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An Open Letter to the United Nation Secretary General Re: Mr. Workneh Gebeyehu Negewo

Betre Y. Getahun
Exiled Ethiopian Journalist

March 15, 2019

To Mr. António Guterres

The United Nation Secretary General

Dear Mr. Guterres,

 Workneh Gebeyehu,

I am writing you to share with you my concern over and opposition to the appointment of Mr. Workneh Gebeyehu Negewo of Ethiopia as Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi.

Mr. Workneh Gebeyehu was one of the most notorious politicians and senseless human rights abusers in Ethiopia. He served in different key government positions at regional and federal levels and was directly involved in many crimes committed in the country

Mr. Workneh Gebeyehu served as Commissioner General of the Ethiopian Federal Police Commission from 2001 to 2012 and was responsible for many of the human right violations committed during this period of time. While he served as Commissioner of the federal police, hundreds were killed and thousands were arbitrary arrested. He is particularly responsible for the killings, tortures and many other human right violations committed in and around Addis Ababa in the aftermath of the 2005 election. Independent reports revealed that hundreds were killed and many severely injured. However, the administration neither took responsibility nor punished those involved, including Mr. Workneh Gebeyehu.

As you may already know, the infamous Ethiopian Federal Police, the main institution that serves the regime, is an instrument that targets those who stand against the policies of the administration and silences dissenters. Thousands have been arrested, inhumanly tortured and prosecuted just for expressing their views and protesting the regime.

Most of these crimes and human right violations have been documented by the United Nations, as well as many other institutions, and reported globally by the international media.

According to independent reports, over 193 people, including women and children, were brutally murdered in the aftermath of the 2005 election and 763 others sustained injuries while more than 30,000 people were detained and tortured by security forces.

As I have reported, dear Mr. Guterres, I have been saddened and disturbed by the appointment of Mr. Workneh Gebeyehu since the day I received this bad news. What I have found most painful is that he was appointed by the United Nation, an organization in which I place great faith.

The United Nation is the greatest organization of our time in that it has been playing an important role in the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of the world’s people since the end of World War II. Its human rights declarations and treaties have impacted billions of people around the globe. It has shaped the understanding of this generation about human dignity: its rights, freedom and justice as well as altered the nature of contemporary politics for the good. In light of all this, I believe that the bizarre appointment of Mr. Workneh Gebeyehu violates UN principles and undermines the purpose of the organization. The decision made to appoint him is ill advised, not to say an outrageous.

The appointment is also an insult to the struggle to uphold human rights around the world and disrespects Mr. Workneh Gebeyehu’s victims, as well as millions of Ethiopians who still suffering under the brutality of the current regime.

I believe that no nation big or small and no government official should be permitted to commit crimes and deny human rights and get away with it. Abusers like Mr. Workneh Gebeyehu must be brought to justice and receive punishment for the crimes they have committed. This is the fundamental principle of the rule of law and justice that the UN has been working so diligently to uphold.

Sincerely yours,

Betre Y. Getahun

Exiled Ethiopian Journalist


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