ESAT and messengers of peace in Jose, Ca. By Yilma Bekele
Tamagne was here. I wrote that and felt I have said enough. Well since you asked I guess I will tell you the rest of the story. I thought by now you would know If Tamagne was here something big and important regarding Ethiopia happened. You know Tamagne; he does not do things little. He does not think of neighborhood, not even a region Tamagne goes the whole nine yards and dreams of a nation. Tamagne does not fly to Atlanta or Houstinn from his base in DC, our Tamagne crosses a continent all the way to California to spend an evening with his people. I am afraid he is outgrowing even that. Now we see Tamagne in New Zealand or Norway. I don’t need a fortune teller to predict we might hear from Tamagne from outer space. I will just sigh and mumble he must have found a lost Habesha that just don’t know when to stop and settle.
He has developed a new habit too. He does not travel light no more. As if the one man army is not enough he is accompanied by some heavy guns all around him. I am not talking about a bazooka or tank. No Tamagne has found the ultimate weapon disarm his enemies. He is accompanied with the messengers of love, brotherhood and tolerance. How I envy Weizero Mamita and Grazmach Beyene because they have given us such a precious gift. May God bless them.
I am sorry about my sloppy writing but you can’t blame me. Right now I am levitating and I am afraid it will take a while to bring me down to earth. I am floating with joy, happiness and hope and it is all due to Tamagne and his associates. I also noticed most of the folks I spent the evening with were a little delirious and as the evening went on the love and peace was infectious with Ethiopians spontaneously clapping, laughing and hugging without abandon. I told you, you should have been there.
Messengers of peace and unity.
What were all these people doing on a beautiful Saturday afternoon is a good question? The only explanation I could give you is to say they are committed, they care and they just acted on it. Lots of people worked hard to make the event a success it was. They all have one thing in common, they were all Ethiopians. What brought them together is their love and concern for their homeland.
First were the organizers of the event. It took time and effort to find a good safe location. They have to arrange transportation and accommodation for their guests. Flyers and pamphlets have to be printed to advertise the event. The posters have to be distributed in the community, published on our Web sites and the tickets have to be sold door to door. Without them there is no event. Thank you my beautiful young friends. I am happy your effort was gladly embraced by your community.
Then there were our guests that have to travel far and close to spend a precious day with their people. They are all busy and successful people that are willing to share their views and stick their neck out for all of us to dissect and parse. They were chosen to sit on the podium because they have earned the respect of their community by their work and deeds and we all want to hear from them, meet them and share our views with them.
The most crucial element in this gathering are the guests. Their presence is what makes all that effort worthwhile. I always think it is beautiful to have plenty of people but even the attendance of a single individual to me is a success. We have to show respect and do what has to be done. Coming to an event is not easy. It requires planning commitment and energy. We have to juggle so many responsibilities in our daily life and spending a whole afternoon and evening attending an event is not an easy matter. There is work, family responsibility and other commitments to take into consideration, not to mention paying for the ticket, arranging transportation etc. etc.
All three actors in this important function have something in common that makes them special. They all love their country in a positive way. They value the importance of getting together and trying to find a common solution to make their ancient country a better place. They are not just talkers but doers that go the extra mile to make things happen. It is what is called a symbiotic relationship. One cannot survive without the other. One needs the other to grow and thrive.
Our guests made all of us proud. They said many important things and it is beyond this little presentation to do it justice. There were so many standing ovations, plenty of laughter and the evening went so fast our poor organizers were forced to rearrange their program to fit the occasion. The two young people assigned to lead the ceremony were consummate professionals that made it look so easy I even thought I could do that. Dressed in the splendor of our national colors they set the tone in a positive manner. The sound and video was perfect showing the organizers commitment to excellence.
Abatachen his Holiness Abune Melkesedek General Secretary of the Holy Synod-in Exile, Archbishop of Medhane Alem Cathedral in Oakland was sitting in the middle. That sight by itself was enough to make ones heart swell with pride and joy. He started the assembly with a prayer. I don’t know about you but I knew things were going to get better and better. How could anything go wrong when Abatachen gives his blessings?
I hope you don’t mind me paraphrase and put their speech in my own words. Abatachen spoke about the importance of faith and responsibility in our daily life. He gave us perspective regarding our ancient history and the crucial role religion has played in the making of our country. He thought us how respect for each other’s religion and tolerance of our differences has played an important role in forming the Ethiopia we know now. Then he looked at us and asked a crucial question. What makes us different from animals? He said we are born, we grow up we have family and we all die. He explained we humans are different because we determine road we travel. If you take an animal far from where he was born and give it the comfort he/she needs they will not leave but stay put. It will form a family take care of its offspring and die. But we humans are different. There should be more. We think about the future. What we leave behind for our offspring is a very important consideration of being a human. Life is not about a simple comfort for oneself and one’s family but thinking of the greater family is a crucial aspect of living a successful and whole life. Something to think about, what do you think?
My dear brother Sheik Imam Khalid is not a complicated person. He speaks clearly, forcefully and in sharp short sentences. He does not leave much for ambiguity. In this time of misinformation, propaganda and rumors it is a relief to listen to someone that does not beat around the bush and states his case in a clear manner. His love for his country and religion just oozes out of him. He laid to rest the fact that our Muslim brothers struggle is for the rights of their religious independence despite the many insane ideas being thrown around by the illegal regime in power. In simple words he wants the government to stop meddling in his religion. I loved the way he started his speech. His observation was regarding the duality of our personality. There is the family you, the work place you, the you that is routinely presented among friends and the Mosque or Church you. Why so many faces? That he said is the central problem. We have to resolve that issue within ourselves and come out clean. It is not complicated is it?
