Bahr Dar and the wonderful art of silence. By Yilma Bekele
Last Sunday May 12 a Federal police officer opened fire and murdered twelve or eighteen people depending on who is doing the counting in the City of Bahr Dar by the shores of Lake Tana. It was a random killing and the only reason he stooped shooting was because he run out of bullets. What makes this crime unique is that it was committed by some one that is trained to protect and serve. At least in most places that is what we think of the armed officers that move around with loaded guns amongst us. I said in most places, our Ethiopia is not such a place.
The Federal Police serve the TPLF party that is in charge of our country. Meles Zenawi set up the Federal Police to be accountable to him and his party and used this force to quell down any kind of native unrest against his group. The Federal Police is the most fearsome weapon of the TPLF party. Like everything else concocted by the late criminal the Federal Police is a uniquely Ethiopian force supposedly created to resemble other Federal institutions in the developed West. The name is the same but the purpose and mission is different.
In Ethiopia the TPLF party’s Federal Police is an instrument of terror. Their motto is shoot first, ask questions later. You will not find a single Ethiopian that would not be engulfed with fear when the Federal Police is mentioned. The force was purposely designed to instill fear. From what I know of the Federal system here in the US the FBI does not involve itself in local matters. The local Police that are answerable to the Mayor or elected official is the first line of response. The State Police is under the elected Governor who is accountable to the citizen. There is a clear line of jurisdiction built into the system.
Meles Zenawi’s Ethiopia is different. The Federal Police force under him is the ultimate arbitrator of justice or injustice in this case. The Different Kililis or Bantustans have no power or authority on this rogue force. No sane Kilil head will challenge the power of the Federal Police. I can safely say that regarding all Killis except the Sovereign State of Tigrai. Abay Woldu would not allow a Kenbata, Oromo, Amhara or Somali Federal Police to roam around in his State with immunity.
When the late dictator copied the Kilil system from Mussolini with upgrades from the South African Bantustan system he made a few improvements of his own. Bahr Dar is the capital city of the Amhara Kilil. What in the world is a Federal Police doing in the streets of Bahr Dar with a loaded is gun is one of the peculiarities of the Ethiopian scene. That practice is one copied from Apartheid system. Why the local Police are not enough to keep the citizens of Bahr Dar safe is not clear at all.
Thus on the evening May 12 a certain Federal Police officer opened fire and killed all he can find in his aim of fire. No one confronted the individual and once he run out of bullets in his high capacity gun he left the area. Things got more interesting after that. First there was a lot of argument regarding the numbers killed. Apparently counting dead bodies lying on the street is not an easy task. Before the blood was dry on the highway Awramba a new and obscure Website here in the US that seems to be on the know felt it was important to label the ethnic origin of the killer as if that will make the heinous act more palatable or clear.
This childish attempt to misinform was followed by the TPLF party in a more bizarre press release that defiantly can only happen in a country where there is no independent press to raise questions and demand answers or by a government that does not have an iota of respect for its citizens.
According to the Ethiopian government the above is the picture of individual that committed the crime. His dead body was fished out of a river. They did not bother to name the river. A body left in the water for a day or two will show all the symptoms of death by drowning. Our killer shows none of the effects of being in the water dead. His shoes are polished, his uniform is crisp and the blood on his face is not of someone left in water for any length of time. Do you think the rope tied around his feet is how he was dragged out? It is just curious he did not get dirty and with all that blood on his face no fish bothered to nibble. It is a miracle.
The story did not end there. While the Federal Police was displaying his dead body the Kilil administrator was issuing press release regarding the ongoing search to look for the criminal. It is just two versions of the same lie. The newly minted Prime Minter whose force murdered fourteen people did not even bother to go to the scene and console the victims’ families. He choose to send a high sounding message promising further investigation. What is the death of fourteen citizens when you can stay in the palace and play host to some Arab delegation? To add insult to injury several high ranking officers of the Federal Police in full uniform showed up at the funeral location the next day. I can see the whole drama from here with the officers arriving in their four wheel Range Rovers accompanied by zillions of security while descending on the poor folks sitting in a tent trying to console each other.
A week later the Federal Police put out a press release that they have detained ten members of their force for ‘neglecting and failing to act’. Do you mean to tell us there were armed police around while he was shooting randomly and they just watched, or did they know he was intending to do just that and they kept quiet which one is it my dear Workeneh?
No matter how you look at it the whole story is bizarre. Starting with the action of the insane individual to the conflicting press reports by the officials and the reporting by ETV that doesn’t even ask why the criminal’s clothes don’t show any signs of being in the water – it is vintage Woyane drama.
The report by the Diaspora press was something to behold too. We were told the citizens of Bahr Dar were fuming. They were showing signs of anger and were seating ready to let of steam. No adjective was spared to describe the mental and physical anguish of Bahr Darians. Thus I waited to see how this criminal act of an invading force was going to manifest itself by the citizen reacting back. Pictures of Palestinian citizens under the watchful eyes of the Israeli Army burying their dead clad in their beloved flag and defiant in their tone passed thru my head. I remembered the scene from Cairo where the citizens carried the dead bodies of their martyrs shot by the Mubarak’s police during the Arab spring as it flashed vividly in front of my eyes.
Nothing like that happened. Someone once said we Ethiopians have even lost our capacity to be angry. The best explanation that comes to mind is what was said by our Holy Father Abune Melkesedek explaining the silence of his people a while back as ‘Bechelema Gelmecha’. That is what took place in the city of Bahr Dar ‘Bechelema Gelmecha’. It must be very satisfying to the individuals but no one saw it. What is the point is a good question to ask. How is the evil doer going to understand the hurt inflicted on those families and the entire city? Is a simple defiant procession to protest and let the regime know the citizens feeling much to expect? Isn’t there one brave soul in the whole of Bahr Dar that is not afraid to respond in kind?
Well to settle the matter once and for all the Woyane government brought in ‘Special Forces’ unit to Bahr Dar to even control the thought of defiance let alone the act. I still do not understand the presence of all this armed groups in such an idyllic location. Bahr Dar is far from any border and currently there is no one threating the peace and harmony of the city. I just don’t understand why our cities are military camps during a peaceful time. I also don’t understand why we have so many people serving the military while so many of our schools are starving for teachers and books, our hospitals and clinics are poorly stocked and our children and grandparents are fed once a day if lucky. I guess it is all about priorities. The regimes first order is to protect itself from the people and it is perfectly understandable budget allocation favors security over anything else. As for the citizens of Bahr Dar I say to you no one can save you from yourself you just have to figure a way out of the current dilemma of occupation by an outside force of course in collaboration with you present day bandas. It has been done before and I have no reason to think you will not rise up to the challenge. We can echo your scream from afar but there is just no one like you to do the job. Good Luck!
Posts Tagged ‘Ethiopia Human Rights’
Bahr Dar and the wonderful art of silence. By Yilma Bekele
Keep your eyes on the prize. By Yilma Bekele
We are witnessing a flurry of news from the TPLF party that calls itself the Ethiopian government. Why is the Woyane party so busy and why is the party pushing its cadres to be super active is a good question. That is what piqued my interest and I was forced to look around to figure out what exactly is happening both in Ethiopia and the Diaspora community to make the illegal regime work overtime.
I did not have to look far to see why the government is acting very nervous. It looks like for a change the progressive forces are on the attack and the reactionary regime is on the defense. Believe me this is a rare occurrence and shows the realignment of forces in our country. I will try to explain why later on but let us look at what is causing this shift. A few weeks back the regime carried out its ‘ethnic cleansing’ activity in the Beneshangul Gumuz Kilil. It was not the first time the TPLF led regime has done this criminal act but what was different this time around was our collective indignation. We were able to carry out a sustained and well organized push back from around the world. The opposition in Ethiopia cooperated by boldly demanding action and tried to collect evidence from the affected areas.
First the hapless regime paraded its toy PM and made him give some half ass explanation and dumped the crimes on their Kilil dog. The fact that the previous ‘ethnic cleansing’ activity was carried out in the South Kilil where the PM originated from was not lost on us. This rehearsed mea culpa did not impress anyone. It was back to the drawing board for the regime. Next In the clueless regime tried to divert our attention by planting rumors about the death of that other tyrant in Zimbabwe. We did not bite. After the failure of that story they again tried to engage us by removing the monument dedicated to our Holy Father Abune Petros. Again we showed our unhappiness but did not take our eyes of the ‘ethnic cleansing’ crime. We were focused and relentless. We were just simply not crying but talking about taking the matter to the International Court of Justice and the UN.
After lots and lots of postponements and dragging the regime brought our political prisoners and decided to hand down their useless justice. We were supposed to drop all other activity and concentrate on Eskinder Nega and Andulalem’s miscarriage of justice. Something odd happened here. We did not follow the script. For the first time we were able to connect the dots and see the whole picture. The progressive forces decided to link ethnic cleansing, Abune Petros and our Political prisoners’ situation as one.
I was waiting for the next drama with heightened anticipation. What would they try now was a common question asked by students of Woyane theatre. Invading Somalia was out of the question since they have already learned their lesson. The demonization of Eritrea was becoming stale. Playing the ethnic card is what brought about the problem in the first place so that was a no go zone. What would the ‘great visionary’ leader do under the circumstances was in the mind of all TPLF cadres in leadership position. They dug deep, traveled back in their criminally ladened history and came up with ‘cannibalism’ as the way out.
So with great fanfare they went about arresting anything anybody they could find. The injustice Minister was hauled away. The guy with dark glasses that sat behind the tyrant in Parliament was arrested. The Revenue and Customs guys were escorted to their won prison with a few selected business people to add flavor to the drama.
I guess all this activity is supposed to impress us. A criminal arresting another criminal is meant to fill our soul with hope for the future. They are so clueless they don’t even know that the news is taken with such amusement that a soccer game between Buna and Giorgis garners more anticipation than their cheap drama. Why would anyone think that Melaku Fenta that spineless individual sitting under Gebrewhaid Giorgis is capable of making any decision let alone steal big? Like most sycophants that are serving as the face of their departments Melaku was just another mannequin for show while the TPLF boss under him runs the outfit. That game is played all over Ethiopia and in the Embassy’s outside. I bet you cannot find any worthwhile governmental body without a TPLF deputy in charge.
This new drama is meant to keep us guessing what in the world is going on inside the TPLF party. We are supposed to guess which faction is up and who is down. The disinformation campaign by Debretsion keeps manufacturing different versions of their supposedly internal turmoil and some of us love nothing more than being instant experts in the inner workings of the mafia group. To hear some of our people go on the minute details of the party is mind boggling and a testimonial to the hopelessness of a few of our family and friends. They might have their own differences but do you really think that will stop them from their common goal of staying in power no matter what? Do you for second think they will not close ranks when threatened? Then why in the world are you wasting time and energy whether Azeb is fighting with Berket and if Sebhat is is not in good terms with Seyoum? Now if they really want our attention the best way to do it will be arrest Azeb or Abay Woldu not Sebhat or Seyoum since they already are near death.
The biggest joke of all is the claim that Hailemariam Desalgne was cleaning house. Let us see the PM that was handpicked by the dead tyrant and schooled in the art of servitude to TPLF, the PM that does not have a power base, the same PM that cannot even pick the guards outside his office is exercising authority on TPLF officials? Who would swallow such Mamo Kilo bed time story is a good question. Yes there are a few especially here in the Diaspora that are trying to put some lipstick on this pig of a story.
Some opined ‘EPDRF supporters speaking out’ while others declared ‘EPDRF undergoing profound changes.’ Well, well let see us what is giving these Woyane coddlers new life? What is different today that was not there yesterday is a good question. I read their writings very closely and tried to see what they were basing their new found euphoria on. I wanted to know what arguments they were bringing to the table to see if there was any validity to their conclusions. I couldn’t find any. It is all wishful thinking, self fulfilling prophesy and confused theories that is trying hard to fit a square peg in a round hole. The ones that are trying to see light at the end of the tunnel are the same people that advised wait and see attitude when Woyane conquered our capital and were willing and ready to serve the criminal organization. Their last miscalculation caused twenty years of misery to our people and country and here they are again advising us the presence of a non entity called EPDRF that is supposed to usher a new era of peace and prosperity. Give it a rest gentlemen and do not waste our time with your unfounded optimism. Why peddle a worn out theory this late in the game?
I am emboldened by three factors that have been added to the equation of fighting injustice in our dear country. The first and very significant addition to our arsenal of fighting for freedom and democracy is no other than our beloved ESAT. It has given voice to the voice less and opened our eyes to the reality that is what is ailing us. ESAT is the main reason Woyane misinformation campaign is falling on deaf ears. ESAT is the main reason the cry of our people in Ethiopia is getting a hearing. No matter what no sane Ethiopian can ignore the voice of our people coming thru the airwaves loud and clear. The tenacity and diligent reporting by ESAT that refused to fall for Woyane diversion kept the ‘ethnic cleansing’ criminal act in focus and thwarted their attempt to derail us.
The second factor is the gallantry of our Moslem citizens that have against all odds persevered for over a year their quest for freedom and independence. The many attempts to divide and splinter them by the illegal Woyane regime has been repulsed and the Moslem community is still standing together with one voice and one aim of protecting their right to run their religion free of government interference. It is a lesson to the rest of us to keep our eyes on the prize and not to let our organizations be the play ground of Woyane operatives.
The third factor that is emerging from Ethiopia is the beautiful new voice of Semayawi Party that is clear, clean and void of any clutter of the past that has been hindering our forward movement. From what I can observe from afar Semayawi is not encumbered by our past failures, weighed down by unnecessary dogma and geared to act and try newer stuff. That is what the doctor ordered. Why use beige and gray to paint when you can use bright blue and bring warmth to the canvas. The call by Semayawi Party to dress in black and show the discontent of our people during African Unions 50th anniversary is a bold and timely call. That is all peaceful resistance is about. It is our duty to follow the advice of the Party and tell our family and friends to cooperate in showing their grief by dressing in black. Those of us that believe in peaceful resistance this is our chance to practice what we preach.
As times go by it is becoming clear that the regime is feeling the loss of the evil person in charge. For over thirty years the prince of darkness Meles Ashebari Zenawi has been the brain and body of the mafia outfit that has been masquerading as a political party. I am willing to give him the credit as the personification of Satan on earth. He has earned the title. His death has left the TPLF party void of someone to fill his shoes no matter how small it is. It is not the absence of idiots or sycophants that is lacking in their midst but they just seem to suffer from the mistrust the evil one has left them with. That deficiency coupled with the emergence of new and daring Ethiopians schooled in the art of confronting the regime head on is what is causing headaches to the downgraded TPLF.
Life is beautiful. Our new found unity and purposeful march to the future is a hard won victory. The fact that it is Woyane in disarray and we are becoming hip to their many attempts to distract us is testimonial to our ability to learn and apply the lesson. There are still many voices that are constantly trying to derail our movement but the fact that we have matured and are able to separate the chaff from the wheat is our new found strength. We are not there yet but with all those strong and tested groups and individuals joining our movement there is no reason to doubt we are bringing the dark days to an end and new bright sun will rise up over our mountains and valleys. A luta continua-the struggle continues.
Meles Zenawi when he was alive and his apostles today (“Melesistas”) keep playing us in the Diaspora like a cheap fiddle. They make us screech, shriek, scream and shout by simply showing their mugs in our cities. How do they do it? Every now and then, the Melesistas suit up a few of their bumbling and bungling zombies from central casting and unleash them into the Ethiopian Diaspora to “sell bonds” for the “Grand Meles Dam” to be built over the Blue Nile. Anytime these zombies show up to panhandle chump change from their supporters, a welcoming committee of defiant and patriotic Ethiopian activists show up to chase them out of town like campers at a national park chasing coyotes scrounging at the trash bin. For the past several weeks, Diaspora activists have been routing these imposters across European and American cities; but incredibly, these brazen con artists show up in the next city like snake oil salesmen at a carnival. That really piqued my curiosity. Why do these scammers show up in city after city knowing that they will be confronted and chased out by young patriotic Ethiopians? Are they really fundraising by “selling bonds” in the Diaspora or are they using “fundraising” as a cover for something altogether different? Ummm!!!
First, the irrefutable facts about the Meles Dam hogwash. As I demonstrated in my March 11 commentary, “Rumors of Water War on the Nile?”, the Meles Dam on the Blue Nile (Abay River) was the exquisite figment of Meles’ imagination, and now the phantasmic idol of worship for his discombobulated apostles. Anyone who bothers to study the facts of this so-called dam project will readily conclude that it is pie in the sky. It is “self-funded” because the multilateral lending institutions and private investors who normally bankroll such major infrastructure projects wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole standing a mile away. They have determined it is a white elephant. Egypt has also used its leverage to block funding sources. Egypt has contingency military plans to undam the dam if it ever comes on line.
The fact of the matter is that it is impossible for the bumbling regime in Ethiopia, which sustains itself through international panhandling, to raise the USD$6-10bn needed from the people of the second poorest country in the world. The regime does not even have sufficient foreign reserves to cover the cost of imports for three months. Its foreign debt exceeds USD$12bn; and despite windbagging about an 11 percent annual growth, the “fifth fastest growing economy in the world”, yada, yada, unemployment, inflation, mismanagement and corruption have put on life support an economy addicted to international handouts. The idea that nickels and dimes collected from Ethiopians in the country by staging “musical concerts, a lottery and an SMS campaign” and a buck or two from Diaspora Ethiopians could build such a project is simply nutty. Because the dam builders live in a fool’s paradise, they think Diaspora Ethiopians are all “fools and idiots” who will buy fantasy dam bonds. (Just as an aside, those who are buying Meles Dam junk bonds should first consider buying the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.) Anyway, the Diaspora “bond sales” effort has been a total failure. The regime recently announced that it had collected $43,160 from its latest bond sales in San Diego, CA. Yeah! Right!
For domestic public relations purposes, the Melesistas’ strategic objective in pushing the Meles Dam hoax is to create patriotic fervor and galvanize the entire population around an object of national pride while deifying Meles and generating political support for themselves to prolong their lease on political power. The Meles Dam would at once be a hydrological temple to worship “Meles the Great Leader and Visionary” and a symbolic object of national unity that could rally massive support for the regime. The Melesistas have convinced themselves that by talking about the Meles Dam 24/7, 365 days, they can convince the people that the dam is actually under construction. They blather about building the “largest dam in Africa” and Ethiopia becoming a middle income country and a formidable regional economic power in just a few years. They talk about their “visionary leader” and how they will blindly follow his vision to the end of the rainbow where they will collect their pot of gold in the form of Meles Dam bonds. They march on chanting their mantra: “We will follow Meles’ vision without doubt or question.”
They must really think the people are “fools and idiots” (to borrow a phrase from Susan Rice) to be fooled by their silly dog and pony show and talk of pie in the sky. The Ethiopian people may not know about a “pie in the sky”, but they certainly know about the “cow they have in the sky whose milk they never see.” But careful analysis shows the Melesistas have pulled this one right out of Joseph Goebbel’s bag of tricks: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Isn’t this exactly what the Melesistas are doing in Ethiopia now – repeat the dam lie, development lie and repress dissent and persecute journalist who tell the truth?
The Melesistas think they are so smart that they can hoodwink not only Ethiopians in the country but also those in the Diaspora. They put on a dam “bond selling” show to convince Diasporans that the Meles Dam is real and that it is the panacea to Ethiopia’s economic woes. “Buy dam bonds! Ethiopia will be rafting on a river of milk and honey once the Blue Nile is dammed.” But only a damned fool would believe that. According to the World Bank, Ethiopia’s “power sector alone would require $3.3 billion per year to develop” in the next decade. Currently, power tariffs are so underpriced that they range between “$0.04-0.08 per kilowatt-hour” and are “low by regional standards and recover only 46 percent of the costs of the utility.” For every dollar they spend supplying power, they lose 54 cents! In other words, these guys hawking the Meles Dam junk bonds and promising billions in profits are losing their shirts on the power they are selling right now! Why would anyone trust and buy dam bonds from those who can’t even make a damn profit from existing dams? Why would anyone buy dam junk bonds when the outlook for the energy sector in Ethiopia is so damn bleak? The Melesistas fantasize that they can pay off bondholders by selling power from the dam to the Sudan, Egypt and the Arabian peninsula. Why the hell would Egypt or the Sudan buy power from a dam that damns them by effectively reducing their water supply for agriculture and their own production of power?
The real aim of the Meles Dam is not the construction of a dam over the Blue Nile but to use the specter of the construction of a gargantuan dam on the Nile to inspire fear, loathing and dread of an imminent regional water war. Simply stated, the dam idea is an extortion scheme to scam the international community and downstream countries for more aid and loans as a price for continued regional stability, avoidance of conflict and maintenance of the status quo. Suffice it to say, one has to be a damned “fool and an idiot” to believe the Meles Dam will ever be built or buy Meles Dam junk bonds and expect a return. (Buying the Brooklyn Bridge is a much better investment.)
Shadowboxing Smoke and Mirrors
So, why do the Melsistas send zombies into the Diaspora on a fool’s errand? They know they will be shamed and disgraced and chased out of every American and European city like stray dogs at a bazaar. They know they will be lucky to squeeze a few hundred dollars at a Diaspora “bond selling” event. Do they do it because they are professional beggars and panhandlers?
There is a deceptively simple method to their madness. They send their zombies in the Diaspora to make us shadowbox smoke and mirrors. They are playing a simple but clever psychological game.
The Melesistas are getting hammered everyday by bad publicity. Hardly a day passes without some report by an international human rights, press or research organization documenting their monumental crimes against humanity. Just in the past few months, there have been numerous reports and press releases by Human Rights Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists and a host of newspaper and television outlets, including Al Jazeera and CNN, on massive human rights violations, land grabs, ethnic cleansing, suppression of religious freedom and other issues in Ethiopia. Recently, the World Bank made public a 448-page corruption report on Ethiopia. A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. State Department released its annual Human Rights Report on Ethiopia documenting the regime’s “arbitrary killings, torture, beating, abuse, and mistreatment of detainees by security forces, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention, illegal searches, “villagization” (pillagization) program, restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, and movement, interference in religious affairs…” This past week, they got clobbered in the international press for a kangaroo appellate court affirmance of the 18-year sentences of the internationally-acclaimed journalist Eskinder Nega and dynamic opposition leader Andualem Aragie.
The Melesistas have become international pariahs and desperately want to change the topic from Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu, Woubshet Taye, Andualem Aragie…, corruption, ethnic cleansing, land giveaways, suppression of religious freedom and interference in religious affairs and critical human rights reports. They want to take control of the international public relations agenda. They want to shed off their international image as corrupt thugs who trample on human rights and steal elections. They want to reinvent themselves as anti-poverty warriors and statesmen of economic development. They want to be seen as the new “new breed of African leaders” toiling indefatigably to eradicate poverty and promote economic development and democracy.
In a Machiavellian maneuver, they have, to some extent, succeeded in getting Diaspora Ethiopians, particularly the activists, to promote their “dam development” agenda for them in America, Europe and elsewhere. Every time Diaspora activists confront the zombie junk bond dealers and brokers, they are seen talking (but saying nothing) about development, growth, infrastructure projects and how the Meles Dam will transform Ethiopia into an economic powerhouse. (They never mention the massive foreign debt, the USD$12bn that has left the country illegally since 2001, the massive youth unemployment, accelerating population growth, etc.). They always sheath their bloody hands in the glove of development talk. When activists protest and confront these zombies, they appear to be anti-development obstructionist agitators. That’s is the exquisite trick of the Melesistas. They want the world to see Diaspora Ethiopians as a bunch of rowdy, wild, disorderly, loudmouthed, raucous, uncivil and intolerant bunch who will not even allow civil discussions of “development”. They aim to create and nurture the image of a few combative “Diaspora extremists” and an overwhelming number of silent (as a church mouse) regime supporters who are afraid to come forward (or attend their “bond selling” events) and show their support for fear of attack by the “extremists.” In the mix are the hapless Diasporans who have to go back and forth to Ethiopia to secure their property and business interests. Those guys are toast; either they pay protection money (buy dam bonds) or get jacked up on some trumped up charge and lose their properties or worse.
The Melesistas’ strategy to counter bad publicity and capture the domestic and international public relations commanding heights is based on three principles: Distract, distract and distract some more. Distract Ethiopians inside the country from critical political, social and economic issues by bombarding them with inane development propaganda. State television (which is watched by virtually no one in the country) is filled with ceaseless barrages of nauseating and mind numbing amateur development propaganda. It is vintage police state propaganda aimed at convincing a largely illiterate population that famine is plenty, decline is development, poverty is wealth, dictatorship is democracy and the man who destroyed the country is its savior.
The second strategy is to distract Diaspora Ethiopians from vigorously pursuing an agenda that promotes democracy freedom and human rights. They unleash a few smooth-talking empty suits with empty heads and let them wander from one city to another in the U.S. and Europe just to get Ethiopian activists emotionally worked up about a fantasy dam and lose their focus on issues of human rights violations, abuse of political prisoners, ethnic cleansing, suppression of religious freedoms, and myriad economic problems. Some Diaspora activists react vigorously whenever they see these hapless empty suits at “bond selling” events believing they are confronting the master criminals. Therein lies the trick. The Melesistas are so clever that they have succeeded in making some of us believe that the puppets are actually the puppet masters. We need to be aware that the empty suits they send into the Diaspora to sell the dam bonds are just schmucks and buffoons who do what they are told; or “zombies” as the great African musician Fela Kuti would have called them (“Zombie go… zombie stop…zombie turn…zombie think…” ) They are bait and are offered as scapegoats to the Diaspora. By chasing the puppets out of town, some of us feel we have chased out the puppet masters. But the puppet masters laugh at us because our victory is the victory of the shadow boxer who knocked out the shadow.
The third strategy of the Melesistas is to distract donors and human rights organizations from criticizing them on their atrocious human rights record. They want to justify and convince them that the masses of ordinary Ethiopians are interested in the politics of the belly and not the politics of the ballot. Meles declared, “My view is that there is no direct relationship between economic growth and democracy historically or theoretically.” They want to convince donors and human rights organizations that the masses do not care about human rights or democracy; they are concerned only about filling their bellies. To them, the masses of poor, illiterate, hungry and sick Ethiopians are too dumb and too damn needy to appreciate “political democracy.”
Legacy of the great manipulator
Manipulation of the Diaspora is one of the chief legacies of Meles. Wikileaks cablegrams portray Meles as a slick, scheming, crafty and cunning hombre. He could have achieved greatness but undid himself because he was unable to tame his voracious appetite for extreme vindictiveness and revenge and could not bridle his bottomless capacity for maliciousness, viciousness and obduracy. Those who claim to know Meles say he knew his opposition better than the opposition knew itself. Distraction, diversion, misdirection, hoodwinking, chicanery, paralogy and sophistry were the hallmarks of Meles’ strategy. The cunning dictator was able to shroud his corrupt empire for two decades by pursuing a propaganda policy of mass distraction and by staging one farcical political theatre after another. As I have long maintained, Meles’ “attitude was that he can outwit, outthink, outsmart, outplay, outfox and outmaneuver boatloads of Ph.Ds., M.Ds., J.Ds. Ed.Ds or whatever alphabet soup of degrees exist out there any day of the week. He seemed to think that like the opposition leaders, Ethiopian intellectuals are dysfunctional, shiftless and inconsequential, and will never be able to pose a real challenge to his power.” In a rare moment of candor responding to a journalist’s question about Diaspora Ethiopians protesting his overseas visits, Meles confessed, “We may be at fault in some way. I am sorry. That maybe we didn’t communicate well enough to those Ethiopians living abroad what is happening, what we are doing here.” Meles’ apostles keep making the same mistake. Like shepherd, like sheep! Like Meles, like Melesistas!
