January 19, 2014
A) As an Introduction
We are now approaching the month of May of next year. It is just sixteen months away. We will be turning exactly the 24rth year of one of the most unfortunate pages of our political history (1991- 2015). Needless to say, it is terrifyingly disturbing to go through this long period of untold suffering for the people who had come across seventeen years of the brutal military regime (1974-1991).It was 23 years ago that the Ethiopian people were conspiratorially deceived and later on forced to live under another nightmarish political system (the revolutionary democracy and developmental state of TPLF/EPRDF). I strongly believe in both individual rights; and the rights of nationalities to administer their own local affairs and use their languages and develop their cultures under a genuinely structured and fairly functioning federal system of government. Unfortunately enough, the current ruling front which is of course controlled by TPLF has made ethnic and tribal politics the main instrument for maintaining its political power. What makes this ethnic –based political gangsterism much more horrible is its systematic way of reorganizing of the military, the law enforcement and the security network under the total control of the mastermind of the ruling front (TPLF); and using them as its crashing machine over any opposition and critic to its evil- driven political agenda. That is exactly what happened during and after the 2005 general election. It is very hard to comprehend how it is deeply painful to languish for more than four decades (17 +24) under seriously ill-guided and evil-driven political systems.
Should we seriously be concerned and deeply worried not only about the continuity but also the much more worsening situation in between now and the next year “democratic election?” We absolutely should be! The ruling elites who are deeply frustrated after the death of their notoriously Machiavellian mentor (Ato Meles Zenawi) have unequivocally told us that they are committed to carry on “the great legacy of the great leader” by employing any means at any cost. Is this not extremely mind-boggling? Absolutely it is! We have witnessed and are continuing to witness the stupidly irresponsible propaganda and politically-motivated practices/actions which clearly indicate that the very deadly political game may repeat itself after one decade right after 16 months (May of next year).
I want here to underline that the way I am describing the very horrible political behavior, agenda and action of the ruling elites (including the late Ato Meles Zenawi) has nothing to do with mongering either personal or irrationally political hatred as members and beneficiaries of the ruling party try to counter-argue; and even some fellow-men/ fellow-women who are victims of highly cynical propaganda seem to be uncomfortable with. What I strongly do hate is the very criminal political action that has been employed and is being employed for nothing else, but to perpetuate the political power which is of course the “best” means to insure the “best life style ” of the ruling elites and cronies at the very cost of the lives of millions of poverty-stricken Ethiopians. I have a very serious problem if any person with his or her right mind tells me that putting the hard fact about the politically motivated state –terror for the last two decades, and demanding for bringing it to an end is a mere hatred towards the ruling elites. I absolutely disagree with an argument that tries to convince me that it is mere hatred to vehemently condemn the political atrocities committed by the ruling party during and after the 2005 election. I vehemently disagree with anyone who tries to argue that condemning the ruling party that has dag the mass graves of the victims of red terror and used their remains for its cheap political propaganda while killing and burring those who oppose its political direction is mere political hatred. That is absolutely absurd, if not a terribly wicked mentality.
B) Alarmingly Dangerous Political Games
Now let me just highlight few of those dangerous indicators of the very deadly political direction that could end up repeating the very ugly political game of 2005.
1. The so-called documentary film of “Akeldama” was/ is one of very disturbing political conspiracies that emanated from the very desperate attempt by the ruling circle. This very ugly but dangerous orchestration was/ is nothing but to perpetuate highly poisonous political power. It goes without saying that maintaining the political power is the major weapon to control natural and economic resources that make the lives of the ruling elites and cronies “continually enjoyable” at the very expense of the people of Ethiopia. And this of course is the political reality of our country in particular and African politics in general. How does it work? By fabricating and dramatizing any blackmailing and accusation and subsequently throwing those peaceful political dissenters and those journalists of independent media who were trying their best to inform the public about what went wrong and what should be done into very miserably notorious prisons. By doing so, the tyrannical ruling elites of “ours” have convinced themselves that those who could be genuinely sympathetic to any legitimate cause, and courageous enough to support the great examples set by those innocent citizens should be terrorized and held back .They (the ruling elites) have come to the conclusion that unless they keep all opposition political dissenters and even all critical political thinking under constant and harsh crackdown, the upcoming “election” may get out of their notorious control. That is what we are witnessing as we are approaching the upcoming national “election”.