We also heard from our local Mosque religious leader and he spoke about the importance of working together, the culture of unity of purpose our people have developed thru out the years and that spirit that is still leading our struggle forward. Shamble was the person that gave color to the event. With his Masinko and beautiful voice he took us back and you can see the audience mesmerized with everyone going home in a mental trip. Thank you Shambel may be next year we will meet in Addis. As the Jewish saying goes “Lashanah haba’ah biy’rushalem’ I say to you ‘ ýememetaw amet biáddis abeba’
Our hosts had a surprise guest for us too. I told you they were firing with all eight cylinders. They brought us none other than the dragon slayer himself. My friend Abebe Gelaw in person. The assembly went wild. Who else to elevate our spirit and remind us of the importance of sticking out for our people when the time requires it. He defines the meaning of seize the time.
It was time for Tamagne to come to the podium. You can hear a pin drop. The anticipation was overwhelming. As I have said before Tamagne don’t have to do anything to paint smile and joy on our faces. He has this ability to channel our energy and magnify it back at us. Some shout, some clap the men whistle and the women ululate. Pandemonium in the house is what it felt like. The fire alarm was triggered by the noise, the earth shook and the security showed up in force. I am exaggerating a little aren’t I? Well I don’t have a video and this is the best I can do. You get my meaning.
I will not even try to tell you what Tamagne presented. I don’t really know for how long but whatever it was it was short. Time has a tendency to flee when he is on stage. His simplicity is what makes the situation complicated. He disarms you with the strength of his presentation. It is audio, video and god knows what else. My suggestion is do not at all challenge Tamagne, he carries this thumb drives full of facts and figures. For a person with a death sentence hanging around his neck he seems to be relaxed. If only Ato Meles has allowed him to present his defense when accused of being a terrorist I am sure the court would have thrown the dictator into Kality. Poor Meles he died knowing Tamagne has another date to clear his name in a real court of law. You know me I will be in that jury.
So what did we accomplish? A lot my friend. We showed we cared. We proved Abatachen right by working together to leave something behind for our country and children. We rose up to the occasion when called for. The idea of the gathering was to raise money so ESAT can continue the job of being the independent ‘eyes and ears’ of our people. From something like three hundred people we raised over thirty thousand dollars. The investment we made was not to realize profit. Our reward comes when ESAT uses the fund to do the job we have entrusted them with-faithfully and truthfully inform our people. I am absolutely sure they will do that with determination professionalism and purpose. If not we all are here to watch and speak out when both things go right or wrong.
As I said it was a festive afternoon and evening. It was nice to see Ethiopians gathered to show concern and love for country and each other. I said many good things about our guests. I put them up on a pedestal. It is not about hero worship or excessive adulation of individuals. To me it is all about giving credit where credit is due. The tone set by the late dictator was constant put down of our country, people and culture. He wanted to shine all by himself. That is not good. We have plenty of good things going for us. We are blessed with ancient culture that is built on love and tolerance as a foundation. We have lived for eons as a nation state due to that. To me our guests were building on that tradition. If we don’t put them up on a pedestal who would? If we don’t celebrate their accomplishments , if we don’t appreciate their sacrifice who then? None were paid to be there, no one made a penny of the event and no one was compelled to come. That is all commitment is about. May God and Allah bless them all and protect them and shield them from harm for they are our national treasure.
I am sure my cousin Fekreye will ask me “why do you make it so long’ I thought I should be faithful to such an important gathering of honorable people and it just kept coming out. Take your time and read it please, won’t you I worked hard on it.
By the way the next day Tamagne presided on another gathering in Seattle and you know folks of Seattle are a show off and they collected close to sixty thousand dollars. Seattle congratulations, we will meet again and we will be ready. We accept the challenge, we got work to do. Finally look at the picture below and see Tamagne at work-the power of love!
Violence and the Ethiopians. By Yilma Bekele
We always think of our people to be so loving that welcome a stranger into their homes and share what little they have. Our language is full of sayings about being a good host, a great neighbor and a kind human. Sharing what you have, helping those in need and putting others ahead play a central theme in all our folklores. At least that is what we try to believe and that is what we tell ourselves and each other every opportunity we get. What a kind and loving people we are is a common mantra.
Do you think that is a true picture of our country? I don’t know about you but I knew such Ethiopia in my life time. Here we go again, I did not say we were a perfect paradise but definitely we were not the Wild West either. But I know for sure we used to care for each other and we were a once proud nation.
Then where did all this violent act and talk of perpetual violence came from is a good question? It is a timely question too. Today violence both the act and the talk is permeating our society. The specter of violence is everywhere. Our country has become one big cesspool of violence and you can’t even escape it from any point on earth.
According to the World Health organization (WHO) violence is defined ‘as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a person, or group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.’
The dergue started the ball rolling with the class warfare crap. The TPLF took over with ethnic cleansing mantra. It looks like the last forty years have been a time of violence, threat of violence and absence of peace era. The Mengistu and Meles generation has been schooled in the exercise of violence as a normal day to day activity.
What got me look at these phenomena is the current behavior of our masters in Addis Abeba and their children here in the US. The Berket/Debretsion government is going out of its way to bully our Muslim citizens, intimidate our journalists and frighten our people. They are using the monopoly they exercise on our communication media to produce second rate movies, badly written essays and moronic broadcasts to confuse their captive audience.
War is waged on our Muslim brothers and sisters thru out the country. Their leaders have been incarcerated, their worship places have been desecrated and their religion has been equated with terror. The TPLF is trying to do to the Muslims what they have been doing to the Orthodox Christians the last twenty years. They were able to divide and set the Christians against each other. Bishops and priests have been beaten, exiled and insulted in broad day light. Due to lack of spine by the Christian followers the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia today has lost all its moral compass and made into a leaderless association no different than those ‘teletafis’ clustered around the mighty TPLF.
