(This article is courtesy of the Ethiopian Observer News Paper)
Expose and fight the enemies of the Ethiopian people
What has been going on in Ethiopia during the last couple of months is worrisome, frightening, outraging, perplexing as well as shameful for those involved in tarnishing the positive image of Ethiopia. Ethiopia, which arose from the ashes of a civil war and dictatorship 25 years ago, has seen enormous development and advancements in many aspects of societal development, such as education, infrastructure, foreign investment, etc. During these 25 years the population has doubled, GDI per capita more than doubled, GDP more than quadrupled and life expectancy and life expectancy at birth increased with more than 35%. The dark days of the fascist junta came to an end giving rise to a hopeful future, where no one is left aside, where all the nations and nationalities standing in unison on equal basis were to bury the unjust and discriminatory system of the past regimes. It was a system, where a majority of Ethiopians were regarded as second class citizens and sidelined as if Ethiopia belonged to a specific group or central minority ethnic group, defining the impetus of “one country and one people”.
However, thanks to the protracted armed and systematic liberation struggle against the oppressive military regime, the dawn of change came by the resolute willpower of all the peoples of Ethiopia in 1991. Since then the Ethiopian nations and nationalities with their administrative regions in a federal system have enjoyed their full liberties of managing their own affairs such as language, culture, education, budget, etc. It is no wonder that adherents of the past regimes or those who support the unitary and old systems and remnants of the “town-guerilla-fighter” cells are rehabilitating to stir violence here and there and try to take over the government. It is the last-ditch and effort of a dying minority in the Diaspora orchestrating its fanfare of empty bravado, heroism and with its “kererto” mentality by deceiving poor Ethiopians into a situation where they risk dying and being maimed for their own egoistic and jingoistic ambitions. It is the ultimate despondency, which we see for those intoxicated by hatred and malignity, acting with precipitation.
No, the Ethiopia of today is not built on layers of straw but is a robust organic base bound by the blood and sacrifices of millions of peoples of Ethiopia. It is neither the TPLF nor the Tigray people who have been targeted, it is a target aimed at the freedom fighting peoples of Ethiopia, who would not allow any implanted hate-mongers with fascist ideas to make them stumble upon their hard-won victory. This generation of Ethiopians should not be oblivious to the resolve, courage, bravery and sacrifice of the heroes and heroines to free and build this progressive, peaceful Ethiopia that today is marching towards prosperity. Ethiopia today is, whether its enemies like it or not, an oasis of peace in a region set on fire with clan, tribal and fundamentalist conflicts. Not only is Ethiopia considered a regional mediator and player but is the main contributor to the peace-keeping forces under the auspices of the UN.
In the last few weeks, thousands of Tigrians were displaced, evicted, chased, tortured and killed in different parts of Gonder in the Amhara region for inexplicable reasons and anomalous to what opposition against government is. Though this stand and process of overwhelming harassment, purge and robbery has been simmering and going on since the last celebration of the nations and nationalities (as I wrote about in the Ethiopian observer (http://www.ethioobserver.net/Force_of%20_destruction.htm) and Aigaforum,(http://aigaforum.com/article2016/Forces-of-destruction-should-be-curtailed.pdf), in articles dated June 12, 2016 and the repeated coverage by audio reportages by Tamrat Yemane), no measures were taken until these forces of hate with parochial designs supported by the extremist Diaspora tried to destroy the very fabric of Ethiopian unity, tolerance and solidarity, attributes unique to Ethiopia. Who has precedence to define and determine ones identity as Welkait, if not the people themselves of Welkait? Why were all the meetings summoned about Welkait without the prime representation and consent of the people of Welkait, thereby adventuring the peace and security of the region with internal strife and resentment against Tigrians? One does wonder now after these incidents, why local and state administrators and federal government failed to uphold law and order and take the necessary reinforcements. Who armed all these trigger happy ragtag “armies” whether intentional or otherwise to go berserk and threaten citizens are also questions that must be addressed in this context. Who lies behind this unrest and who is to be held responsible for the consequences, of this crime against humanity are questions which the federal government has to deal with in the near future.
The government should not be dilatory and has to investigate the whole episode thoroughly and make doubly sure by bringing those criminals to justice so that no such ethnic related cleansing will ever be allowed on Ethiopian soil. It is also incumbent upon the government (regional or federal) to immediately denounce such heinous crimes, take immediate measures as sincere and official apology to the victims without trying to silence media flow. Lack of government information is already driving concerned people to seek other alternative social media outlets (Facebook, personal video clips, Al Jazeera, BBC, VOA, local radios/TVs, etc.) and other dubious sources leading to a wide range of speculations. Above all the rule of law should be respected, showing the need to inculcate into the people their rights and obligations in regard to the Constitution, the supreme document of the country. Were the previous riots, which followed though illegal in terms of breach of regulations and public order, manifestations against maladministration and good governance? They can hardly be proven as their sole purpose showed rampage, demolition of public and private properties and businesses, lootings, beatings, both verbal and physical assaults against Tigrians, disrespect of the federal flag, etc Years of mutual trust, respect, coherence, cultural interaction and integration were all suddenly dispelled by the tumultuous works of reckless individuals and mobs.
