It is time to bury the hatchet and move forward in Ethiopia! Nelson Mandela taught that “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” I would add that your enemy also becomes your friend and your ally. Historically, when warring nations of Native Americans made peace with each other, they would bury their axes (hatchets) into the ground as a symbolic expression of the end of hostilities. I say today is the perfect time for all Ethiopians to bury the hatchet of ethnic division, religious sectarianism, regional conflict and human rights violations. It is the perfect time to shake hands, embrace each other and get our noses to the grindstone to build a new democratic Ethiopia where the rule of law is upheld and human rights and democratic institutions respected.
Today, not tomorrow, is the best time to put an end to historic hatreds and resentments and open a new chapter in Ethiopia’s history. Today is the best time to unchain ourselves from the burdens of the past, close the wounds that have festered for generations and declare to future generations that we will no longer be prisoners of resentments of the past. Nelson Mandela said that “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Mandela did not drink from the poison of resentment and managed to outlive most of his “enemies” and is still alive and kicking at 94. But today there is a lot of resentment going around in Ethiopia and in the Ethiopian Diaspora. There is the quiet and despairing resentment of those who feel wounded and defeated by loss. There is the gloating resentment of those who feel victorious and morally vindicated by the loss of others. Then there is the resentment of those who are indifferent because they just don’t care. Today is a great day to say good-bye to historic animosities. Today is a great day to end bitterness, not tomorrow. Reaching out to our adversaries must begin today, not tomorrow. Reconciliation must begin today, not tomorrow. Most importantly, “radical improvements in good governance and democracy” must begin today, not tomorrow.
Let’s Begin Radical Improvements in Good Governance and Democracy Today
In 2007, the late Meles Zenawi expressed his “hope that [his] legacy” would be not only “sustained and accelerated development that would pull Ethiopia out of the massive deep poverty” but also “radical improvements in terms of good governance and democracy.” Today is the day to begin in earnest radical improvements in good governance and democracy. These improvements must begin with the release of all political prisoners, repeal of anti-terrorism, civil society and other oppressive laws and declaration of allegiance to the rule of law.
All political prisoners in Ethiopia must be released. Their situation has been amply documented for years in the reports of the U.S. Government, U.N. agencies and various international human rights organizations. The 2011 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Ethiopia (April 2011) documented “unlawful killings, torture, beating, and abuse and mistreatment of detainees and opposition supporters by security forces, especially special police and local militias, which took aggressive or violent action with evident impunity in numerous instances; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly of suspected sympathizers or members of opposition or insurgent groups; detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention…”
In its 2010 World Report-Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch (HRW) concluded that “torture and ill-treatment have been used by Ethiopia’s police, military, and other members of the security forces to punish a spectrum of perceived dissenters, including university students, members of the political opposition, and alleged supporters of insurgent groups… Secret detention facilities and military barracks are most often used by Ethiopian security forces for such activities.”
A report of the U.N. Committee Against Torture (November 2010) expressed “deep concerns about numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations concerning the routine use of torture by the police, prison officers and other members of the security forces, as well as the military, in particular against political dissidents and opposition party members, students, alleged terrorist suspects and alleged supporters of insurgent groups such as the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). It is concerned about credible reports that such acts frequently occur with the participation, at the instigation or with the consent of commanding officers in police stations, detention centers, federal prisons, military bases and in unofficial or secret places of detention.”
It is difficult to accurately establish the number of political prisoners in Ethiopia. International human rights organizations are not allowed access to political prisoners or to investigate their situation. But various reports provide estimates that vary from several hundreds to tens of thousands. Recent estimates by Genocide Watch peg the number of political prisoners at around one hundred thousand. Political dissidents, critics and opposition leaders continue to be arrested and detained every day. In the past year, an undetermined number of members of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) and the Oromo People’s Congress (OPC) have been detained for political reasons. Other opposition parties have reported similar arrests of their members. Alleged members of the Oromo Liberation Front continue to be arrested and detained without charge. In just the past few months, journalists, opposition political leaders and activists, including Andualem Arage, the charismatic vice chairman of the opposition coalition Medrek, Natnael Mekonnen, an official of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party, the internationally-celebrated journalists Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu, and editor Woubshet Alemu have been sentenced to long prison terms.
Radical improvements in good governance and democracy also require repeal of the so-called “Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009”. Over the past few years, this “law” has been used to round up and jail dissidents, journalists and opposition party political leaders as “terrorists.” The law has been condemned by all international human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch criticized the law as “potent tool for suppressing political opposition and independent criticism of government policy.” The vaguely drafted “anti-terrorism law” in fact is not much of a law as it is a velvet gloved iron fist used to smash any opponent of the regime. Speech aimed at “advancing a political, religious or ideological cause” and intending to “influence the government”, “intimidate the public”, “destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social institutions of the country” is classified as “terrorism”. Making or publishing statements “likely to be understood as encouraging terrorist acts” is a punishable offense under the “law”. Anyone who provides “moral support or advice” or has any contact with an individual accused of a terrorist act is presumed to be a terrorist supporter. Anyone who “writes, edits, prints, publishes, publicizes, disseminates, shows, makes to be heard any promotional statements encouraging, supporting or advancing terrorist acts” is deemed a “terrorist”. A person who “fails to immediately inform or give information or evidence to the police” on a neighbor, co-worker or others s/he may suspect of “terrorism” could face up to 10 years for failure to report. Two or more persons who have contact with a “terror” suspect could be charged with conspiracy to commit “terrorism”.