Not content on terrorizing our people at home it looks like TPLF has branched out to reach into the Diaspora community and practice its form of violence. For some of us it is not a new revelation. We have been pointing out the presence of TPLF agents amongst us for quite a while. Their activates in the various opposition party support groups we have been forming was visible and hard to miss. Their sabotage of our houses of worship is legendary. Their presence in our football organization took a valiant effort by some to unmask. No one escapes the sinister act of Woyane spies and saboteurs in any outfit that dares to organize as an Ethiopian entity. I don’t think I need to prove any of my assertions. I beg the reader to look around him/her in any city USA. I dare you to find a peaceful association untouched by Woyane virus wherever you reside.
Now their underground activity is made visible by no other than our dragon slayer, dictator buster, honor restorer and champion of freedom, my friend Abebe Gelaw. No need to elaborate more but our country and people are always grateful for the epic grand stand that was made in Washington DC on behalf of mother Ethiopia. Her children rejoiced while her enemies wept. It looks like they did not learn a lesson. They reverted back to form.
They are trying to do here in the US what they do to our people back home. They are trying to intimidate, bully and scare us from exercising our free will. A few months back an individual registered by the name of Guesh Abera on Facebook was investigated by the FBI for threatening Ato Abebe. His normal TPLF animal behavior was taken as a subject of concern by the FBI that sent agents to his work place to interview the individual and put him on alert. I am sure they felt it was better to nip this ugly idea in its bud rather than wait. Whether in jest or for real the issue is Goush threatened and the FBI investigated.
A few of our Woyane friends tried to make fun of the situation and ridicule the assertion. They went to the extent of accusing ESAT and our independent Web sites of misinformation. They tried to turn the story on its head and attempted to make the victim the aggressor. Awramba Times unmasked itself as nothing but a shameless Woyane sympathizer while some in the venerable Voice of America tried a clumsy investigative journalism that missed its mark.
Some organizations and a few people are so dense they are unable to see what is in front of them and change to avoid calamity. TPLF and its operatives are one such outfit. Despite the unmasking and public humiliation of Guesh Abera, guess who shows up to accept the medal of stupidity? None other than another ethnic hero by the name of Mulugeta Kahsay, a proud immigrant residing in Britain. This individual doing his job as assigned by TPLF was caught red handed attempting to intimidate and frighten Ato Abebe. He made repeated cals threatening not only Ato Abebe but his whole family both in the US and back in Ethiopia.
According to Wiki ‘A death threat is a threat, often made anonymously, by one person or a group of people to kill another person or groups of people. These threats are usually designed to intimidate victims in order to manipulate their behavior, thus a death threat is a form of coercion.’ Here in the US death threat is considered a criminal act. Mulugeta Khassay’s action is deplorable and will land him in jail if it was made in the US.
Why do you think these two individuals felt such behavior is both acceptable and something to be proud of? The simple answer is where they came from it is considered lawful and practiced with abandon. The TPLF Woyane regime uses violence and the threat of violence to silence its opponents and anybody it feels stands on its way. The late TPLF chieftain Meles Zenawi used to threaten cutting hands of the citizen routinely. Like father like son is the situation here. What is not surprising is the fact that so many Woyanes and their admirers cheered such behavior and they are not ashamed to check out the ‘Like’ button on Facebook. So much for peaceful coexistence, wouldn’t you say?
In a civilized setting such behavior back fires and results in exactly the opposite of what is intended. We are all appalled by such naked brutal attempt by the two individuals and their organization or are we all? This is a difficult question to answer. When we see how we Ethiopians relate to each other and how we try to resolve differences, the behavior of Goush and Mulugeta are not that much of an anomaly. The system set up by Woyane encourages such criminal mind set and illegal activity. In today’s Ethiopia breaking the law, getting ahead at the expense of fellow citizens is a celebrated act. Lying, cheating, bribing is not frowned upon and expected practice to finalize any and all transaction. It is so routine that it has become second nature to some of us.
It is not enough to condemn these two gangsters. What is needed is to see how low we have sunk as a people that such action was carried out amongst us. It is not enough to sneer at the workings of Woyane but to reflect on our society that has allowed such evil doers to prosper and grow. When we allow a few to disturb our associations, when we turn a blind eye to those that disrespect our religious leaders and create chaos in our church, when we let an insult and rogue behavior go unchallenged we end up reaping what we planted. As long as we allow ethnic based organization such as the TPLF set the agenda in our country these kind of abhorrent behavior and criminal acts will continue to be the norm. The fight against injustice starts with each one of us. We are grateful to those that have risen to get rid of the body cancer called TPLF from our land. Helping them is a duty to our mother land and to one self.
See Mulugeta Kahsay tie himself in knots:
TPLF and the culture of violence. By Yilma Bekele.
According to ESAT the FBI has foiled an attempt by the Ethiopian government to assassinate Ato Abebe Gelaw. Goosh Abera and his accomplices are under custody. Please note here I said the Ethiopian government since there seems to be no thin line between the TPLF party and the government. Why am I not surprised? I am not surprised because for the TPLF violence is sanctioned by the party leaders as a legitimate tool to achieve political, economic and military dominance.
The following weeks as we look closely at Goosh Abera and his criminal friends and the FBI presents a psychological profile of the alleged conspirators we are sure to find out certain telltale signs about TPLF and their bizarre psychopathic behavior. Individuals like Goosh are most probably equipped with basic rudimentary education if any and survive by their wit and ethnic fueled bravado. In Ethiopia they are known for carrying weapons conspicuously, brandishing them at will and revealing in their thuggish behavior. They are the kind that administers summary judgment on street corners, bars and clubs.