Criminal violations in selling unregistered securities in the U.S.
There have been questions raised about the legality of the sale of Meles Dam bonds as “securities” in the U.S. Under federal and most state laws, a “security” is broadly defined and includes stocks, bonds, debt and equity securities, notes, investment contracts, etc. Unless exempted, all securities must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and/or relevant state agencies prior to selling or offering for sale to the public. A security which does not have an effective registration statement on file with the SEC and/or the relevant state agency is considered an unregistered security. Buying or selling unregistered securities is a crime under federal and state laws. The SEC can prosecute issuers and sellers of unregistered securities under section 20(b) of the Securities Act of 1933 (which regulates original issuers) and seek injunctions if the Securities Act has been violated, or if a violation is imminent. Section 8A also allows the SEC to issue orders to issuers of unregistered securities to cease and desist and seek civil penalties under Section 20(d) if an issuer violated the Securities Act, an SEC rule, or a cease-and-desist order.
Like most states, California Corporations Code sections 25110-25118 set strict guidelines for any securities sold in that state. Any person or entity who willfully sells or transports unregistered securities through interstate commerce or buys such securities could face serious criminal liabilities under California Corporations Code section 25540, subd. (a) with penalties of incarceration for up to three years and a fine up to $1 million. California prosecutors, like their federal counterparts, could also seek injunctive relief and civil penalties.
There are a few limited exemptions to the registration requirement. One of them is an exemption “for certain foreign government securities brokers or dealers”. Pursuant to 17 CFR 401.9, “A government securities broker or dealer (excluding a branch or agency of a foreign bank) that is a non-U.S. resident shall be exempt from the provisions of sections 15C(a), (b), and (d) of the Act (15 U.S.C. 78o–5(a), (b) and (d)) and the regulations of this subchapter provided it complies with the provisions of 17 CFR 240.15a–6…” In other words, the bond “brokers and dealers” sent to the U.S. to sell the Meles Dam bonds must meet the multifarious requirements of federal securities law and other regulatory requirements including full disclosure, proof of maintenance of required books and records relating to the bond issues and written consent to service of process for any civil action arising from disputes in bond related transactions. It is highly unlikely that the “brokers and dealers” selling the Meles Dam bonds in the United States qualify under 17 CFR 240.15a–6 and 15 U.S.C. 78o–5(a).
Fight the Power, not the smoke and image in the mirror
Diaspora activists should keep their eyes on the prize, not on the smoke and mirrors of the Melesista Road Show, Carnival and Circus.
Ethiopian Americans are fortunate to live under a Constitution that guarantees our right to free expression and peaceful protest. As citizens, it is our moral duty to exercise our constitutional rights. We have recently seen Americans using their right to protest by launching the “Occupy” protest movement. Historically, the civil rights movement relied on sit-ins, sit downs, teach-ins, rallies and marches as a form of direct nonviolent action to bring about change. Nonviolent mass protests eventually led to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which ended racial segregation, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which removed barriers to voting. The anti-war and free speech movements relied on non-violent protests to defend expressive freedoms and end the war in Vietnam. Nonviolent protests were also used in the anti-Apartheid movement in the U.S. resulting in boycotts, divestments in corporations and spurring legislative and diplomatic action which hastened the end of Apartheid.
The main point is that Diaspora Ethiopians should be laser-focused on the prize and make sure that democracy will in the end triumph over dictatorship in Ethiopia; human rights are vindicated and human rights abusers are held accountable and any government in Ethiopia shall fear the people and the people shall never fear their government. We should not be distracted by empty suits with empty heads lurking in and out of town to scrounge up chicken feed. We should not be angry at programmed zombies at “bond selling” events because they are just wretched flunkies and bootlickers, who given the opportunity will make a beeline to the immigration office to file for political asylum. We should not mistake the puppets for the puppet masters. We should not confuse shadow for reality.
We should be aware not only when we are being abused but also used. We should never let them make us do their dirty jobs because they can cleverly manipulate our psychological disposition to righteous indignation. We should never react because that allows them to take control of our emotions and reactions. We should always act and never react. Most importantly, we should engage in proactive activism instead of reactive activism. When we are proactive, we plan things out carefully and strategically. Nonviolent protest is a highly disciplined effort. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. taught, “In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action.” We should educate and train ourselves in the ways of nonviolent protest. When confronting the zombies, we should maintain a high degree of composure and display self-dignity in our expressions of defiance. At dam “bond selling ” events, protesters should adequately prepare pre-event publicity. Serious attention should given to the development of press kits and talking points. Press and law enforcement liaisons should be trained and designated. Well informed and articulate spokespersons should be selected to give press interviews. Adequate attention should be given to post-event follow up activities.
It is a great disservice to oneself and to our great cause to engage in nonviolent protest without reading and understanding Gene Sharp’s extraordinary work, “From Dictatorship to Democracy”available online for free. An Amharic translation of Gene Sharp’s book is also available online free of charge (here) for anyone to download or print. Ignorance cannot drive out ignorance, only knowledge can. We must educate ourselves in the ways of peaceful protest, or our efforts will produce few results. We are less likely to be manipulated if we keep ourselves informed and develop critical analysis skills that cut through the blather of our adversaries.
While those of us in the older generation (“Hippos”) wallow in self-pity and cynicism, it is inspiring to see young patriotic Diaspora Ethiopians (“Cheetahs”) using their right to peaceful protest to resist the zombies of tyranny. Just as the task of building a fantasy dam belongs to the Melesistas, the construction of the new Ethiopia is a task reserved for the young Cheetahs. It is painful to admit that we Hippos have not been much of a role model for the Cheetahs. We have unkindly criticized the Cheetahs for their lack of engagement, apathy and single-minded pursuit of flash and cash. We grumble that the Cheetah generation is the lost generation and there is no one to save Ethiopia (but it has been a long time since we Hippos looked into the mirror without smoke).
I am afraid there is little that Ethiopian Cheetahs could learn from Ethiopian Hippos. Perhaps Ethiopian Cheetahs can get inspiration from other Cheetahs. In the past 2 years, we have seen inexperienced youth using social media bring down dictators or force them to make radical changes in governance in North Africa and the Middle East. The key to their success was their ability to get in tune and on the same wavelength with each other, and to be able to speak the same beautiful language of peaceful change and protest. As always, I believe Ethiopian youth united — across ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender, and regional lines — can never be defeated!
“Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight.” Bob Marley
Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino and is a practicing defense lawyer.
Previous commentaries by the author are available at:
Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at:
Mengistu Hailemariam and our moral compass. By Yilma Bekele.
Today I felt like crawling under the blanket and just hide. I know that is what children do. They think hiding under the blanket makes them invisible. It give them a feeling of security and that what I was looking for. Some place to hide and feel secure from my clueless people. Clueless is what we are and I guess I just have to live with it. Predictable like the season is how we function and I have to accept it.
What has gotten me down is the talk of the dead not yet dead news regarding the former dictator of my country. It looks like the despicable individual is not going to disappear from our radar no matter how far removed and how long ago we have parted company. Like a nightmare he keeps showing up in the most awkward and inopportune moments. His appearance this time around was not his doing but nevertheless he was used as weapon to clobber us with.
I am not really concerned about the hapless dictator it is us I worry about. You would think that after over twenty years of contemplating the total ramifications of what his involvement in our country’s history has meant to us that we have come to a few conclusions. We have looked at the situation and drawn a few lessons so we can keep it in the back of our brain for future reference good and bad. That is all experience is all about isn’t it?
Life is a learning experience. We succeed some fail a few but we draw conclusion so we know what works and what to avoid. That is how we move forward. Those that learn from past experience, analyze then adapt what works avoid that did not produce the intended result get to reap the benefits. Those that ignore the lessons of history end up digging their own grave.
That is what we are doing today, digging our own grave. The fact that we have not put the criminal dictator in perspective is very alarming and not so good news regarding our future. How could we be trusted with the future when we do not have a clear picture of our past? How do we know what we want tomorrow when we have not really sat down and looked at yesterday to see what went right and what exactly went wrong and why?
Two things happened simultaneously this last week. The ethnic based regime’s blunder aroused the ire of our people and exposed them to charges of criminal activity. To divert attention and blunt the impact they were able to concoct a ruse pointing away from their evil deeds. It was a simple ploy one plays on children and it worked. It worked because we did not take the last twenty years to learn, analyze and grow. It looks like we did not take the idea of raising a conscious, smart and morally upright citizen to heart in order to be able to lay a solid foundation to build the future Ethiopia. We did not invest time and energy to produce an intelligent, motivated and smart generation that is able to avoid the mistakes done by the past generation.
The last two weeks the major news coming out of our country was the plight of our Amara citizens being uprooted from their homes. It was not a pleasant sight. Simple farmers that make their living by sheer determination and constant struggle against nature using primitive tools were deemed to be unworthy of basic human respect and dignity and were ordered to move from their villages at a moment’s notice. It was very distressing to see fellow humans being treated like that in their own country. It became the focus of attention and revealed the nature of the illegal and corrupt regime in Ethiopia. It was not a welcome attention and the government rightly felt the heat.
There was attempt made by the opposition to investigate and gather evidence to bring the matter to the attention of all that are empowered to look at situations like this. It was not easy but they tried under the difficult circumstances presented by the regional Bantustans and the Federal government. Their representatives were jailed, abused and given a few hours to leave the region. Thanks to technology the whole world in general and the Diaspora Ethiopians were able to follow the news and keep in touch with their people.
The government first tried to deny that ‘ethnic cleansing’ is being carried out. They also attempted to blame the regional administration for the problem and finally were compelled to admit there was some truth to the allegations and were forced to ask the deportees to return. In a matter of a week the news was bringing clarity regarding the illegal and criminal nature of the regime in power. It was opening the eyes of many individuals to see the regime in a different light. The news was gathering momentum and the regime was entering a state of panic. The opposition and the Diaspora activists were even talking about appealing to the International Court of Justice and the United Nations.
Someone somewhere figured the weakness and clueless nature of the Ethiopian. They figured give them another bone to chew and they will drop everything and jump at the opportunity. They did not have to look far. They found an old discarded bone and tossed it in the middle of the unruly pack. Thus they put out a press release announcing the death of the tyrant that has been holed in Zimbabwe for the last twenty years. That is all it took for the frenzy to start, the earth to move and the heavens to open.
Are we that transparent? Are we that easy to fool? Fifty four percent of the Ethiopian population is under twenty five years of age. They have not witnessed the madness of the Derge era. To them Mengistu is a distant history. The history of Ethiopia including the Derg period is a self-serving tale as told by Woyane and their apologists. Neftegna, Monarchist, Dergist is an interchangeable term Woyane uses to ruin people’s lives. The fifty four percent cannot be relied upon regarding their knowledge of our past. Meles and his disciples’ main agenda was to discredit our past so they could build their distorted vision on a shaky ground. According to Woyane and their followers there is nothing good or redeemable about Ethiopia before their appearance.
It is a very difficult story to take to heart. Especially when life under Woyane is nothing but hell on hearth for the vast majority of our people. That is why the fifty four percent are all waiting their turn to leave by foot, boat, plane and any which way out. What got me a little concerned and a lot despondent is the failure of those aged 25-54 years and compromise twenty nine percent of the population. The ones that are politically involved and run our independent media outlets. They picked this disinformation campaign and run with it. I am not saying we should have ignored the story on the other hand it is our responsibility to tell the story with a certain amount of perspective thrown in to give the listener and reader some point of reference. Every time we mention the criminal dictator we should remind our people the role he played in the destruction of our country and people. That is the legacy he left behind and that is how he should be remembered. This idiotic idea of misplaced ‘Ethiopian chewanet’ is what works against us and blinds us from standing up against abusers and ill-mannered individuals. The kind of ways the news was reported was both embarrassing and self-defeating to say the least.
Dear editors of our independent media what are we supposed to make of your screaming headline announcing the ‘good health’ of a tyrant in exile that has not even acknowledged his criminal role and responsibility when he was the de facto head of state? Some of you even went the extra mile and called his house and talked to his wife while others relied on their reporters to find out the latest ‘breaking news’. Did you really think the sympathetic, feel good close to the heart story was appropriate regarding a criminal in exile? One of the headlines screamed “Former Ethiopian President Colonel Mengistu is alive and well…” I dove for cover.
Mengistu Hailemariam was a ruthless dictator, a cruel and horrible individual that will be remembered as a black mark in our country’s history. The fact that the one who came after him was a ruthless psychopath does not make the former any less of a criminal. Our independent medias’ reporting was journalism at its worst and an affront to truth and insensitive to the victims.
Where exactly did we go wrong? What exactly happened to our moral compass? It looks like we got a long way to go to differentiate bad from evil, truth from fiction and show some empathy towards those that were victimized by Mengistu and his accomplices. Mengistu which even writing his name brings pain and agony to my soul was the cause of much anguish to our country and people. This is not even past history but it happened yesterday in our life time. Many of those fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters that lost their beloved ones are still among us. The memory has not even faded from our collective mind.
To refresh your memory the ongoing exodus out of mother Ethiopia started under Mengistu. The first time in our countries history her children started running away from home. Ethiopia began losing its youngest and brightest and has not recovered ever since. The whole country became a killing field. The lawlessness nature of the regime brought about the degeneration of societal norms and the gradual destruction of culture. His regime rode rough on all that we hold dear and that has taken us long to build. His lack of basic leadership skills and ruthless evil nature decimated all that were educated, able and showed potential. He exposed our country to dangerous minds that used the opportunity to wrestle power cunningly. He is a military leader that left his troops in battle to save his dirty ass. He is wanted by the Ethiopian military to be court marshaled and is definitely a candidate for a firing squad. This is the individual you so zealously displayed and published letters written by Woyane and their sympathizers lauding his good side. Shame on you all!!!
Every one of us got something good and commendable within us. Something positive could even be said about evil individuals. I am sure Hitler was a German Nationalist that loved his country, Meles Zenawi was probably a good family man, Mussolini was probably a devout Catholic but that does not define the totality of the person. All three of them have their dark side that outweighs their positive nature. The evil one lurking behind the smiling face is what affects us.
Dear country people please remember choosing one abuser over another is not a virtue. Demanding no abuse is the way to go. Why in the world do we compare and contrast the crimes of our leaders instead of resolving for such never to happen to us again? Isn’t that the lesson to draw from the experience of the last forty years? How could I trust you with my future when some of you think of life as a pissing match and are busy picking the lessor of two evils instead on no evil? Is that where we find ourselves today that we are willing to accept a little less criminal than Meles instead of someone that respects the rule of law, the sanctity of life especially human life and love for mother Ethiopia?
ESAT and messengers of peace in Jose, Ca. By Yilma Bekele
Tamagne was here. I wrote that and felt I have said enough. Well since you asked I guess I will tell you the rest of the story. I thought by now you would know If Tamagne was here something big and important regarding Ethiopia happened. You know Tamagne; he does not do things little. He does not think of neighborhood, not even a region Tamagne goes the whole nine yards and dreams of a nation. Tamagne does not fly to Atlanta or Houstinn from his base in DC, our Tamagne crosses a continent all the way to California to spend an evening with his people. I am afraid he is outgrowing even that. Now we see Tamagne in New Zealand or Norway. I don’t need a fortune teller to predict we might hear from Tamagne from outer space. I will just sigh and mumble he must have found a lost Habesha that just don’t know when to stop and settle.
He has developed a new habit too. He does not travel light no more. As if the one man army is not enough he is accompanied by some heavy guns all around him. I am not talking about a bazooka or tank. No Tamagne has found the ultimate weapon disarm his enemies. He is accompanied with the messengers of love, brotherhood and tolerance. How I envy Weizero Mamita and Grazmach Beyene because they have given us such a precious gift. May God bless them.
I am sorry about my sloppy writing but you can’t blame me. Right now I am levitating and I am afraid it will take a while to bring me down to earth. I am floating with joy, happiness and hope and it is all due to Tamagne and his associates. I also noticed most of the folks I spent the evening with were a little delirious and as the evening went on the love and peace was infectious with Ethiopians spontaneously clapping, laughing and hugging without abandon. I told you, you should have been there.
Messengers of peace and unity.
What were all these people doing on a beautiful Saturday afternoon is a good question? The only explanation I could give you is to say they are committed, they care and they just acted on it. Lots of people worked hard to make the event a success it was. They all have one thing in common, they were all Ethiopians. What brought them together is their love and concern for their homeland.
First were the organizers of the event. It took time and effort to find a good safe location. They have to arrange transportation and accommodation for their guests. Flyers and pamphlets have to be printed to advertise the event. The posters have to be distributed in the community, published on our Web sites and the tickets have to be sold door to door. Without them there is no event. Thank you my beautiful young friends. I am happy your effort was gladly embraced by your community.
Then there were our guests that have to travel far and close to spend a precious day with their people. They are all busy and successful people that are willing to share their views and stick their neck out for all of us to dissect and parse. They were chosen to sit on the podium because they have earned the respect of their community by their work and deeds and we all want to hear from them, meet them and share our views with them.
The most crucial element in this gathering are the guests. Their presence is what makes all that effort worthwhile. I always think it is beautiful to have plenty of people but even the attendance of a single individual to me is a success. We have to show respect and do what has to be done. Coming to an event is not easy. It requires planning commitment and energy. We have to juggle so many responsibilities in our daily life and spending a whole afternoon and evening attending an event is not an easy matter. There is work, family responsibility and other commitments to take into consideration, not to mention paying for the ticket, arranging transportation etc. etc.
All three actors in this important function have something in common that makes them special. They all love their country in a positive way. They value the importance of getting together and trying to find a common solution to make their ancient country a better place. They are not just talkers but doers that go the extra mile to make things happen. It is what is called a symbiotic relationship. One cannot survive without the other. One needs the other to grow and thrive.
Our guests made all of us proud. They said many important things and it is beyond this little presentation to do it justice. There were so many standing ovations, plenty of laughter and the evening went so fast our poor organizers were forced to rearrange their program to fit the occasion. The two young people assigned to lead the ceremony were consummate professionals that made it look so easy I even thought I could do that. Dressed in the splendor of our national colors they set the tone in a positive manner. The sound and video was perfect showing the organizers commitment to excellence.
Abatachen his Holiness Abune Melkesedek General Secretary of the Holy Synod-in Exile, Archbishop of Medhane Alem Cathedral in Oakland was sitting in the middle. That sight by itself was enough to make ones heart swell with pride and joy. He started the assembly with a prayer. I don’t know about you but I knew things were going to get better and better. How could anything go wrong when Abatachen gives his blessings?
I hope you don’t mind me paraphrase and put their speech in my own words. Abatachen spoke about the importance of faith and responsibility in our daily life. He gave us perspective regarding our ancient history and the crucial role religion has played in the making of our country. He thought us how respect for each other’s religion and tolerance of our differences has played an important role in forming the Ethiopia we know now. Then he looked at us and asked a crucial question. What makes us different from animals? He said we are born, we grow up we have family and we all die. He explained we humans are different because we determine road we travel. If you take an animal far from where he was born and give it the comfort he/she needs they will not leave but stay put. It will form a family take care of its offspring and die. But we humans are different. There should be more. We think about the future. What we leave behind for our offspring is a very important consideration of being a human. Life is not about a simple comfort for oneself and one’s family but thinking of the greater family is a crucial aspect of living a successful and whole life. Something to think about, what do you think?
My dear brother Sheik Imam Khalid is not a complicated person. He speaks clearly, forcefully and in sharp short sentences. He does not leave much for ambiguity. In this time of misinformation, propaganda and rumors it is a relief to listen to someone that does not beat around the bush and states his case in a clear manner. His love for his country and religion just oozes out of him. He laid to rest the fact that our Muslim brothers struggle is for the rights of their religious independence despite the many insane ideas being thrown around by the illegal regime in power. In simple words he wants the government to stop meddling in his religion. I loved the way he started his speech. His observation was regarding the duality of our personality. There is the family you, the work place you, the you that is routinely presented among friends and the Mosque or Church you. Why so many faces? That he said is the central problem. We have to resolve that issue within ourselves and come out clean. It is not complicated is it?
We also heard from our local Mosque religious leader and he spoke about the importance of working together, the culture of unity of purpose our people have developed thru out the years and that spirit that is still leading our struggle forward. Shamble was the person that gave color to the event. With his Masinko and beautiful voice he took us back and you can see the audience mesmerized with everyone going home in a mental trip. Thank you Shambel may be next year we will meet in Addis. As the Jewish saying goes “Lashanah haba’ah biy’rushalem’ I say to you ‘ ýememetaw amet biáddis abeba’
Our hosts had a surprise guest for us too. I told you they were firing with all eight cylinders. They brought us none other than the dragon slayer himself. My friend Abebe Gelaw in person. The assembly went wild. Who else to elevate our spirit and remind us of the importance of sticking out for our people when the time requires it. He defines the meaning of seize the time.
It was time for Tamagne to come to the podium. You can hear a pin drop. The anticipation was overwhelming. As I have said before Tamagne don’t have to do anything to paint smile and joy on our faces. He has this ability to channel our energy and magnify it back at us. Some shout, some clap the men whistle and the women ululate. Pandemonium in the house is what it felt like. The fire alarm was triggered by the noise, the earth shook and the security showed up in force. I am exaggerating a little aren’t I? Well I don’t have a video and this is the best I can do. You get my meaning.
I will not even try to tell you what Tamagne presented. I don’t really know for how long but whatever it was it was short. Time has a tendency to flee when he is on stage. His simplicity is what makes the situation complicated. He disarms you with the strength of his presentation. It is audio, video and god knows what else. My suggestion is do not at all challenge Tamagne, he carries this thumb drives full of facts and figures. For a person with a death sentence hanging around his neck he seems to be relaxed. If only Ato Meles has allowed him to present his defense when accused of being a terrorist I am sure the court would have thrown the dictator into Kality. Poor Meles he died knowing Tamagne has another date to clear his name in a real court of law. You know me I will be in that jury.
So what did we accomplish? A lot my friend. We showed we cared. We proved Abatachen right by working together to leave something behind for our country and children. We rose up to the occasion when called for. The idea of the gathering was to raise money so ESAT can continue the job of being the independent ‘eyes and ears’ of our people. From something like three hundred people we raised over thirty thousand dollars. The investment we made was not to realize profit. Our reward comes when ESAT uses the fund to do the job we have entrusted them with-faithfully and truthfully inform our people. I am absolutely sure they will do that with determination professionalism and purpose. If not we all are here to watch and speak out when both things go right or wrong.
As I said it was a festive afternoon and evening. It was nice to see Ethiopians gathered to show concern and love for country and each other. I said many good things about our guests. I put them up on a pedestal. It is not about hero worship or excessive adulation of individuals. To me it is all about giving credit where credit is due. The tone set by the late dictator was constant put down of our country, people and culture. He wanted to shine all by himself. That is not good. We have plenty of good things going for us. We are blessed with ancient culture that is built on love and tolerance as a foundation. We have lived for eons as a nation state due to that. To me our guests were building on that tradition. If we don’t put them up on a pedestal who would? If we don’t celebrate their accomplishments , if we don’t appreciate their sacrifice who then? None were paid to be there, no one made a penny of the event and no one was compelled to come. That is all commitment is about. May God and Allah bless them all and protect them and shield them from harm for they are our national treasure.
I am sure my cousin Fekreye will ask me “why do you make it so long’ I thought I should be faithful to such an important gathering of honorable people and it just kept coming out. Take your time and read it please, won’t you I worked hard on it.
By the way the next day Tamagne presided on another gathering in Seattle and you know folks of Seattle are a show off and they collected close to sixty thousand dollars. Seattle congratulations, we will meet again and we will be ready. We accept the challenge, we got work to do. Finally look at the picture below and see Tamagne at work-the power of love!
I am an Amara. “ene Amara negne.”- By Yilma Bekele
“Ich bin ein Berliner.” – “I am a Berliner” Those words were spoken by President John F. Kennedy on June 26, 1963 in West Berlin. He said that to show solidarity with the people of Berlin after the East Germans with the approval of the Soviet Union erected the Berlin Wall to prevent their captive citizens from fleeing to the west.
The passage I like the most is when he said “Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was civis romanus sum ["I am a Roman citizen"]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner!”… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!”
Today it feels me with so much pride to say all Ethiopians where ever we live say in unison “ene Amara negene” Injustice against any of Ethiopia’s children is injustice to all of her children. We feel each other’s pain. When one Ethiopian is marginalized, when a single Ethiopian is put in harm’s way it is an affront to each one of us and we all suffer. It was none other than Martin Luther King Jr. who took injustice to heart when he declared “he who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
Tell me my fellow Ethiopian. What do you see in the picture above? It is a picture of people huddled together. It must be night time, what are they doing outside in the cold? Why are they sad? There is no mistaking that they are our people. I can tell that Ethiopian face from a mile away. Look at that slender chiseled face, kind eyes and welcome demeanor. They are our sisters, brothers, mothers or fathers sitting on bare soil, with no chairs and it is difficult to tell whether it is outdoors or inside. There is no question they seem to be confused, tired, and sad. Notices the young girl on the left with barefoot and looking resigned and observe the father on top right holding his chin and just seeming to wonder about the dire situation. I want you to see the child on his mother’s lap looking sad and his mother looking straight at the photographer not for pity but seems to be saying ‘take a good look, don’t forget my ace!’ I cried because I am human, I hurt because I cannot be there to hold their hand, rub their shoulders and ‘whisper it is ok, I am here to help.’ Oh my God the pain is killing me; it is tearing my soul apart. Why is this happening to my people? Why am I witnessing this suffering?
They are not just numbers. They are not statistics we refer to from some paper. They are living, breathing human beings. There is no Ethiopia without them. A house cannot stand without a foundation and a country does not exist without people. The people you see above are Amaras from the region referred to as Beneshangul/Gumuzl Kilil in Western Ethiopian that were deported from their own land to places they don’t even know. They are the homeless Ethiopians. They are stateless people within a country called Ethiopia. They are the surplus Ethiopians. How does such calamity happen? Was there an invasion by a foreign forcer? Was there some kind of natural disaster? Was there a civil war?
No they are the victims of a policy carried out by a rogue regime gone wild. Their plight is a calculated and thought out policy put in place by the regime in power. They are the recipient of a plan drawn by Meles Zenawi and his friends to keep our country in perpetual conflict and destroy Ethiopia from within. This is not an isolated event or an opportunistic move on the spur of the moment. No this is a plan drawn over thirty years ago same as Adolf Hitler’s plan of what he called to as the ‘Final Solution’ to annihilate the Jewish people. This is Meles Zenawi, Sebhat Nega, Seyoum Mesfin, and Abbay Tshaye’s and company nefarious plan directed at a single ethnic group. The ‘Final Solution’ against the Amara people.
