The Need for Intoleranc (Response to Fikru Helbo)

By Getachew Reda

Fikru Helbo in his article “no solution, unless the tyrant stops meddling” (in Somali affairs) posted in Addisvoice.com He is talking about Meles as the “cause” and the “solution” of the Somali fanaticism and anarchic attitudes. It is absurd!  He claimed there is no imminent threat of an attack on Ethiopian territory by the Islamists.   He seems to undermine the repeated proclamation of jihadist war by the Islamist agaisnt Ethiopia, the shocking activity/destruction and slaughter  that we saw in several towns in Ethiopia agaisnt christians (which was never an Ethiopian Islam tradition), the meddeling of foreigners, far right extremist, treasoner, anarchist and jihadist sholarcic elements like that of Turkish origin a Greek citizen Islamic scholar Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis who is calling all Islamists jihadists around and inside Ethiopia to destabilize Ethiopian nation against christians Amhara and the Tigrayans inorder to be perish by the OLF elits and OLF Islamists on his Islamist mercinary diatribe of treason pinpointing “If America does not help the Oromo majority to secede, form an independent country, kick the Amharas out of Addis Abeba, which is a fake name for the Oromo city of Finfinne, soon the world will be taken by surprise by the new Islamic Volcano explosion, this time much worse than the supposedly marginal Somalia. When the Islamic extremism will make a basis in Abyssinia, no containment policy will be able to be successful throughout Africa. It will be the End”.  These threats are sugar pill in the eyes of the likes of Fikru Helbo.

Be the threat which many of us can vividly see it coming in its worst form if not it is already there, be seen or not by Fikru Helbo (which he already stated in his article didn’t see any threat at all), beside the point; I for life of me didn’t understand why he should demand Meles Zenawi to be the solution as if he was the cause of the anarchic behavior of the Judaists.  Fikru stated it in his article when he communicated with one of the family members of the Jifhadist leader in Somalia accusing (she) Ethiopian for the entire crisis in Somalia including the bondage of bad habits of cKat. It is this mentality of blaming Ethiopia for their political and social crisis always that they failed to find solutions for their down failures. It is this propaganda threads that Fikru Helbo and his likes hold responsible anything Ethiopia is against Somalia. Trust me, I am not as you all know comfortable with Meles’s attitude and action on Ethiopia. But when it comes to the Jihadists, there is no way he could have created the Islamist crisis in Somalia, as he also can’t be a solution to the crisis regardless he is meddling or not in Somalia. Somalia is been and going to be what we know of Somalia during Ziad Bare or Somalia of the present Jihadist when it comes to Ethiopia. He can’t be responsible for every Jihadist’s thought that pass through their brain or hold there. They are looking an imaginary enemy ever since Somalia under Ziad Bare anytime fanaticism rises up or crisis flared. Ethiopia is their punching bag of blame.

An EPRDF sympathizer website two years a go rejected to post my article and came to email me asking if I am anti Oromo or Islam(after others rejected to post it thanks to Professor Tecola W.Hagos he posted it in his website Tecola Hagos.com which still is in the archive-thanks professor!). I now he was not well informed fellow about the situation and the orchestrated threat at the time as he is now. I responded to him “no cannot be, I am anti OLF and Judaists who wanted to destabilize Ethiopia in the name people and religion”. My position now, or then was never being different than what the EPRDF websites or the regime’s assertions are now confronting as exactly my article was stating and warning years back. We have been given names by so many premature elements (who write articles presented themselves to the public as Ethiopians but in fact they were OLF or Jihadist from Ethiopia and Somalia), but, that is only temporary, till people come to realize and notice the advancing threat in each house. The bottom line is we cannot afford Ethiopia be a blame bag any time Eritreans or Somalians caught with their own crisis. 