How was TPLF Chairman, the recently departed Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi able to achieve this goal in Ethiopia? The simple truth is by using violence to silence, intimidate, and eliminate his and the party’s actual or perceived enemies using any means necessary. You do not need to be a Sherlock Holmes to detect this pungent smell of gun powder around most Woyanes.
Mengistu Hailemariam prepared the perfect ground for TPLF to flourish. He has already disarmed the population, delegitimized the family system and used the lowest denominators to be in charge of the Kebeles. TPLF inherited a demoralized, confused and tired population to mold in its own image.
The first target of this terrorist organization was the educated citizen. The University was stripped of its most experienced and independent thinkers. By ’94 the University was a former ghost of itself. The political system was dealt in a harsh way. Professor Asrat was murdered in the most inhumane way possible. Teachers President Assefa Maru was shot against a wall execution style. Masses of independent publication owners, editors and reporters were brutally beaten, murdered, bankrupted, intimidated, exiled or killed even in exile. Bank employees were fired in masse, telecommunication workers were discarded teachers and their unions were digested even Chamber of Commerce was not immune from TPLF take over. One thread common to all is that none of them were acquired peacefully. Violence was the main calling card of the TPLF.
Every opportunity he got the sick dictator used to trash our country and our history and every opportunity they got his security department used to bully, intimidate and made to cower with fear. My dear fellow citizens, you know there is nothing new in what I am telling you. Some have witnessed it, plenty have experienced it and a vast majority would try not to think about it. The shame is unbearable.
One thing about TPLF is it is not a behind the curtain type of organization. It practically advertises every hit and all illegal acts. They use their criminal action to send a clear message to the citizen. That is why they insist that all are aware and versed on their mode of operation. They use their Television news, their newspapers and radio to send warning messages before they take action. When the unthinkable happens some are heard to say ‘he/she was warned but refused to listen-they deserve it!” You see the victim assumes the blame.
They have been systematically killing any and all emerging Ethiopians. They have goon squads that go around intimidating anybody they perceive to be a challenge. They use beating and flogging opponents to shame them in front of family, friends and a whole village. They use blackmail as a tool. They use the law to break the law. Meles used to amend the Constitution in a weekend. Even the Constitution is not worth any respect. Once you trash the Constitution what is on your way?
That is what the FBI s telling us. Their dirty deeds have arrived in America. Under Meles they were content in infiltrating our organizations such as Political Party support groups, Eders, Churches, Sport organization and disrupting from the inside. There is no Organization in North America that has not been a victim of TPLF insider disruption. They are crafty, relentless and completely understand our frame of mind. They exploit our ignorance, selfishness and greed to keep us in a daze.
The new TPLF leaders are a little bit reckless. I understand that too. It comes out of desperation. The group is under tremendous pressure. The late dictator I am afraid was a very selfish person. The sun revolved around him. When he left the light went dim. I do not think any social or military organization can take credit for the current upheaval. In my humble opinion the stink is coming from inside. I agree things are getting ripe on the outside and that could intensify the pressure inside the TPLF bowl. I am afraid the last CEO did not really care to what came after him. He was too busy surviving from day to day in this shark infested pond that he did not have the time and luxury to bother with outcome. He left an army with too many generals. Here in America there is a saying ‘all chiefs and no Indians.’ Debretsion, Bereket, Sebhat, Gebru, Abbay and a bunch of tin pot Generals are on their own trying to carve the biggest pie for themselves.
This desperate act of attempt to assassinate Ato Abebe here in the US is the work of a mad man. If the group was trying to send a message about the long arm of TPLF it is a very stupid and crazy gesture. We have been complaining about their disruptive activities in our midst but this mission of trying to kill is a little concerning. There is no question the FBI will get to the bottom of this incident. It should be treated as act of terrorism by a government and investigated to the full extent of the law and let the chips fall where they may.
I am sure the alleged conspirator will name names and tell us who gave the order for such criminal act. I doubt one individual will take it upon himself to take such mission. The Ethiopian Government under Dictator Meles routinely used to kill, rough up and intimidate its opponents in the African countries they are exiled to. The new guys are a little daring. Prime Minister Debretsion and security chief Workeneh Gebehu Should be interviewed about the work of their agents and made to take responsibility for their actions. We hope the US government will take the necessary action of baring all Ethiopian Government officials and family members from entering the country before everything is known about this conspiracy to commit crime in the US. We should demand the US government protect us from the monsters they have been coddling.
This definitely is not their first time committing crime here in the US. They have been using every legal and illegal means to harass, bankrupt and shut down Ethiopian Review Web site. They have employed what is known as denial of service attacks (DDoS Attack) to block ER and various Web sites, they have hired attorneys to intimidate ER publisher and are present in every of our Churches sawing dissent and negativity.
As Ethiopians in exile we should take the actions of these criminals seriously. It is true there is no criminal without the victim. Sometimes it is unfortunate things happen but you really can’t leave your door open and cry about being robbed do you? It is time we accept responsibility. The Ethiopian people that are facing the brunt of TPLF abuse should wake up and face their coward enemies. By now it should be clear silence is not the answer. The one year anniversary by our Muslim citizens is clear indication the regime does not listen to reason. The steadfastness of our Muslim brethren should be applauded and emulated by the rest of us. The call by our Orthodox church in exile for every one of us to safeguard our religion and our country is a timely reminder.
The fact that we have muscle now is a very empowering feeling. The cooperation between Ginbot7, Afar Front, anti Woyane activists in Tigrai, OLF, Patriotic Front and the formation of Ginbo7 Forces is the right direction considering the nature of TPLF. As I said before leveling the playing field is called for. That is one small step for our Fronts and one giant step for Ethiopia.