Under the “anti-terrorism” law, “The police may arrest without court warrant any person whom he reasonably suspects to have committed or is committing terrorism” and hold that person in incommunicado detention. The police can engage in random and “sudden search and seizure” of the person, place or personal effects of anyone suspected of “terrorism”. The police can “intercept, install or conduct surveillance on the telephone, fax, radio, internet, electronic, postal, and similar communications” of a person suspected of terrorism. The police can order “any government institution, official, bank, or a private organization or an individual” to turn over documents, evidence and information on a “terror” suspect. A “terror” suspect can be held in custody without charge for up to “four months”. Any “evidence” presented by the regime’s prosecutor against a “terror” suspect in “court” is admissible, including “confessions” (extracted by torture), “hearsay”, “indirect, digital and electronic evidences” and “intelligence reports even if the report does not disclose the source or the method it was gathered (including evidence obtained by torture).
As I have previously commented, the “anti-terrorism” law criminalizes democratic civic existence itself: “Thinking is terrorism. Dissent is terrorism. Speaking truth to power is terrorism. Having a conscience is terrorism. Peaceful protest is terrorism. Refusing to sell out one’s soul is terrorism. Standing up for democracy and human rights is terrorism. Defending the rule of law is terrorism. Peaceful resistance of state terrorism is terrorism. But one must be reasonable about “terrorism”. Nelson Mandela was jailed for 27 years as a “terrorist” by the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Following his release, he said, “I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists. I tell them that I was also a terrorist yesterday, but, today, I am admired by the very people who said I was one.” The “antiterrorism law” must be repealed.
The so-called Charities and Societies Proclamation No. 621/2009 must be repealed. This “law” has been severely criticized by all of the major international human rights organizations. Among its draconian elements include prohibitions on foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from engaging in human rights and democratic advocacy activities in Ethiopia including advocacy of gender and religious equality, conflict resolution or justice system and electoral reform. A local NGO that receives more than ten percent of its funding from foreign sources is considered “foreign”. Since few Ethiopian NGOs are financially self-sufficient, the vast majority depend significantly on foreign sources for their funding. This law has effectively put them out of business. The law allows an administrative body to have final authority over NGO disputes by granting it broad discretion to deny, suspend or revoke the registration of any NGO. Criminal sanctions and fines are also provided for violations of the law exposing NGO officials, members, volunteers and service recipients. Moreover, this law flagrantly violates various sections of the Ethiopian Constitution dealing with freedom of expression, assembly and association as has been pointed out by various human rights organizations.
Ethiopia today stands at the crossroads. It can march forward into democracy by taking confident steps that begin radical improvements in good governance and democracy. Or Ethiopia can continue to slide backwards and deeper into the vortex of dictatorship. Or it can free fall into chaos and strife. The choice is ours to make. There are important lessons to be learned by all. Those in power should be mindful that “making peaceful revolution impossible is making violent revolution inevitable.” Others should heed the message of Dr. Martin Luther King who once told the great Harry Belafonte his concerns about racial desegregation and its potential consequences: “I fear, I am integrating my people into a burning house,” wondered Dr. King metaphorically referring to the potential for racial conflict and strife that could result from outlawing discrimination. Belafonte, somewhat taken aback asked Dr. King, “What should we do?” Dr. King told him that we should “become the firemen [and] not stand by and let the house burn.’” We all need to be Ethiopian firemen and firewomen and begin “radical improvements in good governance and democracy” today, not tomorrow!!
Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at: http://www.ecadforum.com/Amharic/archives/category/al-mariam-amharic and http://ethioforum.org/?cat=24
Previous commentaries by the author are available at: http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/ and www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/
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.
Is Meles Zenawi dead or alive has become the burning question of the day. It is sad even in death or near death the tyrant does not get any respect. You would think after dominating the Ethiopian scene for over twenty years the individual is entitled to some love. I am afraid all he has harvested in this short life is a lot of hate and loathing. He lived a violent life and his current condition whatever it is has turned up to be more violent than most of us dreamt of. Tumor in the brain is not a simple matter. Blood cancer is terminal. Chemotherapy treatment is a painful process. He came suddenly into our life and he is leaving us before sundown afraid of what the night might bring. It would have been better if he was made to answer for his crimes. That would have brought closure. As usual the coward is trying to slip away without accountability. Good riddance!
It is a sad ending and we all feel the pain. The situation creates all kinds of conflict in each of us. No one relishes pain and suffering on a fellow human being. But Meles Zenawi is not an ordinary human being. I have been reading all kinds of obituaries written both by foreigners and fellow Ethiopians the last few days. The analysis written by our foreign experts verges on the border of incoherence, are mostly disjointed and full of what I consider to be a sloppy cocktail of cultural bigotries.
The article by The Atlantic magazine and the attempt by AFP to do analysis are both poorly researched shameful works that will never be presented regarding events in any European country. It is Africa and all westerners are considered experts. What is surprising in both instances is their constant use of the term ‘intellectual, technocrat, sharp witted’ to explain Meles. If you notice no one calls Mr. Obama an intellectual or explain any of the Western leaders by the number of degrees they hold. In fact leaders like Mr. Obama or David Cameron go out of their way to present themselves as ordinary citizens. African leaders on the other hand are judged by the diplomas they hold and the size of their library rather than their work in the service of their people. It seems to shout ‘see he has a degree from one of our Universities thus he is not just another African savage, but an educated baboon’
The best Obituary is written on Aiga by someone named Aesop. Of course after the customary lauding of Meles as an intellectual, voracious reader etc. Aesop wrote the following: “Some of the “past leaders” managed to identify “some” problems but failed in action. But most have failed to even identify the problem and waited until the problem (or natural causes) consume them. Haile Selassie knew what the youth wanted and what the military was conspiring upon. However, he failed to reform- hence, was toppled. Tewodros identified “backwardness” but failed in action. Mengistu’s failures were in both fronts-a schizophrenic “little Tewodros” who left for Zimbabwe when reality hit on May 1991.” See what I mean, they have to knock all others down to lift their midget. I have no idea why he is not judged by his own deeds with out making those who came before him bad and unworthy?
