Update on the preparation for the UDJ-“33” Parties Demonstration to take place on September 29th, 2013.
It is known that the Citizens Campaign “Millions Voices for Freedom” began in June with public hall-meetings and demonstrations in different parts of the country such as Jinka, Mekele, Gondar, Desie, Bahirdar, Fiche, Adama, Woliata-Soddo, Arbaminch, Jinka, Bale-Robe and Addis Ababa,. ..Only in Mekele, Wolita-Soddo and Bale-Robe that the plan was so far not implemented because of the difficulties created by the local administration, police, security organs and EPRF cadres. The present Campaign was supposed to be completed with the final demonstration to be held in Addis Ababa on September 15th 2013. But because of the stumbling blocks created by the Addis Ababa Administration, we are forced to postpone the date of the demonstration to next Sunday, the 29th of September, 2013.
1. We informed the Addis Ababa administration on the 30th of August 2013 about the September 15th demonstration much earlier than the date demanded by the law. The administration refused to recognise our plan in time set in the law. After several meetings with the Administration and negotiations we finally agreed that the demonstration will be held on September 29th. The agreement document was given us on September 13th, 2013.The administration verbally promised us to prepare Meskel Square for the demonstration but latter changed its mind and told us that the demonstration cannot take place at Meskel Square giving unconvincing reasons and told us to hold the demonstration at Janmeda. But this is an illegal decision to which we do not want to be party. Proclamation No. 3/1991 forbids holding demonstration 500 meters near to Army Camps and security offices. Janmeda is surrounded by these institutions. The Addis Ababa administration asked us to give alternatives. In agreement to the suggestion we pointed 9 alternative places. With a letter written to us on September 25, the administration told us that it rejects all our alternative places. We have rejected the rejection of the administration and we insist on hold the demonstration at Meskel Square. We see no reason why we cannot do this as different demonstrations and public meetings have been taking place there in recent days including the demonstration of EPRDF for the first year of the death of the former Prime Minister and chairman of EPRDF, the demonstration of the religious organizations and today’s Meskel Celebration. The executive committee of UDJ-“33” parties will meet today afternoon to reach at a political decision on this matter and we shall make our decision at a press conference tomorrow morning.
2. The second big problem we are facing is the question of calling on citizens to participate on the demonstration on Sunday. According to the new proclamation on political parties (proclamation No. 273/2008, sub-article 46) parties have the right to announcing their programs and call on citizens to participate in national issues. But we are told by the Addis Ababa Police that we cannot make announcements in the city by loud speakers, cannot distribute leaflets, cannot paste posters and cannot collect signatures from citizens for petitions. We told the Police Commissioner Girma Kassa and Ato Asegid (office Chief of Addis Ababa administration that such a directive is violation of the law and the Constitution.
Besides, the new directive is not published and the public is not aware of the directive. Ato Asegid admitted that the directive is not yet formally publicised and that it is for the business community and companies and not for political parties. We asked Ato Asegid to give us permission letter that we can show to the police. He refused, saying that he does not want to start issuing letters. But he once promised that he will tell the police and the security forces not to give us problems. At another time he said that he the Mayor and the Chief Police Commissioner discussed the matter and that we will not face difficulties. Contrary to all these explanations and promises, we have been facing serious difficulties and problems since we started to campaign since Tuesday for the Sunday demonstration.
- a. On the 24th of September 15 of our members were detained at Worde 2 Police Station from 1 p.m. to 7:15 while campaigning at Arat Kilo, Giorgis and Sidist Kilo. Reason given was that they did not have permission for the campaign.
- b. On the same day 7 of our members were arrested while campaigning in Addis Ketema, Markato, Mesalemya Kebele 32, Lideta and Abinet. Reason: given: they did not have permission for the campaign and were not supposed to paste posters on the car they were using. They were detained at Arada Police Main Station from 4 to 6 p.m.
- c. On the same day 6 members were detained at Yeka Police station from 4 to 6 p.m. They were campaigning in Gerji, Megenagna, Shola, Hayat and in Yeka and its surroundings.
