youth incarcerated blatantly for peacefully demanding the establishment of the Sidama National Regional State within the Ethiopia multinational federation in full compliance with the constitution. She was visiting the following Sidama icons in Hawassa, Sidamaland, when she was arrested:

1) Tariku W. Lemma
2) Getahun Dagooye
3) Fasika Legesse
4) Belay Balguda
5) Dr. Mathe Mengesha
6) Ass. Prof Tessema Elias
7) Ass Prof. Alemu Debisso
8) Melesse Agaro
9) Legesse Hankarsso
10) Tefera Qeenfato
11) Asnake Assefa
12) Genale Garamo
13) Girma Karre
14) Asnake Addisu
15) Tariku Mathewos

As she approached the prison, the security forces forcibly confiscated her cell phone and started to search for information.  When she demanded an explanation why she was being harassed for visiting the Sidama prisoners, she was detained on 23 August 2019.

She appeared in the kangaroo court  on 27 August 2019 where the political prosecutors demanded 14 more days to look for evidence of crime. The dictatorial regimes that govern the primitive place called Ethiopia had never respected basic human rights in the imperial history of 130 years. It is an agonising reality that 145 people were massacred in Sidama for demanding the establishment of a regional state. It is a stone age cruelty that 2500 Sidama youth languish in crowded school rooms turned prisons in Sidama for demanding the basic human freedom, self administration on their own soil.

The 2500 Sidama prisoners never committed any crimes. However, for the brutal Ethiopian dictators, who hold themselves above the law, it does not matter.  Every single Sidama is guilty before proven innocent. Under the illegal state of emergency  which licenses massacre and brutalization, any Sidama can be arrested at any time and be thrown in jail without any arrest warrant or any crime. Sidama as a society has been proven guilty until proven innocent as the  prime minister promised in parliament. Sidama is guilty until proven innocent contrary to the civilized  world where every single citizen is innocent until proven guilty in court of law.

In retrospect, Sidama was never grossly massacred and jailed during the equally brutal military/socialist regime. The Sidama people waged an armed struggle in the then three highland districts and defeated the Derg for 6 years, 1978-1984 in those districts fully liberating them. Battles of liberation raged in Borricha and Wotara  Rassa  The Derg retaliated brutally killing an estimated ten thousand civilians across Sidama. That was a response to a conventional civil war of liberation. The Sidama people paid conscious sacrifices for self determination during the Derg regime. While condemning the brutality of the regime, the Sidama nation was aware then that freedom was costly.

Coming back to the past 28 years, the repeated massacres  of the Sidama people in Loqqee on 24 May 2002,  in Hawassa and Shaammanna  in June 2018, including the killings of the Sidama female students in wolayita  sodo tertiary institutions, the ongoing genocide that was launched since  18 July 2019 are not just about suppressing the basic human  rights and freedom  but a project of destroying a nation.  The  brutality of Abiy Ahmed’s  government on Sidama nation is never matched by  any other acts of vengeance by any other previous dictatorships  since Sidama was annexed into the Ethiopian empire. As such Abiy Ahmed engraved himself in parliament as a butcher of the Sidama nation to be remembered in the annals of history, the accolade bestowed to similar dictators throughout history.

Menderin Tessema should never have been imprisoned not just because she is the only Sidama photojournalist but because she did not  commit any crime whatsoever. She is a humble single mother of three small children. She takes care of them by working hard as a photojournalist a rare profession never  encroached by any other Sidama women. Her children have no one else to fall-back on.

At the time when the world is developing policies and strategies to empower women and encourage women entrepreneurship, the Ethiopian government arrests and psychologically tortures this Sidama heroine. This is a symptom of a failed state. When leaders and states fail they persecute the weak and glorify the powerful.

Menderin Tessema and all the 2500 Sidama prisoners of conscience are victims of a conspiracy against the Sidama nation by a consortium of hard-line proponents of a unitary state led covertly by the current prime minister.  How we ended up here after a reform ignited by a historic sacrifices of all oppressed nations and the Oromo youth in particular remains a puzzle.

Nevertheless, one thing is clear. Ethiopia will never return back to an imperial-cum- unitarist state ever. Rest assured,  the oppressed nations, nationalities and peoples who paid the ultimate sacrifices to usher in the multinational federation will never allow the return of the dark days of a repulsive hegemony of one ethnic group over the 80 others.

Likewise, no amount of genocide will stop the Sidama people from establishing their own regional state within Ethiopia. The current barbaric invasion of Sidama by the federal military forces and the state of emergency are a crime against humanity. Those who ordered the invasion of Sidama and the genocide will account for their actions.

Free Menderin Tessema, the only female photojournalist in Sidama!!

Free all Sidama political prisoners!!