2. “Jihadawi Harakat” was another foolishly but dangerously orchestrated “documentary” drama that was part and parcel of “the great anti-terrorism campaign” aimed not only at disuniting but also inciting an inflammable hatred and deadly conflict particularly between the two major religions (the Orthodox Christian and Islam). Needless to say, the ruling circle has been and is deeply worried that this well-disciplined, well- organized, and most importantly legitimate and peaceful movement which is aimed at getting one of the most important rights of citizens, freedom of worship (religion) respected could be one of the components of the country-wide struggle for genuine freedom and justice. . Given the ruling party’s behavior and practice particularly since the 2005 election and the rise of Ethiopian Muslims for their basic rights, it is not difficult to expect another monstrous political drama as far as the fate of those members of the committee who are still languishing under the hands of the notorious prison officials are concerned. The very inner circle of TPLF/EPRDF will either give order to the “judges” to pass harsh ruling or may try hard to convince those victims to confess/ plead guilty and seek for the mercy of the ruling party. No doubt, the very inner circle of the ruling party and its loyal partners (beneficiaries) believe that this very dehumanizing way of doing things is the best way to keep going with their political power absolutely unchecked. With this type of evil-driven hunger for unlimited political power, the ruling elites had to and has to crash any popular and legitimate movement before the up-coming “election”. That is what we have to face in between now and next year.
3. Another political movement that has taken the ruling elites frustratingly by surprise was the very courageous and remarkably moving political reawakening organized by the Blue Party (Semayawi Party). This opposition political party which mainly consists of the youth, a generation which does not want to see its future being ruined by those ruling elites who have no any sense of statesmanship (no wisdom and skill about generations beyond their own voracious and short term interests) keeps moving forward despite all the notorious measures being unleashed. Semayawi has clearly demonstrated that if there should be political freedom and socio-economic justice, there is no way other than challenging the ruling party with a truly peaceful but powerfully patriotic political struggle. We have witnessed how the ruling circle has been and is disturbed/frustrated with this movement of which its leadership and membership are energetic and much more forward-looking. There is no any doubt that TPLF/EPRDF is determined to crash this energetic and forward-looking opposition force right from its bud before it grows and get strength, and become one of the strongest alternative democratic forces during the upcoming “election’. That is exactly what we have witnessed and are witnessing. The very political crime on peaceful and legitimate public demonstrations and protests organized by the Blue Party are very clear testimonies about how the ruling party is determined to continue its dirty, if not bloody political game unchallenged and unchecked.
4. There is no doubt that the ruling party has made a lot of effort to eliminate an opposition political party that has been reorganized with those who had gone through the 2005 election and its tragic consequences ; and had been thrown into jail with senselessly fabricated information, accusations and ‘evidences” . How the late mastermind of the ruling party, Ato Mels Zenawi had turned the rule of law (the judiciary system) upside down when he had offered his ruling on the then leader of UDJ (Ms. Birtukan Mideksa) is one of the most notorious political crimes of our time. Not only this, but also the very conspiratorial way he used in the process of her release was and is one of the deeply painful parts of our political experiences. All this was done to destroy any political movement that could use the bitter experience of the 2005 tragic political game as one of the inputs of strength. It is very unfortunate to witness all this deadly political agenda and action led by a politician who had gone far to the extent of denying his deadly illness that had led to his untimely natural death.