This is the beginning of Woyane style of revision of history. Good try but that won’t happen. This time all his victims are present and accounted for. Today we write our own history. Twenty-one years ago most of Ethiopia was not aware of Meles Zenawi. We knew more about his mentor Isaiyas Afewerki. Meles and his TPLF group were a footnote. An after thought in the separatist war that has been going on forever in the northern part of our country. The emergence of the ill prepared junta leader Shaleka Mengistu created an opportune moment for the northern warriors to flourish. The demise of the Soviet Union, enabler of the Derg assured even for Meles to shine.
With the help of the US Woyane marched into Addis victorious. Some could consider that day the start of the degradation of our motherland. Woyane did not come to build but to destroy, not to plant the seeds of love and harmony but ready to harvest hate and animosity. During the dark days of living in caves and tunnels Meles and company were not dreaming of building a prosperous Ethiopia upon victory but rather were burning the midnight oil designing maps of separation and drawing flags of a different kind. For over twenty years they have been implementing the destruction of the country that nurtured them.
Meles Zenawi and his Woyane accomplices are responsible for the death and destruction of over one hundred thousand Ethiopians. I did not weave that figure from thin air or imagined it to hate on a dying or dead person but my assertion can be proved without much digging. In fact I believe I erred on the conservative side. The figure is much, much higher. I did not include those dead during the war with the Derg. I believe that was a legitimate form of uprising against a ruthless regime. I hold Meles and his Woyane friends responsible on what they did after they assumed power. Gambella, Hawasa and the Ogaden are the places we are aware of where Meles sent his Agazi forces to massacre citizens that were only asking for their god given right to live free. I am not going to argue the numbers but I believe the death of one Ethiopian is one too many. A sane and responsible government does not resort to using lethal force to silence its critics. Our Somali citizens in Ogaden have paid and are paying a heavy price for no other reason other than Meles’s desire to curry favor with the US.
The unnecessary war with Eritrea brought about by the behind the scene dealings between the two mad leaders has resulted in the death of over eighty thousand Ethiopians and Eritreans. Meles Zenawi and his Woyane party were not even respectful of the death of our solders to give them a decent burial nor gave recognition for their sacrifices. They were left to be eaten by wild animals and rot in the mountain and valleys of the Semen plateau. In early 2001, a concerned Ethiopian woman asked Meles as to the whereabouts of her son who did not return from his war with Eritrea. Irritated by the tone of her question, he said: “Lady, if your son does not return in 6 months time, then you’ll have your answer!”
We are not even told how many of our people died in the desert of Somalia fighting a phantom army conjured up by the US and Meles Zenawi. In addition to the death of our young people our country harvested hate and animosity with our brothers across the border for generations to come and money that could have been used to build schools, hospitals and infrastructure was wasted by Meles and his Woyane enablers.
I am not even going to mention what the mad criminal did when he lost the election in 2005. The whole world was a witness to that naked use of force to murder, intimidate and bully eighty million people to submission. Meles Zenawi was not a good human being. He was curse on our country and people. Building shoddy roads using borrowed money that we have to pay, building useless condominiums that look good on the outside but liable to deteriorate before the year is up using hard earned Diaspora money is not a sustainable economic development to crow about. Meles Zenawi spends more money on his personal security than all budget allocated to two of his Kilils.
The title of this article came from the Holy Bible. It goes “can the Ethiopian change his skin or the Leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” Jeremiah 13:27
It struck me as the best lesson to describe our current situation. So the prince of evil is on his way to receive the ultimate judgment. Who do you think is scrambling to inherit the crown? It is no other than the same Woyane thugs that have been part of the criminal empire as lieutenants or enablers. It should be obvious that they are going to continue the process of marginalizing, bullying, exiling and killing of those that do not see eye to eye with them.
Again I am not just making this up. Why you doubt me in the first place is not clear to me but I will give you evidence. The tyrant has not been seen or heard the last four weeks and nothing has changed in the land of the Habeshas. The rubber stamp Parliament was called into session and dutifully approved what was explained to them as the budget. The Moslems cry for justice was answered by jailing of their leaders and harsh beating of all those that dared not to disperse when told do so. The one and only independent newspaper Feteh’s edition dealing with matters not approved by the Communication department was confiscated. It looks like things are going to stay the same. This is what is known as ‘meet the new boss same as the old boss’ situation.
I believe it as about time we stop this game of good Woyane and bad Woyane, Woyane with an ounce of Eritrean blood and pure Woyane nonsense. We have to stop this insane discussion of the Constitution and the rules of succession of the mafia outfit. It is imperative that we define exactly what we want and stick to our demands until all are addressed. Compromise on certain principled issues is not the way to achieve success. Key issues are not open to negotiation and give and take. There is nothing wrong with standing firm on issues that are vital for survival and are the foundation stone for building a strong, free and democratic society. This half baked idea of accepting a piece of the pie has not taken us anywhere except see our country sink lower and lower in any index that measures human achievement. What exactly do we want? I am glad you asked.
First thing that is key and vital is a Constitution that is drawn by all Ethiopians and that reflects our dream and wishes for a united, strong and prosperous Ethiopia. A house without a solid foundation how pretty it looks is not a viable structure. A foundation with cracks, fissures and sub-par concrete mix or recycled metal will not be able to carry the weight of the building for long. The current Constitution was drawn by the dictator and his friends to serve the needs of the TPLF Party and his ethnic group. It has been revised time and again to serve particular situations that arose during his reign. Case in point is the amendment during his tiff with Ato Seye Abreha, his paranoia of Ginbot 7 that brought us terrorism and his attempt to outlaw the free press with the communication amendment.
The demise of the current Constitution is not a negotiable item. The new Constitution to be drawn after a lengthy discussion in the absence of coercion and open transparent debate will go along way to correct the many imperfection built in to Meles’s evil scheme. True Federalism that respects our diversity without creating a Chinese wall between us will put the concept of Kilil on the right path. As the concept of Apartheid as conceived by the White South African was smashed by Nelson Mandela our new document will place Kilil in the trash bin of history.