Fascist Mussolini in his own evil ways knew that he cannot conquer Ethiopia without partitioning us. Thus he divided our country into six units as follows: 1) Eritrea to include Tigrai – capital Asmara 2) Amhara to include Begemeder, Gojjam, Wello and northern Shoa – capital Gonder 3) Galla and Sidamo –capital Jimma 4) Addis Abeba 5) Harar 6) Somalia-capital Mogadishu. Meles Zenawi and his Woyane party went further and created what we today call nine Kilils. He called it Federalism but in actuality it was South Africa’s Apartheid system in East Africa.
Musoloni and the Italians were in charge of the six units they created. The white minority government in South Africa was the boss of all the Bantustans. In Ethiopia Meles Zenawi with his Tigrai ethnic based Woyane party ushered a new era of abuse, conflict, civil war and the beginning of the destruction of our ancient land.
All Tigray’s are not Woyane. On the other hand there is no reason to shy away from stating the obvious-most Tigrais are the beneficiary of the system set up by Woyane warlords. They are the number one Ethiopians standing heads high above all others. This is not hate. This is not a figment of my imagination. Nothing happens in Ethiopia without the knowledge and consent of the Woyane party. This is a very painful statement to write down but why hide from the truth.
It is also true that Woyane agents and provocateurs planted among us are posing as Amara/Oromo among others and making ugly and hateful statements directed at our brothers and sisters from Tigrai ethnic group. This is the Way Woyane operates and we are all familiar with that mentality. We should also be aware of the fact that Woyane has been systematically attacking Ethiopian history, Ethiopian heritage and the concept of being an Ethiopian in order to carry out their goal of setting us against each other. They have convinced a few gullible people, uneducated and lumpen individuals that our country is not worth saving and separation and going your own way is an option.
We should all try harder not to allow any kind of hateful speech; any put down of each other based on ethnicity and should at no time and place tolerate such ugly and backward behavior. It is commendable to be proud of one’s ethnicity and heritage but it is not a license to attack and degenerate someone from another group. We do not have choice what ethnic group to belong to when born, we are what we are. No one decide ahead to be white or black, to be Chinese or Indian, to be short of tall or be female or male. That is all in the hands of a higher authority. Ignorance and pettiness is what makes us stressed and lash out against those we are not familiar with.
Then some evil people like our Woyane warlords use our weakness to divide us, to be suspicious of each other and plant the seeds of hatred in our society. It is a struggle not to be taken by such propaganda that is intended to make us feel better even with an empty stomach. Let alone our old and poor backward country even the industrialized and educated countries have not been able to tackle this cancer in their body politic.
But we Ethiopians are resilient people. The fact of the matter is over twenty years of hate filled propaganda by Woyane has not been able to accomplish their goal of setting us against each other. Proof in point being during Woyanes deportation of our Eritrean citizens it was heartwarming to see our ordinary people crying and being distressed following the buses that was hauling our brethren, it was a display of true Ethiopian love to see the citizens of Gurafereda washing their hands of Shiferaw Shigute’s ugly deed and today we are sure that our citizens of Bena Shangul do not agree with this current nightmare visited on them by the new Woyane warlords in Arat Kilo.
Do you really think puppet Shiferaw Shigute of Southern Region, do you for a second believe puppet Ahmed Naser Ahmed Of Beneshangul/Gumuz Kilil will carry out such ugly deed without the approval and consent of Meles Zenawi then and Debretsion Gebremichael today? No sir, this kind activity is carried out with the direction of the highest body of the party that is run by Debretsion and company.
It does not do us any good to speculate why they are doing this criminal act. Why would a government declare war on its own people is a question history always tries to answer. It is nothing new. It has happened before we have witnessed it unfold all around us. Rwanda was yesterday, Bosnia is still fresh in our mind and Gurafereda and Beneshangul are close to our heart. No matter how you put it in Ethiopia under the leadership of the Woyane Tigrai based TPLF party our country is turning into hell on Earth. Our Gambellan citizens are uprooted from their ancestral land, Sidama citizens are hunted like wild animals and the Amaras are the favorite target of these disturbed and sick individuals in charge.
Of course we can fight their hatred based criminal act with more hate. I believe MLK Jr. said it better when he wrote ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ I do not hate Woyane. I do not want to be like them. Again I will quote you MLK when he said “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too much a burden to bear.” My heart aches when I think of the dead Meles Zenawi, I cringe when I see the picture of Bereket Semeone, Debretsion Gebremichael, Sebhat Nega or Abbay Tshaye’s. They must carry such a burden with them how do they ever sleep at night? How do they function among the company of people with such overwhelming evilness engulfing the depth of their soul?
We all have responsibilities in our daily life. We are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, neighbors and workers interacting with other fellow human beings. Sometimes our duties and expectations from those around us is a source of stress and uneasiness. Fathers and mothers worry about the welfare of their family, children are under constant pressure to perform better and our work place puts up so much demand on us we are driven to the edge. It is all because we all want to be loved, needed and do better for those around us. The ultimate satisfaction is when a job done comes out perfect and those around us appreciate the effort. That is the reward that feeds the ego.
Our leaders do not seem to understand that. Given the chance to lead and make a better world for their fellow citizens that put so much trust and faith in them they callously throw away the opportunity to excel. They choose the path of hate, divide and rule and the road of destruction. Instead of sharing the bounty that comes from all working together and lift everybody higher they choose to hoard little crumbs for themselves and those around them. They play with words to fool themselves. They try to manipulate reality to fit their myopic vision. They think calling famine nutrition deficiency changes the pain, naming their terror squad internal security wipes the blood of their hands or doctoring the book balances the account for real. It is a sickness with no cure.
I wrote down I cried and felt broken heart when I saw the picture of my people from Beneshangul then I thought about it. Yes it is human to feel their pain but that is not the answer to our problem. I went back to MLK to see what he tells me about mending a broken heart. How did the great leader deal with such ugliness in the world. This is what he said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” It is true my response should be what am I going to do about this situation that is keep me up all night?
I am going to be proactive. I will not sit down and observe and take this abuse silently. I am in the USA. I will do my best to discuss with my people so we can find a solution that is sustainable. I will write and talk every chance I get to develop a culture of inclusiveness based on equality, respect and justice. I will support all those forces that are struggling to overcome this force of darkness by any means necessary. I will strive harder to learn from this negative experience and turn it into a positive experience so we can together build a better and just society. I will organize my fellow exiles to contact their Senators, Representatives, locally elected officials so they can pressure the US government to stop coddling such a criminal enterprise masquerading as a government.
I am also heartened by political parties, civic organizations and groups that are currently working under harsh conditions in Ethiopia to gather information, proof and documents regarding the ethnic cleansing situation. I also believe upon getting our documents in order we could be able to do a citizen’s arrest of all the mentioned criminals when they show up outside the country. We can as victims of government atrocity hold these despicable individuals and hand them to our local police. Armed with our documents we have every right as human beings to ask that they be brought to justice since they are breaking international law which our country is signatory of. It is just but another arsenal in our fight against injustice. Finally since information is power I give my word of honor that I do my at most best to strengthen and make ESAT the most powerful media in my beautiful homeland. I ask my fellow Ethiopians to sit down and think hard because indifference has not brought us any amount of measurable respite from this from this never ending atrocity by a regime one wild.
Violence and the Ethiopians. By Yilma Bekele
We always think of our people to be so loving that welcome a stranger into their homes and share what little they have. Our language is full of sayings about being a good host, a great neighbor and a kind human. Sharing what you have, helping those in need and putting others ahead play a central theme in all our folklores. At least that is what we try to believe and that is what we tell ourselves and each other every opportunity we get. What a kind and loving people we are is a common mantra.
Do you think that is a true picture of our country? I don’t know about you but I knew such Ethiopia in my life time. Here we go again, I did not say we were a perfect paradise but definitely we were not the Wild West either. But I know for sure we used to care for each other and we were a once proud nation.
Then where did all this violent act and talk of perpetual violence came from is a good question? It is a timely question too. Today violence both the act and the talk is permeating our society. The specter of violence is everywhere. Our country has become one big cesspool of violence and you can’t even escape it from any point on earth.
According to the World Health organization (WHO) violence is defined ‘as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a person, or group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.’
The dergue started the ball rolling with the class warfare crap. The TPLF took over with ethnic cleansing mantra. It looks like the last forty years have been a time of violence, threat of violence and absence of peace era. The Mengistu and Meles generation has been schooled in the exercise of violence as a normal day to day activity.
What got me look at these phenomena is the current behavior of our masters in Addis Abeba and their children here in the US. The Berket/Debretsion government is going out of its way to bully our Muslim citizens, intimidate our journalists and frighten our people. They are using the monopoly they exercise on our communication media to produce second rate movies, badly written essays and moronic broadcasts to confuse their captive audience.
War is waged on our Muslim brothers and sisters thru out the country. Their leaders have been incarcerated, their worship places have been desecrated and their religion has been equated with terror. The TPLF is trying to do to the Muslims what they have been doing to the Orthodox Christians the last twenty years. They were able to divide and set the Christians against each other. Bishops and priests have been beaten, exiled and insulted in broad day light. Due to lack of spine by the Christian followers the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia today has lost all its moral compass and made into a leaderless association no different than those ‘teletafis’ clustered around the mighty TPLF.
Not content on terrorizing our people at home it looks like TPLF has branched out to reach into the Diaspora community and practice its form of violence. For some of us it is not a new revelation. We have been pointing out the presence of TPLF agents amongst us for quite a while. Their activates in the various opposition party support groups we have been forming was visible and hard to miss. Their sabotage of our houses of worship is legendary. Their presence in our football organization took a valiant effort by some to unmask. No one escapes the sinister act of Woyane spies and saboteurs in any outfit that dares to organize as an Ethiopian entity. I don’t think I need to prove any of my assertions. I beg the reader to look around him/her in any city USA. I dare you to find a peaceful association untouched by Woyane virus wherever you reside.
Now their underground activity is made visible by no other than our dragon slayer, dictator buster, honor restorer and champion of freedom, my friend Abebe Gelaw. No need to elaborate more but our country and people are always grateful for the epic grand stand that was made in Washington DC on behalf of mother Ethiopia. Her children rejoiced while her enemies wept. It looks like they did not learn a lesson. They reverted back to form.
They are trying to do here in the US what they do to our people back home. They are trying to intimidate, bully and scare us from exercising our free will. A few months back an individual registered by the name of Guesh Abera on Facebook was investigated by the FBI for threatening Ato Abebe. His normal TPLF animal behavior was taken as a subject of concern by the FBI that sent agents to his work place to interview the individual and put him on alert. I am sure they felt it was better to nip this ugly idea in its bud rather than wait. Whether in jest or for real the issue is Goush threatened and the FBI investigated.
A few of our Woyane friends tried to make fun of the situation and ridicule the assertion. They went to the extent of accusing ESAT and our independent Web sites of misinformation. They tried to turn the story on its head and attempted to make the victim the aggressor. Awramba Times unmasked itself as nothing but a shameless Woyane sympathizer while some in the venerable Voice of America tried a clumsy investigative journalism that missed its mark.
Some organizations and a few people are so dense they are unable to see what is in front of them and change to avoid calamity. TPLF and its operatives are one such outfit. Despite the unmasking and public humiliation of Guesh Abera, guess who shows up to accept the medal of stupidity? None other than another ethnic hero by the name of Mulugeta Kahsay, a proud immigrant residing in Britain. This individual doing his job as assigned by TPLF was caught red handed attempting to intimidate and frighten Ato Abebe. He made repeated cals threatening not only Ato Abebe but his whole family both in the US and back in Ethiopia.
According to Wiki ‘A death threat is a threat, often made anonymously, by one person or a group of people to kill another person or groups of people. These threats are usually designed to intimidate victims in order to manipulate their behavior, thus a death threat is a form of coercion.’ Here in the US death threat is considered a criminal act. Mulugeta Khassay’s action is deplorable and will land him in jail if it was made in the US.
Why do you think these two individuals felt such behavior is both acceptable and something to be proud of? The simple answer is where they came from it is considered lawful and practiced with abandon. The TPLF Woyane regime uses violence and the threat of violence to silence its opponents and anybody it feels stands on its way. The late TPLF chieftain Meles Zenawi used to threaten cutting hands of the citizen routinely. Like father like son is the situation here. What is not surprising is the fact that so many Woyanes and their admirers cheered such behavior and they are not ashamed to check out the ‘Like’ button on Facebook. So much for peaceful coexistence, wouldn’t you say?
In a civilized setting such behavior back fires and results in exactly the opposite of what is intended. We are all appalled by such naked brutal attempt by the two individuals and their organization or are we all? This is a difficult question to answer. When we see how we Ethiopians relate to each other and how we try to resolve differences, the behavior of Goush and Mulugeta are not that much of an anomaly. The system set up by Woyane encourages such criminal mind set and illegal activity. In today’s Ethiopia breaking the law, getting ahead at the expense of fellow citizens is a celebrated act. Lying, cheating, bribing is not frowned upon and expected practice to finalize any and all transaction. It is so routine that it has become second nature to some of us.
It is not enough to condemn these two gangsters. What is needed is to see how low we have sunk as a people that such action was carried out amongst us. It is not enough to sneer at the workings of Woyane but to reflect on our society that has allowed such evil doers to prosper and grow. When we allow a few to disturb our associations, when we turn a blind eye to those that disrespect our religious leaders and create chaos in our church, when we let an insult and rogue behavior go unchallenged we end up reaping what we planted. As long as we allow ethnic based organization such as the TPLF set the agenda in our country these kind of abhorrent behavior and criminal acts will continue to be the norm. The fight against injustice starts with each one of us. We are grateful to those that have risen to get rid of the body cancer called TPLF from our land. Helping them is a duty to our mother land and to one self.
See Mulugeta Kahsay tie himself in knots:
TPLF and the culture of violence. By Yilma Bekele.
According to ESAT the FBI has foiled an attempt by the Ethiopian government to assassinate Ato Abebe Gelaw. Goosh Abera and his accomplices are under custody. Please note here I said the Ethiopian government since there seems to be no thin line between the TPLF party and the government. Why am I not surprised? I am not surprised because for the TPLF violence is sanctioned by the party leaders as a legitimate tool to achieve political, economic and military dominance.
The following weeks as we look closely at Goosh Abera and his criminal friends and the FBI presents a psychological profile of the alleged conspirators we are sure to find out certain telltale signs about TPLF and their bizarre psychopathic behavior. Individuals like Goosh are most probably equipped with basic rudimentary education if any and survive by their wit and ethnic fueled bravado. In Ethiopia they are known for carrying weapons conspicuously, brandishing them at will and revealing in their thuggish behavior. They are the kind that administers summary judgment on street corners, bars and clubs.
How was TPLF Chairman, the recently departed Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi able to achieve this goal in Ethiopia? The simple truth is by using violence to silence, intimidate, and eliminate his and the party’s actual or perceived enemies using any means necessary. You do not need to be a Sherlock Holmes to detect this pungent smell of gun powder around most Woyanes.
Mengistu Hailemariam prepared the perfect ground for TPLF to flourish. He has already disarmed the population, delegitimized the family system and used the lowest denominators to be in charge of the Kebeles. TPLF inherited a demoralized, confused and tired population to mold in its own image.
The first target of this terrorist organization was the educated citizen. The University was stripped of its most experienced and independent thinkers. By ’94 the University was a former ghost of itself. The political system was dealt in a harsh way. Professor Asrat was murdered in the most inhumane way possible. Teachers President Assefa Maru was shot against a wall execution style. Masses of independent publication owners, editors and reporters were brutally beaten, murdered, bankrupted, intimidated, exiled or killed even in exile. Bank employees were fired in masse, telecommunication workers were discarded teachers and their unions were digested even Chamber of Commerce was not immune from TPLF take over. One thread common to all is that none of them were acquired peacefully. Violence was the main calling card of the TPLF.
Every opportunity he got the sick dictator used to trash our country and our history and every opportunity they got his security department used to bully, intimidate and made to cower with fear. My dear fellow citizens, you know there is nothing new in what I am telling you. Some have witnessed it, plenty have experienced it and a vast majority would try not to think about it. The shame is unbearable.
One thing about TPLF is it is not a behind the curtain type of organization. It practically advertises every hit and all illegal acts. They use their criminal action to send a clear message to the citizen. That is why they insist that all are aware and versed on their mode of operation. They use their Television news, their newspapers and radio to send warning messages before they take action. When the unthinkable happens some are heard to say ‘he/she was warned but refused to listen-they deserve it!” You see the victim assumes the blame.
They have been systematically killing any and all emerging Ethiopians. They have goon squads that go around intimidating anybody they perceive to be a challenge. They use beating and flogging opponents to shame them in front of family, friends and a whole village. They use blackmail as a tool. They use the law to break the law. Meles used to amend the Constitution in a weekend. Even the Constitution is not worth any respect. Once you trash the Constitution what is on your way?
That is what the FBI s telling us. Their dirty deeds have arrived in America. Under Meles they were content in infiltrating our organizations such as Political Party support groups, Eders, Churches, Sport organization and disrupting from the inside. There is no Organization in North America that has not been a victim of TPLF insider disruption. They are crafty, relentless and completely understand our frame of mind. They exploit our ignorance, selfishness and greed to keep us in a daze.
The new TPLF leaders are a little bit reckless. I understand that too. It comes out of desperation. The group is under tremendous pressure. The late dictator I am afraid was a very selfish person. The sun revolved around him. When he left the light went dim. I do not think any social or military organization can take credit for the current upheaval. In my humble opinion the stink is coming from inside. I agree things are getting ripe on the outside and that could intensify the pressure inside the TPLF bowl. I am afraid the last CEO did not really care to what came after him. He was too busy surviving from day to day in this shark infested pond that he did not have the time and luxury to bother with outcome. He left an army with too many generals. Here in America there is a saying ‘all chiefs and no Indians.’ Debretsion, Bereket, Sebhat, Gebru, Abbay and a bunch of tin pot Generals are on their own trying to carve the biggest pie for themselves.
This desperate act of attempt to assassinate Ato Abebe here in the US is the work of a mad man. If the group was trying to send a message about the long arm of TPLF it is a very stupid and crazy gesture. We have been complaining about their disruptive activities in our midst but this mission of trying to kill is a little concerning. There is no question the FBI will get to the bottom of this incident. It should be treated as act of terrorism by a government and investigated to the full extent of the law and let the chips fall where they may.
I am sure the alleged conspirator will name names and tell us who gave the order for such criminal act. I doubt one individual will take it upon himself to take such mission. The Ethiopian Government under Dictator Meles routinely used to kill, rough up and intimidate its opponents in the African countries they are exiled to. The new guys are a little daring. Prime Minister Debretsion and security chief Workeneh Gebehu Should be interviewed about the work of their agents and made to take responsibility for their actions. We hope the US government will take the necessary action of baring all Ethiopian Government officials and family members from entering the country before everything is known about this conspiracy to commit crime in the US. We should demand the US government protect us from the monsters they have been coddling.
This definitely is not their first time committing crime here in the US. They have been using every legal and illegal means to harass, bankrupt and shut down Ethiopian Review Web site. They have employed what is known as denial of service attacks (DDoS Attack) to block ER and various Web sites, they have hired attorneys to intimidate ER publisher and are present in every of our Churches sawing dissent and negativity.
As Ethiopians in exile we should take the actions of these criminals seriously. It is true there is no criminal without the victim. Sometimes it is unfortunate things happen but you really can’t leave your door open and cry about being robbed do you? It is time we accept responsibility. The Ethiopian people that are facing the brunt of TPLF abuse should wake up and face their coward enemies. By now it should be clear silence is not the answer. The one year anniversary by our Muslim citizens is clear indication the regime does not listen to reason. The steadfastness of our Muslim brethren should be applauded and emulated by the rest of us. The call by our Orthodox church in exile for every one of us to safeguard our religion and our country is a timely reminder.
The fact that we have muscle now is a very empowering feeling. The cooperation between Ginbot7, Afar Front, anti Woyane activists in Tigrai, OLF, Patriotic Front and the formation of Ginbo7 Forces is the right direction considering the nature of TPLF. As I said before leveling the playing field is called for. That is one small step for our Fronts and one giant step for Ethiopia.
As for the Diaspora it is time we stop enriching the coffers of the evil regime. Any kind of involvement in their Ponzi scheme adds one day more to their life. As there is no little pregnancy there is no such thing as a little investment. It has to be a clean and complete break. This Abesha way of qualifying our illegal act is not good for our future. Your selfish action is hurting us and we ask you stop it. It is like MLK said ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ It is something to think about.
We feel the pain and hurt of our friend Abebe and his family. He has never threatened those that have hounded him and his family from his beloved homeland. His only weapon is his pen and pencil and the power of reason to resolve contradictions. Exiling him was not enough. Now they want to kill him in cold blood. That is the only language they speak. They have killed so many but they are unable to understand their violence has not resolved any of the outstanding issues. Don’t they see it? Don’t they know there are a lot more Abebebes as there were plenty of Asrats, Assefas, Eskindirs, Reyots? When is this madness going to stop? When is our country going to be a citadel of peace and harmony instead of a poster child for famine and civil war?
You know what no one gives you your freedom. You have to snatch it from those that want to make you their slave. No oppressor has ever said enough, I am going to leave you alone here go in peace. No, every oppressor faced by human kind was compelled to relinquish power by force. Not reason but force. The French revolution, the American revolution, the Russian revolution, the Chinese revolution, the South African revolution are all examples of the citizens taking matters into his hands and forcing the oppressor to step aside. Woyane dogs are not going to wake up one morning and pack and leave. You and I have to push them out. That is the only proven way. Anything else invites more abuse.
By Alemayehu G Mariam
Ethiopians had their new year on September 11. It is now 2005. On September 21, they also got a new prime minster. How delightfully felicitous to have a new prime minister in the new year! Heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to the people of Ethiopia are in order.
Hailemariam Desalegn was sworn in as prime minister before a special session of parliament. It was a rather low key affair with little pomp and circumstance. There were no parades and no sounds of bugle or trumpet announcing the changing of the guard. No inaugural balls. It was a starkly scripted ceremonial affair with minimal fanfare and political theatricality. Some 375 of the 547 members of Parliament sat quietly and heard Hailemariam recite the oath of office and gave him a hearty round of applause.
Since late May, Hailemariam has been operating in political limbo. He was officially described as “deputy”, “acting” and “interim” prime minster, the latter two offices unauthorized by the Constitution of Ethiopia. There were also some nettlesome constitutional questions about the duties of the deputy prime minister in the absence of the prime minister and the proper method of succession. Those issues aside, Hailemariam’s swearing in ceremony was scheduled on several prior occasions only to be cancelled without adequate explanation. The abrupt cancellations fueled all types of speculations and conspiracy theories about turmoil and confusion among the ruling elites. To complicate things further, it was officially announced days before the actual swearing in ceremony that Hailemariam would be sworn in early October. For some publicly unexplained reason, a special session of parliament was suddenly called for the purpose of naming a prime minister creating additional public confusion about the manifest dithering among the power elites.
Hailemariam takes office under a cloud of apprehension. Speculations abound that he is really a “figure head”, a “front man” and a “seat warmer” for the entrenched interests in a transitional period. Critics suggest that he will have little independence of action and will be puppet-mastered by those who control the politics and economy behind the scenes. Others suggest that he is a “technocract” who is unlikely to survive in a political machine that is lubricated by intrigue, cabalist conspiracy and skullduggery. But some, including myself, have taken a wait-and-see attitude and would like to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Hailemariam’s “inauguration speech” hammered the theme of “Stay the Course.” He said under his leadership the programs and projects that have been initiated and underway will continue to completion. “Our task is to stay the course on the path to firm development guided by the policies and strategies [of our party]. We will continue to pursue development and democracy by strengthening our collective leadership and by mobilizing the people.” He said modernizing agriculture and the rural economy by accelerating agricultural development were top priorities. His government “will work hard” to improve agricultural infrastructure. He promised help to cattle raisers. He emphasized the need for better educational quality and entrepreneurial opportunities for the youth. He said the country needs a curriculum focused on science, technology and math. His administration will work hard to expand opportunities for women and pay greater attention to women’s health and improved health care services to mothers. He called upon the intellectuals and professional associations to engage in rigorous applied policy analysis and research to solve practical problems.
Hailemariam said his vision is to see Ethiopia join the middle income countries in ten years. To achieve that, he said significant improvements are needed in industry and manufacturing. His administration will pay special attention to remove development bottlenecks, improve the export sector and facilitate greater cooperation between the private sector and the government. He promised to work hard to alleviate housing and transportation problems in Addis Ababa. He touched upon the economy noting that though inflation is coming down, much more action is needed to bring it under control. He urged Ethiopians to bite the bullet (tirs neksen) and make sure the existing plans for ground and rail transportation, hydroelectric power generation and telecommunications are successfully executed. He pledged to complete the “Hedasse Gidib” (“Renassaince Dam”) over the Blue Nile. He referred to corruption and mismanagement in land administration, rent and tax collections and public contracts and pledged to get the public involved in eliminating them. He noted that there were significant deficits in good governance in the operation of the police, courts, security system that need to be improved.
Hailemariam emphasized that importance of human rights. He urged the parliamentary oversight committee to review the work of the Human Rights Commission for improvements. He underscored the vital role of the Elections Commission, the Human Rights Commission, press organizations and opposition parties in the country’s democratization. He said he was ready to work “closely” with press organizations, civic society institutions and other entities engaged in the democratic process. On foreign policy, he focused on regional issues, Ethiopia’s contribution to peace-building in Somalia, South Sudan and the Sudan.
The speech could best be described as “technocratic” in the sense that it focused on ways of solving the complex problems facing the country. The speech was short on rhetoric, oratory, appeals to the pathos of the masses and big new ideas and promises. He did not sugarcoat the deep economic problems of the country with hyperbolic claims of 14 percent annual growth nor did he make any grandiose claims about Ethiopia as the “one of the fastest-growing, non-oil-dependent economies in the developing world”. There were no impactful or memorable lines or sound bite phrases in the speech. He offered no inspirational exhortations in words which “soared to poetic heights, igniting the imagination with vivid imagery”. There were no anecdotes or storytelling about the plight of the poor and the toiling masses. It was a speech intended to serve as a call to action with the message that he will work hard and asks the people to join him. He spoke of responsibility, hard work, willingness to lead, standing up to challenges, engaging the opposition, civil society and press institutions, etc. for the purpose of improving the lives of the people.
Hailemariam’s speech was a refreshing change from similar speeches of yester years in a number of ways. It was delivered in a dignified and statesmanlike manner. It was not an ideologically laced speech despite repeated references to the guiding grand plan. It was accommodating and bereft of any attitude of the old militaristic and aggressive tone of “my way or the highway.” There was no finger pointing and demonization. He did not use the old tricks of “us v. them”. He did not come across as an arrogant know-it-all ideologue. He offered olive branches to the opposition, the press and other critics of the ruling party. What was even more interesting was that he did not pull out the old straw men and whipping boys of “neoliberalism”, “neocolonialism”, and “imperialism” to pin the blame on them for Ethiopia’s problems. He did not pull any punches against the local opposition or neighboring countries. He used no threats and words of intimidation. Even when he addressed the issues of corruption, mismanagement and abuse of power, he aimed for legal accountability rather than issuing empty condemnatory words or threats.