As for the Diaspora it is time we stop enriching the coffers of the evil regime. Any kind of involvement in their Ponzi scheme adds one day more to their life. As there is no little pregnancy there is no such thing as a little investment. It has to be a clean and complete break. This Abesha way of qualifying our illegal act is not good for our future. Your selfish action is hurting us and we ask you stop it. It is like MLK said ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ It is something to think about.
We feel the pain and hurt of our friend Abebe and his family. He has never threatened those that have hounded him and his family from his beloved homeland. His only weapon is his pen and pencil and the power of reason to resolve contradictions. Exiling him was not enough. Now they want to kill him in cold blood. That is the only language they speak. They have killed so many but they are unable to understand their violence has not resolved any of the outstanding issues. Don’t they see it? Don’t they know there are a lot more Abebebes as there were plenty of Asrats, Assefas, Eskindirs, Reyots? When is this madness going to stop? When is our country going to be a citadel of peace and harmony instead of a poster child for famine and civil war?
You know what no one gives you your freedom. You have to snatch it from those that want to make you their slave. No oppressor has ever said enough, I am going to leave you alone here go in peace. No, every oppressor faced by human kind was compelled to relinquish power by force. Not reason but force. The French revolution, the American revolution, the Russian revolution, the Chinese revolution, the South African revolution are all examples of the citizens taking matters into his hands and forcing the oppressor to step aside. Woyane dogs are not going to wake up one morning and pack and leave. You and I have to push them out. That is the only proven way. Anything else invites more abuse.
2012 is gone. 2013 is on the way. Let us ring in redress to all humankind.
I wish a happy and prosperous new year to all of my readers throughout the world. To those who have unwearyingly followed my columns for nearly three hundred uninterrupted weeks, I wish to express my deep gratitude and appreciation. I am thankful for all of the support and encouragement I have received from my readers in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Diaspora and others throughout the world.
I ask my readers to ring in the new year with a firm resolution to seek redress for human rights violations in Ethiopia, other parts of Africa and throughout the world. As Dr. Martin Luther King taught, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…”
Let us bid farewell to the old year and greet the new one with the poetic words of Lord Alfred Tennyson:
Ring out the old, ring in the new,…
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,…
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws…
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good…
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,…
Ringing Out 2012
I thought I would ring out 2012 by extracting snippets from selected weekly commentaries I wrote during the year.
In January 2012, I wondered aloud if there will be an “African Spring” or “Ethiopian Tsedey (Spring)” in 2012. I cryptically answered my own question taking cover in Albert Camus’ book “The Rebel”. “What is a rebel?”, asked Camus. “A man who says no… A slave who has taken orders all his life suddenly decides that he cannot obey some new command. What does he mean by saying ‘no’? He means, for example, that ‘this has been going on too long,’ ‘up to this point yes, beyond it no’, ‘you are going too far,’ or, again, ‘there is a limit beyond which you shall not go.’ But from the moment that the rebel finds his voice — even though he says nothing but ‘no’ — he begins to desire and to judge. The rebel confronts an order of things which oppresses him with the insistence on a kind of right not to be oppressed beyond the limit that he can tolerate.”
Africa’s Spring will arrive when enough Africans including Ethiopians collectively resolve to rise up from the winter of their discontent and make glorious spring and summer by declaring, “No! Enough is Enough!”
In February 2012, I pointed out the shame and humiliation in receiving a Chinese handout (“gift”) in the form of a gleaming “African Union Hall” to 50 plus African countries who could not afford the measly $200 million needed to build such a quintessentially symbolic continental edifice. I christened it “African Beggars Union Hall”.
The Chinese Dragon is dancing the Watusi shuffle with African Hyenas. Things could not be better for the Dragon in Africa. In the middle of what once used to be the African Pride Land now stands a brand-spanking new hyenas’ den called the African Union Hall (AU). Every penny of the USD$200 million stately pleasure dome was paid for by China. It is said to be “China’s gift to Africa.” Sooner or later China has to come to terms with three simple questions: Can it afford to fasten its destiny to Africa’s dictators, genociders and despots? How long can China pretend to turn a blind eye to the misery of the African people suffering under ruthless dictatorships? Will there be a price to pay once the African dictators that China supported are forced out of power in a popular uprising? To update the old saying, “Beware of Chinese who bear gifts.”
In March 2012, I boldly predicted that Ethiopia will transition from dictatorship to democracy. But I also cautiously suggested that dissolution of the dictatorship in Ethiopia does not guarantee the birth of democracy. There is no phoenix of democracy that will rise gloriously from the trash heap of dictatorship. Birthing democracy will require a lot of collaborative hard work, massive amounts of creative problem solving and plenty of good luck and good will. A lot of heavy lifting needs to be done to propel Ethiopia from the abyss of dictatorship to the heights of democracy. It will be necessary to undertake a collective effort now to chart a clear course on how that long-suffering country will emerge from decades of dictatorship, without the benefit of any viable democratic political institutions, a functional political party system, a system of civil society institutions and an independent press to kindle a democratic renaissance.