- d. 15 members were arrested while campaigning in Kechene, Atena Tera, Mazoria 18, Mesalemia, and Brenda and were detained from 11 a.m. to 4:30 at Yeka Police station. This was on the 25th of September.
- e. Again on the 25th of September 15 members were arrested while campaigning at Shiromeda, Janmeda, Arat Kilo, Amist Kilo, and Sidist Kilo and were detained from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Shiro Meda Police station. I and other members of the leadership of UDJ went to the station to have the members released. 14 of the detainees were released after we discussed with the chief Police. But a journalist of our news paper Finote Netsanet who was video recording of the activities on the way was told to remain. I tried to explain to the police that the journalist made no harm and that we are ready to delete pictures if there is any complaint. The police refused to release the journalist. I therefore insisted that they release him and keep me instead or I will remain with him in under custody till they release him. I was there from 2 to 4 p.m. The police decided to take us to Gulale Main Police Station. We were forced to remain there up to 6:30 p.m. The journalist was released on bail and we were free to go. His camera was given back.
- f. 14 members were detained at Janmeda police station on the 25th from 4 to 7 p.m.
- g. On the same day 8 members were detained in Nefas Silk/Lafto Kifle Ketema at Gotera Police Station from 2p.m till late in the evening. Their car, a generator and loud speaker with the driver were also detained.
- h. Yesterday, the 26th of September the police arrested 7 members while campaigning in Yeka Kifle Ketema while campaigning in Sidist Kilo, Bela and Ferensay. They were detained at Yeka Main Police Station (6th Police Station)
- i. Another seven were arrested and detained at Addis Ketema police station while campaigning in Merkato area.
- j. Today, the 27th of September I led a group of members in the east direction beginning from our office. We announced about the demonstration on Sunday and we distributed leaflets. We managed to campaign through Arat Kilo and Piasa up to the Taxi station below the Addis Ababa Administration. Ato Asrat, our Secretary and Ato Shimelis, member of the executive committee were in my group. All of a sudden several policemen surrounded us. They told us to stop the campaign. We told them that we will not do that and asked them to call their chief so that we speak with him. They instead arrested us and took us to the Arada Main Police Station. While we were there the police brought another car with a group. That group was led by Ato Girma Seifu, our vice chairman and Member of Parliament. The group was arrested in Kebena not far from our office. Ato Girma’s group was supposed to campaign in the eastern part of Addis Ababa. All together we were 26 people. We were under police custody from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Assistant Deputy Commissioner Eshetu Abebe told us that we are illegal. We argued that the Addis Ababa administration and the police are illegal as they were violating the existing laws and the constitution. He gave us warning and released.
k. Two groups of 4 and 8 which were campaigning on foot with megaphones and were active in pasting posters in Kasanchis area detained in Urael Police Station 6th Police Station in Kasanchis from around 3 p.m. up to 7:30.
We tried to reach Ato Markos and Ato Asegid of the Addis Ababa administration by telephone. But he was not to be reached. I called Ato Nega Dufesa of the board of election to intervene in this matter. But he told me that he or the board can intervene only if we formally present our complaint in writing.
Whatever the case, we will try to reach the offices early tomorrow. By the way, we have written to the Vice Prime Minister Demeke yesterday but his secretary refused to receive the letter. We therefore sent the letter through registered post. We sent the letter to Ato Demeke because the Prime Minister Desalegn is New York.
We at the same time will continue as much as possible to campaign tomorrow to using all possibilities and loop hols. We would like to let all citizens of Ethiopia and the international community know that it is the Addis Ababa administration and the Addis Ababa Police who should take the responsibility for any eventuality which may take place tomorrow and on Sunday. They are the ones who are violating the constitution and the laws.
We would like to request all friends to call on these institutions not to hinder our demonstration on Sunday and the campaign we do for it tomorrow. We do not have radio and television.
Thank you very much.
Dr. Negaso Gidada,
Chairman of UDJ
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