Abel’s reactions after he was charged with contempt of court
I am telling the reason for my arrest. Before the government have fabricated charges of terrorism against me; they were extra curious to know why I was writing on social media sites. My reason was simple I just wanted to practice my natural rights of free speech but they have beaten me as if I am a criminal with a subtle purpose. In the process I completely lost a hearing of my ailing left ear. For that, I don’t have regrets. But if there is anything, I should have regretted is my free thinking nature that resists an attempt of power to stifle my rights to speech.
My purpose is to communicate. My aim is to learn. My reason is to engage in a deep insightful intuitive understanding of life and fight bystander apathy. This is my mission as a human. It is not a task I was given from a stranger. I will not allow anyone to trample on this basic right. I will not bargain with anyone whether they are people of political power, individuals, institutions or even a society to give away my basic speech right. I practice my free speech rights in a public sphere, in my own private space, on social media, in prison, in a court room, in a police interrogation rooms. I use my free speech rights responsibly without hindering other peoples’ rights and I want to practice it everywhere. In hindsight warnings, intimidations, arrest and torture have not stopped me from exercising my free speech rights neither they do in the future.
Before we were arrested, government gave us a cue through their mole couriers so that I along with my friends would avoid an imminent arrest by any possible means including going to exile. In that moment of truth we have had a heart wrenching crisis talk and decided to stay put despite we know the fact that our government is so resentful. Evidently, on a blog we posted on 20th of April 2014, we have noted that we will continue to use our natural right of freedom of expression albeit the grave consequences. After excruciating lengthy prison year, my resolve to exercise freedom of expression is not changed a bit. I still want to express my opinion and that is what I did on May 27 during the proceedings inside the court room.
Why the disrespectful prosecutor got tolerated while the courteous bloggers got punished?
Evidently, anyone who is familiar with this case knows that the judges in the 19th federal criminal court have passed decisions after decisions which denied us the slimmest of chances that would help us prove our innocence, they reversed their own decision, and they let the prosecutor to deliberately delay the judicial process, they have not taken a significant measure even though we have reported the abuse we have endured in the penitentiary, above all they have prohibited us not to express our opinion in the court room.
As a result, we have submitted a petition for the court so that they will substitute the presiding judge with someone else. Even though our petition was rejected, the presiding judge insisted he will resign from overseeing our case (Zone9 Bloggers vs. Ethiopia) on his own. However, the chief judge is still chairing the panel of the judges. Usually, the panel of judges gives a chance to the prosecutor to speak so that he would obscure the process. The prosecutor obscures the matter both for us and the judges but we have not been given enough chances to express our opinions. Consequently, the judicial process is moving with a speed of tortoise.
Apparently, the judges do not want to understand our concern about this delay. They pay no attention to the fact that we have life outside this prison and we are separated from our loved ones. They pretend as if they do not know the dire conditions of the country’s penitentiary and prisoners’ situations. Our smirk on their sham judicial theater is interpreted as smiles of delight and they kept adjourning our case repeatedly. But I have to speak out that the arrest is wearing our vigorous spirits. When they say it would take twenty days to look at just one documentary video as a rebuttal evidence (which popped out of nowhere in the middle of the trial). I have raised my hands according to the etiquette of the court to ask if they could watch the documentary video evidence soon so that the process can move forward to the next step. As they do commonly, the judges stifled our rights so we will not be able to speak but we started to speak by taking no notice of their order. As the saying goes the judges tried to ‘wag the dog‘while the prosecutor fails to respect the court being tolerated we are chastised for ‘disrespecting’ the court. Right as this moment I lost my cool and I said ‘you, yourself should respect the law’. My emotions might over flow when I say those things but I have done so because history would record these injustices perpetrated by this court.
I know what a manner is. My parents raised me with strong values and manners, which include not only respecting elders and younger people but regarding rules and customs as well. In our two years of life span as Zone9 blogging collective that is why we remain respectful of the country’s laws. But I hate to be quiet when my personal rights are violated, particularly I do not want anyone to repress my free speech rights. Those of you who have violated my rights in the past or violating at the moment or have some thoughts to violate in the future, please, respect and take this as a notice.
Note: This is not a literal translation. Contexts and nuances are added for ease