In April 2012 , I paid a special tribute to my personal hero Eskinder Nega, winner of the 2012 PEN Freedom to Write Award. Eskinder Nega (to me Eskinder Invictus) has been jailed as a “terrorist” by the powers that be in Ethiopia. But Eskinder is a hero’s hero. His cause was taken up by an army of world renowned journalists who have themselves suffered at the hands of dictatorships including Kenneth Best, founder of the Daily Observer (Liberia’s first independent daily); Lydia Cacho, arguably the most famous Mexican journalist; Akbar Ganji Faraj Sarkohi Iran’s foremost dissidents; Arun Shourie, one of India’s most renowned and controversial journalists and many others. Recently, Carl Bernstein (one of the two journalists who exposed the Watergate scandal leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon) and Liev Schreiber paid extraordinary homage to Eskinder Nega. Bernstein said, “No honor can be greater than to read Eskinder Nega’s words. He is more than a symbol. He is the embodiment of the greatness of truth, of writing and reporting real truth, of persisting in truth and resisting the oppression of untruths,…”
Eskinder Nega is my special hero because he fought tyranny with nothing more than ideas and the truth. He slew falsehoods with the sword of truth. Armed only with a pen, Eskinder fought despair with hope; fear with courage; anger with reason; arrogance with humility; ignorance with knowledge; intolerance with forbearance; oppression with perseverance; doubt with trust and cruelty with compassion. I lack the words to express my deep pride and gratitude to Eskinder and his wife, journalist Serkalem Fasil (winner of the 2007 International Women’s Media Foundation “Courage in Journalism Award”), for their boundless courage and extraordinary sacrifices in the cause of press freedom in Ethiopia. It is said that history is written by the victor. When truth becomes the victor in Ethiopia, the names Eskinder Nega and Serkalem Fasil will be inscribed in the Hall of Fame for unfaltering courage and steadfast endurance in the face of Evil.
In May 2012, Abebe Gelaw, a young Ethiopian journalist stood up in the audience at the Food Security 2012 G8 Summit in Washington, D.C. and cried freedom. The late Meles Zenawi sat in catatonic silence as the young journalist shouted out: “Meles Zenawi is a dictator! Meles Zenawi is a dictator! Free Eskinder Nega! Free Political Prisoners! You are a dictator. You are committing crimes against humanity. Food is nothing without freedom! Meles has committed crimes against humanity! We Need Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”
The “heckler’s veto” is one of the most precious rights of American citizens. The idea is really simple. It is always governments who abuse their power to silence their critics and those who disagree with them. With the “heckler’s veto”, the individual silences the government and the powerful. The tables are turned. Zenawi was silenced by Abebe! In that moment, Abebe gloriously realized the true meaning of the tagline of his website addisvoice.com – “A Voice of the Voiceless”. Ironically, the voice of the voiceless rendered speechless the man who had rendered millions voiceless!
In June 2012, I joyously witnessed the unity of Christian and Muslim religious leaders against those seeking to divide them. Hajj Mohamed Seid, a prominent Ethiopian Muslim leader in exile in Toronto, made an extraordinary statement that should be a lesson to all Ethiopians: “As you know Ethiopia is a country that has different religions. Ethiopia is a country where Muslims and followers of the Orthodox faith have lived and loved each other throughout recorded history. Even in our lifetimes — 50 to 60 years — we have not seen Ethiopia in so much suffering and tribulation. Religion is a private choice, but country is a collective responsibility. If there is no country, there is no religion. It is only when we have a country that we find everything… They [the rulers in Ethiopia] have sold the land [to foreigners] and have kept the most arable land to themselves. The money from the sale is not in our country. It is in their pockets… Is there an Ethiopian generation left now? The students who enrolled in the universities are demoralized; their minds are afflicted chewing khat (a mild drug) and smoking cigarettes. They [the ruling regime] have destroyed a generation…
In July 2012, I held a private celebration on the occasion of the ninety-fourth birthday of President Nelson Mandela. May he live long with gladness and good health! Madiba has been a great inspiration for me very much like Gandhi. Madiba and Gandhi were lawyers who spoke truth to power fearlessly. For Madiba, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, true human rights advocacy was devoid of all political ambition. The politics of human rights is the politics of human dignity, not ideology, political partisanship or the pursuit of political office. The committed human rights advocate thrives on hopes and dreams of a better future, not the lust for political power or craving for status, position or privilege. I have been relentlessly “sermonizing” (as some affectionately refer to my weekly commentaries) on human rights in Ethiopia and against dictatorship for many years now. I have done so not because I believed my efforts will produce immediate political results or expected structural changes overnight. I stayed in for the long haul because I believe defending, advocating and writing about human rights and righting government wrongs is right, good and the moral thing to do.
In August 2012, I bade farewell to Meles Zenawi who passed away from an undisclosed illness. It was a difficult farewell to write. For over two hundred seventy five weeks, without missing a single week, I wrote long expository commentaries on the deeds and misdeeds of the man who was at the helm of power in Ethiopia for over two decades. Meles and I would have never crossed paths but for the massacres of 2005 in which some 200 unarmed protesters were shot dead in the streets and another 800 wounded by police and security officials under Meles’ personal command and control.
Meles was a man who had an appointment with destiny. Fate had chosen him to play a historic role in Ethiopia and beyond. He was one of the leaders of a rebel group that fought and defeated a brutal military dictatorship that had been in power for 17 years. In victory, Meles promised democracy, respect for democratic liberties and development. But as the years wore on, Meles became increasingly repressive, intolerant of criticism and in the end became as tyrannical as the tyrant he had replaced. In his last years, he created a police state reinforced by a massive security network of spies and surveillance technology. He criminalized press freedom and civil society institutions. He crushed dissent and all opposition. He spread fear and loathing that penetrated the remotest parts of the countryside. For over 21 years, Meles clutched the scepter of power in his hands and cast away the sword of justice he held when he marched into the capital from the bush in 1991. Meles was feared, disliked and demonized by his adversaries. He was loved, admired, idealized and idolized by his supporters. In the end, Meles died a man who had absolute power which had corrupted him absolutely. In his relentless pursuit of absolute power, Meles missed his appointment with destiny to become a peerless and exemplary Ethiopian leader.