Again learning from the experience of South Africa under Mandela that prohibited establishment of political parties based on ethnicity, we in Ethiopia will put this toxic idea to rest once and for all. The TPLF party that has been one of the most evil organizations that has caused so much misery to all Ethiopians including the Tigrai people will not be allowed to ever raise its head in our ancient land. As the Germans got rid of the Nazi Party, as the South Africans marginalized the National Party so would Ethiopians will the TPLF out of existence. Doing away with Kilil and ethnic based parties is non-negotiable item.
I believe the opposition has to clearly present its wishes for the future Ethiopia to be built on the ashes of the current rotten system. There is no room for equivocation, sophistry and dead end short cuts. There is no room for generalized statements and debate on peripheral issues. Any opposition worthy of its organization has to tell the current legitimate wanna bees that are trying to build a new structure on the old, cracked foundation in no uncertain terms that the fate of Mubarak, Gadaffi, Ben Ali awaits them around the corner. No one predicted Meles would be faced with terminal illness at the young age of fifty-seven. No one can predict what the Ethiopian people will do when their anger boils over. No amount of arms, sharp shooters on every corner, spies in every household will contain the wrath of the people when they declare ‘Beka’ ‘Gaye’ ‘Bass’ ‘Yiakel’!
Ethiopia, Ato Meles and his health. By Yilma Bekele
Ato Meles Zenawi, Chairman of Tigrai People Liberation Front (TPLF) and Prime Minster of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is not in good health. I became aware of that fact after watching the video of a news clip made during his meeting with the President of China at the G8 meeting in Mexico. The last time we saw Ato Meles was during President Obama’s food conference and he was in perfect health. In fact he looked jovial with a new haircut and was dressed in his customary five to ten thousand dollars Italian or English suit. That was until Ato Abebe Gelaw of Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) gave him the scare of his life and he was forced to flee the continent. Things have not been the same ever since.
When he surfaced in Mexico it was obvious he had some medical issues in the interim period. His expensive clothes did not fit him right, his face was ashen and hollow and it was clear he has lost plenty of weight. I was forced to conclude we got a problem. Normally the fate of one individual should not be such a source of drama or wild speculations. But Ato Meles is not just another Ethiopian. He is the Country, Nation and people all rolled in one. The state of his health and well-being is not just idle speculation. His friends, Party or those close to him are not forthcoming with the cause of his illness. We are left to speculate, guess or are being forced to search for a fortuneteller and reduced to read the remains of his coffee cup or consult a palm reader.
We do that because whatever happens to him affects all of us in one-way or another. In the Western countries the health of the leader is an official record. If the leader dies or is incapacitated there are rules and systems set in place to assure smooth transition. Most African countries including ours lack that. In our case there has not been a natural and predictable manner of passing the mantle of leadership. In fact the last four instances have been a source of agony for the unfortunate leader in power and our poor Nation. That is why Ato Meles’s health is an issue we should all fret and worry about. We definitely do not want a surprise.
I am sure his family is worried. His friends are concerned. His Party is alarmed. The Ethiopian people are watching this drama with keen interest. No one wishes him ill but I doubt any body in Ethiopia is praying for his recovery either. It is fair to say the whole Nation is trying to figure out what his untimely demise will bring to our poor old country. What ever ails him is not a simple disease. That is why he is being cared for in Europe with top-notch specialists in an expensive private hospital. No amount of money will be spared to keep the green reaper at arms length.
Sooner or later we all die. We just do all we can to make it later than sooner. Our state of health and longevity is affected by all kinds of factors including a few we have no control on. Genetics, style of life and pure luck plays a big role. We try to eat right, exercise and avoid stress to increase our odds of a long happy life. There are a few things we know about the ‘Leaders’ life style to be able to make an educated guess on what is ailing him.
We know that he smokes, that is cigarettes. We are told that he enjoys chewing Kat with his buddies. His politburo friends are known to enjoy expensive liquor thus we can safely assume that he probably joins them in this past time. All three habits are considered forms of substance abuse and have ramifications on vital organs such as lung, heart and liver. It is fair to say that the last few years, palace living has resulted in weight gain resulting in added girth.
Most leaders keep a busy schedule and have no time for exercise. We know that Ato Meles is studying for his PhD in addition to his duties as the Prime Minster and that leaves him with no time for the gym. We have heard antidotes about his tennis matches but judging from the way he came down the airplane steps during his trip to Philadelphia to one of his meetings one can tell he is not in good shape. He was laboring to walk down while his agile wife descended swiftly even in her high heels.
There is no proof that Ato Meles is suffering from a terminal illness. On the other hand there is no information to say that he just caught the common cold either. As I said due to the nature of the totalitarian system that values secrecy we are left to speculate. We worry and stress because history teaches us that the demise of a dictator, which Ato Meles is, brings all sorts of unforeseen complications on the Nation they leave behind.
Whether they commit suicide like Hitler, are hanged like Mussolini, die in their sleep like Stalin, face a firing squad like Ceausescu and wife, hunted down, sodomized, pistol whipped and shot like Gadaffi or face the International court of justice like Charles Taylor dictators all leave a trail of destruction behind them. That is why Ato Meles’s illness becomes our concern and worry. We think about it to try to figure out how to avoid chaos due to a power vacuum.
This sort of power vacuum attracts all kinds of good and bad characters that would want to capitalize on the empty space created and might be tempted to fill it with something other than people’s power. We do not want that. So what are the forces arrayed to replace the one man, one party rule currently dis-functioning in the land of the Abeshas?
