May 14, 2008
Ethiopians’ long quest and struggle for justice and freedom is continuing today. The march, though torturous, towards democracy is on. The millions that participated in the May 15, 2005, general election have vowed that no amount treachery and oppression shall break their will to live in a just, free, prosperous and united Ethiopia.
In 2005, 25 million Ethiopians, trusting the words of the ruling party and its western backers and hoping that the election of 2005 will be different from previous elections, went out and registered to vote. The people, along with opposition, were led to believe that for the first time in the country’s history will have the right to elect those who should assume power and put an end to the chaos and misery associated with the thorny issue of power struggle.
Even though there were tough challenges, both to the electorate and the opposition, in contrast to the 2005 election process before voting day was remarkably fair and free.
On May 15, 2005, over 96% of the 25 million registered voters, went to the polling stations, and voted despite the long wait of eight to twelve hours. In unparalleled dignity and orderliness rarely displayed, Ethiopians proved to the world that they had been ready for democracy long before their rulers allowed them to taste it.
Upon learning that the public had voted for the opposition groups, especially in the major cities across the country, on May 16, 2005 the Prime Minister went on Television at 9:00 P.M. and declared a “State of Emergency”. In the Capital Addis Ababa peaceful gatherings and demonstrations were banned. The Prime Minister personally took a direct command of the Police and security forces. In the rural areas, where international observers were absent and it was easy to apply coercion, the ruling party forcibly removed the opposition poll watchers and began counting votes. On May 17 2005, when less that 20% of the total votes were counted, the incumbent declared the election victory. By blatantly rigging the votes of millions it made its intent how it will cling to power. On June 8 2005, protesters who were outraged by the stolen election went out to peacefully protest in the streets of Addis Ababa. In response over 50 innocent civilian were shot and murdered in cold blood.
All offers of negotiations to placate the wounded ruling tyrants were ineffective. The proposal put by the opposition to allow the ruling party stay in power with votes it has misappropriated, provided it agrees to lay the foundation of democratic institutions necessary to curb the abuse of power by ruling parties and make elections fair, free and meaningful met outright rejection by the government. Further repression ensued.
In October 22 2006, the entire leadership of the main opposition party were rounded up and thrown in to Jail. Many more, journalists, civil rights advocates and human rights activists were added to the prison list. A trumped up charge of treason and genocide was prepared and an 18 month illegal incarceration followed. In the same fateful October day of 2005, the prime minister dispatched the heavily armed and equipped special force of the Agazi brigade and murdered over 193 citizens in the Capital Addis Ababa. The carnage in the rest of the country, away from the prying eyes of international media, was brutal and in mass.
The government unleashed a house to house search and hand picked the supporters of the opposition that it has come to identify through their participation and support for the opposition in the 2005 election. In two weeks alone nearly 100,000 innocent citizens were sent to camps and prisons, and were subjected to in human and degrading treatment. The whole country was turned into a mass concentration camp.
In its own perverse sense of justice, the ruling party wanted to pin the mayhem and the killing that took place after the election onto the opposition. The incarcerated CUD leaders became perfect scapegoats. In unimaginable shamelessness and using treachery, deceit and manipulating mediators, the government coerced CUD leaders into signing a document stating: “…taking responsibility or an admission of guilt and plea for clemency” in exchange for their release from prison.
Since the shock the ruling party suffered in an election it called with the certainty of wining it, its sole occupation has become to terrorize, weaken all opposition forces and remain unchallenged in power. Using the cover of legality of the laws that are designed in its favor, the government destroyed all major political parties, thereby destroying the fledgling pluralism in the country.
Upon denying recognition and legal status to CUDP, and after merely three years it had suffered a crashing defeat at the polls by the opposition, the government now claims that it has won back all seats it lost to CUDP in a recent election conducted to replace the parliamentary seats rejected by CUDP. The CUD refusal to take the seats was to protest against the government refusal to negotiate on future election and parliamentary procedures. Ironically, in the recent election, it was only the ruling party that filed candidates making it clear that the claimed victory is hollow.