The stipulated facts speak for themselves and so far more than 4000 Tigrians with families have fled to the Sudan. This is not a simple rigmarole, but a calculated blow at innocent people, which makes one to be consumed with anger and desperation. The Tigrian people paid an excessive price with more than 60 00 thousand dead and more than 100,000 injured to liberate the country from an abysmal dictatorship, taking the brunt leadership during the armed struggle to confront an army of more than 300 000 man ( which is more than10% of the population in Tigray). Trying to dehumanize and abase the whole people of Tigray by interahamwe-like sedition by mendacious propaganda, scurrilous attacks and duplicities by the likes of ESAT (the Eritrean sponsored television channel), its wretch cronies such as the ignoble Al-Mariam (with his jejune writings and creator of “special phrases”, Messay the quack philosopher and unscrupulous Mengistu ideologue or Tamagn (Mengistu’s personal azmari and many of his likes living as bums), Ginbot 7 (the sorcerer promising power on silver platter in six months if you donate $500 and 10 years have gone since) and the lubber Aregawi (sole member of an organization with his draft declaration that the plunder in Gonder would be repeated elsewhere) will not for a moment deter or thwart the people of Tigray from its struggle for the rights of nations and nationalities, co-existence with equal opportunities for all Ethiopians.
The prime motive of the enemies is to drive a wedge between the nations and nationalities and people’s of Ethiopia. These mercenaries strive to see a failed Ethiopian state that is engaged in internal fighting and squabbling. Ethiopia has survived similar hate mongers and their intrigues for centuries and no retribution or hatred is to be ensued as a consequence of this rabble rousing staged by the extremists. It is similar as the saying of the donkey “after my death, let the forage disappear.” They know well that these diehards and hired mercenaries from the Diaspora would never manage to run the country, not even for a day. Their vision of Ethiopia is an Ethiopia which would lead to a precipice never to resurrect as a unified and proud nation. These fools iterate with duplicity, repeat their usual mantra that “Tigrians have benefited from the regime and therefore should be targeted as enemies together with the TPLF, minority government, plundering Ethiopian resources, etc.” and thereby seducing other people into hating and abetting in crime. These bigots bereft of reason would not present a single benefit gained by the Tigrian people from this new political system. On the contrary, most beggars on the streets of Addis and other cities are Tigrains, a quarter of Tigray’s population is under safety net programs dependent on handouts, very poor and substandard roads (based on my own observations compared to other places in Ethiopia), cities and a regional capital with almost a half million people lacks drinking water (distributed every three or four days) as well as electricity, rampant corruption and expropriation, confiscation of land, farmlands and park areas (e.g. the elites confiscation of land in Tchomaa in Mekelle at a lease value of 1 Birr/m2 and also known popularly as sefer), hindrances to private establishment of private businesses, poor public services, high rate of unemployment, lack of good governance, lack of democratic rights and implementation of the Constitution as also is the case in other parts of the country. Thus, trying to portray Tigray as the hub of affluence and a favored region can only be expected from deranged and malicious individuals blinded by hate.
What these extremist groups, who are out of touch with reality both during previous and current situations want is, bloodbath among Ethiopians in order to fill their ego and lust ensconced abroad wallowing in luxury both for themselves and their families. They will never slough off their hatred or reconcile with realities on the ground, but are determined to kindle civil war and disturbances in Ethiopia. It is the same group of extremists, who demonstrated against the debt cancellation, against the millennium dam project on Abay, invite other countries to wage war against Ethiopia, support the one-man regime in Asmara as a democrat and future liberator of Ethiopia, dispatch terrorist groups, attack Ethiopian delegates and other members of the Ethiopian Diaspora, occupy Embassies and defile the national flag, lobby businessmen not to invest in Ethiopia, boycott of the national carrier, etc. Knowing their background, Ethiopians both abroad and at home should not fall victims to the wiles of these unscrupulous rogues. It is purposefully done so that Ethiopians cannot not cooperate, work together and extirpate poverty from its roots and foster a climate of unity and hope.