The TPLF party is the premier center of power. Ato Meles and his associates control the Military, security service, the mass media and the economy. What is there left is a good and valid question. Technically Ato Meles is the de-facto head of all these powerful organizations. He is a hand on manager. The different entities are foreign to each other but all report to him. That is how one-man dictatorship works. Some countries like China practice group dictatorship. The Central committee of the ruling Communist Party functions as a group. While others like North Korea or Ethiopia rely on the benevolence of a single individual. The question arise is the TPLF Party capable of functioning as a single entity without the head? Or would the different departments that were designed to look at each other with suspicion coalesce to form a united front? It is highly doubtful.
There are various centers of power within the organization. Queen Azeb the wife is in charge of the economic section. Due to her high visibility and negative press any one group is willing to sacrifice her to save their skin. The internal security is a force to recon with. Would the Generals trust this hi tech mercenaries is a question to consider. The original TPLF functionaries like Sebhat or Abbay are rendered toothless but still operate behind the scene. Why any self respecting Woyane will ally with these old fashioned kitchen conspirators is something to think about. The new upstarts like Tewodros Adhanom or launderer Gebre Kristos have their feet on both camps always ready to abandon ship if the situation heats up. No one trusts the duo. The likes of Seyoum will not come back for all the tea in China.
The military is the most logical center of power that is capable of using force to usurp power. In the current situation of Ethiopia that scenario is a little complicated. Due to the nature of the use of ethnic affiliation used by Ato Meles the military is not a cohesive force. All the top leaders and commanders are from one ethnic group while the rank and file is a reflection of the country. It is fair to say both OLF and G7 are present and functioning creating further uncertainty. Uncertainty is not good for conspiracy. The role played by the top Generals in the economy has isolated them from the average solder. Is it a professional army or peasants in uniform is a valid question. Does one fight to attain power or save his investment creates split personality.
I don’t mean to forget those organized as EPRDF. There are plenty but the Amhara and Oromo stand out at least on paper as the most likely group that will refuse to die quietly. Their puppet leaders are faced with a real dilemma. Divorced from their people they have no base to appeal to. Rendered powerless by design they have no army or security to fall back on. The TPLF mafia that is running them now does not harbor any respect towards their outfit or intends to include them in the deliberations. They are left between a rock and a hard place. For all practical purposes it is easier to ignore and discard them.
Where does the opposition fit in this picture is a good question. The major opposition, the nightmare of the ruling group is of course Ginbot7. G7 is the enemy they know is around but are unable to touch and feel. It is the cause of their blind fury. I will take their word for it G7 is everywhere. Of course G7 could be the figment of their imagination, the result of their paranoia then again why would they allocate so much resource to hunt down a ghost? In my humble opinion G7 is EPRP and Kinijit on testosterone! We all know what those two groups are capable of.
There is also the on and off legal opposition. That is a tricky animal to deal with. At the moment Andenet is the only one with any amount of dignity and respect. The Ledetus and the Chammisos are rendered useless and will most probably hide out the chaotic period and pray for dear life since all opposition groups will be hunting them down for the stray dogs they have become. That leaves us with the Beyenes the Meraras and the Hailus, the darlings of the civilized West. Those are the people our benefactors will try to parade out and use. They will become pictures of civil society. Believe me they will play their choreographed part to the hilt. They cooperated and served Ato Meles, no reason to think they will be allergic to the West for a promise of visibility and fist full of dollars.
The West led by the US is the wild card in this scenario. They very much like stability and the status quo under their guidance. Their interest at the moment is having a strong foothold in the Horn of Africa to prepare for the coming war for resources. Governments like the TPLF mafia are their preferred arrangement. A weak and divided country is their choice. I do not think they go out of their way to create those conditions but on the other hand they do not discourage such reality. Our neighborhood is a fertile ground for contention by the big powers. Except for Kenya and Tanzania we are surrounded by weak, divided and civil war prone countries that exist from day to day with no guarantee of tomorrow. The US, the Europeans or the Chinese are not about to discover their moral compass and save us from our selves. Expecting them to do so is the height of foolishness or a result of extreme poverty of self-esteem.
As I write this Ato Meles is in Europe being healed and the factions he left behind are shell shocked and in a daze. A few will have some reliable information but the vast majority will be operating in the dark trying to figure out this brand new reality in the midst of dis information, mis information and foggy information. Plenty will be sending their family to far away places and moving vast amount of money out of the country. Some will lock their doors and hunker down until the storm settles while a few will search for new alignments and future partners. The kilils will take the opportunity to assert their newfound power and create further complications to the beleaguered party. It is possible organized criminal elements will take advantage of the uncertainty and intensify such activities as bank robbery and hijackings. The Amharic saying ‘ye wedke zaf mesar yebezabetal.’ Is being played live in our country. It is highly possible the different factions will begin to duke it out prematurely. It is conceivable they will end up doing the dirty part of the job for the rest of us. As I see it not matter what this down ward spiral will continue for the forcible future.
The Ethiopian government was peddling its ponzi scheme of selling bonds for the pie in the sky project named The Grand Renaissance Dam’ on the Abbay river here in the Bay Area. It was not as lavish as the event that took place in their embassy in Washington DC. That ‘event was graced by the presence of a high- level Ethiopian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister and Chairman of the National Renaissance Council, Haile Mariam Desalegn’ according to Aiga. Since he has such a long title they have shortened to D/PM, FM to go along with his curtailed duty that only includes reading written notes, greeting visitors and presiding at Renaissance meetings.
Ours event was shall I say ‘graced’ by their Conciliate from Los Angles and a political science professor from Addis Abeba University. Considering I was marching in front their office in Los Angles just a week ago regarding their current attempt at destroying our cherished heritage of Waldeba monastery it was a little confusing to see his honor involved in building a dam. They invited all Ethiopians and I just couldn’t refuse. My curiosity overcame my rationality. I am glad I went, If the Ethiopian people are subjected to such farcical presentation day in day out I felt sitting for a two hours presentation was the least I can do to understand the daily stress of my people.