In September 2012, I explained why I supported President Obama’s re-election. I tried to make an honest case for supporting the President’s re-election despite deep disappointments over his human rights records in Africa in his first term. Did President Obama deliver on the promises he made for Africa to promote good governance, democracy and human rights? Did he deliver on human rights in Ethiopia? No. Are Ethiopian Americans disappointed over the unfulfilled promises President Obama made in Accra, Ghana in 2009 and his Administration’s support for a dictatorship in Ethiopia? Yes. We remember when President Obama talked about the need to develop robust democratic institutions, uphold the rule of law and the necessity of maintaining open political space and protecting human rights in Africa. We all remember what he said: “Africa does not need strong men but strong institutions.” “Development depends on good governance.” “No nation will create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy.” Was he just saying these words or did he truly believe them? Truth be told, what the President has done or not done to promote good governance, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia is no different than what we, the vast majority of Ethiopian Americans, have done or not done to promote the same values in Ethiopia. That is the painful truth we must face.
In October 2012, I wrote about breast cancer awareness for Ethiopian women and men. There is a strange and confounding culture of secrecy and silence about certain kinds of illnesses among many Ethiopians in the country and those in the Diaspora. Among the two taboo diseases are cancer and HIV/AIDS. The rule seems to be hide the illness until death, even after death. We saw this regrettable practice in the recent passing of Meles Zenawi. Meles’ illness and cause of death remain a closely guarded state secret. It is widely believed that he died from brain cancer. This culture of secrecy and silence has contributed significantly to the needless deaths of thousands of Ethiopians. There is substantial anecdotal evidence that far too many Ethiopian women living in the U.S. have needlessly died from breast cancer because they failed or avoided to get regular breast cancer screening fearing a positive diagnosis. Secrecy and silence when it comes to breast cancer is a self-imposed death warrant!
In November 2012, I remembered. I remembered the hundreds of unarmed citizens murdered in the streets by police and security officials under the personal command and control of Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia on June 6-8 and November 1-4, 2005, following the Ethiopian parliamentary elections in May of that year. According to an official Inquiry Commission, “There was not a single protester who was armed with a gun or a hand grenade as reported by the government-controlled media that some of the protesters were armed with guns and bombs. [The shots fired by government forces] were not intended to disperse the crowd but to kill by targeting the head and chest of the protesters.” I also remembered Yenesew Gebre, a 29 year-old Ethiopian school teacher and human rights activist set himself ablaze outside a public meeting hall in the town of Tarcha located in Dawro Zone in Southern Ethiopia on 11/11/11. He died three days later from his injuries. Before torching himself, Yenesew told a gathered crowd outside of a meeting hall, “In a country where there is no justice and no fair administration, where human rights are not respected, I will sacrifice myself so that these young people will be set free.” I remembered why I was transformed from a cloistered armchair academic and hardboiled defense lawyer to a (com)passionate human rights advocate and defender.
In December 2012, I fiercely opposed the potential nomination of Susan Rice, the current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. I argued that Rice has been waltzing (or should I say do-se-do-ing) with Africa’s slyest, slickest and meanest dictators for nearly two decades. Rice and other top U.S. officials knew or should have known a genocide was underway or in the making once RAF and interahamwe militia began killing people in the streets and neighborhoods on April 6, the day Rwandan President Juvenal Habyiarimana was assassinated. They were receiving reports from the U.N. mission in Rwanda; and their own intelligence pointed to unspeakable massacres taking place in Kigali and elsewhere in the country. Rice feigned ignorance of the ongoing genocide, but the irrefutable documentary evidence showed that Rice, her boss Anthony Lake and other high level U.S. officials knew from the very beginning (April 6, 1994) that genocide was in the making in Rwanda. On September 2, 2012 at the funeral of Meles Zenawi in Addis Ababa and at a memorial service for Meles in New York City on October 27, 2012, Rice delivered a eulogy that virtually canonized Meles. In her blind eulogy, Rice turned a blind eye to the thousands of Ethiopians who were victimized, imprisoned and killed by Meles Zenawi. Rice could not see the police state Meles had created. To literally add insult to injury, Rice called Meles’ opponents and critics “fools and idiots”. Truth be told, I was deeply offended by Rice’s hubristic remarks and her audacity, pomposity, nerve and insolence to insult and humiliate Ethiopians in their own country in such callous and contemptuious manner. Ethiopians have been robbed of their dignity for 21 years. But I will be damned if any foreigner, however high or exalted, should feel free to demean, dehumanize and demonize my people as “fools and idoits”. Recently, Rice explained: “I know I’m vilified for having said anything other than, ‘He [Meles] was a tyrant,’ … which would’ve been a little awkward, on behalf of the U.S. government and in front of all the mourning Ethiopians.” Rice has no qualms calling Ethiopians “fools and idiots” but she writhes in agony just thinking about calling Meles a tyrant?!? Some people just don’t get it!!!
In 1994, Rice was willfully blind to the genocide in Rwanda. In 2012, she was willfully blind to the long train of human rights abuses and atrocities in Ethiopia.
America does not need a friend and a buddy to African dictators as its Secretary of State. America does not need a Secretary of State with a heart of stone and tears of a crocodile. America does not need a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” Secretary of State. America needs a Secretary of State who can tell the difference between human rights and government wrongs!
Let us join hands to ring in redress to all mankind in 2013. Let us all work together for human rights for all and against all government wrongs!
Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino and is a practicing defense lawyer.
Previous commentaries by the author are available at:
Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at:
By Yilma Bekele
The Ethiopian people have been told to show grief regarding the death of Meles Zenawi. This is sadness by government decree and it is not unique to us. We just witnessed it happen in North Korea but it always is a little strange when what you feared happen to you. There is no question the regime under the control of the TPLF party is orchestrating this drama. They are not even trying to hide it. The truth of the matter is they are going the extra mile to make sure the citizen understands it is official government policy.