Thus, it is the work of all peace-loving and dedicated Ethiopians to expose and if necessary to take the cases to the courts when cases of hate crimes and incitement to ethnic cleansing and genocide are published by individuals/groups or broadcasted. We should act in unison to disclose their anti-Ethiopian stance, whenever and wherever possible so that our Ethiopia belongs to all and not only to specific tribesmen with specific identity. They are few in numbers but vociferous, where we, the majority have allowed them to enhance their agenda of hate and spite. We should say no more Somalia, Rwanda, South/Sudan, DR Congo, Syria, Libya, etc. and hands off the people of Tigray. Furthermore, we know that those displaced are in desperate need for temporary or permanent rehabilitation in the form of shelter and food and thus people who are compassionate for those who are in distress should donate either through their organizations or on individual bases. The determined solidarity and sympathy shown by the Ethiopian Somali people by traveling to Tigray and donating 10 million Birr for this emergency situation should be hailed and followed.
However, what has been said above is not to be construed as a statement to limit in any way the inalienable rights of Ethiopians to oppose, express their own opinions in writing and speech, organize themselves in parties, and elect their representatives. On the contrary I cannot defend the indefensible facts on the ground. It is known that a well-informed and democratic society helps to curb and question the rulers and administrators, effectively introduce a check and balance system, infuse accountability, liability and responsibility in governance, etc. Thus, the existence of other parties contending with clear objectives and a political agenda working closely with the people by organizing and sharing views and discussions and acknowledging the Constitution should be welcome with open arms by all the people. What we have seen so far is that the ruling party has limited the space by painting any opposition as enemy of the people (compare the truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa letting the proponents of Apartheid to participate with full legal rights after being granted amnesty) instead of allowing and encouraging pluralism, free association of people, free press by enabling the democratic rights of the people to take root as enshrined in the constitution, while the opposition as weak is it might be due to its internal problems for power within, is embroiled in fighting, blackmailing, smear campaign and mudslinging within its rank and file. Peaceful negotiations, cooperation in matters of vital internal and external matters for the country should be the driving forces for both the government bearing party and the opposition politicians. The government should also go as far as appointing opposition persons to public and government positions in a gesture of good-will and a win-win solution (learn from experiences from other countries that all who do not support you are enemies)
Rent seeking, corruption and lack of good governance have been identified as problems by all stakeholders including the EPRDF in its recent and previous congresses. The corrupt officials and opportunities clinging to power and averting any change or reform through networks, kinship, friendship, neighborhood or from the same area are clear facts. It is really strange that the system only allows a similarity of ideas by stigmatizing those who have different ideas, although based on hearsays of individuals from abroad and within. It is obvious for anyone and according to the complaints of the people who a public servant earning 3000-5000 Birr owns one or two villas or in some cases real estate worth millions of Birr. Discrimination of party members and non-members among the populace are points raised by many in obtaining special offers such as jobs or other benefits. A large amount of graduates from the flourishing universities and colleges are desperate in finding jobs with extensive unemployment as a result, giving rise to hopelessness, apathy, drugs, trafficking, theft and/or migration. There is a demographic change in Ethiopia, where 60% of the youth is under the age of 25, after the EPRDF take-over in 1991. This young generation of Ethiopians is enlightened, demanding and well-informed and therefore cannot be easily hoodwinked to give up its demand for change and equal opportunities. Demoted, superannuated or retired party apparatchiks are appointed again to higher posts as if Ethiopia lacks qualified, educated, experienced and devoted professionals.
Mega projects and others have been on delay than their expected timeline without the proper transparency leading to larceny or bribes by the bidding part. Although the findings of the auditor general show clear embezzlement of public money by criticizing the prodigality of the administration, no measures have so far been taken against those responsible. A long list of misconduct is abundant from the village level to the cities by the people complaining of the unjust system and excessive corrupt practices and history will record these abuses of trust by the people. Hubris, arrogance and nonchalance to peoples voice is what led to the downfall of many nations both past and present and the EPRDF government should learn from this rich and available history. The Prime Minister once stated that “people from North to South are telling us to pack and go”. Thus, it is long overdue that the PM takes measures in the much awaited reforms for democratic change and in the fight against rent seekers/corrupt officials.
Finally I would like to quote a taxi-driver whom I met in Addis recently “What is going on in Gonder and its vicinity is madness. This is coordinated by the Diaspora, who lives in luxury with their children attending the best schools without any daily disturbances in their lives. We have to make our living and fill the bellies of five people and all other costs. We can only do this if we have a country in peace with itself. And if we want to change our government, it has to be through peaceful means” and added the following proverb in Amharic and with warning “Yekotun awerd bla yebbutan talech”.
Wish all a Happy Ethiopian New Year! (01-01-2009 EC)
Ω Long live Ethiopia with its diversity in unity!
Dr. Yohannes Kiros, 11-09-2016