The first speaker that described herself as the Chairperson of the project in the Bay Area mentioned that her group has been active for less than three months. What knocked me off my seat was her declaration that in this short time they have been able to sell $138,000 US dollars worth of bonds. That is 2.4 million Bir. I was impressed. Then I turned around and all I could see was about twenty-five people in the room. I thought people who paid all that money will defiantly attend a meeting to see how their money was spent but for some reason they just did not bother to show up. Is it possible that they are just a figment of someone’s imagination?
Well with all things Woyane the imagination is always greater than the reality and this was an indication of better things to happen as the meeting progressed. One thing I notice about Woyane lectures is that they have this unhealthy fascination with power point presentation. It is futile attempts to sugar coat the lie and empty rhetoric by sharp looking graphs and larger than life pictures. Facts are glossed over while the listener is trying to figure out all the confusing information being displayed at a random fashion.
The Ambassador has the most difficult task of the two speakers. It is not easy being a snake oil salesman. The regular joke about us not being smart or dedicated enough to use the mighty Abbay was of course mentioned. We are supposed to thank the far-reaching leadership of Meles Zenawi to have come up with such a fantastic and brilliant idea of building a dam on Abbay. I am sure we will be told soon it came to him during his sleep showing us even in bed that sharp mind is still working. The Ambassador used a short documentary to show us the progress since the start of the project. Shall we say the presentation was a little lacking for a task that is projected to cost us billions?
The short video was made either to insult or mock anybody with an ounce of intelligence. There was one excavator and one dump truck and a few cement mixer trucks. Yes I said one lonely excavator. For a country with eighty million people where over half of the adult population is unemployed you would think human labor would be the preferred choice if one really wants to use the resources under his nose. Unfortunately that will require the enthusiastic participation of the nation in the project but when your government is unpopular and viewed with suspicion that is not an option. Plus it would require transporting people from one kilil to another and that is not allowed.
What we saw was may be fifty or so guys dressed in orange uniform. What was fascinating was to see the skinny flag of Salini the Italian construction company flying from a bowed tree pole. If you remember Salini was the same company that was in charge of Gibe II project where the tunnel collapsed exactly a month after inauguration. That was a no bid project and you can imagine where most of the money borrowed in then name of Ethiopia went. I thought this project was by us and for us and what the heck is Salini doing there? May be Salini is paying us for what Minilk did to his grand pa a while back. Lets us all remind our children to get back the money stolen with the modern day Askaris including interest as soon as we reclaim our land.
The official spoke at length about the many successful projects accomplished the last twenty years. That is well and good but twenty years is a long time and showing no progress would have been a little strange. The issue here is here is how much progress and under what circumstances. When you consider President Obama is fighting like hell for his reelection bid and he only had four years to correct a colossal economic melt down I would say twenty years is quite generous amount of time to do miracles. So our question to our rulers becomes what you got to show for twenty years of being in complete charge? Knocking down the old cannot be a perpetual excuse, at a certain point one has to stand on his own record. Unfortunately like a broken record our rulers never tire talking about yesterday to cover up today’s shortcoming.
I have to admit the professor gave a very intelligent presentation regarding the role water or river plays in international dealings between nations. He was very knowledgeable on the subject and his power point presentation was flawless. The problem reared its head when it comes to his conclusion. It is one thing to explain water intellectually but to bring it home and try to make it relate to woddase dam is a lit bit tricky, and it showed. He was left floundering unable to commit and say this project is what is needed and this regime can bring it to life. He cannot say that with conviction. As a political scientist he knows theory in one thing but implementation requires a whole host of other factors that have to be present to achieve success. The current organization that is operating in our country is not conducive to attain that goal and a first year college freshman can tell you that. It would be considered intellectual dishonesty to trust one of the most corrupt regimes to carry out such a colossal task.
You see scheming the surface no one is against building a dam, a highway or a factory. The truth of the matter is that most Ethiopians will give the shirt of their back if it will help our country. The problem lies with that qualifier ‘if’ it just leaves an uncertain feeling doesn’t it? That is the problem with our renaissance dam project. It is a very uncertain proposal that is difficult to explain and not easy to digest.
It is not easy because based on reality, as we have known it the last twenty years the people in power cannot be trusted to do anything that will bring honor or pride to our country. No one in his right mind will trust the folks in charge to be able to bring any project to a successful conclusion. If there is anything we can be sure of is that they will find a hundred different ways to screw us up. Here is the real Ethiopia in nutshell:
1) Social harmony: None. Our country is divided into Kilils and we are made to view each other with suspicion and hate. We are in fact deporting our own citizens within the country. Today the regime is attempting to create conflict among our old religions throughout the land. Both Christians and Moslems are resisting mightily but it is an uphill struggle.
2) Economy: Bankrupt. Inflation is double digits and unemployment is beyond imagination. Over eight million people are on food aid and famine is real. The government is in the process of leasing land to foreigners so they can grow crops for export. The economy is controlled by EFFORT a one ethnic based conglomerate.
3) War: Plenty. Since coming to power the TPLF regime has fought with Eritrea and sacrificed over eighty thousand lives. It has invaded Somalia and no one knows the sacrifice in human lives and money. Inside the country it has sent its solders to kill in Gambella, Ogaden, Hawasa, Gondar, Afar, etc.
4) Politics: Waging relentless disruption against opposition parties and groups is second nature to the regime. In the aftermath of the 2005 elections the regime murdered over two hundred eighty citizens, imprisoned all the opposition and hauled over forty thousand people to concentration camps. (We thank the heroic act of Judge Woldemariam and his associates in smuggling out the evidence) The Parliament is the playground of the Prime Minster.
5) Media: Government monopoly. Television. Radio, print media, Internet and telecommunications are all controlled by the regime. Independent voice is not allowed. Our friends Eskinder Nega, Reyot Alemu and Webeshet Taye among many others are today in prison because they spoke and wrote the truth.
