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?