By Yilma Bekele
Veiled threats, 2nd party threats, rumored threats, open threats, written threats, spoken threats, these and others are some of the ways the regime is communicating with Kinijit. It is dejavue time. Dust out good old Constitution and find me ‘a charge time’. We have a saying (‘libeluat yasebbuaten Amora, jigra yluatal) Last time around it was billed as ‘Genocide’ and it was un utter failure. The whole idea was beyond revulsion. ‘Genocide’ against yourself was just plain ridiculous. The detainees were released and we all had a sigh of relief.
We thought it was another chance for peace and justice in our homeland. We all prayed that those in authority would find a common ground with the ‘true’ opposition and arrive at an equitable solution. It was time to find new ways of conflict resolution. Think outside the box, as they say here in America. What ever we have tried has not worked. The fact that we are in this miserable situation is a testimony that we have failed bringing a period of real peace and development to our country.
Excuses and explanations are not the answer to our backwardness. Our country is at the bottom 10 of all-conceivable progress yardstick is a sad fact. However one looks at it being bottom ten is not acceptable. We are one of the least developed countries not because we are over populated, not because we are lazy and ignorant or we lack something in our DNA. Ethiopia is a welfare Nation. Our budget is subsidized by foreigners or commonly refereed to as ‘donor nations’. Starvation is a recurrent problem. Our infrastructure like communication, roads, and power output is non-existent. We are losing the young and the brightest to migration because there is no sign of better tomorrow in our homeland. It sad but fact is fact. No amount of made up statistics will replace reality. Comparing it to yester years of sadness and misery does not make today’s suffering any better. We are where we are today because we have made wrong choices the last 40 years or so. We have flirted with psudeo socialism, Military dictatorship and one Party rule. To achieve our aims we have tried imprisoning, bombing, starving, forced migration, civil war and all kinds of evil acts. It has only made the situation worse.
So with the release of Kinijt leaders we all hoped we have turned a new page. We have seen the Irish, after years of killing each other that sat around a table and talked and solved their problem. We witnessed South Africa, which under the leadership of His Excellency Mr. Nelson Mandela choose to forgive and coexist. Apartheid was the most evil system devised by humans, but South Africans put their country and their peoples future first rather than seeking revenge. Such should be our guiding principle. The two long years of the ‘leaders’ detention have shown us that confrontation was a dead end street. Bullying and intimidation will only go so far before they hit a brick wall of resistance. As the repression intensify it opens the door for those who want to resolve the problem by ‘any means necessary’, and start the endless cycle of death, destruction, and more migration. Is this what we want?
It is time to make a choice again. Which way to go is the question? Confrontation or co-operation? Putting one’s people and country first or proving a point no mater the consequences? Those in authority would have to make the choice for us. The people have no voice in our country. The ones in charge can be forward looking and enjoy the fruits of a peaceful nation, or continue on the proven path of iron fisted rule and reap the benefits of further destruction. It is up to the ‘leaders’ chosen or otherwise. Where there is repression there is resistance. That will never change. Where there is Democracy there is peace. Being free, feeling free is the right of all human beings. It is not a gift someone dolls out, but a right we are born with. Free people accomplish miracles.
When we see all the messages sent out to show ‘intent’ to do harm again, we wonder. Didn’t we learn any lesson? What is different this time? So why all this dancing around to scare and terrify? If it did not work the first time around why try it again? What makes them think the outcome will be different. Why? It is really mind boggling to say the least. Why a few are willing to hold the many as hostage for their own perceived ‘right’ is nothing new. But when it happens to oneself is when the magnitude of the problem becomes evident.
Again we hope the regime will put its limited resources to finding ways of bringing our diverse people together under one roof. Use of force is not the answer. It is true that some have ruled for a long time using force and coercion. They have books written praising their wisdom, theatres played lauding their generosity and statues set in public squares bigger than life. But history is never kind to such. It is better to be remembered alongside Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, rather than Ferdinand Marcos, Idi Amin, Megistu H.Mariam or Mobutu Sese Seko.
What is in it for me might be the question asked by the regime? It is a legitimate question. We are asking it to change its proven method of ‘iron fisted rule which has ‘kept it in power for over 18 years. Of course the question assumes that deep at heart those in power are ‘patriotic’ and the future existence of our homeland is their first priority. In that case this is our ‘common ground’. Our difference will boil down to basic policy difference. Ethiopians including CUDP have clearly indicated that they are willing to forgive and move forward. It is not about revenge. It is not about regime change. It is about the future of 70 million people in a very hostile neighborhood. We as a nation are better off if those in power and the legitimate opposition sit down and compromise. The rest of us will fall in line and promise to make it work. The architects of this peaceful chapter will occupy a special place in our history. It is never too late to do the right thing.
We all have to do what we believe is right. The regime might ‘accuse, fabricate charges and jail’ our leaders. Our leaders will show the same ‘iron will’ they displayed before and refuse to give in. We in the ‘Diaspora’ will dust off our placards and email list and continue and double our efforts to be doing what we believe is right. The short visit of ‘CUDP Delegation’ has showed us that our ‘Leaders’ are indeed special. That we were correct in our genuine struggle to secure the release of Kinijit Leaders and all other political prisoners. Again we pray that it will not come to this. We hope that the ‘Government’ will find it in its heart to let our people be free. All else is not important.
Yilma Bekele can be reached at email@example.com