There is no need to recount further atrocity the question becomes how could you trust such a ruthless bunch of sycophants to carry out a noble task as building a dam? One has to be plenty gullible or certified moron to go along with such Ponzi scheme. How could you hand your hard earned money where there is no accountability, no consultation or any outside independent audit?
This is what Ambassador Girma Birru, Special Envoy and Ambassador Extra-ordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the US and non-resident envoy to Mexico – another long title don’t you think? Any way here is how Aiga reported it ‘In his revealing statement the Ethiopian Special Envoy recounted the propitious political climate which is prevalent in present day Ethiopia that allows the free participation of the citizenry in matters ranging from the right to assembly, association, expression and faith up to and including the basic right to vote in elections that are held regularly @ the county, district, state and federal levels.’ Do you think he actually believes that? He must have said what was reported, the question becomes who is crazy them or us? You be the judge.
In our presentation here in Oakland both speakers were adamant in saying the renaissance dam site is sparsely populated and no one was moved or relocated. Isn’t it always surprising all their projects are so pure and picked for locations where no Ethiopian resides? But at the same time why do we come across a whole bunch of our citizens that have been made homeless when their land is leased to forsaken foreigners? Then why do we hear our brother Ato Ojulu from Gambella who has been forced from his ancestral land pleading from Kenya? Their lie seems never to stop.
In conclusion I would like to say something. It is true but a sad statement. The assembly in our city was a reflection of what is taking place in our country. It has to be pointed out because it has to be discussed openly and corrected in a timely manner. As I said there were less than thirty people present and over ninety percent were from one ethnic group. Pretending otherwise is not healthy. The question to ask is why? Why would only Tigreans show up to support the construction of a dam on Abbay? Abbay is far from Tigrai Kilil so why are they feeling this special affinity to this project? It is a valid question. I am sure we all have all seen this kind of weird and strange situation on every question raised in our homeland.
I will give my answer and it is definitely not the final statement on the issue. It is what I think right or wrong. My response is to help us openly analyze the dilemma faced by all of us and devise a healthy and lasting solution instead of whispering from behind and muddying the situation further. First of all this virus was brought upon us by no other than Meles Zenawi and his accomplices. It was in the late seventies while all were trying to form a united front and fight the Derg that his group insisted in this separate non-inclusive way of struggle. Their first causality was the brave patriotic EPRP that sacrificed beautiful children of Ethiopia in their prime. Meles Zenawi did as much damage as Mengistu Hailemariam when it comes to our educated and dedicated brothers and sisters that stood for real freedom and unity of our nation. We will never forget.
Since 1992 TPLF has inoculated our nation with this deadly virus more dangerous than HIV aids. They have set us up against each other. Our meeting is the result of this disease that even follows us into a free land. Tigreans have become hostages of this disease and the rest of us have allowed it to simmer while a few have bought into this crap. It is true a few Tigreans are riding this wave and accumulating wealth and riding rough on the rest of us. Meles and company are always pointing out our differences and making sure the few they have chosen are displayed. What is true in today’s Ethiopia is that all real power is in the hands of this ethnic group starting from the security, military, banking, commerce and key organizations. On the other hand the average Tigrai living in the rural areas of his kilil is as much the victim as rest of our own peasants. No matter how some put it the Tigrai Kilil is not the paradise it is portrayed to be. The TPLF tugs in charge are the same everywhere.
Do we buy into this negative scenario as painted by Meles and company or see it as the self-serving philosophy by a few friends and family to extend their evil rule over all of us? Has this kind of mind set ever shown to work or has it at certain point exploded on the makers and taken all into the abyss? Isn’t that what we see in history when we study totalitarian systems and their implosion from inside? Isn’t that what happened in Libya? Are we witnessing it in Syria with Assad and his Alawit tribe fighting for dear life from house to house? What do you think is going to happen in Syria once Assad and his little army are wiped away? Syria is not going anywhere but what kind of Syria would it be? Can they just forget the hate and animosity that has been cultivated and put their energy on building a new society? Or would it take a long time to wash away the negative energy, mistrust and hate that have been systematically planted in every Syrian brain?
When we see our Ethiopia these are the things we should contemplate instead of trying to out perform each other on the level of our hate. We should be very careful on how we view the situation and search deep into our heart and soul before we judge others due to their ethnic affiliation or religion. None of us choose where we are conceived. We should be judged on what kind of human being we have become. Sometimes in times of scarcity and fear buying into the evil design of a few we all go astray. The only thing that will bring us back to the right path is show of love and tolerances not more hate and further attempt at marginalizing. Remember both the perpetrator and victim are connected and the attempt should be to save both if possible without doing further damage.
I am sure all those that gathered in our meeting love Ethiopia. I am sure in their own way they all think they are doing the right thing. Unfortunately both sides cannot be right. The road taken by the current government has only shown that this sort of exclusive journey is not lasting nor will it bear good fruit. Our job is to patiently explain the futility of traveling on this dead end street and bring our people back to our fold. That is not done thru condemnation, name-calling or threat but show of love, understanding and showing by example. It is a shame educated and conscious Ethiopians have fallen pray to this narrow ethnic divide and some by cooperation a few by their silence have emboldened the sick and worthless students of TPLF garage and nihilist philosophy. I believe in every one of us our kind side outweighs the evil and bad and our challenge is to bring out the good and infect our people with this sweet medicine God has built into us. We pray for our country.
Truth be told I was not aware of Waldeba Monastery until quite recently. Today I live Waldeba, I breathe Waldeba, and I believe Waldeba has taken over my soul. Mind you I am not protesting rather I am being thankful for this ancient place for bringing focus into my life. Waldeba has managed to gather all the scattered pieces of information residing in my brain and managed to sort them out in an orderly fashion and place them all in one location for easy access and safekeeping.
