The joy and sadness of November

By Yilma Bekele

November 9, 1989, is a special day for the German people, in particular, and for the rest of humanity, in general. It is a day that one more system designed to treat fellow humans as lesser beings is shattered and discarded. On November 9, 1989, the ‘wall’ that was built to keep people in fear and agony was finally breached and then there was light. It was celebrated with great fanfare. The enabler of this heroic act, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and current German Chancellor Angela Merkel held hand and crossed the border to cheers and tears accompanied by thousands of fellow citizens. Angela Merkel said “This is not just a day of celebration for Germans. This is a day of celebration for the whole of Europe; this is a day of celebration for all those people who have more freedom.”

November 1, 2005, is a special day for the Ethiopian people. On that fateful day that will live in infamy in our ancient history, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi ordered his private Agazi force to open fire using live bullets on fellow Ethiopians that were peacefully protesting the rigged outcome of the May general election.

The independent report by Chairman Frehiwot Samuel and Judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha showed that government forces massacred 197 civilians. We are eternally grateful to the courageous act by Frehiwot Samuel and Judge Wolde Michael and other inquiry commission members for shining a bright light on the despicable act committed by the Meles regime. At this critical juncture in our history where principle and integrity are traded like commodity it is rare to find such patriotic Ethiopians who are willing to tell the truth and are ready to pay the price.

The story of our November 1, 2005, does not end with the massacre. Prime Minster Meles and his cabinet of criminals detained more than 40,000 Ethiopians and transported them to all corners of the country. We became familiar with places such as Zewai, Dedessa, Bir Sheloko, Shoa Robit, Kolfe and Sendafa. People were indiscriminately picked up from their homes, work places and street corners and taken to be shaved, beaten, starved and humiliated their crime; being Ethiopian or young. How many were exposed to AIDS by the wholesale shaving using the same razor blade, how many were eaten by crocodiles trying to escape Dedessa hellhole and how many were scared for life for being treated like a herd of animals will never be known.

November 1, 2005, should be etched in the brain of every Ethiopian that values human life and hungers for freedom and equality. We commemorate Yekatit 12, 1937. We have built a monument in Arat Kilo to remind us of Yekatit 12. On Yekatit 12, 1837 the fascist forces that were occupying our motherland opened fire on the residents of Addis Abeba in retaliation to the attempted assassination of the Viceroy Graziani by Abrham Deboch and Moges Asgedom. On November 1, 2005 Agazi forces, the private army of Meles Zenawi and friends massacred our people for demanding freedom. Graziani and Meles will never be forgotten. When the time comes a monument will be erected for our heroes of November 1, 2005. No one can stop that.

The Germans celebrated their November victory. They remembered the nightmare years under Communism and rejoiced in their new found freedom. For over fifty years the East German people suffered untold hardship. Some collaborated with the regime for economic reasons, some collaborated because there was no place to go but no matter all suffered because tomorrow brought more misery and hopelessness. Today Germany is one and people are building a new free and independent society based on a strong foundation of the rule of law.

The Ethiopians still remember what November brought. November was a ‘eureka’ moment. It laid bare the character of the so-called EPDRF regime. The lies, falsehoods, empty bravado of the minority regime was exposed for all to see. We came to realize that there is no such thing as EPDRF but TPLF, that there is no such thing as the Ethiopian police but private Agazi Force, answerable to Meles Zenawi and a few of his inner circle and there is no such thing as a cabinet but a few dedicated hard core Woyanes.

No matter there are always dedicated people fighting slavery and injustice. It is no different in Ethiopia. There are those that choose immediate fame and glory and side with the enemies of the people. There are those willing to sell everything including their country because of cowardice or natural weakness. Then there are those who choose freedom and risk it all. We have encountered plenty of brave Ethiopians in this time of trial and tribulations in our history. We are emboldened by their selfless act and dedication. They make all of look good.

The heroes of the leadership of Kinijit hold a special place in our heart. Their smart organizational skills and simple message of hope galvanized the whole nation. Our country was filled with hope, possibility and unsurpassed joy. Over a million people showed up to that celebration of pre-victory and showed the whole world that we are not stupid that we can taste freedom and we are ready for the future. Dr. Berhanu and friends unlocked the doors of possibility and unleashed a powerful force that was brewing inside of us. No one can extinguish that fire. The more they try the more it glows.

Inquiry commission Chairman Frehiwot Samuel and Judge Wolde Michael Meshesha gave us the gift of standing up against dictators. The truth was told and there is no amount of revision that can change what really happened on that day. They were forced to flee their beloved homeland because they refused to be bought, intimidated or humiliated.

Judge Bertukan Mediksa is celebrating 317 days in Woyane jail. Judge Bertukan is the symbol of our suffering. She is also a bright light shining over all of humanity with a message of dedication to the truth and love for mother Ethiopia. She is a strong lady following the footsteps of Abuna Petros, Abrham Deboch and Moges Asgedom. Amnesty International has declared our dear sister, mother, and leader of Andenet Party a political prisoner. Please join the global write for Rights organized by AI. It is the duty of every Ethiopian to involve a minimum of ten people to this noble cause. You can use the following format to let your opinion be known:

We commemorate November 1, 2005 to pay our respect for those who lost their lives when they were trying to speak for us. We can do our silent prayers or attend a service for our heroes. But that would not be enough. The real commemoration is working to stop another November 1, from happening. It is doing your share wherever you are in setting aside time or money to help those who are working to stop a repeat of Nobember1. To all my country people scattered all over the planet remember we are here in a foreign land among strangers because the ‘freedom deniers’ are over there wrecking our motherland and planning more November massacres. You can stop them or sit idle. It is your choice.