Clemency is a pillar of justice
Dear Tigraionline Admin

By Mulugeta Aserate Kassa
Dec. 26 2010

Former Ambassador Tesfaye Habisso’s view point “A Practicable Advocacy or Trading in Illusions” (Tigraionline, 23rd December) wrongly concludes that those of us who fully back the Religious Leaders willingness to act as intermediaries for repentant and geriatric Derg officials, are not well versed with the Constitution and Law of Ethiopia and have, therefore, made illusion the currency of our campaign.

On the issue of FDRE’s Constitution, the last thing I would dare to attempt to do is equate my humble self with my learned friend and blood relative who had proactively participated in Ethiopia’s Constituent Assembly in 1994. However, I simply fail to fathom how on earth mercy could possibly be anathema to justice. Besides, I would have thought that the mere fact that the convicted Derg officials had asked the Religious Leaders – who are not constitutionally or legally obliged – to be their intermediaries with Ethiopians was proof, if proof was ever needed, that everyone involved in the effort of reconciliation is fully aware that as far as the law was concerned the issue was a done and dusted matter.

No advocate of forgiveness has indulged in the futile exercise of absolving the Derg officials for the heinous and rebarbative crimes they had committed on all of us for 17 long years, nor are they naive enough to want to torpedo the Constitution or law of our nation by placing their trust on peoples’ sensibilities and sensitivities. On the other hand, I for one sincerely believe that the current geriatric state of the former Derg officials, the 20 year they have spent in prison, as well as their forth-coming unreserved public apology to Ethiopians, warrant that, we all, at least, give them the benefit of the doubt. Thereafter the ball would be in the Government’s court. My guess, for whatever its worth, is that the Government will then be well disposed to respond to the peoples’ consensual agreement by exhibiting a level of magnanimity hitherto not witnessed anywhere in the world. By so doing, the EPDRF Government would show case to the world that after ensuring that justice was seen to be done, it now has what it takes to out-Mandela-Mandela.

I am also in no doubt that as a supporter of the on-going Growth and Transformation and a devout Orthodox Tewahedo at that, former Ambassador Tesfaye would agree to the fact that there is no rhyme and reason for the Government to be in hock to sadistic and antediluvian sentiments. On May 28th 2011, Ethiopians will be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Derg. Offering clemency – brought about through national consensus - to those who used to hunt and hound Ethiopians as part of a nation-wide celebration would send out a clear message to the whole world that a “transformed Ethiopia” is determined to put her gory past behind her in a manner and style that would give added impetus to the Ethiopian Renaissance.

Sir, to me, the essence of “Practicable Advocacy” is mercy.