We Should Not Let Birtukan Attenuate the Legal Fabrics of    Ethiopia
A Critical Account to Getachew’s Article  on Birtukan Mediksa


Adal Isaw adalisaw@yahoo.com January 1, 2009


An article by Getachew Mequanent on Aiga Forum calling for the immediate release of Birtukan Mediksa misses the whole point of the need for a legal precedence to deal with contemptuous citizens.  An opening to excuse behaviors that foment deeds to attenuate the legal fabrics of our country of many people is a dangerous act tantamount to sticking time bombs in the aisles of our legal institutions.  Besides, a special treatment in the eyes of the law for selected few citizens is a leap into the advent of two classes of Ethiopians-those who are “celebrated” and those who are not.  Such state of justice should be avoided at all times if we’re insisting on equal treatment for all of our citizenry.  Getachew’s piece on Aiga Forum failed to precisely do this by forwarding wobbling excuses rather than presenting a cogent case for the immediate release of Birtukan Mediksa.


While dealing with cases that involve national and international attentions, a reaction that comes to mind at the speed of light should be avoided.  In other words, we should not be prone to a Knee-jerk reaction-the kind of response without thought that is conditioned by one’s deeply held prevailing philosophy.  To say the least, inquiring calmly and reasoning with outmost care should guide our discourse.  More importantly though, we should be able to give cogent reasons or facts to back up a verdict that we may render on any issue, in this case, whether Birtukan should be released immediately or not.  Getachew’s argument lacks cogency, and the article might have been wrote in haste by a writer who I know otherwise is brilliant. 


According to Getachew, a call for the immediate release of Birtukan is warranted because the case has become “…an issue to which Ethiopians don’t give a damn about anymore.”   I have no poll numbers to contest Getachew’s assertion on whether Ethiopians by in large with regards to this case are apathetic or not.  However, apathetic or not, and by any stretch of our wildest imagination, apathy cannot be the basis to forgo the consequent of a contemptuous behavior to the rule of law.


What induces a legal proceeding and or a penalty phase for contemptuous behavior cannot be based on poll numbers, but on the merit of each and every case that the eyes of the law see with magnifying legal rationale.  We cannot possibly wait in sentencing Abebe Besso Bela for shoplifting from one of the shops in Merkato pending for the consensus of the general public to materialize.  In the same breath, we should not expect Birtukan to be seen any differently by virtue of an assumed lack of concern from the general public.


As much as Getachew, the general public may be is fond of Birtukan’s good looks.  The fact “…that she is a loveable person with her youthful and good looks…” however should not at all become the yard stick for how much or how less Birtukan has to be responsible for her transgression.  If good looks and youthful appearance take precedence, then, our courts will inevitably become the centers for ugly and old transgressing Ethiopians.


 In a marathon of lame excuses, Getachew finds gullibility in the behavior of Birtukan, asserting that she is a victim “overwhelmed by cheering crowds…carried away to be off line.”  It is the crowd that should be culpable is what Getachew avers.  By the way, what can possibly drive Birtukan to be off line?  Would it be the usual divisive, hateful, and fear-mongering phrases, the kind pointed at times on nations and nationalities of Ethiopia, or the mere fact that the crowd is so fond of her youthful good looks that she became intoxicated with narcissistic hot drink?  What then is Birtukan’s responsibility in this matter if any?


According to Getachew, “…it [should] have been up to the Ethiopian public to question her integrity, not the government.”  With all due respect, the matter at hand is not strictly a morality issue, but rather, a legal issue to which a functioning government is ascribed with to carry out for resolve.  It is not a case of Birtukan lying her little “white lie” but a case of violating the spirit and terms of the legally binding agreement that she signed for pardon. 


The spirit of the agreement that Birtukan signed touches on one of the most important aspects of an Ethiopian life, and, it is at least eighty million times bigger than Birtukan’s own life.  That is, it was done for the sake of creating an ambient environment for the rule of law to take precedent, and to avoid the mob mentality that was dictating our country for months, potentially jeopardizing the lives of our citizenry.  In this respect, I wish Getachew would have chosen to focus on the bigger issue and refrained from minimizing the spirit of the agreement and its intended objective.  What Birtukan defiantly keeps on doing by being naïve, youthful, and beautiful is what the agreement wanted to avoid-the attenuation of the legal fabrics of an Ethiopian life.  It is thus incumbent up on us all not to let Birtukan attenuate the legal fabrics of our beloved Ethiopia.