Fortunately enough, with all its troubling weaknesses, UDJ has not only survived of all kinds of state –terror but has also become one of the major opposition political forces. It has become the party of a truly patriotic young leaders such as Andualem Arage and others who are paying huge sacrifices for the sake of freedom and justice. The ruling elites who are terribly dysfunctional morally and politically have become more dangerously notorious when they see various opposition groups closely working together. I am referring to Medrek/UDJ and others who have undertaken relatively encouraging steps to move together .We have witnessed a desirable effort (arguably) by UDJ in collaboration with Medrek and other genuinely concerned political parties to make the legitimate and peaceful voices of the people for democracy and justice heard in different cities and towns of the country under the a very powerful theme “Millions of Voices for Freedom”. On the contrary, we have witnessed how the ruling elites have extremely gotten panic or deeply frustrated; and tried to suppress the voices of the people using their notorious state machineries. That is what we are facing between now and the most critical political battle of next year.
5. We currently are witnessing the continuation of a notoriously orchestrated political episode under the subtitle of “Terrorism in Ethiopia.” It goes without saying that the tyrannical elites stupidly believe that it is possible to suppress, if not assassinate the truth itself and with keep going with their deadly notorious political game. How do they do that? They either block any means of independent communication that carries any grain of truth and let it be spread and be the unbreakable instrument for the victory of those who hold the truth; or they terrorize or even kill citizens who try to share the reality (the truth) they do know with the public. That is exactly why the ruling elites are trying to make certain media such as ESAT parts of their ongoing stupidly orchestrated political attack (drama). Well, leaving aside the question of whether the ruling party is part of this ugly and senseless game as one of its weapons to crackdown its political opponents, any act of terror should be condemned unconditionally. The question we have to direct to the ruling party is that it is a public knowledge that those who are victims of this campaign are peaceful political dissenters, innocent journalists, and thousands of citizens who simply tried to get their political freedom and human dignities respected. It is stupidly hypocritical and terribly cynical to throw those innocent citizens into jails and make them suffer while those ordered and executed a politically –motivated terror in the name of national security are not only free but have also continued doing so. Needless to say, the very essence of national security, rule of law and justice are terribly being abused. We read about them (national security, rule of law and justice) on papers as if they are instruments to protect people’s interests while the reality is diametrically to the contrary. I do not think we need to go far in search of evidences to prove that in this type of political system what is protected is not national interest or public security. It is rather the very heartless interests of the ruling elites and their cronies. And that is what does state-terror as a political weapon mean. Folks that is why we should be deeply worried and concerned in between now and next year.
C) So, What Should We Do and How We Get Things Right?
I want just want to express my view points in the form of talking points, not in the form of lengthy discussion. Let me proceed as follows:
1. I strongly believe that the first thing we have to deal with is to admit that we as citizens, opposition political groups/movements, civic associations, and most importantly as a community have contributed to the continuation of an ill-guided and evil-driven political system for the last more than two decades. How? Because we in most cases are victims of the political culture of blaming each other, not only the tyrannical ruling front. It is extremely puzzling and painful to choose staying disunited and disorganized while we keep making rhetoric after rhetoric about the necessity of coming together around issues that matter most for all of us. I strongly argue that unless we take positively aggressive steps in this regard, there is no reason why we won’t see the repetition of the political tragic of 2005.
2. I want to believe that despite all their serious problems and mistakes, the opposition political parties which are operating in a deadly hostile political environment deserve a critical but constructive appreciation and support. It has to equally be stressed that those opposition political forces desperately need to be serious about the very reason why they terribly and repeatedly failed to stay together around major issues of political freedom, rule of law, and socio-economic justice that matters most to the people of Ethiopia. This has to start with kind of courageousness of the leadership of each party. That courageousness is the struggle within, against harmful egoism and taking politics as simple as any other business that works as long as it is comfortably profitable , if not be declared bankrupt. Another point to be made is the importance of having and developing critical but constructive exchange of views and ideas among parties. Needless to say that we are still victims of the political culture of trying to glorify our performance simply by undermining the efforts of others or unnecessarily meddling in the very internal affairs of others. We are extremely far from playing complementary role by employing critical and value added comments. If we do not work hard in this regard, our dream for good in the upcoming election will remain merely a wish.