Another surprising aspect was the fact that the speech contained none of the old triumphalism, celebratory lap running and victorious chest-beating exercises. There was no display of strength of the ruling party, no self-congratulations and ego stroking. He softly challenged the opposition and the people to work together in dealing with the country’s problems. His speech seemed to be aimed more at making the people think and act on existing plans than making new promises. Over all, the speech was written with intelligence, thoughtfulness and purpose. Hailemariam spoke in a cool and collected manner and tried to get his points across directly. What he lacked in rhetorical flair, he made up with a projection of self-assurance, humility, respectability and profesionalism.
What Was Not Said
There were various things that were not said. Though Hailemariam acknowledged the structural economic problems and the soaring inflation, he offered no short-term remedial plans. He repeatedly came back to “stay the course” theme. Does “staying the course” mean “our way or the highway”? Is national reconciliation an idea the ruling party will consider? There was no indication in the speech about the transitional process itself, but he did offer what appeared to be olive branches to the opposition, the press and others.
Hailemariam also did not give any indication about the release of the large numbers of political prisoners that are held throughout the country. Nor did he mention anything about re-drafting the various repressive press, civil society and so-called anti-terrorism laws. For over a decade, all of the major international human rights and press organizations have condemned the government in Ethiopia for its flagrant violations of human rights, illegal detention of dissidents and suppression of press institutions and persecution of journalists.
Words and Actions: Shoes of the New Prime Minister
It is often hard to judge politicians by the speeches they make. It is not uncommon for politicians to deliver inspirational speeches and come up short on the action side of things. It is true that action speaks louder than words. In his speech, it seems Hailemariam sought to move himself, his party and the people to action. But he is in a difficult situation. He feels, or is forced to feel, that he has to “fill in big shoes”. He said he will walk in footsteps that have already been stamped out. But the shoe that fits one person pinches another. But for all the hero worship, Hailemariam must realize that there is a difference between shoes and boots. For two decades, boots, not shoes, were worn. Those boots have made a disfiguring impression on the Ethiopian landscape. It must be hard to pretend to walk in the shoes of someone who had sported heavy boots. The problem is what happens when one wears someone else’s shoes that do not fit. Do you then change the shoe or the foot? I hope Hailemariam will in time learn to walk in the shoes of the ordinary Ethiopian. He will find out that those shoes are tattered and their soles full of holes. Once he has walked a mile in those shoes, he will understand what it will take to get every Ethiopian new shoes. He must also realize that “it isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.” There comes a time when we all need new shoes. That time is now. All Ethiopians need new shoes for the long walk to freedom, democracy and human rights. Prime Minster Hailemariam does not need hand-me down shoes; he needs shoes that are just his size and style and rugged enough for the long haul.
I believe Hailemariam gave a good “professional” speech. I do not think it will be remembered for any memorable lines, phrases or grand ideas. It was a speech that fit the man who stood before parliament and took the oath of office. As a self-described utopian Ethiopian, I thought the very fact of Hailemariam taking the oath of office symbolically represented the dawn of a long-delayed democracy in Ethiopia. Few would have expected a man from one of the country’s minority ethnic group to rise to such heights. Whether by design, accident or fortune, Hailemariam’s presence to take the oath of office, even without a speech or a statement, would have communicated a profound message about Ethiopia’s inevitable and unstoppable transition to democracy. Most importantly, now any Ethiopian boy or girl from any part of the country could genuinely aspire to become prime minister regardless of his/her ethnicity, region, language or religion.
I do not know if history will remember Hailemariam’s “inaugural” speech as a game changer. History will judge him not for the words he spoke or did not speak when he took the oath of office but for his actions after he became prime minister. It’s premature to judge. I like the fact that he appeared statesmanlike, chose his words carefully, focused on facts and presented himself in businesslike manner. It is encouraging that he expressed commitment to work hard to make Ethiopia a middle income country within a decade. He showed a practical sense of mission and vision while keeping expectations to reasonable levels.
To be Or Not To Be a Prime Minister
“Being Prime Minister is a lonely job,” wrote Maggie Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minsiter. “In a sense it ought to be; you cannot lead from a crowd.” I would say being a prime minister for Hailemariam, as the first prime minster from a minority ethnic group, will be not only lonely but tough as well. But somebody has got to do it. Hailemariam has his work cut out for him and he will face great challenges from within and without, as will the people of Ethiopia. I wish him well paraphrasing Winston Churchill who told his people in their darkest hour:
I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Democracy. Democracy at all costs. Democracy in spite of all terror. Democracy, however long and hard the road may be, for without democracy there is no survival.”
I believe Ethiopia will survive and thrive and her transition to democracy is irreversible, inevitable, unstoppable and divinely ordained!
On a personal note, I would give Prime Minster Hailemariam a bit of unsolicited advice. Smile a little because when you smile the whole world, not just the whole of Ethiopia, smiles with you!
Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at: http://www.ethiopianreview.com/amharic/?author=57
Previous commentaries by the author are available at: http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/ and www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/
By Yilma Bekele
Someone broke into our house. They forced the backdoor open and went through every square inch of the house. They turned our mattress over, pilfered through our drawers and left the closet in a mess. It was done in the middle of the day and it looks like they took their time. They stole laptops, I pod, tablet computer, flat screen TV’s and my wife’s gold jewelry.
We have lived in the same neighborhood for over twenty years now. Nothing like this has happened before. We felt safe and secure. We did not have a burglar alarm. There were no metal guards on our doors and windows. When we moved to the area most of our neighbors were elderly people enjoying their retirement. They were always outside sitting on their porch and remising and watching. It is true there were one or two houses where the young kids were dealing drugs but the presence of the grandfathers made their business low-key.
Burglary is an ugly and very personal crime. Most of the stuff they took is replaceable. What is disturbing and creepy is the fact that a stranger went thru your stuff. I just keep visualizing their ugly dirty hands in my drawer and all over my home. They stole expensive stuff like computers but what bothered me most was the loss of quarters I was saving for my son. They took the flat screen televisions and Google tablet but the loss of little gold crosses from my mom to my wife is what keeps me awake at night. The thought of a burglar never crossed my mind but now I am convinced burglars are the scums of the earth. I better not be called for a jury duty where the crime is burglary. Off with his/her head is what first comes to mind.
I was seething with anger regarding my home invasion when I read Ambassador Susan Rice eulogy at the funeral of you know who in my homeland. My depression was compounded. Et tu Susan? When Bush was the President Ambassador Rice opined on the Washington Post “We Saved Europeans. Why Not Africans?” regarding the administration’s refusal to use force in Darfur and her praise of President Clinton’s military intervention in Kosovo. Compare that to her statement at the funeral of an African tyrant. Our fearless Ambassador was very generous with her praises of the dictator and was nice enough to include the human side of him inquiring about her family. She went out of her way to heap accolades like a smitten teen ager and elevate the dictator to new heights. I have no problem with her ignorance but what got my goat was her statement “He [Meles] was tough, unsentimental and sometimes unyielding. And, of course, he had little patience for fools, or “idiots,” as he liked to call them” That to me is too personal. Shame on you Susan Rice! Those of us that fight injustice are not fools or idiots. My dear Ambassador it looks like you have things reversed.
Those that deny freedom to others, those that deny democracy, those that deny the rule of law are considered fools and idiots. On the other hand those that fight back to secure their God given right to live in peace and dignity are normally referred to as freedom fighters. As a black person that find yourself in such a high and powerful position representing your country I would have thought you would be the perfect candidate to identify with the cause of our people and be able to articulate our wishes and dreams better than your Wasp predecessors. Mrs. Ambassador it is a little disconcerting to think a poor immigrant like me is constantly fighting with rednecks and conservatives that judge you negatively based on the color of your skin and declare you unfit to represent America and here you are paying my favor by dancing with criminals and unsavory characters. Too bad you are not a student of MLK. Where did you miss the bus?
Anyway I gave your transgressions and insulting behavior some thought and was able to put things in perspective. I decided there is no reason I should spend an ounce of energy on what you think and say. I got bigger problems to solve. Thus I went back to my home burglary issue and viewed the two items and marveled at the linkage of the situation.
I did not leave my home open. Someone forced the door open. What I have done since then is install security doors and windows, install cameras and use cloud storage to back up my documents. It is impossible to stop a determined criminal the least I could do is make the bum work to earn his pay. It is said you know who your friends are in times of difficulty. I was humbled by two of my friends that gave me a lap top computer and a flat screen television to ease my pain. My friends Getachew and Dr. Tesfaye made me realize I am not alone. We are each other’s keeper.
When it came to my homeland the situation is a little different. The burglars did not have to break a door or climb thru a window. They just bought their way in to our precious country. They used collaborators to open the door and let them in. We left our door open. No need to blame the burglar for our being indifferent regarding our treasure. Ambassador Rice was praising an individual we allowed to dictate to us for over twenty years. I know some fought back. Plenty paid with their life. The use of ethnic loyalty was his calling card. I am also sure that his harsh and intrusive system have something to do with his longevity. No matter the reason, our door was left open, and our security was compromised.
The solution to safeguard a country is a little different than securing a home. Walls, cameras, border guards on the ground and drones in the sky are not a solution. The best full proof system is a population that is empowered to safeguard its own freedom. The citizen has to feel that they are in charge and they own their country. Those in charge have to understand that they serve by the will of the people. That is what is meant by ‘for the people by the people.’ As they are hired by the citizen they must know that the possibility of being fired for misconduct is real.
This kind of arrangement assures the leader entrusted with the key will not open the door and let strangers in to take advantage of a poor nation. Strangers will not try using underhanded means to get in and and act like king makers knowing it will be rejected. The recent death of the dictator is proof that our door was left wide open. The situation has favored the outsiders at the expense of the citizen. He was loved, respected, held in high esteem, considered a visionary and a person of extraordinary super natural gift. Unfortunately the sky high phrases are uttered by no other than those that enabled him to stay in power.
The issue is not Susan Rice, European Union or any outside party. We are that are the legitimate owners of this Nation called Ethiopia that allows misfits, megalomaniacs and unsavory individuals to hold the key to our door. We refuse to stand for fair play and justice. Recently when talking about an issue that tested the American people President Obama said ‘As Americans let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those, both civilian and military, who represent us around the globe.’ It is when we can say those words regarding our motherland that we can stand straight look each other in the eye and utter the words ‘I love Ethiopia.’ Anything else is hot air and bluster.
An Ethiopian with election envy. By Yilma Bekele
The US is getting ready for presidential elections. 2012 will be the 57th time elections have taken place. The first election was held in 1788 and there were five contestants and it was won by George Washington. Barack Obama is the 44th President. The Republican Party held its convention a week ago and the Democrats started their nomination process yesterday. The candidates are thinned down by the grueling primary campaign. The conventions are more or less a coronation event and come November one of the nominees wins and everybody goes home and wait for another four years. This routine has not changed for over 224 years. If the American citizen is so jaded about the event you can see why. It is nothing to write home about.
Non-American citizens are not allowed to participate in the process. It is unthinkable any government will try to influence the election in any covert manner. The American people determine their own future without help or interference from any outside body.
As you know our Prime Minster died a few months back and we have been operating without a leader for quite a while. Either the Ethiopian people are extremely low abiding or phenomenally docile because nothing has happened that is alarming under the circumstances of operating without central power. The PM was buried last Sunday, or at least a casket was laid to rest and still no decision has been made regarding a leader.
We in Ethiopia have not developed a system regarding how we would like to be governed. Until about forty years ago our regional warlords duked it out among themselves and the one standing at the end crowned himself or herself king, Queen or Emperor. Haile Selassie was the last Emperor. Colonel Mengistu was the next warlord disguised as head of the Military Junta or the Derge. He was in the process of legitimizing his rule by forming a party when he was overthrown by the TPLF guerrilla army.
The next chapter of our history is a little bit murky and sort of opaque. We have held four elections since the demise of Mengistu. All four have been won by the ruling TPLF party. As a matter of fact the 2005 election is the only one that will be considered partially free and fair. It was won by the opposition. Today that election is looked upon with nostalgia by the majority of our people.
In 2005 the recently departed PM miscalculated his and his party’s popularity big time. It is what happens when one is locked in a palace for too long and is surrounded by yes men and sycophants. The TPLF party learned a negative lesson from this debacle and the last election held in 2010 was a travesty of what election is all about. As they lost big time in 2005 they won the whole enchilada in 2010. We have a broken system with warlordism disguised as democracy.
This is why we are having this hiccup replacing the tyrant. He left a mess behind and cleaning it up is no small matter. There are so many rumors, theories and explanations’ twirling around the situation makes a Spanish novella look like a children’s bedtime story.
First and foremost to note in this tragic affair is that the Ethiopian people are not involved in this drama in any form or shape. We the people are ring side spectators waiting to be told the outcome of this three ring circus. We are keeping score.
Star of the show is no other than the Tigrayan people TPLF Party. It is rumored the party have different factions. The internal bickering is not expected to reach a boiling point. Others playing minor parts are the Amhara Party (ANDM), the Oromo Party (OPDO) and the Southern people’s Party (SEPDM). There are others like the Gambellan, Benishangel-Gumuz etc. but they are for all practical purposes as observers as the Ethiopian people. Everyone is organized under the umbrella known as the EPRDF.
The Executive Committee of EPRDF held its first meeting since the death of warlord numero uno and you would think their first agenda will be filling the void. No such luck in revolutionary Ethiopia. According to Woyane TV “The executive committee passed decision to strive towards success of the Growth and Transformation Plan and further strengthen efforts towards renaissance of the country.” As to the most important issue at hand the “The meeting passed decision to name chairperson and vice chairperson for the Front in its meeting to be held in mid September 2012. It called on the Ethiopian people to rally behind the Front in the efforts to reduce poverty and realize renaissance of the country.”
The only conclusion to reach after reading such a press release is that the EPRDF cannot agree regarding giving the position of PM to the person who was designated as the vice. Why do you think that is? Is it because the number one position has always been reserved to the TPLF Party? It looks like they have found themselves in a very difficult situation at the moment. Appointing a TPLF person would not be looked at kindly by all involved especially the foreign enablers. It is not that they have any objection to the TPLF but they are not willing to chance anything that would destabilize the current cozy situation they have gotten used to. Why rock the boat now must be what they are asking the ruling mafia.
It is said the EPRDF Executive Committee has thirty five members. Since the country is divided on the basis of ethnicity the EC is composed of representatives from four regions. What is peculiar about this situation is the number of participants in the EC. It is said that each Party sends eight people but how they arrived at this number is not clear. The Oromos’ constitute 34.5%, the Amaras’ 26.9% and the Tigrais’ 6.1% of the population. The disparity in representation does beg for an answer.
At the moment the situation the Vice/Acting Prime Minster finds himself is not enviable at all. It looks like he is going up a creek without a paddle. The military is in the hands of the TPLF Party. The Security service is beholden to the TPLF Party. The Media is under the control of the TPLF Party. Major industries such as banking, telecommunications etc. are under the TPLF Party. The Vice/Acting PM does not have a party he controls. He does not have a constituent to fall back on. Up a creek with no paddle seems to describe the situation.
Most of Ethiopians find themselves in a quandary. They want peace and stability. The problem is this situation of being governed by unelected individuals is getting a little too old to accept. The last time this happened it has taken us over twenty years to even replace one person. We find ourselves where we were in 1991. We were told to give the new government time, to be patient and not be so negative. I believe twenty one years is long enough to learn that those that assume power without the consent of the people are not in any position to let it go without hassle.
I started by reciting the news regarding the election in the US. It is clear to see that having a tradition of fair, open contest for the highest office in the land has resulted in the construction of a stable and prosperous country. Campaigns help the people to see what the candidates have in mind and how they intend to fulfill the wishes of the citizen. The elected leader is given a limited amount of time to show what he can accomplish. The citizen is given the power to remove him if he does not perform to expectations.
That is what we need in our ancient homeland. Our people are smart enough to know what is good for them. You do not need a PhD from Harvard to know your interest. This concept of discussing our business behind closed doors is not a winning strategy. Sooner or later it is bound to create problems and contradictions. A leader not answerable to the citizen is a recipe for disaster. A leader with no mandate from his people but beholden to a few with guns will in end harvest contempt and disrespect by all. We hope the EPRDF EC will quit deluding themselves into thinking fear will solve everything. We hope they will learn the lesson of what happened to the occupier of the office not long ago. Twenty one years behind barbed wire fence, with no love, no respect from those he was supposed to serve is not a life style to emulate. In the end we all lost. There was no winner in this game. Our country is still backward, our people are dispersed all over the planet and our future does not look bright if we continue this road of rule by force.
Alemayehu G Mariam
It is time to bury the hatchet and move forward in Ethiopia! Nelson Mandela taught that “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” I would add that your enemy also becomes your friend and your ally. Historically, when warring nations of Native Americans made peace with each other, they would bury their axes (hatchets) into the ground as a symbolic expression of the end of hostilities. I say today is the perfect time for all Ethiopians to bury the hatchet of ethnic division, religious sectarianism, regional conflict and human rights violations. It is the perfect time to shake hands, embrace each other and get our noses to the grindstone to build a new democratic Ethiopia where the rule of law is upheld and human rights and democratic institutions respected.
Today, not tomorrow, is the best time to put an end to historic hatreds and resentments and open a new chapter in Ethiopia’s history. Today is the best time to unchain ourselves from the burdens of the past, close the wounds that have festered for generations and declare to future generations that we will no longer be prisoners of resentments of the past. Nelson Mandela said that “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Mandela did not drink from the poison of resentment and managed to outlive most of his “enemies” and is still alive and kicking at 94. But today there is a lot of resentment going around in Ethiopia and in the Ethiopian Diaspora. There is the quiet and despairing resentment of those who feel wounded and defeated by loss. There is the gloating resentment of those who feel victorious and morally vindicated by the loss of others. Then there is the resentment of those who are indifferent because they just don’t care. Today is a great day to say good-bye to historic animosities. Today is a great day to end bitterness, not tomorrow. Reaching out to our adversaries must begin today, not tomorrow. Reconciliation must begin today, not tomorrow. Most importantly, “radical improvements in good governance and democracy” must begin today, not tomorrow.
Let’s Begin Radical Improvements in Good Governance and Democracy Today
In 2007, the late Meles Zenawi expressed his “hope that [his] legacy” would be not only “sustained and accelerated development that would pull Ethiopia out of the massive deep poverty” but also “radical improvements in terms of good governance and democracy.” Today is the day to begin in earnest radical improvements in good governance and democracy. These improvements must begin with the release of all political prisoners, repeal of anti-terrorism, civil society and other oppressive laws and declaration of allegiance to the rule of law.
All political prisoners in Ethiopia must be released. Their situation has been amply documented for years in the reports of the U.S. Government, U.N. agencies and various international human rights organizations. The 2011 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Ethiopia (April 2011) documented “unlawful killings, torture, beating, and abuse and mistreatment of detainees and opposition supporters by security forces, especially special police and local militias, which took aggressive or violent action with evident impunity in numerous instances; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly of suspected sympathizers or members of opposition or insurgent groups; detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention…”
In its 2010 World Report-Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch (HRW) concluded that “torture and ill-treatment have been used by Ethiopia’s police, military, and other members of the security forces to punish a spectrum of perceived dissenters, including university students, members of the political opposition, and alleged supporters of insurgent groups… Secret detention facilities and military barracks are most often used by Ethiopian security forces for such activities.”
A report of the U.N. Committee Against Torture (November 2010) expressed “deep concerns about numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations concerning the routine use of torture by the police, prison officers and other members of the security forces, as well as the military, in particular against political dissidents and opposition party members, students, alleged terrorist suspects and alleged supporters of insurgent groups such as the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). It is concerned about credible reports that such acts frequently occur with the participation, at the instigation or with the consent of commanding officers in police stations, detention centers, federal prisons, military bases and in unofficial or secret places of detention.”
It is difficult to accurately establish the number of political prisoners in Ethiopia. International human rights organizations are not allowed access to political prisoners or to investigate their situation. But various reports provide estimates that vary from several hundreds to tens of thousands. Recent estimates by Genocide Watch peg the number of political prisoners at around one hundred thousand. Political dissidents, critics and opposition leaders continue to be arrested and detained every day. In the past year, an undetermined number of members of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) and the Oromo People’s Congress (OPC) have been detained for political reasons. Other opposition parties have reported similar arrests of their members. Alleged members of the Oromo Liberation Front continue to be arrested and detained without charge. In just the past few months, journalists, opposition political leaders and activists, including Andualem Arage, the charismatic vice chairman of the opposition coalition Medrek, Natnael Mekonnen, an official of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party, the internationally-celebrated journalists Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu, and editor Woubshet Alemu have been sentenced to long prison terms.
Radical improvements in good governance and democracy also require repeal of the so-called “Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009”. Over the past few years, this “law” has been used to round up and jail dissidents, journalists and opposition party political leaders as “terrorists.” The law has been condemned by all international human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch criticized the law as “potent tool for suppressing political opposition and independent criticism of government policy.” The vaguely drafted “anti-terrorism law” in fact is not much of a law as it is a velvet gloved iron fist used to smash any opponent of the regime. Speech aimed at “advancing a political, religious or ideological cause” and intending to “influence the government”, “intimidate the public”, “destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social institutions of the country” is classified as “terrorism”. Making or publishing statements “likely to be understood as encouraging terrorist acts” is a punishable offense under the “law”. Anyone who provides “moral support or advice” or has any contact with an individual accused of a terrorist act is presumed to be a terrorist supporter. Anyone who “writes, edits, prints, publishes, publicizes, disseminates, shows, makes to be heard any promotional statements encouraging, supporting or advancing terrorist acts” is deemed a “terrorist”. A person who “fails to immediately inform or give information or evidence to the police” on a neighbor, co-worker or others s/he may suspect of “terrorism” could face up to 10 years for failure to report. Two or more persons who have contact with a “terror” suspect could be charged with conspiracy to commit “terrorism”.
Under the “anti-terrorism” law, “The police may arrest without court warrant any person whom he reasonably suspects to have committed or is committing terrorism” and hold that person in incommunicado detention. The police can engage in random and “sudden search and seizure” of the person, place or personal effects of anyone suspected of “terrorism”. The police can “intercept, install or conduct surveillance on the telephone, fax, radio, internet, electronic, postal, and similar communications” of a person suspected of terrorism. The police can order “any government institution, official, bank, or a private organization or an individual” to turn over documents, evidence and information on a “terror” suspect. A “terror” suspect can be held in custody without charge for up to “four months”. Any “evidence” presented by the regime’s prosecutor against a “terror” suspect in “court” is admissible, including “confessions” (extracted by torture), “hearsay”, “indirect, digital and electronic evidences” and “intelligence reports even if the report does not disclose the source or the method it was gathered (including evidence obtained by torture).
As I have previously commented, the “anti-terrorism” law criminalizes democratic civic existence itself: “Thinking is terrorism. Dissent is terrorism. Speaking truth to power is terrorism. Having a conscience is terrorism. Peaceful protest is terrorism. Refusing to sell out one’s soul is terrorism. Standing up for democracy and human rights is terrorism. Defending the rule of law is terrorism. Peaceful resistance of state terrorism is terrorism. But one must be reasonable about “terrorism”. Nelson Mandela was jailed for 27 years as a “terrorist” by the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Following his release, he said, “I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists. I tell them that I was also a terrorist yesterday, but, today, I am admired by the very people who said I was one.” The “antiterrorism law” must be repealed.
The so-called Charities and Societies Proclamation No. 621/2009 must be repealed. This “law” has been severely criticized by all of the major international human rights organizations. Among its draconian elements include prohibitions on foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from engaging in human rights and democratic advocacy activities in Ethiopia including advocacy of gender and religious equality, conflict resolution or justice system and electoral reform. A local NGO that receives more than ten percent of its funding from foreign sources is considered “foreign”. Since few Ethiopian NGOs are financially self-sufficient, the vast majority depend significantly on foreign sources for their funding. This law has effectively put them out of business. The law allows an administrative body to have final authority over NGO disputes by granting it broad discretion to deny, suspend or revoke the registration of any NGO. Criminal sanctions and fines are also provided for violations of the law exposing NGO officials, members, volunteers and service recipients. Moreover, this law flagrantly violates various sections of the Ethiopian Constitution dealing with freedom of expression, assembly and association as has been pointed out by various human rights organizations.
Ethiopia today stands at the crossroads. It can march forward into democracy by taking confident steps that begin radical improvements in good governance and democracy. Or Ethiopia can continue to slide backwards and deeper into the vortex of dictatorship. Or it can free fall into chaos and strife. The choice is ours to make. There are important lessons to be learned by all. Those in power should be mindful that “making peaceful revolution impossible is making violent revolution inevitable.” Others should heed the message of Dr. Martin Luther King who once told the great Harry Belafonte his concerns about racial desegregation and its potential consequences: “I fear, I am integrating my people into a burning house,” wondered Dr. King metaphorically referring to the potential for racial conflict and strife that could result from outlawing discrimination. Belafonte, somewhat taken aback asked Dr. King, “What should we do?” Dr. King told him that we should “become the firemen [and] not stand by and let the house burn.’” We all need to be Ethiopian firemen and firewomen and begin “radical improvements in good governance and democracy” today, not tomorrow!!
Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at: http://www.ecadforum.com/Amharic/archives/category/al-mariam-amharic and http://ethioforum.org/?cat=24
Previous commentaries by the author are available at: http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/ and www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/
By Yilma Bekele
The Ethiopian people have been told to show grief regarding the death of Meles Zenawi. This is sadness by government decree and it is not unique to us. We just witnessed it happen in North Korea but it always is a little strange when what you feared happen to you. There is no question the regime under the control of the TPLF party is orchestrating this drama. They are not even trying to hide it. The truth of the matter is they are going the extra mile to make sure the citizen understands it is official government policy.
It took the regime over four weeks to announce the death of the dictator. It looks like they took their time time to plan what to do and how to do it. They are perfectly aware that the individual is not liked let alone loved by the Ethiopian people. Since his illness was hidden from the public his sudden death would have unjarred the population. They know the situation has to be dealt delicately. Their main goal was how to use the unfortunate situation to garner sympathy and good will while at the same time show who the boss is. The fact the citizen loathed the little tyrant was a big hurdle to overcome.
The only way the party can get benefit out of this disastrous situation was to go back into their bag of tricks and revert back to the proven method of bullying by using force and coercion. It has worked since their inception forty years ago and they have become really good at it. The system of bending people’s wills to to fit the tyrants way is the hallmark of all totalitarian societies. The TPLF did not invent it but they are very good students of everything that is bad and toxic to society.
The question in front of us is how and why they do that? I believe this has eloquently been answered by Mr. Anthony Daniels in his book ‘The wilder further shores of Marx’.
‘…..with an established totalitarian regime the purpose of propaganda is not to persuade, much less to inform, but to humiliate. From this point of view propaganda should not approximate to the truth as closely as possible: on the contrary it should do as much violence to it as possible. For by endlessly asserting what is patently untrue, by making such untruth ubiquitous and unavoidable, and finally by insisting by everyone publicly acquiesce in it, the regime displays its power and reduces individuals to nullities. Who can retain his self respect when, far from defending what he knows to be true, he has to applaud what he knows to be false- not occasionally, as we all do, but for the whole of his adult life.’
