By Yilma Bekele
It is the right season to demand justice. It is the right time to demand respect for human rights and the rule of law. After the long drought of hopelessness and apathy, we are ready to flex our muscle and deliver a powerful punch. Why the optimism you might ask?
It is a good question. The answer is both simple and straightforward. Both internal and external conditions are favorable to us. Internally the economic hardship is taking a toll. Inflation is still in double digits, devaluation is rendering the birr (Ethiopia’s currency) a useless currency and remittances that have been propping up the dying system have dried up. The illegal regime is forced into picking pockets of returnees to supplement its meager foreign currency reserves.
Externally the defeat of the republican administration in the US has dealt a heavy blow to ‘terrorist’ traders like the TPLF regime. The advent of Mr. Obama has become a game changer event. Democracy is in dictatorship is out, real verifiable election is in sham election is out in short reality is in vogue while fantasy and make believe is nothing but a pipe dream.
There is a Russian saying ‘A fish rots from the head’. It is Ethiopia in a nutshell. Any organization is a reflection of its leader. The TPLF type of leadership has run its course. It functioned when there was plenty to go around. The thieves did not have the time to fight over the loot. It worked when terror was deployed as a tool to intimidate and silence. Well there is no more to steal. The till is empty. Agazi militia, Federal Police or Kebele tugs have lost their aura of invincibility. Remember the last years of the Derg when the accusers walked with their head down in shame? It is déjà vu time again. It is the law of physics, what goes up must come down. It is independent of our will.
What happened in Adama last week was a reflection of a dying system. The last gasps of a disease ridden rotten fish flailing one last time. The eighteen years old society built on the concept of equality of nationalities was laid bare. Like we suspected Woyane was not building the future Ethiopian nation but rather a bunch of weak Bantustans ruled by mobs and zombies. This is the new improved Ethiopia, you stay on your side and I stay on my side. We thought Woyane wants to control what we say but now we also know they want to control in what language not to say it. Woyane never ceases to amaze. So in Adama you only speak Oromyea, in Tigrai conversation is allowed only in Tigregna, Amharic only in Gondar, Wolaita in Sodo and so forth. Can you watch Amharic News on TV in Sidamo? Can you think in Guragegna in Mekele? Where does all this madness stop?
Some body got to say it stops right here and right now! A lot have started to say enough is enough. But it takes time. Especially with us Ethiopians, time is a very fluid commodity. We are lackadaisical when it comes to time. Our philosophy could be summed up as ‘why do it today when it could be done tomorrow’. Some say it is good old responsibility avoidance. We also have a tendency to dump it on a higher power to shift blame. It is a good escape mechanism. It has not served us well. Indifference in the face of injustice is not a winning strategy.
No matter people are making noise. As our good brother Malcolm X said we are slowly but surely resolving to attain our dignity ‘by any means necessary’. It is about time all those that abhor injustice stand up and be counted. We in the Diaspora are the lucky ones that can say no. We speak because those at home are muzzled. For the vast majority life has become intolerable. Eating once a day has become a luxury. It is always surprising to hear our visitors talk upon their return from a trip back home. It is clear we see what we want to see. But on the other hand isn’t it true a hunger even by one is one too many hunger? How about by fourteen million? Does changing the description to malnutrition relive us of the responsibility?
Our people back home are fighting the injustice in many different ways. Silence, non-cooperation, sabotage, and exodus are some of the methods. None of them are healthy for a human being. It is not easy. Fighting a state organized for coercion is a formidable task. The Soviet Union lasted sixty-nine years. Eastern Europeans suffered for over forty years while the North Koreans are celebrating fifty-six years of misery.
We are on our thirty fifth year. Thirty-five years of destruction of the body and the spirit. Every household in Ethiopia has been negatively affected. No one escaped from this calamity. It is a miracle we survived intact. The Derg and the TPLF regime have done incalculable damage to our country. The TPLF regime is in league with the likes of Stalin, Pol Pot, Erich Honecker and Nicolae Ceauşescu. The hallmarks of a dictatorship include dividing people on tribal basis and encouraging difference, setting up a very lethal security apparatus that uses terror to create fear, pitting one group against another, state sponsored extortion and blackmail and hit squads that kill in broad day light. The TPLF regime in Ethiopia displays all these characteristics.
All the above dictators were forced out. Not one of them walked away peacefully. They all have an inglorious end. That is the way of dictatorship. It has to be nudged away.
That is the reason for the Washington DC march on Sunday, September 13. It is to nudge the Ethiopian dictator. It is a show of force. It is to remind President Obama the invaluable help he got from the Ethiopian community. We are pleased by the new emphasis on democracy, free elections and respect for basic human rights. We are hopeful the US will not turn a blind eye to the abuse of our people. We don’t expect the US, Western Europe or anyone else to do our battle. What we want them to do is stop enabling the minority government by granting aid, easy loans from IMF and World Bank and any kind of military assistance. We will do the rest.
The Washington DC march on September 13 is one aspect of our resistance to dictatorship. Attending the march is a civic responsibility. It is transforming word into action. It is showing love for ones country in a concrete way. Dress green yellow and red and carry green yellow and red. Turn Washington DC into a sea of green, yellow and red. Show the dictator that we will never ever submit to terror.
(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)