It took the regime over four weeks to announce the death of the dictator. It looks like they took their time time to plan what to do and how to do it. They are perfectly aware that the individual is not liked let alone loved by the Ethiopian people. Since his illness was hidden from the public his sudden death would have unjarred the population. They know the situation has to be dealt delicately. Their main goal was how to use the unfortunate situation to garner sympathy and good will while at the same time show who the boss is. The fact the citizen loathed the little tyrant was a big hurdle to overcome.
The only way the party can get benefit out of this disastrous situation was to go back into their bag of tricks and revert back to the proven method of bullying by using force and coercion. It has worked since their inception forty years ago and they have become really good at it. The system of bending people’s wills to to fit the tyrants way is the hallmark of all totalitarian societies. The TPLF did not invent it but they are very good students of everything that is bad and toxic to society.
The question in front of us is how and why they do that? I believe this has eloquently been answered by Mr. Anthony Daniels in his book ‘The wilder further shores of Marx’.
‘…..with an established totalitarian regime the purpose of propaganda is not to persuade, much less to inform, but to humiliate. From this point of view propaganda should not approximate to the truth as closely as possible: on the contrary it should do as much violence to it as possible. For by endlessly asserting what is patently untrue, by making such untruth ubiquitous and unavoidable, and finally by insisting by everyone publicly acquiesce in it, the regime displays its power and reduces individuals to nullities. Who can retain his self respect when, far from defending what he knows to be true, he has to applaud what he knows to be false- not occasionally, as we all do, but for the whole of his adult life.’
This is a nut shell describes Woyane kind of mind set. You would think Mr. Daniels has been to Ethiopia. Mr. Daniels’s book is based on his experience of such failed states as East Germany, the former Soviet Union, North Vietnam and North Korea among others. The TPLF controlled Ethiopian government is copying the loathsome practices of the Stasi in East Germany and the KGB of the Soviet Union. Folks like Berket Semeon, Workrneh Gebeyehu, Getachew Assefa are excellent students of such inhuman system that has managed to hurt so many but was at last discredited by the citizen. Our country is back ward, our people are kept illiterate by design our culture still is based on fear of authority, fear of elder and our Woyane warriors found a fertile ground to practice this craft of crime against a nation.
I would like to take one statement from the quotation above and look at it in the context of Ethiopia.
‘…..with an established totalitarian regime the purpose of propaganda is not to persuade, much less to inform, but to humiliate. From this point of view propaganda should not approximate to the truth as closely as possible: on the contrary it should do as much violence to it as possible.’
In life Meles Zenawi was a recluse that disparaged even the word Ethiopia. He lived in a palace surrounded by robust security and never left his compound to mix or associate with ordinary people. The only contact the citizen has with the PM was thru the window of Ethiopian TV. We all know he never allowed open discussion and surrounded himself with people that worshiped him, agreed with him and swore allegiance to him. He is known to be very vindictive, ill tempered and unforgiving. The Ethiopian people, his close associates and his Party feared him. There was no respect or love for the individual. This is the man we all know.
Today Berket Semeon and company are telling us a different story. Mind you not a little different, not an innocent white lie but as outrageous as possible and beyond the truth as much as possible. They just do not want the citizen to cry a little, grief some but they expect some genuine wailing to be recorded and beamed all over the world. Why do you think they do that? It is all about show of power. By forcing us to do what we all know to be false they make us loose self respect and individual will. When you see your family, your neighbor, your coworker being forced to act in such manner when you find yourself doing something you know deep inside to be untrue you die some. The person is reduced to nothingness with no self respect, no spine and no free will. Haile Gebreselassie comes to mind.
It has the same effect on those that watch such spectacle from afar. I have noticed my friends to be confused, unable to understand and finally choosing silence to hide the shame. We all try to explain the phenomena by mentioning culture, being human or religion. It is an attempt to make sense. We are trying to make the irrational situation palatable by injecting some logic into it. It is perfectly understandable. Our brain rejects such dissonance. We get angry, feel confused, embarrassed and helpless.
This disturbing situation in our society is not a natural occurrence or an accident. It is engineered by the TPLF party. In their futile attempt to stay in power they have declared psychological form of warfare on their own people. It is relentless, unmerciful and very lethal. It does not kill you but it reduces you into a state of sub human, void of free will and easy to control. That is what the criminals are doing to us. That is what they have been doing to us with Meles Zenawi as the ring leader. Today he has left his underlings to continue from where he left off. They show no shame, no what is called ‘yelunta’ when they declare black is white, wrong is right and force us to repeat it after them.
How do you fight such form of warfare? There is no need to panic. No shame to being forced to go against our will. A government is a very powerful organization. When a state puts all its efforts to do evil no one is immune. The Russians, the East Europeans went thru over fifty years of hell. The North Koreans are in worse of shape than us. Our tormentors are amateurs compared to the Stasi. The fact that our country is backward and our people kept ignorant is what is giving them the power. On the other hand the world is a different place now. The advent of the Internet, the ubiquitous nature of Social media has given us a slight advantage. The founding of ESAT as I said before is a game changer. The Woyane goons monopoly on the media is no more.
We stop the complaining and work harder to expose, undermine and attack our tormentors aggressively. We encourage those that are trying to organize and work for us instead of second guessing, undermining their effort and splitting hair. We hope those that have been organizing for some time show us sign that they are here and active. There is no need to wait for the most opportune moment rather the job of the activist is to seize the time and make history. My friend Abebe Gelaw did not wait for the stars to line up but rather he forced the issue and made history. The time is now and the place is Ethiopia. We shall win, history is on our side. Stay strong don’t let them break you.