The giving away of the land from Quara region, a birth place of Ethiopia’s greatest hero Emperor Tewodros to the Sudan, and detaining and abusing Teddy Afro, an artist whose songs of love, unity, hope and tolerance has inspired millions of Ethiopians at home and abroad has no other intent but to cause pain to the public. It is clearly a demonstration of an utter lack of respect and insult to the people of Ethiopia.
It is, therefore, the continuance of these and similar litany of repression, degradation, trampling on individual and national pride and heritage that resulted in the formation of the Movement, Ginbot 7. As proud Ethiopians whose ancestors have paid untold sacrifice to save us from the type of humiliating treatment by others we say no to life without freedom and honor. No to the home made tyrants whose appetite for blood, treachery, embezzlement and betrayal has surpassed all records.
We are continuing what we began on May 15th 2005 and October of 2006 in which we promised to make the people of Ethiopia the sole source of political power, and that is why we decided to form the “Ginbot 7 Movement.”
The primary objective of our movement is to stir our country towards a stable democratic process and transition. We recognize that this effort or task will not be achieved by one political party alone, or by few political parties who share similar ideologies. It needs a willing coalition of and collective effort of all parties who feel or claim to have a stake in Ethiopia’s political future. We see the need that all stakeholders need to discuss and reach a mutual agreement on how to achieve the stated objective. Our movement is fully committed and dedicated in bringing all parties together to begin dialogue. To that end, we are already seeing promising signs.
The government that is subjecting our people to misery and humiliation is being aided and abated by Western governments’ money, material, training, and other benefits as a reward for its questionable services. Thus, we ought to organize and work tirelessly throughout the world to have Western countries support democracy and correct their misguided policies and challenge the tyrants in Addis Ababa. To illicit the support and camaraderie of citizens of Western Nations, in opposing and pressuring their governments to change their misguided policies on Ethiopia, Ginbot 7 will work tirelessly with Ethiopians in the Diaspora. We are certain that with an intense campaign of “Know Ethiopia” we will put the struggle for justice, freedom and democracy in Ethiopia in frame.
Our Movement would like to make it clear, to foes and friends, that in order to avert the current humiliation and disgrace to our country and ourselves the Movement will cooperate, assist, and form alliance with others who believe in the principle of democracy and human rights. The Movement shall not seek the consent or permission of the tyrannical regime of Ethiopia in any of its future undertakings.
While the EPRDF is invading Somalia, ceding land to the Sudan, making our country landlocked, and remaining in power through treason as it has ascended to power trough similar means, we hereby declare that we shall not sit idle only for the sake of holding the moral high ground and watch the dismantling of our beloved country. We will engage in any action the movement deems proper in advancing our struggle for freedom and democracy. Along this line, the Movement has a plan to forge relationships, immediately, with neighboring countries and others based on mutual benefit and in an effort to rid Meles Zenawi’s destructive practices in the region.
Our Movement shall employ all kinds and means of struggle to reach its stated goal. If there is an opportunity to negotiate with EPRDF in implementing basic democratic principles, the Movement remains open to accommodate such discussions or negotiations. In fact, the Movement full-heartedly gives priority and prefers this method of resolving disputes than all others. However this should not be construed as groveling. This is simply a call stemming from calm and rational thinking that dialogue is beneficial for all involved. Still, our call to negotiate and our willingness to talk will not, under any circumstances, delay, derail, or hinder our zeal and passionate determination of our pursuit of liberty, justice, and democracy.
To Ethiopians, who have had enough of atrocity, who can no longer take humiliation, who yearn for freedom/liberty, we are confident that you will join us, and we are certain that our united struggle shall prevail in the shortest possible time.
We will forever remember May 15!!
The Spirit of Ginbot 7 will prevail!!