This is a nut shell describes Woyane kind of mind set. You would think Mr. Daniels has been to Ethiopia. Mr. Daniels’s book is based on his experience of such failed states as East Germany, the former Soviet Union, North Vietnam and North Korea among others. The TPLF controlled Ethiopian government is copying the loathsome practices of the Stasi in East Germany and the KGB of the Soviet Union. Folks like Berket Semeon, Workrneh Gebeyehu, Getachew Assefa are excellent students of such inhuman system that has managed to hurt so many but was at last discredited by the citizen. Our country is back ward, our people are kept illiterate by design our culture still is based on fear of authority, fear of elder and our Woyane warriors found a fertile ground to practice this craft of crime against a nation.
I would like to take one statement from the quotation above and look at it in the context of Ethiopia.
‘…..with an established totalitarian regime the purpose of propaganda is not to persuade, much less to inform, but to humiliate. From this point of view propaganda should not approximate to the truth as closely as possible: on the contrary it should do as much violence to it as possible.’
In life Meles Zenawi was a recluse that disparaged even the word Ethiopia. He lived in a palace surrounded by robust security and never left his compound to mix or associate with ordinary people. The only contact the citizen has with the PM was thru the window of Ethiopian TV. We all know he never allowed open discussion and surrounded himself with people that worshiped him, agreed with him and swore allegiance to him. He is known to be very vindictive, ill tempered and unforgiving. The Ethiopian people, his close associates and his Party feared him. There was no respect or love for the individual. This is the man we all know.
Today Berket Semeon and company are telling us a different story. Mind you not a little different, not an innocent white lie but as outrageous as possible and beyond the truth as much as possible. They just do not want the citizen to cry a little, grief some but they expect some genuine wailing to be recorded and beamed all over the world. Why do you think they do that? It is all about show of power. By forcing us to do what we all know to be false they make us loose self respect and individual will. When you see your family, your neighbor, your coworker being forced to act in such manner when you find yourself doing something you know deep inside to be untrue you die some. The person is reduced to nothingness with no self respect, no spine and no free will. Haile Gebreselassie comes to mind.
It has the same effect on those that watch such spectacle from afar. I have noticed my friends to be confused, unable to understand and finally choosing silence to hide the shame. We all try to explain the phenomena by mentioning culture, being human or religion. It is an attempt to make sense. We are trying to make the irrational situation palatable by injecting some logic into it. It is perfectly understandable. Our brain rejects such dissonance. We get angry, feel confused, embarrassed and helpless.
This disturbing situation in our society is not a natural occurrence or an accident. It is engineered by the TPLF party. In their futile attempt to stay in power they have declared psychological form of warfare on their own people. It is relentless, unmerciful and very lethal. It does not kill you but it reduces you into a state of sub human, void of free will and easy to control. That is what the criminals are doing to us. That is what they have been doing to us with Meles Zenawi as the ring leader. Today he has left his underlings to continue from where he left off. They show no shame, no what is called ‘yelunta’ when they declare black is white, wrong is right and force us to repeat it after them.
How do you fight such form of warfare? There is no need to panic. No shame to being forced to go against our will. A government is a very powerful organization. When a state puts all its efforts to do evil no one is immune. The Russians, the East Europeans went thru over fifty years of hell. The North Koreans are in worse of shape than us. Our tormentors are amateurs compared to the Stasi. The fact that our country is backward and our people kept ignorant is what is giving them the power. On the other hand the world is a different place now. The advent of the Internet, the ubiquitous nature of Social media has given us a slight advantage. The founding of ESAT as I said before is a game changer. The Woyane goons monopoly on the media is no more.
We stop the complaining and work harder to expose, undermine and attack our tormentors aggressively. We encourage those that are trying to organize and work for us instead of second guessing, undermining their effort and splitting hair. We hope those that have been organizing for some time show us sign that they are here and active. There is no need to wait for the most opportune moment rather the job of the activist is to seize the time and make history. My friend Abebe Gelaw did not wait for the stars to line up but rather he forced the issue and made history. The time is now and the place is Ethiopia. We shall win, history is on our side. Stay strong don’t let them break you.
By Yilma Bekele
Is Meles Zenawi dead or alive has become the burning question of the day. It is sad even in death or near death the tyrant does not get any respect. You would think after dominating the Ethiopian scene for over twenty years the individual is entitled to some love. I am afraid all he has harvested in this short life is a lot of hate and loathing. He lived a violent life and his current condition whatever it is has turned up to be more violent than most of us dreamt of. Tumor in the brain is not a simple matter. Blood cancer is terminal. Chemotherapy treatment is a painful process. He came suddenly into our life and he is leaving us before sundown afraid of what the night might bring. It would have been better if he was made to answer for his crimes. That would have brought closure. As usual the coward is trying to slip away without accountability. Good riddance!
It is a sad ending and we all feel the pain. The situation creates all kinds of conflict in each of us. No one relishes pain and suffering on a fellow human being. But Meles Zenawi is not an ordinary human being. I have been reading all kinds of obituaries written both by foreigners and fellow Ethiopians the last few days. The analysis written by our foreign experts verges on the border of incoherence, are mostly disjointed and full of what I consider to be a sloppy cocktail of cultural bigotries.
The article by The Atlantic magazine and the attempt by AFP to do analysis are both poorly researched shameful works that will never be presented regarding events in any European country. It is Africa and all westerners are considered experts. What is surprising in both instances is their constant use of the term ‘intellectual, technocrat, sharp witted’ to explain Meles. If you notice no one calls Mr. Obama an intellectual or explain any of the Western leaders by the number of degrees they hold. In fact leaders like Mr. Obama or David Cameron go out of their way to present themselves as ordinary citizens. African leaders on the other hand are judged by the diplomas they hold and the size of their library rather than their work in the service of their people. It seems to shout ‘see he has a degree from one of our Universities thus he is not just another African savage, but an educated baboon’
The best Obituary is written on Aiga by someone named Aesop. Of course after the customary lauding of Meles as an intellectual, voracious reader etc. Aesop wrote the following: “Some of the “past leaders” managed to identify “some” problems but failed in action. But most have failed to even identify the problem and waited until the problem (or natural causes) consume them. Haile Selassie knew what the youth wanted and what the military was conspiring upon. However, he failed to reform- hence, was toppled. Tewodros identified “backwardness” but failed in action. Mengistu’s failures were in both fronts-a schizophrenic “little Tewodros” who left for Zimbabwe when reality hit on May 1991.” See what I mean, they have to knock all others down to lift their midget. I have no idea why he is not judged by his own deeds with out making those who came before him bad and unworthy?
This is the beginning of Woyane style of revision of history. Good try but that won’t happen. This time all his victims are present and accounted for. Today we write our own history. Twenty-one years ago most of Ethiopia was not aware of Meles Zenawi. We knew more about his mentor Isaiyas Afewerki. Meles and his TPLF group were a footnote. An after thought in the separatist war that has been going on forever in the northern part of our country. The emergence of the ill prepared junta leader Shaleka Mengistu created an opportune moment for the northern warriors to flourish. The demise of the Soviet Union, enabler of the Derg assured even for Meles to shine.
With the help of the US Woyane marched into Addis victorious. Some could consider that day the start of the degradation of our motherland. Woyane did not come to build but to destroy, not to plant the seeds of love and harmony but ready to harvest hate and animosity. During the dark days of living in caves and tunnels Meles and company were not dreaming of building a prosperous Ethiopia upon victory but rather were burning the midnight oil designing maps of separation and drawing flags of a different kind. For over twenty years they have been implementing the destruction of the country that nurtured them.
Meles Zenawi and his Woyane accomplices are responsible for the death and destruction of over one hundred thousand Ethiopians. I did not weave that figure from thin air or imagined it to hate on a dying or dead person but my assertion can be proved without much digging. In fact I believe I erred on the conservative side. The figure is much, much higher. I did not include those dead during the war with the Derg. I believe that was a legitimate form of uprising against a ruthless regime. I hold Meles and his Woyane friends responsible on what they did after they assumed power. Gambella, Hawasa and the Ogaden are the places we are aware of where Meles sent his Agazi forces to massacre citizens that were only asking for their god given right to live free. I am not going to argue the numbers but I believe the death of one Ethiopian is one too many. A sane and responsible government does not resort to using lethal force to silence its critics. Our Somali citizens in Ogaden have paid and are paying a heavy price for no other reason other than Meles’s desire to curry favor with the US.
The unnecessary war with Eritrea brought about by the behind the scene dealings between the two mad leaders has resulted in the death of over eighty thousand Ethiopians and Eritreans. Meles Zenawi and his Woyane party were not even respectful of the death of our solders to give them a decent burial nor gave recognition for their sacrifices. They were left to be eaten by wild animals and rot in the mountain and valleys of the Semen plateau. In early 2001, a concerned Ethiopian woman asked Meles as to the whereabouts of her son who did not return from his war with Eritrea. Irritated by the tone of her question, he said: “Lady, if your son does not return in 6 months time, then you’ll have your answer!”
We are not even told how many of our people died in the desert of Somalia fighting a phantom army conjured up by the US and Meles Zenawi. In addition to the death of our young people our country harvested hate and animosity with our brothers across the border for generations to come and money that could have been used to build schools, hospitals and infrastructure was wasted by Meles and his Woyane enablers.
I am not even going to mention what the mad criminal did when he lost the election in 2005. The whole world was a witness to that naked use of force to murder, intimidate and bully eighty million people to submission. Meles Zenawi was not a good human being. He was curse on our country and people. Building shoddy roads using borrowed money that we have to pay, building useless condominiums that look good on the outside but liable to deteriorate before the year is up using hard earned Diaspora money is not a sustainable economic development to crow about. Meles Zenawi spends more money on his personal security than all budget allocated to two of his Kilils.
The title of this article came from the Holy Bible. It goes “can the Ethiopian change his skin or the Leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” Jeremiah 13:27
It struck me as the best lesson to describe our current situation. So the prince of evil is on his way to receive the ultimate judgment. Who do you think is scrambling to inherit the crown? It is no other than the same Woyane thugs that have been part of the criminal empire as lieutenants or enablers. It should be obvious that they are going to continue the process of marginalizing, bullying, exiling and killing of those that do not see eye to eye with them.
Again I am not just making this up. Why you doubt me in the first place is not clear to me but I will give you evidence. The tyrant has not been seen or heard the last four weeks and nothing has changed in the land of the Habeshas. The rubber stamp Parliament was called into session and dutifully approved what was explained to them as the budget. The Moslems cry for justice was answered by jailing of their leaders and harsh beating of all those that dared not to disperse when told do so. The one and only independent newspaper Feteh’s edition dealing with matters not approved by the Communication department was confiscated. It looks like things are going to stay the same. This is what is known as ‘meet the new boss same as the old boss’ situation.
I believe it as about time we stop this game of good Woyane and bad Woyane, Woyane with an ounce of Eritrean blood and pure Woyane nonsense. We have to stop this insane discussion of the Constitution and the rules of succession of the mafia outfit. It is imperative that we define exactly what we want and stick to our demands until all are addressed. Compromise on certain principled issues is not the way to achieve success. Key issues are not open to negotiation and give and take. There is nothing wrong with standing firm on issues that are vital for survival and are the foundation stone for building a strong, free and democratic society. This half baked idea of accepting a piece of the pie has not taken us anywhere except see our country sink lower and lower in any index that measures human achievement. What exactly do we want? I am glad you asked.
First thing that is key and vital is a Constitution that is drawn by all Ethiopians and that reflects our dream and wishes for a united, strong and prosperous Ethiopia. A house without a solid foundation how pretty it looks is not a viable structure. A foundation with cracks, fissures and sub-par concrete mix or recycled metal will not be able to carry the weight of the building for long. The current Constitution was drawn by the dictator and his friends to serve the needs of the TPLF Party and his ethnic group. It has been revised time and again to serve particular situations that arose during his reign. Case in point is the amendment during his tiff with Ato Seye Abreha, his paranoia of Ginbot 7 that brought us terrorism and his attempt to outlaw the free press with the communication amendment.
The demise of the current Constitution is not a negotiable item. The new Constitution to be drawn after a lengthy discussion in the absence of coercion and open transparent debate will go along way to correct the many imperfection built in to Meles’s evil scheme. True Federalism that respects our diversity without creating a Chinese wall between us will put the concept of Kilil on the right path. As the concept of Apartheid as conceived by the White South African was smashed by Nelson Mandela our new document will place Kilil in the trash bin of history.
Again learning from the experience of South Africa under Mandela that prohibited establishment of political parties based on ethnicity, we in Ethiopia will put this toxic idea to rest once and for all. The TPLF party that has been one of the most evil organizations that has caused so much misery to all Ethiopians including the Tigrai people will not be allowed to ever raise its head in our ancient land. As the Germans got rid of the Nazi Party, as the South Africans marginalized the National Party so would Ethiopians will the TPLF out of existence. Doing away with Kilil and ethnic based parties is non-negotiable item.
I believe the opposition has to clearly present its wishes for the future Ethiopia to be built on the ashes of the current rotten system. There is no room for equivocation, sophistry and dead end short cuts. There is no room for generalized statements and debate on peripheral issues. Any opposition worthy of its organization has to tell the current legitimate wanna bees that are trying to build a new structure on the old, cracked foundation in no uncertain terms that the fate of Mubarak, Gadaffi, Ben Ali awaits them around the corner. No one predicted Meles would be faced with terminal illness at the young age of fifty-seven. No one can predict what the Ethiopian people will do when their anger boils over. No amount of arms, sharp shooters on every corner, spies in every household will contain the wrath of the people when they declare ‘Beka’ ‘Gaye’ ‘Bass’ ‘Yiakel’!
Ethiopia, Ato Meles and his health. By Yilma Bekele
Ato Meles Zenawi, Chairman of Tigrai People Liberation Front (TPLF) and Prime Minster of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is not in good health. I became aware of that fact after watching the video of a news clip made during his meeting with the President of China at the G8 meeting in Mexico. The last time we saw Ato Meles was during President Obama’s food conference and he was in perfect health. In fact he looked jovial with a new haircut and was dressed in his customary five to ten thousand dollars Italian or English suit. That was until Ato Abebe Gelaw of Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) gave him the scare of his life and he was forced to flee the continent. Things have not been the same ever since.
When he surfaced in Mexico it was obvious he had some medical issues in the interim period. His expensive clothes did not fit him right, his face was ashen and hollow and it was clear he has lost plenty of weight. I was forced to conclude we got a problem. Normally the fate of one individual should not be such a source of drama or wild speculations. But Ato Meles is not just another Ethiopian. He is the Country, Nation and people all rolled in one. The state of his health and well-being is not just idle speculation. His friends, Party or those close to him are not forthcoming with the cause of his illness. We are left to speculate, guess or are being forced to search for a fortuneteller and reduced to read the remains of his coffee cup or consult a palm reader.
We do that because whatever happens to him affects all of us in one-way or another. In the Western countries the health of the leader is an official record. If the leader dies or is incapacitated there are rules and systems set in place to assure smooth transition. Most African countries including ours lack that. In our case there has not been a natural and predictable manner of passing the mantle of leadership. In fact the last four instances have been a source of agony for the unfortunate leader in power and our poor Nation. That is why Ato Meles’s health is an issue we should all fret and worry about. We definitely do not want a surprise.
I am sure his family is worried. His friends are concerned. His Party is alarmed. The Ethiopian people are watching this drama with keen interest. No one wishes him ill but I doubt any body in Ethiopia is praying for his recovery either. It is fair to say the whole Nation is trying to figure out what his untimely demise will bring to our poor old country. What ever ails him is not a simple disease. That is why he is being cared for in Europe with top-notch specialists in an expensive private hospital. No amount of money will be spared to keep the green reaper at arms length.
Sooner or later we all die. We just do all we can to make it later than sooner. Our state of health and longevity is affected by all kinds of factors including a few we have no control on. Genetics, style of life and pure luck plays a big role. We try to eat right, exercise and avoid stress to increase our odds of a long happy life. There are a few things we know about the ‘Leaders’ life style to be able to make an educated guess on what is ailing him.
We know that he smokes, that is cigarettes. We are told that he enjoys chewing Kat with his buddies. His politburo friends are known to enjoy expensive liquor thus we can safely assume that he probably joins them in this past time. All three habits are considered forms of substance abuse and have ramifications on vital organs such as lung, heart and liver. It is fair to say that the last few years, palace living has resulted in weight gain resulting in added girth.
Most leaders keep a busy schedule and have no time for exercise. We know that Ato Meles is studying for his PhD in addition to his duties as the Prime Minster and that leaves him with no time for the gym. We have heard antidotes about his tennis matches but judging from the way he came down the airplane steps during his trip to Philadelphia to one of his meetings one can tell he is not in good shape. He was laboring to walk down while his agile wife descended swiftly even in her high heels.
There is no proof that Ato Meles is suffering from a terminal illness. On the other hand there is no information to say that he just caught the common cold either. As I said due to the nature of the totalitarian system that values secrecy we are left to speculate. We worry and stress because history teaches us that the demise of a dictator, which Ato Meles is, brings all sorts of unforeseen complications on the Nation they leave behind.
Whether they commit suicide like Hitler, are hanged like Mussolini, die in their sleep like Stalin, face a firing squad like Ceausescu and wife, hunted down, sodomized, pistol whipped and shot like Gadaffi or face the International court of justice like Charles Taylor dictators all leave a trail of destruction behind them. That is why Ato Meles’s illness becomes our concern and worry. We think about it to try to figure out how to avoid chaos due to a power vacuum.
This sort of power vacuum attracts all kinds of good and bad characters that would want to capitalize on the empty space created and might be tempted to fill it with something other than people’s power. We do not want that. So what are the forces arrayed to replace the one man, one party rule currently dis-functioning in the land of the Abeshas?
The TPLF party is the premier center of power. Ato Meles and his associates control the Military, security service, the mass media and the economy. What is there left is a good and valid question. Technically Ato Meles is the de-facto head of all these powerful organizations. He is a hand on manager. The different entities are foreign to each other but all report to him. That is how one-man dictatorship works. Some countries like China practice group dictatorship. The Central committee of the ruling Communist Party functions as a group. While others like North Korea or Ethiopia rely on the benevolence of a single individual. The question arise is the TPLF Party capable of functioning as a single entity without the head? Or would the different departments that were designed to look at each other with suspicion coalesce to form a united front? It is highly doubtful.
There are various centers of power within the organization. Queen Azeb the wife is in charge of the economic section. Due to her high visibility and negative press any one group is willing to sacrifice her to save their skin. The internal security is a force to recon with. Would the Generals trust this hi tech mercenaries is a question to consider. The original TPLF functionaries like Sebhat or Abbay are rendered toothless but still operate behind the scene. Why any self respecting Woyane will ally with these old fashioned kitchen conspirators is something to think about. The new upstarts like Tewodros Adhanom or launderer Gebre Kristos have their feet on both camps always ready to abandon ship if the situation heats up. No one trusts the duo. The likes of Seyoum will not come back for all the tea in China.
The military is the most logical center of power that is capable of using force to usurp power. In the current situation of Ethiopia that scenario is a little complicated. Due to the nature of the use of ethnic affiliation used by Ato Meles the military is not a cohesive force. All the top leaders and commanders are from one ethnic group while the rank and file is a reflection of the country. It is fair to say both OLF and G7 are present and functioning creating further uncertainty. Uncertainty is not good for conspiracy. The role played by the top Generals in the economy has isolated them from the average solder. Is it a professional army or peasants in uniform is a valid question. Does one fight to attain power or save his investment creates split personality.
I don’t mean to forget those organized as EPRDF. There are plenty but the Amhara and Oromo stand out at least on paper as the most likely group that will refuse to die quietly. Their puppet leaders are faced with a real dilemma. Divorced from their people they have no base to appeal to. Rendered powerless by design they have no army or security to fall back on. The TPLF mafia that is running them now does not harbor any respect towards their outfit or intends to include them in the deliberations. They are left between a rock and a hard place. For all practical purposes it is easier to ignore and discard them.
Where does the opposition fit in this picture is a good question. The major opposition, the nightmare of the ruling group is of course Ginbot7. G7 is the enemy they know is around but are unable to touch and feel. It is the cause of their blind fury. I will take their word for it G7 is everywhere. Of course G7 could be the figment of their imagination, the result of their paranoia then again why would they allocate so much resource to hunt down a ghost? In my humble opinion G7 is EPRP and Kinijit on testosterone! We all know what those two groups are capable of.
There is also the on and off legal opposition. That is a tricky animal to deal with. At the moment Andenet is the only one with any amount of dignity and respect. The Ledetus and the Chammisos are rendered useless and will most probably hide out the chaotic period and pray for dear life since all opposition groups will be hunting them down for the stray dogs they have become. That leaves us with the Beyenes the Meraras and the Hailus, the darlings of the civilized West. Those are the people our benefactors will try to parade out and use. They will become pictures of civil society. Believe me they will play their choreographed part to the hilt. They cooperated and served Ato Meles, no reason to think they will be allergic to the West for a promise of visibility and fist full of dollars.
The West led by the US is the wild card in this scenario. They very much like stability and the status quo under their guidance. Their interest at the moment is having a strong foothold in the Horn of Africa to prepare for the coming war for resources. Governments like the TPLF mafia are their preferred arrangement. A weak and divided country is their choice. I do not think they go out of their way to create those conditions but on the other hand they do not discourage such reality. Our neighborhood is a fertile ground for contention by the big powers. Except for Kenya and Tanzania we are surrounded by weak, divided and civil war prone countries that exist from day to day with no guarantee of tomorrow. The US, the Europeans or the Chinese are not about to discover their moral compass and save us from our selves. Expecting them to do so is the height of foolishness or a result of extreme poverty of self-esteem.
As I write this Ato Meles is in Europe being healed and the factions he left behind are shell shocked and in a daze. A few will have some reliable information but the vast majority will be operating in the dark trying to figure out this brand new reality in the midst of dis information, mis information and foggy information. Plenty will be sending their family to far away places and moving vast amount of money out of the country. Some will lock their doors and hunker down until the storm settles while a few will search for new alignments and future partners. The kilils will take the opportunity to assert their newfound power and create further complications to the beleaguered party. It is possible organized criminal elements will take advantage of the uncertainty and intensify such activities as bank robbery and hijackings. The Amharic saying ‘ye wedke zaf mesar yebezabetal.’ Is being played live in our country. It is highly possible the different factions will begin to duke it out prematurely. It is conceivable they will end up doing the dirty part of the job for the rest of us. As I see it not matter what this down ward spiral will continue for the forcible future.
By Yilma Bekele
The Ethiopian government was peddling its ponzi scheme of selling bonds for the pie in the sky project named The Grand Renaissance Dam’ on the Abbay river here in the Bay Area. It was not as lavish as the event that took place in their embassy in Washington DC. That ‘event was graced by the presence of a high- level Ethiopian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister and Chairman of the National Renaissance Council, Haile Mariam Desalegn’ according to Aiga. Since he has such a long title they have shortened to D/PM, FM to go along with his curtailed duty that only includes reading written notes, greeting visitors and presiding at Renaissance meetings.
Ours event was shall I say ‘graced’ by their Conciliate from Los Angles and a political science professor from Addis Abeba University. Considering I was marching in front their office in Los Angles just a week ago regarding their current attempt at destroying our cherished heritage of Waldeba monastery it was a little confusing to see his honor involved in building a dam. They invited all Ethiopians and I just couldn’t refuse. My curiosity overcame my rationality. I am glad I went, If the Ethiopian people are subjected to such farcical presentation day in day out I felt sitting for a two hours presentation was the least I can do to understand the daily stress of my people.
The first speaker that described herself as the Chairperson of the project in the Bay Area mentioned that her group has been active for less than three months. What knocked me off my seat was her declaration that in this short time they have been able to sell $138,000 US dollars worth of bonds. That is 2.4 million Bir. I was impressed. Then I turned around and all I could see was about twenty-five people in the room. I thought people who paid all that money will defiantly attend a meeting to see how their money was spent but for some reason they just did not bother to show up. Is it possible that they are just a figment of someone’s imagination?
Well with all things Woyane the imagination is always greater than the reality and this was an indication of better things to happen as the meeting progressed. One thing I notice about Woyane lectures is that they have this unhealthy fascination with power point presentation. It is futile attempts to sugar coat the lie and empty rhetoric by sharp looking graphs and larger than life pictures. Facts are glossed over while the listener is trying to figure out all the confusing information being displayed at a random fashion.
The Ambassador has the most difficult task of the two speakers. It is not easy being a snake oil salesman. The regular joke about us not being smart or dedicated enough to use the mighty Abbay was of course mentioned. We are supposed to thank the far-reaching leadership of Meles Zenawi to have come up with such a fantastic and brilliant idea of building a dam on Abbay. I am sure we will be told soon it came to him during his sleep showing us even in bed that sharp mind is still working. The Ambassador used a short documentary to show us the progress since the start of the project. Shall we say the presentation was a little lacking for a task that is projected to cost us billions?
The short video was made either to insult or mock anybody with an ounce of intelligence. There was one excavator and one dump truck and a few cement mixer trucks. Yes I said one lonely excavator. For a country with eighty million people where over half of the adult population is unemployed you would think human labor would be the preferred choice if one really wants to use the resources under his nose. Unfortunately that will require the enthusiastic participation of the nation in the project but when your government is unpopular and viewed with suspicion that is not an option. Plus it would require transporting people from one kilil to another and that is not allowed.
What we saw was may be fifty or so guys dressed in orange uniform. What was fascinating was to see the skinny flag of Salini the Italian construction company flying from a bowed tree pole. If you remember Salini was the same company that was in charge of Gibe II project where the tunnel collapsed exactly a month after inauguration. That was a no bid project and you can imagine where most of the money borrowed in then name of Ethiopia went. I thought this project was by us and for us and what the heck is Salini doing there? May be Salini is paying us for what Minilk did to his grand pa a while back. Lets us all remind our children to get back the money stolen with the modern day Askaris including interest as soon as we reclaim our land.
The official spoke at length about the many successful projects accomplished the last twenty years. That is well and good but twenty years is a long time and showing no progress would have been a little strange. The issue here is here is how much progress and under what circumstances. When you consider President Obama is fighting like hell for his reelection bid and he only had four years to correct a colossal economic melt down I would say twenty years is quite generous amount of time to do miracles. So our question to our rulers becomes what you got to show for twenty years of being in complete charge? Knocking down the old cannot be a perpetual excuse, at a certain point one has to stand on his own record. Unfortunately like a broken record our rulers never tire talking about yesterday to cover up today’s shortcoming.
I have to admit the professor gave a very intelligent presentation regarding the role water or river plays in international dealings between nations. He was very knowledgeable on the subject and his power point presentation was flawless. The problem reared its head when it comes to his conclusion. It is one thing to explain water intellectually but to bring it home and try to make it relate to woddase dam is a lit bit tricky, and it showed. He was left floundering unable to commit and say this project is what is needed and this regime can bring it to life. He cannot say that with conviction. As a political scientist he knows theory in one thing but implementation requires a whole host of other factors that have to be present to achieve success. The current organization that is operating in our country is not conducive to attain that goal and a first year college freshman can tell you that. It would be considered intellectual dishonesty to trust one of the most corrupt regimes to carry out such a colossal task.
