By Getahune Bekele
There is a renewed hope in Ethiopia that the much awaited visit of Congressman Chris Smith to the severely tyrannized nation would help alleviate the plight of venerated political prisoner Andualem Arage who is serving a lengthy jail sentence for “terrorism.”
Former UDJ deputy president Andualem is the only prisoner out of more than 56, 000 political prisoners held in concentration camp- like jails across Ethiopia who is still suffering in solitary confinement and never allowed to see his family for the past 9 months.
Known for his uncompromising stance on issues of good governance and human rights in Africa, Congressman Smith is expected to meet opposition party leaders where Andualm’s predicament would possibly top the agenda.
He will also discuss regional and security issues with TPLF warlords who recently exported terrorism to the United States by attempting to assassinate free press journalist Abebe Gelaw, according to sources in the state department.
Currently, Congressman Smith chairs the house Africa, global health and global human rights subcommittees.
Eagerly anticipating his arrival in Addis Ababa, Andualem Arage’s supporters are frantically pleading with him to personally intervene and secure his release.
“We placed our hope in the hands of his Excellency Congressman Chris Smith, a true friend of the people of Ethiopia to save the young patriot from the jaws death.” The supports said.
According to a disturbing recent report received by the Horn Times, if human rights organizations, democratic governments and the international community in general doesn’t intervene and secure Andualem Arage’s (pictured above) unconditional release soon, Ethiopia’s most revered young political prisoner might not survive long as his health deteriorates rapidly inside a tiny cell he is forced to share with five hardened death row prisoners.
The cell which is situated inside maximum security zone-3 of Kality prison in Addis Ababa has no window, light or toilet, and the wardens open the door only for about 10 minutes a day.
Worse still, under current prison system in Ethiopia, only Tigres, members of the ruling minority clan are guarding maximum security prisons and they see the revolutionary Andualem Arage as their arch enemy who caused the death of their god, the late despot Meles Zenawi.
In February 2012, he was left to die after being severely assaulted by a prison gang allied to the junta and was denied any medical treatment.
In September 2012, Andualem Arage was again attacked for “not showing sympathy” to the dead tyrant Meles Zenawi.
Andualem Arage’s condition was made public in early January after a group of opposition party leaders led by DR Negaso Gidada visited him for few minutes in the chief warden’s office.
“We find him both physically and psychologically fine. But we could see that his skin color was turning yellowish due lack of sunlight. I don’t know how fellow humans can do something like this to fellow human. The cruelty of keeping him for more than 9 months in isolation is beyond imagination.” One of those who visited him tearfully told the Horn Times.
The notorious Kality prison is home to thousands of political prisoners including journalists Reeyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega, activist Bekele Gerba and hundreds of Muslim leaders of the ongoing uprising.