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Stand for Silenced Ethiopians: Ethiopian's top fighter pilot killed

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ethiopian's top fighter pilot killed

DEBRE ZEIT (Ethiomedia) - A top Ethiopian Air Force commander was killed early Saturday while driving from Addis Ababa to Debre Zeit, an Air Force base 50 km south of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
Major Daniel Beyene, a squadron commander of the Air Force Fighter Pilot Training School, was buried Sunday after his body was retrieved from a sprawling farm site between the small town of Dukem and Debre Zeit.
He was killed at around 3:00 AM at the desolate site near Dukem, and was returning from an EPRDF party at the former Officers Club now known as Golf Club. Major Daniel was ordered to attend the party before he was ordered to return to his home town Debre Zeit in the wee hours of the night.
His car was smashed from the front and back, observers said, and his body was found 15 meters away from the site of the crash. Observers said his skull bore bullet holes despite attempts to give the look of a car accident to the murder.
Major Daniel Beyene was killed at the same place where he was in 1998 abducted by security forces along with another famous Ethiopian Air Force Squadron Commander, Captain Teshome Tenkolu. Both senior pilots were - hands and feet tied - held incommunicado for two years since1998.
The Meles Zenawi government later on released the pilots, and appointed the senior Captain Teshome as director of an Air Force Flight Training School in Mekelle, northern Ethiopia. Carrying bitter memories of brutal treatment, Captain Teshome fled to Eritrea in 2003, flying one of the flight school's planes. Captain Teshome Tenkolu now lives in Canada, where he was granted asylum.
The Zenawi government has since coming to power in 1991 took a series of punitive measures that virtually destroyed the foundations of the Ethiopian Air Force. For instance, the following prominent Ethiopian fighter pilots were thrown into jail in 1991, and and no charges have been brought up against them:
Col. Solomon Kebede (Fighter and Instructor Pilot)
Col. Berhane Meskel (Over 75 years old, and a fighter pilot who used to accompany Emperor Haile-Selassie is still in prison)
Col. Girma Asfaw (Veteran Fighter Pilot)
Captain Kifle Woube (Veteran Fighter Pilot)
As recently as a month ago, the government fired over 300 employees of the Ethiopian Air Force on grounds that they were sympathetic to the Ethiopian opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUDP-Kinijit). Those fired included many professionals in their 20s and 30s.
Such mass lay-offs are topped by political murders as a way of eliminating even suspected opposition party supporters. On Monday, Ethiopia's top defecting judge, Teshale Aberra, told the BBC that the Meles government kills people and then asks: "Who killed them?"

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