You see scheming the surface no one is against building a dam, a highway or a factory. The truth of the matter is that most Ethiopians will give the shirt of their back if it will help our country. The problem lies with that qualifier ‘if’ it just leaves an uncertain feeling doesn’t it? That is the problem with our renaissance dam project. It is a very uncertain proposal that is difficult to explain and not easy to digest.
It is not easy because based on reality, as we have known it the last twenty years the people in power cannot be trusted to do anything that will bring honor or pride to our country. No one in his right mind will trust the folks in charge to be able to bring any project to a successful conclusion. If there is anything we can be sure of is that they will find a hundred different ways to screw us up. Here is the real Ethiopia in nutshell:
1) Social harmony: None. Our country is divided into Kilils and we are made to view each other with suspicion and hate. We are in fact deporting our own citizens within the country. Today the regime is attempting to create conflict among our old religions throughout the land. Both Christians and Moslems are resisting mightily but it is an uphill struggle.
2) Economy: Bankrupt. Inflation is double digits and unemployment is beyond imagination. Over eight million people are on food aid and famine is real. The government is in the process of leasing land to foreigners so they can grow crops for export. The economy is controlled by EFFORT a one ethnic based conglomerate.
3) War: Plenty. Since coming to power the TPLF regime has fought with Eritrea and sacrificed over eighty thousand lives. It has invaded Somalia and no one knows the sacrifice in human lives and money. Inside the country it has sent its solders to kill in Gambella, Ogaden, Hawasa, Gondar, Afar, etc.
4) Politics: Waging relentless disruption against opposition parties and groups is second nature to the regime. In the aftermath of the 2005 elections the regime murdered over two hundred eighty citizens, imprisoned all the opposition and hauled over forty thousand people to concentration camps. (We thank the heroic act of Judge Woldemariam and his associates in smuggling out the evidence) The Parliament is the playground of the Prime Minster.
5) Media: Government monopoly. Television. Radio, print media, Internet and telecommunications are all controlled by the regime. Independent voice is not allowed. Our friends Eskinder Nega, Reyot Alemu and Webeshet Taye among many others are today in prison because they spoke and wrote the truth.
There is no need to recount further atrocity the question becomes how could you trust such a ruthless bunch of sycophants to carry out a noble task as building a dam? One has to be plenty gullible or certified moron to go along with such Ponzi scheme. How could you hand your hard earned money where there is no accountability, no consultation or any outside independent audit?
This is what Ambassador Girma Birru, Special Envoy and Ambassador Extra-ordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the US and non-resident envoy to Mexico – another long title don’t you think? Any way here is how Aiga reported it ‘In his revealing statement the Ethiopian Special Envoy recounted the propitious political climate which is prevalent in present day Ethiopia that allows the free participation of the citizenry in matters ranging from the right to assembly, association, expression and faith up to and including the basic right to vote in elections that are held regularly @ the county, district, state and federal levels.’ Do you think he actually believes that? He must have said what was reported, the question becomes who is crazy them or us? You be the judge.
In our presentation here in Oakland both speakers were adamant in saying the renaissance dam site is sparsely populated and no one was moved or relocated. Isn’t it always surprising all their projects are so pure and picked for locations where no Ethiopian resides? But at the same time why do we come across a whole bunch of our citizens that have been made homeless when their land is leased to forsaken foreigners? Then why do we hear our brother Ato Ojulu from Gambella who has been forced from his ancestral land pleading from Kenya? Their lie seems never to stop.
In conclusion I would like to say something. It is true but a sad statement. The assembly in our city was a reflection of what is taking place in our country. It has to be pointed out because it has to be discussed openly and corrected in a timely manner. As I said there were less than thirty people present and over ninety percent were from one ethnic group. Pretending otherwise is not healthy. The question to ask is why? Why would only Tigreans show up to support the construction of a dam on Abbay? Abbay is far from Tigrai Kilil so why are they feeling this special affinity to this project? It is a valid question. I am sure we all have all seen this kind of weird and strange situation on every question raised in our homeland.
I will give my answer and it is definitely not the final statement on the issue. It is what I think right or wrong. My response is to help us openly analyze the dilemma faced by all of us and devise a healthy and lasting solution instead of whispering from behind and muddying the situation further. First of all this virus was brought upon us by no other than Meles Zenawi and his accomplices. It was in the late seventies while all were trying to form a united front and fight the Derg that his group insisted in this separate non-inclusive way of struggle. Their first causality was the brave patriotic EPRP that sacrificed beautiful children of Ethiopia in their prime. Meles Zenawi did as much damage as Mengistu Hailemariam when it comes to our educated and dedicated brothers and sisters that stood for real freedom and unity of our nation. We will never forget.
Since 1992 TPLF has inoculated our nation with this deadly virus more dangerous than HIV aids. They have set us up against each other. Our meeting is the result of this disease that even follows us into a free land. Tigreans have become hostages of this disease and the rest of us have allowed it to simmer while a few have bought into this crap. It is true a few Tigreans are riding this wave and accumulating wealth and riding rough on the rest of us. Meles and company are always pointing out our differences and making sure the few they have chosen are displayed. What is true in today’s Ethiopia is that all real power is in the hands of this ethnic group starting from the security, military, banking, commerce and key organizations. On the other hand the average Tigrai living in the rural areas of his kilil is as much the victim as rest of our own peasants. No matter how some put it the Tigrai Kilil is not the paradise it is portrayed to be. The TPLF tugs in charge are the same everywhere.
Do we buy into this negative scenario as painted by Meles and company or see it as the self-serving philosophy by a few friends and family to extend their evil rule over all of us? Has this kind of mind set ever shown to work or has it at certain point exploded on the makers and taken all into the abyss? Isn’t that what we see in history when we study totalitarian systems and their implosion from inside? Isn’t that what happened in Libya? Are we witnessing it in Syria with Assad and his Alawit tribe fighting for dear life from house to house? What do you think is going to happen in Syria once Assad and his little army are wiped away? Syria is not going anywhere but what kind of Syria would it be? Can they just forget the hate and animosity that has been cultivated and put their energy on building a new society? Or would it take a long time to wash away the negative energy, mistrust and hate that have been systematically planted in every Syrian brain?
When we see our Ethiopia these are the things we should contemplate instead of trying to out perform each other on the level of our hate. We should be very careful on how we view the situation and search deep into our heart and soul before we judge others due to their ethnic affiliation or religion. None of us choose where we are conceived. We should be judged on what kind of human being we have become. Sometimes in times of scarcity and fear buying into the evil design of a few we all go astray. The only thing that will bring us back to the right path is show of love and tolerances not more hate and further attempt at marginalizing. Remember both the perpetrator and victim are connected and the attempt should be to save both if possible without doing further damage.
I am sure all those that gathered in our meeting love Ethiopia. I am sure in their own way they all think they are doing the right thing. Unfortunately both sides cannot be right. The road taken by the current government has only shown that this sort of exclusive journey is not lasting nor will it bear good fruit. Our job is to patiently explain the futility of traveling on this dead end street and bring our people back to our fold. That is not done thru condemnation, name-calling or threat but show of love, understanding and showing by example. It is a shame educated and conscious Ethiopians have fallen pray to this narrow ethnic divide and some by cooperation a few by their silence have emboldened the sick and worthless students of TPLF garage and nihilist philosophy. I believe in every one of us our kind side outweighs the evil and bad and our challenge is to bring out the good and infect our people with this sweet medicine God has built into us. We pray for our country.
For further reading refer to:
Waldeba in my heart. By Yilma Bekele
Truth be told I was not aware of Waldeba Monastery until quite recently. Today I live Waldeba, I breathe Waldeba, and I believe Waldeba has taken over my soul. Mind you I am not protesting rather I am being thankful for this ancient place for bringing focus into my life. Waldeba has managed to gather all the scattered pieces of information residing in my brain and managed to sort them out in an orderly fashion and place them all in one location for easy access and safekeeping.
Even the name Waldeba evokes positive feelings and the story when told brings a sense of pride and dignity. Waldeba is the history of our ancient land, the perseverance of our ancient people and the uniqueness of our history all rolled in one. When I say Waldeba defines us all, I doubt anyone of you will disagree after I tell you about this remote location that is but a jewel of our glorious past. My friend Asrat always says ‘Egziabher saydeges aytalam’ this time I believe he is onto something. For it was no other than our Woyane bad doers that brought Waldeba into our consciousness. We are always grateful for this human bulls let loose in a China store.
Waldeba was in the mind and heart of millions of Ethiopians this last Monday. They prayed in Ethiopia in their own silent ways while their children marched World Wide to speak for them. We marched in Washington DC, we danced in the streets of New York, we sang in Los Angles, we celebrated in Toronto, we colored the streets of London green, yellow and red while we adorned South Africa with our indomitable spirit and we prayed in Melbourne Australia. We let the world know in no uncertain terms Waldeba is Ethiopia. The battle has just began!
Why are we so incensed about Waldeba is a valid and good question. Why does Waldeba matter is not an idle inquiry. When we ask about our past it helps us see the present in a better light and determines our response on how we answer questions about the future. That is why we fill detailed forms at the doctor’s office about our health and parents condition. Our past gives the caregiver clue about our future. That is why regimes redefine the past to construct a new reality. Please notice Meles Zenawi’s obsession regarding our ancient history and his trash talk every chance he gets. Waldeba is another stop in his quest to redefine our past. Destruction of Waldeba erases a critical building block of who we are and where we came from. He wants to redefine us in his own distorted image.
Waldeba is not another location. Waldba monastery is one of the oldest and holiest religious enclaves in Ethiopia. It was founded around 490 AD and is located in one of the most remote regions of north Ethiopia protected by the mighty Semen Mountain range. Waldeba is surrounded by four rivers Semo in the north Tekeze in the east Zewereg in the in the west and Zewa in the south. This modern assault by the TPLF regime is not the first on Waldeba or our church. It has withstood Yodit’s wrath around the 10th century two hundred seventy eight years after its founding. The forces of Ahmed Gragn attacked around 1531 and plundered churches and monasteries including Waldeba and Debre Libanos. Today’s incursion is a continuation of further attempt to undermine our heritage. It is but another test of our perseverance.
Waldeba’s contribution to our culture will take a whole encyclopedia to recite. It is part of our rich history in consort with our Tewahedo Church that produced such significant items as our alphabet, our calendar and a desirable place for scholars. It is a training ground for our priests and deacons and many Abunes have graduated from its sanctuary to serve their people. Waldeba is a cherished treasure for all Ethiopians regardless of religious affiliation.
Waldeba has been a protected enclave thru out history. No one has dared to take away from Waldeba that has been willed by God. Successive Ethiopian rulers has shown reverence for Waldeba and what it stands for and went out of their way to protect, enhance and cherish this holy site. Today the TPLF regime under Meles Zenawi is in the process of invading Waldeba. The excuse given is to grow sugarcane and establish a processing plant. They have moved heavy machinery to build a dam for irrigation and pave highways for transporting product and people.
As usual their plan of attack is for the Woyane regime to take the high road of development while defining the opposition as anti progress. Why would anyone in his right mind oppose such a noble cause of building industry and creating employment becomes the question asked by the average observer. They are expert at this sort of thing. They have orchestrated massacre of their own citizens at Hawzen in cold blood and video taped the atrocity for propaganda purpose. Interhawme was their charge in 2005 in their callous attempt to play with fire regardless of the consequences. The current drama of building a dam on Abbay is another attempt to stand for progress and portray the rest as nay Sayers.
Today they are using their monopoly on state media to confuse and misinform. They are trotting out one dead brain TPLF official one after another to explain why their war on our heritage is misunderstood. They are interviewing cadres dressed as monks, cadres pretending to be local citizens and hired engineers and thugs to give testimony on how the project is benign to the Waldeba and its environment. It looks like we are all hysterical and unreasonable while TPLF officials are defending their responsibility to govern.
TPLF always have a strange notion of how to govern. Their style seems to be they decide behind closed doors and we accept their version at face value. Asking question raising valid points for discussion is frowned upon. It is labeled the work of ‘neftegna, dergist, monarchist, counter revolutionary or useless Diaspora.’ We have seen all this before. We are familiar with TPLF motto of ‘my way or the highway.’ It has been the practice for over twenty years.
Erecting a sugar plantation on a holy site is wrong. Pushing it down the throats of local citizens is unacceptable. Undermining our heritage and disturbing the peace and tranquility of our monks is a crime by any standard of civilized behavior. Attacking the weak and humble monks and priests that work day and night praying for our country, our children and our safety is not the work of a responsible government but that of a coward and fascist tug using the power of the state for nefarious purpose.
Thus we drove down to Los Angles to make our views known to the world. We drove in peace to exercise our right to petition the government in power to cease and desist from this wrong policy of substituting heritage for money and power. It was a joyous trip on behalf of our fathers and mothers that are denied their god given right to live in peace. The enthusiasm of the young Ethiopians in exile still filled with love for their country and culture was intoxicating. Their boundless energy, determination and unsurpassed hope for the future was infectious to all around them. To see that our future is in good hands with my young friends is priceless. We sang and marched in peace, we carried our flag high and danced in the streets of Los Angles for all to see that Ethiopia is not alone that her children are awake and alert and her heritage is not something to trifle with.
Waldeba has faced danger before. It has existed for thousands of years. Waldeba will exist for thousands more, no question about that. Waldeba is Gods country. We the children of Waldeba were helping our own way with the little insignificant voice we can muster to help bring peace to this holy place. Those that attack or undermine Waldeba would have to answer to a higher authority. May God help them see the light, we have tried our best.
For further information please go to:
By Yilma Bekele
I doubt there is an Ethiopian in the Diaspora not familiar with what happened last Friday. As they say the video has gone viral. The act has brought deep satisfaction to the psych of the oppressed and left the evildoers in disarray. Abebe took less than one minute to do what has been tried for over twenty years. His heroic act will be remembered in the history books like that other important event in the annals of our glorious past.
Of course I am talking about the daring act of none other Abraha Deboch, Moges Asgedom and Simeyon Adefres on February 19, 1937. The Fascist Italian Viceroy Rodolfo Graziani was set to celebrate the second anniversary of the occupation of our homeland and the birth of an Italian royal baby at Addis Abeba Palace now Addis Abeba University. That did not sit well with our freedom fighters.
Simeyon who has learned to drive befriended a soldier from the household of the patriot leader Dejazmach Fikre Mariam and was able to secure hand grenades. Abraha and Moges hurled their grenades at the Viceroy during the celebration but the balcony saved the Fascist pig. Their job was done. Honor was restored. The attempt on the Viceroy was followed by the massacre of the citizens of Addis from February 19-21. Their heroism was able to fill the hearts of their people with pride and joy and the number of the patriotic forces swelled until victory was achieved.
What my friend and brother Abebe Gelaw did was no less. It was a different time and place but the generous act on behalf of country and people is noted by all patriotic forces that stand against tyranny by a single individual. The setting was perfect and the delivery was laser guided. The event was a very shameful attempt to humiliate Ethiopia and its people. There was no other way of looking at this act of abdication of responsibility by the President of the US other than to bully our people into submission by affirming this unholy alliance that does not have lasting value to both our Nations. We pleaded, we warned and we tried to teach the administration the folly of this enabling act of a tyrant. It fell on deaf ears. We are aware of the fact Mr. Obama will not be seen with Ahmadinejed. He will not invite Assad for dinner. But he felt no qualms sitting with this criminal leader and place him on the same dais as elected heads of State. Our people and country were insulted. This election Ethiopian Americans should pay attention to this fact.
It was wrong. But our brother Abebe was there to set the record straight. Abebe used the art of ‘political heckling’ in its purest form. Citizens heckle out of anger and frustration. Heckling done right subverts the proceedings and knock the powerful and famous from their stride. In less than a minute Abebe accomplished all that and more. The lion roared and the mouse scurried away. There was no hole to hide no place to take shelter. The intense light showed the paper tiger from Arat kilo for what he is, underneath all that TPLF bravado there sits a little scared soul trying to get out. A bully met his match. The Prime Mister preys on the weak. In Washington DC the playing field was leveled in favor of the silenced and oppressed.
Since Friday all the talk has been about the patriotism, unselfish act and bravery of one individual. Yes it is true some people find the inner strength to rise up for the occasion. Somehow they dig deep inside their soul and come up with earth shaking feat that defies the law of nature and gravity. Do you think I am laying it on heavy? I very much doubt that. Can you think of any setting on that fateful Friday where the eyes of the planet were focused on? A meeting with the President of the US, the most powerful person in the world attended by the major News networks definitely counts as the premier event of the week. One individual put everything else aside and decided to be the voice of eighty million silenced souls. OH did he speak!!
Meles Zenawi is a dictator! Meles Zenawi is a dictator! Free Eskinder and all political prisoners! You are a dictator! You are committing crimes against humanity! You do not talk about food without freedom! We need freedom more than food! We need Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!
It was short, precise and to the point. It is all choice words that conveyed our hopes and wishes. The delivery was forceful and the face was that of an angry lion roaring. Where did Abebe get all that energy is a good question? He got it from us! At that moment eighty million souls converged in the body of my friend and he was transformed into human missile of untold force. I was there. You were there. We were all there. Then it came to me. The message was not really directed at President Obama or anyone else. The message was for his people. Abebe was showing us the power of the individual and the enabling act of taking personal responsibility for you fate.
That is why I compared it to Abraha, Moges and Simeyon. Their heroic act was not just about killing Graziani. Mussolini can always send another Viceroy. They were more focused in teaching us what can be accomplished when individuals set their focus and energy in search of freedom. The fact of the matter was it worked. The patriots were inundated by new recruits. The spirit of “Yes I can” became contagious. Apathy was replaced by action. Darkness was gone and the light shone high and bright. That is what I saw the last three days. Ethiopians walking tall. Ethiopians high Fiving each other. Ethiopians understanding the power of the individual to rise up for the occasion.
What was revealing from this incident was the reaction of two individual. The Prime Minster was left speech less. He was left with his mouth wide open and his brain on freeze mode. He entered uncharted territory and he was on a free fall. Abebe’s timing was perfect. The PM was replying about food. That by itself is a very cruel joke being played on our people by the hapless moderator. The question gave the impression the moderator was chosen for his looks and his talking head not his journalistic credentials. He is the kind who would ask the pilot of the Titanic on the procedure of glacier avoidance or Colonel Gadaffi on the art of confronting a hostile mob.
The PM who is celebrating over twenty years in power is the last person to be asked such question. His ill planned policy is the cause of recurring famine and disaster on our ancient land and people. In a sane setting he should be chided for failure of leadership. But in this Disney land environment we were witnessing he was pontificating how the agriculture system should be set to avoid food insecurity. Even the words they choose are not to expose but hide and play cute games at the expense of our people. They call it food insecurity, mal nutrition, calorie deficiency whereas to our people it is pure famine or the absence of food. Nothing more nothing less.
The PM locked side ways with a look of surprise. How could this happen is his first thought. Then he saw the Lion roaring. Relentless, focused, and imbued with the energy of eighty millions and this was one mighty Lion. The dictator looked down. The dictator shrank. The wrath of the oppressed, the spirit of Eskinder, Andualem, Reeyot and all those ghosts he left behind in his dungeon came screaming to haunt him right there on stage. Evil does not pay. The price of bad deeds is mental anguish.
The reaction of his bodyguard is another revealing moment in this high stake drama. He threatened violence against my brother. He responded the only way he knows. ‘We will kill you’ he uttered! What a weak statement. What an empty threat. What a solution to propose for the problem he found himself in. What would have been accomplished by the killing of my brother? They say you cannot teach an old dog a new trick. Killing is the only language the PM and his associates speak. That is the sort of people President Obama invited to his table. We are saddened by this act. We expected better from the son of Africa. We hoped for better things. What the white leaders have done for their brethren in Europe we thought a black president will bring us respite from this agony our continent finds itself in. Not today. We are on our own. Our destiny is in our won hands. It has always been, but the last few years we have shown the tendency to drop the ball. But when you think the future looks bleak the problems pile up and darkness attempts to engulf our soul there rises a beam of bright light like the star of Bethlehem that led the three wise men to where Jesus was born.
That is what we shall do. We shall follow the spirit of our young friend and take matters into our own hands. We will redouble our efforts to free our country and people by any means necessary. One does not make appointment to be free. We start now. We each vow in our homes, our work place wherever we are to start the day of defiance of the evil system starting now. It is the result of our collective effort that can usher the era of peace, democracy and freedom. We do not act due to hate. We do not act to hurt others. But we have God given right to protect ourselves, our family and our country and people from evil.
Live, I wanna live inspired
Die, I wanna die for something
Facing towards the heavens
I fell into pitch a black
I’m moments from landing and I’m shaking like a heart attack
Is there time, can I turn back
I’ve made mistakes in the past
Need a chance, can’t take it back
Wish I could set things right tonight
Live, I wanna live inspired
Die, I wanna die for something higher than myself
Live and die for anyone else
The more I live I see this life’s not about me
All I know spins out of control
Wonder what’s next for the heart and soul
Nothing I earned can save me now
Hear in what may be my final hour
Don’t want to leave this world, knowing I’ve lived in vain
No time for myself, so sorry, so ashamed
Don’t wanna livee this life, knowing I’ve barely tried
Chase down all my dreams that I’ve hid away on the inside
Live I wanna live on fire
Die, I wanna burn out brighter
Brighter than the Northern Lights
Wanna live to feel the daylight
The more I live
I see, this life is not about me
Note: Ethiopian Politics- Richard Pankhurst
Lyrics: Anberlin- Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights) lyrics
By Yilma Bekele
Two important meetings were held a week ago. One was in Addis Abeba and the other in Washington DC. Both were concerning our motherland and the future. That is where the similarities end. One was intended to continue the path of destruction chartered by the current regime while the other was trying to build on what has been achieved throughout millennia and proven to work beyond expectations. The DC conference was an affirmation of the wise and keen insight of our forefathers that laid the foundation for the place we call home.
Christianity and Islam are the two most related faiths that trace their origin in our own neighborhood. Ethiopia is one place where the two have converged in a peculiar manner and have managed to lead a mutually assured loving existence. The bond between the two is so deep no mortal man can break that and live to tell about it. A few have tried to no avail. As evil goes the meeting in Addis was another attempt to create a wedge between the two faiths and their followers. It was vintage TPLF brainchild or brain fart.
Why our country has succeed in this endeavor while most of mankind is still trying to figure out how to come to terms with religion and State issue is a wonderful subject for our historians. I am by no means a historian but I will attempt to share the little I know from my sketchy reading of our glorious past.
Exact date for the emergence of Christianity in Ethiopia is not yet settled. The earliest and reference to the introduction of Christianity to Ethiopia is in the New Testament (Acts 8:26:38) when Philip the Evangelist converted an Ethiopian court official in the 1st Century AD. Credit is given to Saint Frumentius as the first to bringing Christianity to the Axumite Kingdom. Frumentius a Syro-Phoenician Greek from Tyre along with his brother Edesius accompanied by their uncle Meropius were shipwrecked on the Red Seacoast around the year 316 AD. The two boys were taken as slaves to the King of Aksum. Upon the king’s death they were set free but at the request of the queen they stayed to help in the education the young heir Ezana. When Ezana came of age the two brothers returned to Tyre but Frumentius was able to convince the Patriarch of Alexandra, Athanasius to send a Bishop to Ethiopia. In the year 328 Frumentius was sent back as the first Bishop. He succeeded in baptizing King Ezana initiating the spread of Christianity. The Ethiopians refer to Frumentius as Kesete Birhan (Revealer of the Light) and Abbba Selama (Father of Peace) and he is the our first Abune.
Islam came to Ethiopia around 615AD. The first Muslims were immigrants from Mecca due to persecution by the ruling Quraysh tribe. The prophet Mohamed (peace and blessings be upon him) felt Ethiopia to be a safe haven for his relatives and companions. Moslem historians refer to it as the first Higra or migration and the Christian Emperor as Ashama ibn Abjar. The prophet instructed his followers to ‘respect and protect Ethiopia and as well as live in peace with Ethiopian Christians. Today Harar, Ethiopia is considered the fourth holy city of Islam with 82 Mosques three of which date from the 10th. Century.
The conference held in Washington DC by The Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Exile was an affirmation of this historical bond between the two religions and people. It was a proud moment building on the strong and unshakeable foundation laid centuries back that still endures despite the attempt by a few to break what God and Allah has willed.
On the other hand the meeting held in Addis was a flagrant attempt to saw dissent and weaken the bond between religion and people. It was an embarrassing moment and a shameful act that has brought shame and sorrow to country and people. It was the reflection of Kilil brought to the realm of religion. It was another ill hatched plan by Meles and company to bully our ancient land and a feeble attempt to divide and conquer. That it fell on deaf ears is no surprise. As I said our house is not built on sand but on sold granite that no amount of man made idiot trick will cause any harm. I would venture to say it ends up making it stronger and mightier burning the usperes to recoil with shame and horror.
Our Abun’s in Washington DC were celebrated for their forceful solidarity with our Moslem brothers and sisters while the usurper in Addis was shouted down by our Abun’s that steadfastly stood their ground despite the threat of violence including death. Our deep appreciation to the Abun’s strength in withstanding such ugly behavior by the usurper Paulo’s and his henchmen fills our heart with pride and reminds us of our beloved father Abune Petros and his unyielding faith in country and people in front of the Fascist firing squad.
The leader of the Italian Invasion of our land Gen. Rodolfo Graziani proclaimed “The Duce (Mussolini) will have Ethiopia, with or without Ethiopians.” Abune Petros replied, “The cry of my countrymen who died due to your nerve-gas and terror machinery will never allow my conscious to accept your ultimatum. How can I see my God if I give a blind eye to such a crime?’ That is the footsteps our current Abune are following. We thank them for making us proud both in Addis and Washington DC. We praise them for their leadership and their timely message to stir that strong feeling of what it means to be an Ethiopian both as a Christian and a Moslem. No one can break apart that God and Allah has joined together.
As he has done with an appointment of a cadre Patriarch the Meles regime is busy sawing dissent and animosity in the Moslem community. There is no trick left unturned. Churches have been burnt to put the blame on our Moslem citizens and Moslems have been accused of being terrorists, wahabists etc. As he has put Cadre Paulos in power today the regime is protecting the illegal Moslem leader and placing his internal security around him.
All politics is local. It is with this in mind Ethiopians in the Bay Area are traveling to Los Angles to attend a World Wide demonstration the weekend of June 4th. against the regime’s interference in religion in general and the attempt to destroy our ancient heritage, Waldeba Monastery in Northern Ethiopia. Those interested in attending this event can email Waldeba Monastery email@example.com.
By Yilma Bekele
Dear President Obama,
I am sure you do not have time to read my letter nonetheless it gives me a certain amount of release from the pain I am feeling and the little chance of this letter getting to you fills my soul with great amount of joy and hope. I am an Ethiopian immigrant currently living in California. I came to your country to go to college. I am always grateful to the American people in general and the citizens of the State of Oregon in particular that supported me in fulfilling my dream. Their graciousness in welcoming me and their generosity in helping me with financial aid to finish my education will stay in my heart forever.
