UDJ in the service of a fascist regime

LONDON UK – The chairperson of Unity for Democracy and Justice, Wzt. Birtukan Mideksa, and executive committee member Ato Akilu Girgire, held a public meeting in London on Sunday, Nov. 9. In a dramatic shift from a similar meeting last year, a small number of Ethiopians attended the meeting. (Only 60 people showed up, versus last’s years 450.) The few who attended the meeting had grilled Wzt. Birtukan and Ato Akilu on a number of issues, including why UDJ allows itself to be used by the Woyanne tribal junta that is rejected by the people of Ethiopia.

The meeting in London on Sunday was a fiasco for UDJ. It exposed not only the party’s lack of sound strategy on how to operate as an opposition party, it also exposed it’s chairperson’s shallow knowledge about politics and world affairs. At one point, Wzt. Birtukan compared Ethiopia with Pakistan and said that the Pakistani government under Pervez Musharaf used to do the same thing that Meles Zenawi is doing now. Of course there is no comparison between Musharaf and Meles. Musharaf had never unleashed his special forces on unarmed civilians to gun down women and children. Musharaf did not round up over 100,000 young people and detain them in disease-infested concentration camps. Musharaf did not carry out genocide against his people. After a brief, relatively peaceful uprising by lawyers and others following the dismissal of the supreme court justice, Musharaf allowed a free and fair election. He then resigned as demanded by the parties who won the election. How could a leader of an opposition party compares that to the extremely brutal fascism that is terrorizing the people of Ethiopia? Even Sarah Palin is not that uninformed.

Wzt. Birtukan went on to preach about the virtues of peaceful struggle. But the fact on the ground in Ethiopia is that there is no such thing as peaceful struggle. UDJ leaders cannot move an inch without the will of Woyanne thugs. Where there is complete lawlessness on the part of the government, people have the right to defend themselves. The likes of Wzt. Birtukan, who run to American embassy for cover when ever Woyannes harass them, have no moral authority to tell the people of Ethiopia how to defend themselves.

While preaching about peaceful struggle, UDJ is too scared to even speak out against Woyanne’s scorched earth policy against the people of Ogaden where troops burn entire villages, commit summary executions, gang rape women and block food distribution. If UDJ cannot talk about such issues, it cannot be seen as a genuine opposition party.

During the London meeting Sunday, Wzt. Birtukan conducted herself with servile deference toward the Meles regime by calling it “our government” and other similar terms that accord legitimacy to the ruling junta. This is the same regime that had gunned down in cold blood several teenagers who had tried to prevent Meles Zenawi’s death squads from arresting her during the post-2005 elections unrest. How betrayed the parents of those young Ethiopians may be feeling now when she calls the fascist regime “our government.” Woyanne is not our government. It is the enemy of the people of Ethiopia.

UDJ is not a useless organization like Beyene Petos’ UEDF or Lidetu Ayalew’s UEDP. Those discredited groups are of no consequence. Far from being useless, UDJ provides valuable service to the Woyanne regime. When the UDJ leader calls the regime that was rejected by the people of Ethiopia “our government,” it is indeed a valuable service provided to Meles & Company. The cost is to those of us who had helped Wzt. Birtukan become a popular politician. She is allowing herself to be used against the cause of freedom that we stand for and labor day and night to achive. More importantly, she is being used against the people of Ethiopia by Woyanne to make it look good in the international scene.

The damage that is being inflicted on the opposition camp by UDJ is far reaching. It is more than reviving Woyanne’s image. Because of UDJ, it is becoming difficult to convince the U.S. and European governments to impose sanctions against Woyanne. In many European countries these days it is becoming difficult for those Ethiopians who escape persecution to be granted political asylum. These governments give UDJ as a primary example of how political dissent is allowed in Ethiopia.

UDJ is not getting away with this. Ethiopians are angry, and they are showing their disappointment by boycotting UDJ public meetings and fund raising events. Because of the growing opposition, UDJ was forced to bypass its own support committees in Germany and Switzerland and ask unknown individuals to organize meetings. In Holland, fearing no body would show up, the organizers have abandoned the plan to organize a meeting. In Frankfurt, where most Ethiopians in Germany live, there will be no meeting. Instead, a meeting is organized by unknown individuals in a small town called Nürnberg. In Switzerland, a public meeting is being organized by an individual who is known to have close links with Woyanne. The legally established Kinijit support committee in Switzerland is being bypassed for raising concerns about UDJ’s position.

That is what those who betray public trust deserve. Rejection.

UDJ is not without supporters in the diaspora. It is able to rally a few lumpens (mostly in Internet Paltalk) who don’t know, or are too dumb to understand, what they are supporting. That is why they lash out against ER and others who criticize UDJ. Join the discussion on this topic. Click here to comment.