3. The difficulties those parties back home are facing are considerably understandable. What is deeply paradoxical and difficult to understand is when it comes to politics in the diaspora. I read a protest letter addressed to the UN Secretary General, Bun-Ki Moon by twenty –eight political and civic groups concerning the Ethio -Sudan border issue. I have to say that this is a very great thing to do and all the petitioners deserve great appreciation. And I sincerely believe that it won’t be fair for me to consider those groups in the diaspora as entirely good for nothing. I truly believe that this kind of conclusion sounds a bit irrational and not helpful.
However, I strongly believe that it is very rationally fair and necessary to argue that given the guarantee for freedom of expression, organization, assembly in the countries we live in; and given the serious challenges the country (Ethiopia) is facing, those political groupings /movements and even civic groupings (with very few exceptions) have not yet shown meaningful political and civic advancement. I have difficulties to comprehend this kind of paradox; the paradox of being concerned about the situation back home but not willing and be able to work in a much more effective manner. Yes, the politics of trying to treat ( with no long lasting relief) symptoms of terrible illness without attacking the very cause should be one of the serious challenges we will be facing in between now and next year. I do not know how breeding groups after groups with different names (a few of them even went back to the formation of ethnic-based grouping and struggle – Moresh) will help the challenging struggle we are encountering in a real sense of the term. Believe or not, whatever hard we try or we think we are doing good will not take us anywhere leave alone making a significant difference if we stick to this kind of political trend in the coming 16 months.
4. Another seemingly minor but actually serious problem is when is it comes to the manner we support or blame and abandon the political parties. And there is no doubt that this kind political behavior has a lot to do with the success or failure of our political endeavors. Our support in most instances is extremely short-sighted and emotion-driven, not sustainable and rationally developmental. I am one of those fellow-man/women who attend various meetings and discussion forms as much as I can. And I have to say that because of the political mentality I stated above, we are still vulnerable to a) highly personalized way of discussion b) the attitude of undermining /discrediting a person or a group who does not belong to our way c) threating to withdraw our support if we feel things are going wrong as if only those group leaders are the ones who should be responsible for not offering us freedom d) whenever we shift our support and sympathy to another group/party, we praise the leadership of that group (the new) without changing our attitude/mentality e) we have a problem of coming up with some highly exaggerated theories and analyses about the generational gap we are witnessing . It is OK to have a critical view. But it is not helpful to go to the extent of the view that the senior (old generation) is unfit for leadership as Professor Alemayehu argues repeatedly. I think we need to play a bridging and carefully balanced way of thinking. I sincerely believe that it is good to play our inspirational role in a critical and balanced fashion f) by being captives of all this kind of undesirable political behavior, we are still suffering from the politics of failure, discontinuity and restarting from the scratch. We are at a very critical moment and time.
5. Another challenge I want to point out is the argument and counter-argument about the choice of the methods of the struggle (peaceful resistance or disobedience; or armed struggle or both). I think we have heard the justification of the two sides, and I do not think there is lack of clarity from both sides. The very concern of those who have chosen peaceful path is understandable. It is the right thing to justify and clarify one’s position. But, trying to go beyond that and engaging an endless argument and even to kind of imaging those who have chosen armed or both as the forces to doomed to fail in the process of bringing about the desired changed is not desirable at all. It rather severely harms the struggle. I sincerely believe that the most important and legitimate thing is to remind those who have chosen armed struggle to move responsibly and cautiously in order not to end up with establishing another tyrannical political system. And this genuine concern should be forwarded in critical but constructive manner. I am afraid that if we continue our argument in a kind of tug of war we have come across, we will make the struggle ahead of us self-defeating. I do not think any Ethiopian with his or her right mind chooses armed struggle over peaceful one. But if all avenues are blocked by those in power, there is no choice, but to fight back. I wish things could be as easy as we wish to be. But at this moment, the reality is against our wish.
January 27th, 2014
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