Upon finishing my education I have become a productive member of society and hopefully contributed my share in making your nation a beacon of light for all of mankind. I have been blessed enough to get married to a beautiful person and raise a family. I am glad to claim I am the personification of the American dream come true. I am not writing you to ask a favor for myself but I want to tell you about the dire situation regarding the homeland I left behind a long time ago. I want to give you an idea about my country Ethiopia and the horror faced by my people in the year two thousand twelve as the rest of humanity thrives.
The source of this unbearable pain forced on my country is none other than the individual that shows up in every meeting the heads of the advanced industrialized countries attend to solve problems and plan the future. I am sure you have noticed him during picture sessions and dinner parties. He is the one who claims to represent Africa and is usually given the corner seat in the back to keep quiet and observe.
His name is Meles Zenawi and his title is chairman of TPLF party and Prime Minster of Ethiopia. He has been in power for the last twenty years. It is not that he was elected to that position since free democratic elections are not allowed but he has managed to organize sham election and rigged voting not once but five times in a row. I will tell you a few things to give you an idea of how he manages to do that.
1) Press: There is no free press in Ethiopia. There is only one local TV controlled by his party. The only radio-broadcasting unit is under his communications department. There are no independent newspapers in the country. The few that are allowed to exist are routinely harassed and their publishers and editors spend most of their time in his rubberstamp court. Today a few are in his dungeon accused of fabricated charges and plenty are forced out of the country. There is only one Internet provider and his outfit controls that. He uses Chinese technology to block any foreign TV or Radio broadcast and Internet sites. Your Voice of America broadcast is routinely jammed. Today there are more journalists and Independent Web sites outside the country than in our homeland. The Ethiopian people are kept in the dark by design.
2) Political Party and Civic organizations: The dictator does not allow real independent political parties. On paper there are over eighty political parties in the country, but they are all the creations of the dictator. The few that dare to organize independently are subjected to harassment, imprisonment and even murder. His claim that there are no worthy opposition parties is a cruel joke. In Ethiopia being an opposition party leader is a death wish. We have lost many worthy leaders in the last twenty years. Independent labor unions, civic organizations and non-government affiliated associations are not allowed. If they dare to organize they are brought under government control within a short time.
3) Administration: He has divided the country into what is known as Kilil. Kilil is a black version of Apartheid; the system the White South African set up to control black citizens. The individual appoints all Kilil administrators usually local lackeys for show purpose. His party and ethnic group controls the Army and Security service with all commanders’ hand picked from his ethnic group. Ninety nine percent of high-ranking military officials belong to the dictators ethnic group. The individual and his party inherited the dreaded Kebele system set up by the departing military dictatorship to control neighborhoods and enhanced its capability using modern means. Today the Kebele system is the eyes and ears of the TPLF party and is present in every household to terrorize and control.
4) Economy: All land belongs to the state. The Ethiopian people are sharecroppers. When he took power twenty years ago facilitated by your State Department he created a congramolate called EFFORT controlled by his ethnic group. All major confiscated business and property were given to EFFORT and today it is the premier corporation in the country involved in banking, transportation, manufacturing, import export and the hospitality business. EFFORT is bigger than Ethiopia. Unable to grow the economy, ill prepared to unleash the creative potential of his people the dictator is currently selling our fertile and virgin land to foreign investors. This is despite the billions of aid dollars given by your country and Western Europe and the billions more written off the book from the IMF and World Bank. His sole purpose is to stay in power by bullying and enrich his ethnic group, family and friends.
Dear Mr. President, you might think what a coward people we are to allow such and individual to do us so much harm and accept it with silence. That is not so. We were not always that docile. The simple explanation I can offer you is that he came on the scene at a very unfortunate time for us. The twenty years of military dictatorship has sapped our strength to fight back. We were caught at a time when in the name of socialism our people and country had gone thru a very traumatic process. Our moral compass was left in disarray. No one was willing to continue the self-inflicted agony we experienced. The current dictator also showed up carrying an olive branch that promised to form an all-inclusive government. Your State Department was the premier facilitator of such transfer of power from the Military to the new liberators.
Unfortunate for Ethiopia your country still is coddling and enabling the dictator. He is considered the front line in the fight against terrorism The Pentagon is pouring money and resources to train his army. He is given the green light to interfere in Somalia in the so-called war against terror. We pay the price. The US is not made safer with all the support given to the regime but the Ethiopian people are made insecure and hopeless. Today the Ethiopian people are migrating out of their homeland at an alarming rate. The young and able and the educated are leaving their country in search of a better tomorrow. Washington DC your capital is living proof of the flight of our people outwards.
We ask you to intervene and stop this human catastrophe. We believe it is the right thing to do. It is the moral thing to do. Ethiopian Americans were in the forefront of your campaign for the presidency. We were filled with hope that you will intercede and help our motherland enter the twenty first century with dignity. It has not happened. Your State Department never fails to record and publish the crimes of the Ethiopian regime. The annual report is a very alarming detailed testimony of the nature of the illegal regime and the crimes it commits against its own people. Thanks to Wikileaks we are made conscious of the terrorist acts of the security department’s involvement in setting up explosives on its own citizens and blaming the opposition. Your Ambassador was part of the cover up of this crime. It is wrong.
We would like to call your attention to the policy the US followed in the aftermath of the Second World War when it came to Europe. The US was instrumental in encouraging democratic forms of government. US aid was based on the rule of law. Sixty years later Europe enjoys the fruits of such progressive and forward-looking policy. We ask your administration follow the same principle when it comes to Africa. We deserve nothing less. We ask your administration stop coddling and enabling dictators, misfits and loathsome individuals from terrorizing their own people.
The Ethiopian people are faced with a sad dilemma. How could they fight back against a terrorist regime armed and supported by a big power like your country? It is not a fair fight by any stretch of imagination. They find it confusing that on one hand you preach democracy and human rights while on the other hand you furnish the weapons and facilitate loans from World Bank and the IMF to the their tormentor. Wouldn’t you say the US would have a lasting and worthy relationship with a strong and democratic Ethiopia rather than a country always on the verge of civil war and a pitiful hand stretched begging for food and medicine?
The Prime Minster is showing up at your dinner table next week. We all know he has nothing to contribute to such discussion. The country he has been leading for the last twenty years is beset with famine, double digit unemployment, runaway inflation and human misery in a large scale. He has no record to be proud of. He has no opposition to shame him. His presence at this gathering is unexplainable and undeserved. His single TV station and his sole Radio broadcast will present a different picture. They will use the occasion to bully the Ethiopian people. There is no other voice to set the record straight.
We wish you would UN invitee or dis invite him. We know that will not happen. On the other hand we ask you use the occasion to make it clear to him that your constituents are not happy with his actions. We wish that you explain to him US aid goes hand in hand with the existence of the rule of law and respect for human rights. The American people are blessed to have such a caring and honorable person as a leader. You lead a very honorable and generous nation that has stood with Ethiopia in its time of need. We ask you to step forward and do the right thing at this critical moment in our history. We ask you to think of the eighty million Ethiopians that are made to suffer because on man and his ethnic based party is enabled by your country and others to run amok and brutalize. History will not look kindly at such abdication of responsibility.
Dear Mr. President, we are aware of what happened to dictator Gaddafi. We are witnessing the unfolding human misery in Syria. That is what is waiting Ethiopia if the regime continues its maltreatment of its won citizens. That is what we are trying to avoid from happening in Ethiopia. You can help us.
Finally we are not asking you to fight our war. We are perfectly capable of doing the job ourselves. We are simply petitioning you not to stand with the dictator. Not to give him lethal aid and training to turn his fire on us. We know it is in your power to make a stop to this enabling activity. The children of Ezana, Tewodros, Yohanes, Minilik, Aba Jifar, Tona and many others are up to the task given the opportunity. We have taken care of our business for over three thousand years and there is no reason to think we will not rise up to the occasion now. Just give us a level playing field and Green Yellow and Red will fly high on our ancient mountains and fields.
P.S. We have a petition on line to be presented to your office along this letter. The Web address is as follows: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/obama-stop-monster-zenawi-invitation.html
By Yilma Bekele
I feel energized. Our freedom tree is bearing fruits. It is the result of the tireless effort of thousands if not millions of us working together in harmony. Due to the miracle of the Internet such as our independent Web sites and Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter and our potent weapon ESAT and the various local Radio stations such as Addis Dimts, Sheger FM among many we are able to be a voice for the silenced. We have been heard.
The ethnic cleansing that is being waged has become an international knowledge. This is not the first time the TPLF regime has practiced such crime against humanity. This is the first time it has been exposed for all to see. It is no consolation to the victims’ but for what it is worth their fellow citizens and the international community has recognized and felt their pain. We owe a debt of gratitude to our brave Ethiopians at home that face danger but are relentless in their pursuit of justice for their people. We thank our Independent Web sites for their wonderful job of informing us and giving us a forum where we can discuss our hopes, concerns, worry and try to find solution for our motherland.
The criminal activity being seen and documented in broad daylight did not please Ato Meles. He reacted in a violent way. We saw his fingers curl with anger and his veins stand with too much blood. We saw agony on his face and fear in his soul. I heard him refer to our country by name for the first time. It was normally ‘Ageritua’ and we are referred to as ‘Hezbua’. He was forced to utter ‘Ethiopia” and ‘Ethiopiawinet.’ How could he point his hate finger at us without calling us by our name? Interesting, don’t you think?
Here is what he said. ‘Those that want to be famous for their stand on the unity of Ethiopia, and claim Ethiopiawinet’ as their brand’ are attempting to paint a picture as if the Southern Kilil, Benchi Maji Zone, and Gura Fereda Wereda as declaring a campaign on Amharas in general and the people of Eastern Gojjam people in particular.’ It was a strange statement. I searched to see if anyone has made such claim. I could not find any one talking about a campaign by the citizens of those localities against Amharas or any one else. The truth of the matter is the issue is not whether it is against Amharas, Gambellans or Somlais. We were against the practice of ‘ethnic cleansing’ against anyone. The current crime just happens to be directed at the Amharas and that is a fact.
Why did he say that? I saw two reasons for his convoluted logic. He has done this before and it comes natural to him. First and foremost he wanted to foment hate between the people of Benchi Maji and the Amhara community. Second he wanted to cover his role in this criminal activity. He blamed it on the Administrations of the Southern Kilil from the President to the Wereda boss. It is never his responsibility for any thing bad happening in the country while good things are due his brilliant mind and astute leadership.
Both are not worthy of a statesman. The truth is there is no animosity between the people of Benchi Maji and their Amhara fellow citizens. They are simple farmers trying hard to make a living relying on sweat, determination and hard work. They do not compete rather they cooperate due to their common quest to survive in a very primitive environment. They have no time for hate and conflict. Life is hard enough as is. It is not all right for a leader to peddle hate and mistrust.
Second The Southern President Shiferaw Shigute, the local Zonal and Wereda officials are employees of Ato Meles. The buck stops at his desk. They would not even fart without his permission. He got them elected in a rigged manner and they owe allegance to him and to him alone. In case they try to get out of line he has his Army and security ready to pounce on them and they are perfectly aware of that fact. Their position is littered with the ghosts of jailed, exiled or killed former employees.
What I saw was a person finally coming to terms with his actions. It is a defining moment for our attempt to make him accept responsibility. To make him understand there is consequences to ideas, polices and style of governance. The ‘ethnic cleansing’ being practiced is the result of the philosophy of Kilil in its pure sense. Kilil is the corner stone of Ato Melese’s style of leadership and his never ending attempt to stay in power no mater the price. Kilil is different from Federalism. Kilil is Apartheid in black. The language of Kilil is not conducive to building a Multi National democratic country or institution. The current incident from Benchi Maji will not be the last one. As long as the concept of Kilil is imposed on our people incidents such as Bedeno, Gambella, South Omo and Benchi Maji will be part of our future. We do not need fortuneteller to know that.
The Ethiopian Parliament is the perfect example of a dysfunctional body. It is here Ato Meles shows up to inform them of his current dream. All Parliamentarians except one are hand picked by Ato Meles and his associates. There is no one sitting there except one that does not owe his position to anybody else except Ato Meles and his TPLF Party. The vast majority will not be elected as a dogcatcher let alone Parliamentarian in any normal setting. It is not because our country lacks such worthy individuals to run and get elected but due to lack of freedom and the yoke of dictatorship. Only the waste (zegach) rises to the top in TPLF controlled Ethiopia. They represent no one except themselves. They are happy to accept anything the master throws their way as long as they go along with his misguided and dangerous vision. Control of over ninety-seven percent of Parliament seats does not happen in a healthy society. It is a sign of something that has gone wrong.
This is what he told his choir regarding the ‘ethnic cleansing’ activity being carried by his surrogates at his behest.
“ The Southern Administration has given adequate explanation and I do not want to go into details …..due to historical circumstances in the last ten years about thirty thousand people from East Gojjam have settled in Bench Maji area thus for all practical purposes it has become East Gojjam and the local authority is in the hands of the settlers. There is land to be farmed and we have no problem with developing the place. I see one problem here the settlement activity is done on individual basis and this is destructive. Although there is savanna land available including jungle areas and it is here the settlers decided to farm because they were not concerned regarding deforestation to use the trees for charcoal and building purpose. Thus the Kilil and the Wereda decided to protect the forest and said what is done is in the past but from now there will be no settlement with out being organized. The Southern Kilil and the Amhara Kilil consulted on this and decided to deny individual type of settlement imitative and agreed on organized approach. This is not a criminal act against people of Benchi Maji or against Eastern Gojjames. Those who want to interpret such act as such are being irresponsible. Searching for the truth and like their slogan of viewing all Ethiopians as equal instead without basis and without looking at the existing situation and without basis based on selfish personal gains declaring Amharas hare being swept away, Eastern Gojjam people are being attacked is wrong it is not helpful the truth is what I just like what said.” Please click here to watch the video version of this drama.
You see what I mean. His version is an excuse not based on the real situation we are witnessing in front of us. The victims have names; faces and we have seen the pictures of the displaced with their family. They are not a figment of our imagination. Ato Meles sitting in his bunker at Arat Kilo does not have the time or the desire to face reality. Him or any of his officials have not met the internally displaced victims and shown any kind of empathy for their fellow citizens. The same person that is leasing virgin land to Indians, Saudis and other foreigners at dirt-cheap prices, the same leader that is destroying our cherished heritage such as Waldeba Monastery is going environmentalist when it comes to a few peasant subsistence farmers. He is blaming us for being concerned for our people and calling him out for his wrongdoing. Isn’t that putting things upside down or standing things head first. In this speech he even managed to include the Amhara Kilil in this ugly act. It is not that we had any expectation of the different Bantustan governors to stand up for their respective people but he speaks as if they are independent bodies that can address the concerns of their constituents. How could that not be when they in fact are his creation and do not posses any power nor independent will of their own? As my friend Ephrem said ‘how could the tail wag the dog?”
His response, excuse or shifting the blame is not based on valid ground. There are plenty of instances where such ploy has not worked at all. Hitler was responsible for the crime committed against the Jewish people. Those who obeyed his order and did the evil deed were judged as harshly as the architect of the criminal act. The Yugoslav leader Millosevic was put on trial with his main cleanser Karadzic and his General Ratko Mladic. I was just obeying orders is not a valid defense. Shiferaw Shigute’s and other Kilil administrator’s crime is not less than Meles Zenawi’s. The master and his servant are judged equally. We are putting anyone that hurts our people on notice that justice might be slow but it always happens. We all know the Ferenji sponsors of these misfits are not reliable allies. Their motto is ‘don’t do the crime if you cant do the time.’ Recent events have proven that principle. Gadaffi used to be a good friend of Tony Blair, Mubarak was a trusted ally of the US, the Shah of Iran was the number one policeman in the Gulf and Saddam was tolerated while Charles Taylor was a useful tool. Where are they now? You hear that Meles Zenawi, how about Shiferaw Shigute? Are we clear on this concept or are we self deluding?
As I said our relentless struggle on behalf our people is showing signs of momentum. It is not based on hate or directed at ethnic group or persons but love for people and country. It is invigorating to see our work being translated to action. The current discussion on waging peaceful resistance on a higher level is both promising and shows the maturity of our movement. Boycott is a tried and successful method of showing our disgust with the system. We are flexing our muscle on behalf of our people. It is not an overnight success. It takes time and requires patient explanation so our people know and understand the important role personal responsibility plays in the search for freedom and equality. Putting the needs of the many in front of self-gratification is not an easy concept to master. But we are up to the task. I have no doubt with that. When properly understood by many it will become natural as our love for our ancient land.
Fighting dictatorship takes many forms. Some use the power of the gun, others organize, many utilize boycott, citizens resort to sabotage among many other forms of making life difficult for the abusers. All are respect forms of gaining self worth and dignity. It is the combination of all these that bring the day of reckoning closer and the process of building a free and harmonies society begins in earnest. Our love and respect for each other, our commitment to equality and democracy will win over the hate and divisive politics peddled by the dying regime. Each one of us is responsible for our own actions as we hold the TPLF regime responsible for its actions. We each answer for our own sins not our friends or neighbors. Shifting responsibility onto others has not done us any good. It only makes us weak and the laughing stock of the world around us. Today the sleeping giant known as the Diaspora is stirring. It is showing signs of connecting the dots and at long last understanding without our effort there will be no Ethiopia to go to. There will be no Timket, no Fasika, no Ethiopian Eid Al-Fitir, no Adis Amet and no proud history. Our children will be dispersed and no one will be there to tell our gallant history and the sacrifice of our ancestors. It is a shame if we let that happen on our watch. Eskinder said no. Andualem said no. Reeyot said no. What say you my friend?
By yilma Bekele
On November 11, 2011, Yenesew Gebre was driven to kill himself on behalf of all suffering Ethiopians. He killed himself out of love for his people and country. He made the ultimate sacrifice to wake us up so we can see what it means to be humiliated in your own home. Love can be expressed in so many different ways. Yenesew’s method was that of a teacher. That is what he was in real life. Yenesew was a shepherd and an example-setter to his people.
On March 24, 2012 Ethiopian Review reported about exiled Ethiopian physicians holding a meeting in Virginia, USA, to raise money to invest in a referral hospital in Ethiopia. A very laudable act you might say. They must love their country and people so much that even after being kicked out, exiled or driven off from their homeland they were willing to help. Isn’t that a sign of generosity and love? I agree. There is nothing like giving. Aren’t we such a blessed people to have caring individuals among us?
Wait a minute, let us not put the cart in front of the horse please. Everything has a context, otherwise it is meaningless. Our physicians ‘love’ for country has to be put in its context so we can really understand and appreciate their ‘selfless’ act. This is where the problem rears its head. They say the devil is in the details and it is nowhere true than in this instance. Our physician’s act is nothing more than a cheap trick to pad their bank account while looking selfless and honorable. Their act is that of a charlatan. They are trying to get advantage using deception. It is petty theft and nothing more than the act of a common criminal.
How sad coming from people of such high knowledge that have taken the oath to do good. Well they are Ethiopians aren’t they; the rules don’t work in the land of TPLF Ethiopia. Being a physician is a sign of high achievement. It requires sacrifice, dedication and plenty of work. It is an honorable profession. Doctors are held in high esteem and it is every mother’s dream for her baby. They teach you how to cure the sick in medical school. They make you a technician of the human body. The engineer build bridges, the architect designs house, the mechanic fixes engines, the chauffeur drives a car, the physician cures disease, the politician leads and the shoeshine cleans shoes. All are expert in their field. It is the contribution of each that makes a society work in harmony.
We put physicians on a pedestal. We ascribe a certain amount of higher intelligence to the doctor. That is more so in a backward society like ours. It is not healthy. We confuse education with common sense. One might be trained to be nuclear scientist but the possibility is there that the individual might be void of common sense or social grace. Those that have spent a major portion of their life pursuing a single goal can sometimes loose sight of the bigger picture.
When it comes to our learned compatriots we are dealing with two aspects of this myopic situation. There are some that are truly attracted to do good and help their people. At he same time there are those that will betray their people for thirty pieces. Isn’t that the situation we got here?
That is what I believe. In a country where one man surrounded with his ethnic group and lords it over eighty million others, in a place where one is judged by his blood line instead of his deeds, in a location where no none is allowed to speak or associate freely and in a land where the young and able are forced to leave due to lack of opportunity our esteemed doctors are collecting money to enable the evil doer.
None other than Ato Girma Birru — our Oromo Ambassador, called them into a meeting. I know it is rude to identify an individual by his ethnic affiliation, on the other hand, Ato Girma owes his position due to his ethnic identity. He was the token OPDO Minster in the TPLF cabinet and today he is the token representative in the US. Before his assignment to his new job he was Minster of Industry and Commerce in emerging democratic Ethiopia. Makes you wonder what he did all day doesn’t it? When you consider that he was a simple student like the rest of us before the arrival of TPLF and today he counts as one of the richest individuals in the country you know what he was busy at in his position. The well-dressed and manicured Ambassador is a picture of well-fed and modern Ethiopian.
Our physicians are the symptom of the disease afflicting our country. We focus on them because they are an easy target to identify. But this disease of discounting Ethiopia is nothing new. It has been going on for so long that it has become part of us. We all have become numb to being humiliated, trampled upon and discarded. No need to point our fingers at the greedy doctors when every house is a source of this virus of selfishness and greed. I do not mean to insult you my dear Ethiopian but isn’t time we reflect on our actions?
Tell me who buys stolen plots of land? Who flies Ethiopian Airlines? Who party’s in Addis among the starving? Who invests in hotels and brothels from Mekele to Moyale? Who turns a blind eye when the Anuaks are massacred in Gambella, the Amharas displaced from Benji Maji, the Oromos imprisoned in mass, the little girls sold into slavery in the Middle East? Don’t tell me you did not know. You knew but you choose to keep silent.
We choose to be upset because Hillary Clinton sat with the monster in Arat Kilo. We seethed with anger because the little dictator inserts himself in every international meeting, we blow our tops when Gambella is leased to grow rice, Professor Asrat was murdered, teacher Assefa Maru is gunned down, Kinijit is imprisoned and elections are stolen. It took all five minutes to cool as down. Our anger was not real. It did not come from deep. Surface anger is so pathetic don’t you think so?
Our esteemed physicians came to the west because they could not serve the people that paid for their training working under the existing regime. Unfortunately they forget why they were driven away. They are just showing us how self-centered and idiots they are. Doctors without borders are in Ogaden tending to the deliberately starved, they are in the rift valley helping the intentionally marginalized and our doctors were assembled in Virginia to serve the less than one percent. Shame is an understatement. When did we loose our moral compass is a valid question?
You know what it took me along time to push send after I wrote this piece. I was worried offending you. I felt like I am not a good ‘chewa’ Ethiopian, rude and confrontational is not our style. Then the picture of the displaced came to me. I saw the children from Benji Maji left to be homeless. I remembered my sister Alem Dechasa alone and helpless in Lebanon. I thought of my people in the jungles of Central Africa to be eaten by wild animals or drawn into harms way in other peoples’ conflict or imprisoned in Yemen and I said enough is enough. I have no reason to please no one.
I have bad news for you my people. Freedom cannot be outsourced. The Americans, the British nor the Norwegians are going to liberate you. Liberation comes from deep inside. It comes from being true to your self. It comes from caring for other as you care for yourself. How could you save others when you are sinking your self? As for our physicians that are deluding themselves about helping our people I have one message for them-kindly shove your PhD’s where the sun does not shine and take two aspirins for the pain. The physical pain will go away but the mental anguish caused by your betrayal will never leave you, ever.
As for me my friends, I am working overtime to bring this nightmare to an end. I support Ginbot 7, I am energized by the new OLF, I help ESAT and I am always there to expose Woyanne atrocities every chance I get. I teach people on the goings in my homeland. I write my Congress representative to remind them of the plight of my people and I will never rest until this cancer is wiped out from my body politic. Sometimes the going gets rough, the road seems impassable but no one promised me a jolly ride. The fact that some individuals or groups betray our trust is no reason to resign and go home. I just reengineer and thrust on because the liberation of my country and people cannot be dumped onto others. What about you are you just complaining insistently, blaming others or are you becoming part of the problem like our educated but reality challenged physicians? It is a choice you have to make.
Alemayehu G Mariam
Rule of Law, Rule by Law, Rule by Unjust Law, Rule by Man
All of the weekly commentaries I have written over the years have been structured on a single fundamental principle: the rule of law. What is it? How does it configure in Ethiopia’s transition from dictatorship to democracy?
The phrase “rule of law” is somewhat vague and much overused by scholars and advocates, and casually thrown around in general political conversation. The phrase is so popular that even dictators swear by it. In October 2011, Meles Zenawi told Aftenposten (Norway’s largest paper): “We have reached a very advanced stage of rule of law and respect for human rights. Fundamentally, this is a country where democratic rights of people are respected.” (Ahem!!!)
For lawyers, “rule of law” is a term of art which generally signifies constitutional supremacy and adherence to principles of due process. Political scientists use the phrase to describe institutional mechanisms for policing the state and preventing abuse of power through established accountability procedures and guarantees of basic civil, human and substantive rights. The phrase is gaining popularity among economists who have come to realize that the rule of law is necessary to create a secure environment for business, investments, contracts and market transactions. Where there the rule of law prevails, good governance (accountability, transparency, free and fair elections, etc.) follows and economies grow. Since the 1990s, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, among others, have insisted on implementation of the “rule of law” as a condition of loans and assistance in Africa (largely without much success).
Dictators often jabber about the “rule of law” to shroud their “rule by law” of one man, one party. In a society under the “rule of men”, absolute power is exercised by the privileged few who are above the law. One man, one party, one select group decides for the whole society. That was what Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong and others did; and that is what Africa’s dictators do today.
Rule of Law and Rule by Diktat
African dictators rule by diktat (arbitrary decrees issued by command of the dictator) which they try to palm off as “laws” (legislation enacted by a legitimately elected body engaged in deliberative process). They scribble down their diktats, have it approved by their rubberstamp parliaments and pronounce it “law” or “proclamation”. They use the diktat to play policeman, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. Under rule by diktat, dictators use the “law” as a bludgeon — a sledgehammer — to vanquish their opposition. On March 28, 2006, Congressman Christopher Smith, Chairman of House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations recounted a revealing conversation he had with Zenawi which demonstrates rule by diktat:
During my visit to Addis last August , I met with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and I asked him why he had not investigated the June shootings of demonstrators by agents of his government. His response was that the investigation might require the arrest of opposition leaders, and he didn’t want to do that while by-elections were still scheduled. He went on to tell me that he had dossiers on all the opposition leaders and could arrest them for treason whenever he wanted. Thus, their arrests were all but certain even before the events that ostensibly led to their being incarcerated.
In a more recent example of rule by dictat, Zenawi visiting Norway in October 2011 proclaimed two freelance Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye awaiting trial were guilty of terrorism. He said the two journalists “are, at the very least, messenger boys of a terrorist organization. They are not journalists. Why would a journalist be involved with a terrorist organization and enter a country with that terrorist organization, escorted by armed terrorists, and participate in a fighting in which this terrorist organization was involved? If that is journalism, I don’t know what terrorism is.” Zenawi seemed to be unfamiliar with Art. 20 (3) of the Ethiopian Constitution which guarantees: “During proceedings accused persons have the right to be presumed innocent.” In late February 2012, Zenawi made the following incredibly mindboggling statement about the same Swedish journalists:
The government gave a small statement that such people have been put [in] prison… The next day the campaign was launched, ‘Free press, innocent people with no issue at all!’ They just give pronouncements before the case has gone to court, before evidence has been heard. The pronouncement was there; the government is the criminal and the people are innocent. (Well, if the shoe fits, wear it!)