Even the name Waldeba evokes positive feelings and the story when told brings a sense of pride and dignity. Waldeba is the history of our ancient land, the perseverance of our ancient people and the uniqueness of our history all rolled in one. When I say Waldeba defines us all, I doubt anyone of you will disagree after I tell you about this remote location that is but a jewel of our glorious past. My friend Asrat always says ‘Egziabher saydeges aytalam’ this time I believe he is onto something. For it was no other than our Woyane bad doers that brought Waldeba into our consciousness. We are always grateful for this human bulls let loose in a China store.
Waldeba was in the mind and heart of millions of Ethiopians this last Monday. They prayed in Ethiopia in their own silent ways while their children marched World Wide to speak for them. We marched in Washington DC, we danced in the streets of New York, we sang in Los Angles, we celebrated in Toronto, we colored the streets of London green, yellow and red while we adorned South Africa with our indomitable spirit and we prayed in Melbourne Australia. We let the world know in no uncertain terms Waldeba is Ethiopia. The battle has just began!
Why are we so incensed about Waldeba is a valid and good question. Why does Waldeba matter is not an idle inquiry. When we ask about our past it helps us see the present in a better light and determines our response on how we answer questions about the future. That is why we fill detailed forms at the doctor’s office about our health and parents condition. Our past gives the caregiver clue about our future. That is why regimes redefine the past to construct a new reality. Please notice Meles Zenawi’s obsession regarding our ancient history and his trash talk every chance he gets. Waldeba is another stop in his quest to redefine our past. Destruction of Waldeba erases a critical building block of who we are and where we came from. He wants to redefine us in his own distorted image.
Waldeba is not another location. Waldba monastery is one of the oldest and holiest religious enclaves in Ethiopia. It was founded around 490 AD and is located in one of the most remote regions of north Ethiopia protected by the mighty Semen Mountain range. Waldeba is surrounded by four rivers Semo in the north Tekeze in the east Zewereg in the in the west and Zewa in the south. This modern assault by the TPLF regime is not the first on Waldeba or our church. It has withstood Yodit’s wrath around the 10th century two hundred seventy eight years after its founding. The forces of Ahmed Gragn attacked around 1531 and plundered churches and monasteries including Waldeba and Debre Libanos. Today’s incursion is a continuation of further attempt to undermine our heritage. It is but another test of our perseverance.
Waldeba’s contribution to our culture will take a whole encyclopedia to recite. It is part of our rich history in consort with our Tewahedo Church that produced such significant items as our alphabet, our calendar and a desirable place for scholars. It is a training ground for our priests and deacons and many Abunes have graduated from its sanctuary to serve their people. Waldeba is a cherished treasure for all Ethiopians regardless of religious affiliation.
Waldeba has been a protected enclave thru out history. No one has dared to take away from Waldeba that has been willed by God. Successive Ethiopian rulers has shown reverence for Waldeba and what it stands for and went out of their way to protect, enhance and cherish this holy site. Today the TPLF regime under Meles Zenawi is in the process of invading Waldeba. The excuse given is to grow sugarcane and establish a processing plant. They have moved heavy machinery to build a dam for irrigation and pave highways for transporting product and people.
As usual their plan of attack is for the Woyane regime to take the high road of development while defining the opposition as anti progress. Why would anyone in his right mind oppose such a noble cause of building industry and creating employment becomes the question asked by the average observer. They are expert at this sort of thing. They have orchestrated massacre of their own citizens at Hawzen in cold blood and video taped the atrocity for propaganda purpose. Interhawme was their charge in 2005 in their callous attempt to play with fire regardless of the consequences. The current drama of building a dam on Abbay is another attempt to stand for progress and portray the rest as nay Sayers.
Today they are using their monopoly on state media to confuse and misinform. They are trotting out one dead brain TPLF official one after another to explain why their war on our heritage is misunderstood. They are interviewing cadres dressed as monks, cadres pretending to be local citizens and hired engineers and thugs to give testimony on how the project is benign to the Waldeba and its environment. It looks like we are all hysterical and unreasonable while TPLF officials are defending their responsibility to govern.
TPLF always have a strange notion of how to govern. Their style seems to be they decide behind closed doors and we accept their version at face value. Asking question raising valid points for discussion is frowned upon. It is labeled the work of ‘neftegna, dergist, monarchist, counter revolutionary or useless Diaspora.’ We have seen all this before. We are familiar with TPLF motto of ‘my way or the highway.’ It has been the practice for over twenty years.
Erecting a sugar plantation on a holy site is wrong. Pushing it down the throats of local citizens is unacceptable. Undermining our heritage and disturbing the peace and tranquility of our monks is a crime by any standard of civilized behavior. Attacking the weak and humble monks and priests that work day and night praying for our country, our children and our safety is not the work of a responsible government but that of a coward and fascist tug using the power of the state for nefarious purpose.
Thus we drove down to Los Angles to make our views known to the world. We drove in peace to exercise our right to petition the government in power to cease and desist from this wrong policy of substituting heritage for money and power. It was a joyous trip on behalf of our fathers and mothers that are denied their god given right to live in peace. The enthusiasm of the young Ethiopians in exile still filled with love for their country and culture was intoxicating. Their boundless energy, determination and unsurpassed hope for the future was infectious to all around them. To see that our future is in good hands with my young friends is priceless. We sang and marched in peace, we carried our flag high and danced in the streets of Los Angles for all to see that Ethiopia is not alone that her children are awake and alert and her heritage is not something to trifle with.
Waldeba has faced danger before. It has existed for thousands of years. Waldeba will exist for thousands more, no question about that. Waldeba is Gods country. We the children of Waldeba were helping our own way with the little insignificant voice we can muster to help bring peace to this holy place. Those that attack or undermine Waldeba would have to answer to a higher authority. May God help them see the light, we have tried our best.
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