After declaring the two journlaists “terrorists” in October 2011, in February 2012, Zenawi has the audacity to criticize others for commenting on the journalsits’ innocence “before the case has gone to court, before evidence has been heard.” Incredible!
A Practical Understanding of the Rule of Law
As the scholars and lawyers debate the finer points of the rule of law, it is possible to fashion a practical understanding of the principle which could be useful in the dialogue and debate over Ethiopia’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. A practical lesson in the application of the rule of law principle could be learned by examining “anti-terrorism” laws in the U.S. and Ethiopia.
In 2001, President Bush signed an executive order authorizing the creation of military tribunals for the detention, treatment and trial of certain non-citizens (“enemy combatants”) in the war against terrorism. In 2006 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the executive order and commissions as unconstitutional (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld) holding that the President lacks constitutional or statutory authority. Much to the great disappointment of the Bush Administration, the Court held that these terror suspects were entitled to the protection of the ordinary laws of the United States and the laws of war including the Geneva Convention, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In language that pays homage to deep-rooted American civil liberties, the Court wrote: “Assuming that Hamdan [terror suspect] is a dangerous individual who would cause great harm or death to innocent civilians given the opportunity, the Executive nevertheless must comply with the prevailing rule of law in undertaking to try him and subject him to criminal punishment.”
In 2004, in a similar case of a terror suspect (Rasul v. Bush), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the rule of law by requiring the President to honor the writ of habeas corpus (one of the greatest rights Americans have to challenge the government in court unlawful restraint on their liberties). The Court held that a terror suspect detainee may not be denied access to lawyers and civilians courts in violation of the due process guarantees of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Simply stated, even wicked villains and evil-doers are shielded by the rule of law in the American Constitution.
In contrast, rule by law (rule by diktat) has made Zenawi’s so-called anti-terrorism law (“Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009”) a sledgehammer to crush dissidents, journalists, opposition political leaders and anyone considered an enemy. In early February 2012, a group of independent United Nations human rights experts (U.N. Special Rapporteurs) made public statements condemning the ongoing use of anti-terrorism laws to curb a broad range of freedoms in Ethiopia. Ben Emmerson, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, said that “the anti-terrorism provisions should not be abused and need to be clearly defined in Ethiopian criminal law to ensure that they do not go counter to internationally guaranteed human rights.” Frank La Rue, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, said that “Journalists play a crucial role in promoting accountability of public officials by investigating and informing the public about human rights violations. They should not face criminal proceedings for carrying out their legitimate work, let alone be severely punished.” Margaret Sekaggya, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, stated that “journalists, bloggers and others advocating for increased respect for human rights should not be subject to pressure for the mere fact that their views are not in alignment with those of the Government [of Ethiopia].” Maina Kiai, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, said “The resort to anti-terrorism legislation is one of the many obstacles faced by associations today in Ethiopia. The Government must ensure protection across all areas involving the work of associations, especially in relation to human rights issues.” Gabriela Knaul, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said: “Defendants in a criminal process should be considered as innocent until proven guilty as enshrined in the Constitution of Ethiopia… And it is crucial that defendants have access to a lawyer during the pre-trial stage to safeguard their right to prepare their legal defence.”
The Essence of the Rule of Law
The essence of the rule of law can be summarized in the following simple proposition: Because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, the rule of law is essential to prevent power from corrupting and absolute power from corrupting absolutely. The U.N. Secretary-General in a report to the Security Council in 2004 prescribed implementation of the rule of law as “a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards.” In practice, it is necessary to have “measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.” The World Bank says where the rule of law prevails government exercises self-restraint, treats its citizens justly and equally under the law and protects the dignity of each individual in society. Numerous other organizations and institutions involved in the rule of law movement have come to the same conclusion.
Rule of Law Cannot Be “Copycatted”
There are some who believe that blindly “copycatting” laws and regulations from other countries and incorporating them verbatim into their own laws somehow guarantees the existence and prevalence of the rule of law. In justifying his “anti-terrorism law” in February 2012, Zenawi offered the following mindboggling explanation to his rubberstamp parliament:
In drafting our anti-terrorism law, we copied word-for-word the very best anti-terrorism laws in the world. We took from America, England and the European model anti-terrorism laws. It is from these three sources that we have drafted our anti-terrorism law. From these, we have choses the better ones. For instance, in all of these laws, an organization is deemed to be terrorist by the executive branch. We improved it by saying it is not good for the executive to make that determination. We took the definition of terrorism word-by-word. Not one word was changed. Not even a comma. It is taken word-by-word. There is a reason why we took it word-by-word. First, these people have experience in democratic governance. Because they have experience, there is no shame if we learn or take from them. Learning from a good teacher is useful not harmful. Nothing embarrassing about it. The [antiterrorism] proclamation in every respect is flawless. It is better than the best anti-terrorism laws [in the world] but not less than any one of them in any way…
One cringes in total embarrassment at such a stunningly shallow understanding of jurisprudence, glib talk about the law and inattention to a glaring logical fallacy in one’s argument. In seeking to establish that his anti-terrorism law is based on the rule of law, Zenawi commits a logical fallacy known as “argument from authority” (argumentum ad verecundiam). The logic of his argument is that America and Britain are democratic countries with a high degree of adherence to the rule of law principle; and they have anti-terrorism laws that are the “best” in the world. We have “copied word-for-word” the best elements of their anti-terrorism laws and put them to use. Therefore, our terrorism laws are “flawless” and singularly the very best in the world!
By invoking a fallacious authority and creating a manifestly false analogy, Zenawi aims to clothe his anti-terrorism diktat with moral legitimacy and legal respectability. One cannot create a lion by piecing together the sturdy long neck of the giraffe with the the strong jaws of a hyena, the fast limbs of the cheetah and the massive trunk of the elephant. The king of the jungle is an altogether different beast. In the same vein, one cannot clone pieces of anti-terrorism laws from everywhere onto a diktat and sanctify it as “flawless in every respect”.
Imitation may best the highest form of flattery, but to boldly claim that a mindlessly cloned diktat is “flawless” is just mindless. Beyond logical fallacy, Zenawi seems to be totally clueless about elementary principles of jurisprudence in the Anglo-American tradition. The American antiterrorism law (Zenawi does not specifically identify the American antiterrorism law he copied word-for-word, but one may reasonably assume he is referring to the “USA Patriot Act”), is not merely a collection of words, legal phrases, clauses, terms and paragraphs. The Patriot Act was drafted with intense debate and deliberation in the Congress (not scribbled down and sent for rubberstamping), contentious disputes in the media (in the U.S. it not a crime to criticize a law in the media) and amidst outraged public dialogue and debate (not shoved down the public’s throat). Above all, it was crafted within the known boundaries of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments and Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution. The legislative language in the Patriot Act derives its vitality not from glib semantic analysis of words and phrases, but from long and storied legal traditions that date back to the Magna Carta (Great Charter) in 1215, the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the vast body of Anglo-American common law. Most importantly, the Patriot Act is subject to the supreme law of the land– the U.S. Constitution. Thomas Paine, one of the revolutionary “Founding Fathers of the United States” and the “voice of the common man” explained it best in Common Sense: “In America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”
If Zenawi wants to copycat American and British anti-terrorism laws, he cannot cherry pick words, phrases, sentences and clauses. He has to take the whole package because those words, phrases and clauses he copied so proudly have complex histories, meanings, nuances and implications. Those blindly borrowed words and phrases have special meaning and application when they are considered, contextualized, synthesized and analyzed within the broader framework of Anglo-American common law, judicial precedents, legal principles and doctrines, rules of statutory construction, legal scholarship, legislative intent and numerous other factors. If Zenawi chooses to imitate and clone American law “word-for-word”, he is practically, logically and hermeneutically obliged to give meaning to those laws within the framework of the American Constitution and the body of constitutional law.
But Zenawi simply has no clue. The U.S. “antiterrorism law” is not as perfect as he the thinks it is and may not be worthy of ultimate imitation. In fact, it is quite flawed. For instance, in 2004, a federal judge in New York ruled that a key component of the USA Patriot Act is unconstitutional because it allows the FBI to demand information from Internet service providers without judicial oversight or public review. Another federal judge in Oregon in 2007 ruled that crucial parts of the USA Patriot Act were unconstitutional because they allowed federal surveillance and searches of Americans without demonstrating probable cause required by the Fourth Amendment. The judge wrote, “For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law — with unparalleled success. A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised.”
Unlike Zenawi’s “anti-terrorism” diktat, the Patriot Act had significant limitations in itself, including sunset provisions (expiration dates) of December 31, 2005 on a number of issues including wiretapping, sharing foreign intelligence information, seizure of voice-mail emergency disclosure of electronic surveillance. When it was reauthorized, a new sunset of December 31, 2009 was established and significant amendments added to provide for greater congressional and judicial oversight of orders for roving wiretaps and enhanced procedural protections for “sneak and peek” search warrants, among many others.
Zenawi also fails to understand the power of judicial review and the resolute ferocity of American lawyers dedicated to civil liberties in challenging the government and stopping it from encroaching on the civil liberties of the people. In other words, in America, there are lawyers and judges who are willing, able and ready to hold the Congress’ or the President’s feet to the fire of the supreme law of the land. In Ethiopia, there are only dictators who hold the peoples’ feet, hands and bodies to the fire.
But Zenawi is absolutely right in saying that “there is no shame if we learn or take from them [America, Britain, European model]”. Learning from a good teacher is useful not harmful.” But it is not enough to have good teachers, one must also be a good student and learn all of the substantive lessons, not just a word here, a phrase there and a clause somewhere else.
Do Ethiopians Want a Government of Laws and Not of Men?
The rule of law operates differently in different societies and there is no single “flawless” conception of the principle. I do believe there are some commonalities and universal elements of the rule of law principle that are applicable in all societies. To extract the most universal elements, it is necessary to learn from alternative conceptions and experiences in the application of the rule of law. But the learning process should not be robotic or involve the mindless aggregation of bits and fragments of information and analysis. It should be syncretic, synthesizing divergent and conflicting ideas and practices in the practical application of the rule of law.
The rule of law in Ethiopia, I believe, is an ancient ideal. Ordinary Ethiopians used to invoke the “divine power of the law” (ye heg amlak) against wrong-doers and abusers of power. That was when they could see the faint and distant image of justice painted on a canvas of autocratic rule. But it must also be pointed out that the Ethiopian civic culture has tolerated an insidious exception to the rule of law which persists to the present day. An old Ethiopia adage says, “One cannot plough (farm) the sky nor hold a king to account in court” (semai aye-tares, negus aye-keses). “Negus” Zenawi is the personification of that adage today. In the transition from dictatorship to democracy, Ethiopians will have an opportunity to choose between alternative conceptions of the rule of law.
My view is that rule of law is a quintessential principle of good democratic governance. It is a vital part of statecraft (the art of leading a country). It is a fundamental element in nation-building, state-building, peace-building, democracy-building, justice-building and truth and reconciliation. I do not equate the rule of law with democracy, but I believe it makes genuine multiparty democracy possible through institutional arrangements for conducting clean, free and fair elections. I do not think the rule of law by itself guarantees justice, but it will serve to facilitate the delivery of justice to citizens through an independent and transparent judicial process. It will not guarantee equality, human rights and the rest of it, but without the rule of law there can be no equality or human dignity. I believe respect for human rights is the single important manifestation of the prevalence of the rule of law in any society and the most persuasive evidence of good governance.
Rule of Unjust Laws?
I am persuaded by the works of the great philosophers, thinkers, theologians, theorists, revolutionaries and human and civil rights rights advocates — Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas, Gandhi, King and even the framers of the U.S. Constitution in their Declaration of Independence — who argued that an unjust law (diktat) is not really a law at all. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws… for an unjust law is no law at all.” So Ethiopia’s transition from dictatorship to democracy will be a transition from rule by unjust laws to the rule of just laws, and an uprising from degradation to collective elevation. I believe the rule of law will take deep root in Ethiopia when government learns always to fear its citizens and citizens acquire the courage never to fear their government!
Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at:
Previous commentaries by the author are available at:
By Yilma Bekele
I am sure we are all familiar with what is known as the ‘melting pot’ concept when it comes to describing how America functions. The term is a metaphor ‘for a heterogeneous society becoming more homogeneous, the different elements “melting together” into a harmonious whole with one common culture.
The concept was popularized in the 1900 with the influx of immigrants from all over. It was challenged in 1970’s with some questioning the idea of total meld and wanted to preserve cultural differences as valuable part of a civil society and proposed an alternative metaphor the ‘mosaic or salad bowl’ concept. This term has come to dominate the Canadian experience. It proposes the mix of ethnic groups, languages and cultures that can harmoniously co-exist. It advocates multiculturalism.
Both approaches have managed to build a robust and prosperous society. Over the weekend I had a medical issue and went to the hospital. I, the patient is an immigrant from Ethiopia. My admitting nurse was another Ethiopian. The nurse that took my vitals was from Nigeria. The person who took my x-ray was from Eritrea. My emergency room doctor was a white American. The individual who took me thru the discharge process was a female Hispanic immigrant. The hospital functioned like a well-oiled machine.
I was impressed. It made me see how the US has managed to become such a big powerhouse. There is plenty that needs to change but it is obvious the system is based on a solid ground of willingness to accommodate change while not losing a common vision of one country one people.
It did not take me long to come back to ground. My homeland came to jar me back to reality. The ‘ethnic cleansing’ in southern part of my country was a reminder that all is not well on the home front. The term ‘ethnic cleansing’ is a loaded term. I am not invoking it lightly. But it to so aptly describes the plight of our citizens that happen to be ‘Amhara’ and their current tribulations. The Benji Maji Zone Administration has seen it fit to expropriate their land and property and drive them out of their homes. Go back to your Kilil they said. Today they are refugees in their own country. The actual term is ‘internally displaced.’
“Internally displaced” is a strange concept to grasp. How could you be a refugee in your own land? In an emerging Democracy like Ethiopia anything is possible. The government led by TPLF (Tigrai Peoples Liberation Movement) is the Party in charge. When they took power they were not into the concept a ‘melting pot’ nor did they appreciate the idea of a ‘salad bowl.’ Our ḥizbāwī weyānē ḥārinet tigrāy ሕዝባዊ ወያኔ ሓርነት ትግራይ leaders were enamored by the concept of ‘Apartheid’. Building enclaves was their brilliant solution. The plight of the Amhara’s is Apartheid in practice. That is what Meles Zenawi is constructing in Ethiopia. Separate disjointed entities at war with each other while his single ethnic based party fans the hate flame.
Do you think I am being an alarmist? Do you think I am falling into the trap of ethnic identification? I do not think so. If people are forced to flee due to their ethnicity be it in Benji Maji, Gambella, Sarajevo or Kigali you have to call it what it is ‘ethnic cleansing.’ The Serbian Military’s attempt to drive Moslems out of Sarajevo was defined as practicing ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Hutus targeted Tutsis and the blood bath was judged as an ugly attempt at ‘ethnic cleansing.’ During the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea both countries carried out limited form of ‘ethnic cleansing’. May I remind you some of us showed total indifference while a few cheered. Ethnic cleansing is an International crime. It is crime against humanity. What has happened to the Amhara’s of Benji Maji Zone is ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Their only crime is being an Amhara and finding them selves in the wrong Apartheid designated ‘Home Land”.
This abhorrent crime is committed by the TPLF party, which is led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. They set such system in place. They designed it. Some are claiming the TPLF party has gone rouge and become the party of one family. I beg to differ. The TPLF was born a monster, grew up to be a monster and will die as a monster. It has never ever done anything that could be seen as a positive contribution to the people of Tigrai in particular and the people of Ethiopia in general.
Kilil is not a new idea. It was copied from the book of the Nationalist Party of South Africa. The White people’s party. Their creation of the ‘Apartheid’ system set up ten Bantustans or homeland for Black people. It kept the Blacks apart. It made them strangers to each other. There was no Black South African but an ethnic based homeland citizen. Leaders like Chief Buthelezi of the great nation of Kwa Zulu were reduced to serving the White masters at the expense of their people. Exile some, corrupt a few and bully the rest was the hallmark of Apartheid. Kilil is the son of Apartheid. In today’s Ethiopia Kilil defines who you are and that of being an Ethiopian is secondary. Benji Maji is the outcome of Kilil at work. You area a citizen of your Kilil not your Country.
TPLF’s system is working like a charm. The folks displaced from Benji Maji are living proof. The cultivation of hate has made us mistrust each other. The insistence on separate Kilil’s has caused us plenty of civil strife. No place is immune from this sickness. Even places of higher learning such as the University and Kilil based Colleges are the hot bed of ‘ethnic’ clashes. I am writing about it. It has become our everyday experience. We are in the process of becoming strangers to each other. The meaning of being an Ethiopian is being deflated, downsized, given negative connotations and made something to hide out of shame.
Why some people in leadership do that should be left to psychologists, social scientists and historians to explain. Our problem is here and now. We are all affected by this devaluation of a beautiful proud country. We are not the first to be under this type of calamity. Look Iraq was once a proud nation. Today Iraqis avoid Iraq. Syria is entering that zone of madness on a national scale. Ethnic strife is the common thread between the two. Kilil is the breeding ground for ‘ethnic strife’. The TPLF party is the fertilizer.
Are you inoculated against this virus? What do you think when you hear of Benji Maji? Upset? Depressed? Confused? Hope less? You see the current leaders of Ethiopia are free to do what they want. The only way to stop them is by showing them there are consequences to their action. There is a price to pay for bad deeds. The people organized around Timret are building an all-inclusive Front as a solid foundation for our future Ethiopia. ESAT has managed to be our voice. Andenet is still operating under dire circumstances. All these groups and organizations are helping the people of Benji Maji by doing their share so there will be no more Benji Maji’s. Change will not happen with out involvement. We can work together as one to create a “melting Pot’ or a ‘Salad Bowl’ or continue on building Apartheid. It is up to you. Show me rather than tell me.
By Yilma Bekele
War is upon us again. War defines the Ethiopian Government. Since it came to power it has been at war with its citizens. No region or ethnic group has been spared from this infection. The regime is always at war with opposition politicians, journalists, publishers, intellectuals, and business people to mention a few. The regime has fought in Gambella, Hawasa, Ambo, Arba Minch and other localities against its own people. The Ethiopian Government is at war with our Somali-Ethiopians in the Ogaden and has been accused of war crimes.
The Government has been at war with Somali Warlords since 2006 or so. They had a full-scale war with Eritrea. Over eighty thousand were sacrificed in this war no one can explain why. Today the Ethiopian Government is beating the war drums to start a war with Eritrea. They are admitting with pride their incursion into a Sovereign territory and carrying out an act of war. They are calling attention to their illegal acts – at least by International standards all nations adhere to.
The TPLF regime sent out Miscommunication Deputy Head Shimeles Kemal to announce in broad daylight that his Government has crossed an International border and murdered in cold blood. It is the height of stupidity or clueless Shimeles has left himself open to being an accomplice to a criminal act. Shimeles has always been an interesting character among the TPLF Cadres. He is one of my favorite Ethiopians in league with his boss Bereket. Ato Shimeles is a certified paranoid and he was the sacrificial lamb sent out by Meles to prosecute Kinijit leaders. You remember what a fiasco that was. Shimles’s witnesses were turning against him to the extent the defendants felt sorry for this clueless character.
That why it is interesting to note it was Shimeles that was sent out to huff and puff regarding TPLF’s misadventure. I am surprised he did not compare their act to other nations doing the same. The illegal regime always tries to find a comparable act others have carried out to justify its feeble attempt at legitimacy.
When there is no outside threat, the Woyane regime cannibalizes itself. They have carried multiple ‘Tehadso’ campaigns that it is highly possible no one will be left around to claim the ultimate prize of being Emperor of Ethiopia. War is the only vocabulary spoken among the comrades in the Politburo. It satisfies two constituents. Those that still lament the ‘loss’ of Eritrea and would jump on any band wagon as long as they are promised a province and the new EFFORT led single ethnic ruling class that dreads Shabia and would like the Meles regime to do the job before it ceases to exist.
The whole idea of crossing an International border and killing is not a normal or acceptable behavior. Normal Nations just do not do that. Some big powers do certain illegal acts to flex their muscle but Ethiopia is a Nation on life support and many of her citizens go to bed hungry and wake up hungry. Too bad there is only bones to flex. It will be interesting to listen to the Ethiopian UN Ambassador explain how neighbors can invade each other at will and the world finds out about it on BBC. This must be the principle of jungle diplomacy. How strange it resembles jungle Democracy as practiced in Ethiopia.
The US is in the current economic mess because of the terrible mistake of waging two wars far away from home base. Even for a Super Power the cost was too much to bear. War is not cheap. The US produces all its weapons and transportation needs. War is big profit for certain sector of the economy. But it was still a waste. When you take Ethiopia the idea of war is mind-boggling. All weapon is purchased with cash. From the boots of the Solder, to his uniform, arms, transportation cost including fuel is paid cash. The only thing Ethiopian is the peasant in uniform ready to be sacrificed. War is hell on Ethiopians and their economy.
By all UN index of Human Achievement our country always ranks in the bottom three in the world. That is because we spend our human resources warring each other. We sacrifice precious human life and also waste our hard earned money on foreign manufactured goods designed to kill. Normal countries are not run like that. Then again normal countries do not cross international borders and fire their weapons.
There will be many theories why the Meles regime will do such a criminal act. Ranging from conjuring up the Eritrean threat to the theory of forceful defense will be explored. A few Ethiopians will use the occasion to open old wounds and wave the flag. The bottom line is an illegal regime that rules using force is on the verge of wasting both human and economic resources for no valid reason. The fact that no one paid attention to this bizarre behavior is heart warming. Such act makes the Donor countries look bad. Meles was shopping for attention and he was deservingly ignored. Even the victim of this aggression was caught by surprise.
In an ideal world no country will sell weapons to this rogue regime. The people of Ethiopia and Eritrea have seen too many wars. The generation that cultivated and nurtured hatred and animosity is on its way out. This is its last gasp to save itself from its internal enemies. The Ethiopian government is using the Eritrean threat to justify its war on all Ethiopian people. The two poorest economies on planet earth are wasting their precious resource to kill each other. There is no one closer to an Ethiopian than an Eritrea. Eritreans have no one closer to heart than Ethiopians. Instead of building a great East African trade and technology Zone we are listening to those that peddle hate and violence. It is a new day. It is a new generation void of hate and violence.
We should ask those countries that donate arms to rogue Nations to be aware that those same weapons are used on peaceful people demanding their god given fundamental rights. We should demand Western countries not send military trainers other than police since our experience with this robot solders has not been pleasant. We remember the use of US donated vehicles against our people in the aftermath of the 2005 elections. It is too much to ask of us to be silent when our tax money is used to prop up a system that kills to survive. We should make our feelings known to our representatives in congress.
The ‘winds of war’ from Arat Kilo was the culmination of a very trying week for being an Ethiopian. We are being tested for sure. It started with the video of our Ethiopian woman being humiliated in broad day light in Beirut, Lebanon. It is a very agonizing scene. It was a video of a woman being forced into a car while resisting. First she was lying face down in a sidewalk bush while some guy is trying to pull her back. The next cut shows this guy shoving her into the back seat headfirst and her futile resistance. In the background you see people walking but no one seems to care. It ends with the car driving away. A day later the name and picture of the alleged criminal was posted all over. They were able to trace it from the license plate of the vehicle. It traumatized me to no end. Life is not fair.
There days later it was reported that she has died. She committed suicide. She hanged her self. She looked so small and alone. She was even crying in Ethiopian while being forced to be taken where she doesn’t want to go. It is called kidnapping. My little sister did not even have the energy to shout and scream. She was too tired and defeated. Later on I read this took place in front of the Ethiopian Consulate. What a fitting location is all I can say. Do you think this crime against Ethiopian woman is an isolated event? Not really it is so normal it does not even deserve a mention unless it is so dramatic and is caught on video. This is what a Saudi official explained his preference for Ethiopian maids.
Noor Adeen Masfa, Vice Consul for Economic Affairs in Jeddah, said his department and committees from the Ethiopian Ministry of Labor met several times to facilitate the travel of housemaids to the Kingdom after they are properly trained in Ethiopia.
“We decided to finish procedures of 1,500 housemaids due to the increasing demand for Ethiopian housemaids by Saudi families. Ethiopian housemaids are trained well on Saudi customs and traditions, besides the percentage of runaways is low,” he said.
Percentage of runaways is the key word here. We are docile people trained to heel. A proud rich people are reduced to exporting its young ones to raise Saudi children and care for Saudi old. Nothing wrong with that you might say. I disagree. It is a waste of human resource not to be able to house, feed and educate your children so they can create a better Ethiopia. Money spent on education is a better investment than money spent on having the best security force and army to protect a few. Alem Dechasa is one of the thousands of Ethiopians girls under slavery in the Middle East and the Gulf. They are all young, energetic and willing to do anything to survive and help their family at home. It is the remittances they sent that sustains millions of their relatives. It is this remittance income that gives Meles the boasting rights to the so-called double-digit growth.
Like Alem most of them are from a small village with a little or no education and the perfect candidate for abuse and humiliation by their uneducated, cruel Arab degenerates whose brain function has been compromised by too much petro dollar. The Ethiopian Government encourages exporting humans since the income is what sustains their corrupt system in place.
I am sure we are all shocked and angry by this sad news. Of course we blame it on the Arabs. It is true some Lebanese individual is responsible for the inhuman act against our daughter/sister. On the other hand it is the Ethiopian Government that is sending out these young innocent children to countries where they know no respect for human life and dignity.
We cannot change the Arab governments. As we are witnessing, the Arab people are slowly dealing with their problem in a very satisfactory manner. We Ethiopians are the only ones that can put a stop to such outrage against our people. It is our government that is actively involved in encouraging, pushing our young children into harms way. Alem is not the first nor will she be the last. Every year hundreds of our people kill themselves all over the Middle East. We choose to do nothing about it. We scream and shout the first few weeks and life goes back to normal until the next tragedy. Meles and company will probably sue and settle for some monetary compensation and the case is closed.
We suffer from famine, disease or ignorance because there is no democracy or the rule of law in our country. No Democratic and free country suffers from the above ills. All governments that deny basic human right to their people rule over a population that could never achieve its potential. That kind of society is riddled by conflict, civil war and chaos around every corner. That is why Ethiopia is at war with its neighbors, sends it’s youngest and brightest away and is consumed by talk of war and conflict. It is due to the absence of Democracy and respect for basic Human Right. Our working together to get rid of tyranny is how we want to remember the youth and hope of our little sister that went far from home so she can make her peoples life better. We salute her determination and her commitment to those that are faced with the same fate as hers. She did not want to die quietly and meekly. She wanted her death to mean something to all her sisters. Her parents should be told how their brave dignified girl carried her self in a foreign land that should fill their heart with pride. Her scream made others pay attention to the inhuman treatment they all suffer in this unequal relationship. Goodbye little girl, may you at last rest in peace.