I am sure there are many opposition groups and friends who might not like my being defending Meles’s attitude against the Jihadist activity in Ethiopia as few months ago my article was not allowed or removed from website because I differed from the opposition’s view on who planted the explosions in Addis Ababa and other towns in Ethiopia. Still now, some accused the government of Meles as a perpetrator/behind the act of the slaughtering of Christians by Jihadist Islam. What a crazy position to take? Ho!? I said it before let us agree to disagree but don’t reject my article because I differ.What the likes of Fikru Helbo didn’t understand what is going into the head of those Jihadist and secessionists is “addiction”! Addiction of blame! blame! and blame! – to cover failures when coup with it. Their punching of blame tends to be louder, noisier, more disruptive and deceptive than ever. Brothers and sisters! It is a challenge of survival of a nation or not to survive that we are confronting. I urge Helbo or his likes to stop being act like “neighbor’s dog”. It is noteworthy that our chief antagonists the Jihadists and the secessionists are the cruelest tyrants and abusers of life and abusers of freedom. Unfortunately either the cessions or the Jihadist have still some defenders regardless their steps are all barbaric and tyrannical. Some see that quarrel to be handle with care and patient. I agree. Some urge to be tolerance. My question is how long? How far? Though the tradition of tolerance has been able to avoid many conflicts, this alone (tolerance) by itself can ensure neither freedom nor survival indeed, it cannot even ensure the survival of tolerance.  For if the intolerant win control, tolerance becomes only a hope and a dream, it is essential, therefore, even in the interest of tolerance; and one of the thing we must not tolerate is weakness. Especially when it comes to the issue of unity, stability and dignity of a nation. In such challenging situations, person to whom tolerance comes easily is a person whose own convictions are either feeble or absent entirely.

The tolerance that equates the true with the false, that sees little difference between good and evil, that blurs the distinction between liberty and operation, that dissolves justice into mists of doubt- this kind of tolerance is not a virtue but a vice. Should the Somali Jihadists and the insiders in Ethiopia be given freedom to destroy freedom? No, absolutely not. Shall these Jihadists allowed to roam around Ethiopia in the name of Alah, be left loose to burn churches to ashes and slaughter humankinds with their sword while we are witnessing indulge their malice against Christian society (namely their targets Amhara and Tigrayan)? It is particularly vicious when it bears without repugnance the encroachments of intolerant institutions and the ambition of  tolerant men.
Ethiopia been a tolerant nation when it is been victimized by surrounding Islamic states and their inside collaborators for a many, many years. Ladies and gentlemen: for tolerance must never tolerate whatever threatens tolerance. Meles can’t be a solution for Somalia Jihadist’s attitudes for he didn’t create the Jihadists attitude. If sick men wanted to turn themselves to follow Jihadisim- that is individual desire to be in such predicament. When also wanted to recover a positive course that only be solved by their desire to change attitude not by Meles or someone else’s physician. So, Meles have nothing to do with such chronic illness of Jihadism or cult-fanaticism.

To declare war against Ethiopia is different than to declare Jihad against Ethiopia.  I hope Fikre Helbo and his likes come to their sense and stop giving the moral of luxury to the Jihadist in Somali to blame Ethiopia or Meles or anyone else. We have been suffering from Jihad from day one of the Axumite kingdom and we do not want to suffer as we did many times again. Enough is enough!

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Published in: on November 28, 2006 at 8:10 pm  Comments (17)  

The Clash of Generations Between Part I and Part II

Yinegal Belachew

I read Dr. Maru Gubena’s article with a lot of interest. This interest came because we both belong to the same generation he called “ Golden Period Generation” and share more or less the same experiences. It would have been wise and scientific to wait until Part II come out and read what is in it to conclude and learn what Dr. Maru Gubena wants us to.  I chose not to wait.

I agree to most of the analysis given by Dr. Maru Gubena and do agree on the historical part of the analysis. Two foundations he based his analysis on put their weight on the other side of the scale. Let me explain.

First: Is there a clash of generations?

My answer is NO there is not.

When we make such generalized statements, we have to be careful to cover our bases. We have to ascertain what we mean by generations. We have to establish the two generations that we are describing. Then we have to define what we mean by clashing. Here Dr. Maru Gubena, except throw in a generalized statement, did not establish what he made us think that he is going to do.

Second: What is the purpose of writing the article?

Currently we in the Diaspora, who claim to be on the people’s side in its fight against the illegal group in power, are without a leadership, vision, and means of supporting the people. What is this article intending to do? Are its intentions to foment more divisions and promote my way or the high way?

First let me recap what I agree with Dr. Maru Gubena.

Dr. Maru Gubena is correct when he described the early 70’s as the time when there was growing need for new socio-economic and political change. I also agree that Dergue was the uncontested and most ruthless ruler of Ethiopia until now. TPLF is fast passing any threshold Dergue has established in crimes, killings and disestablishing the country. I do agree when Dr. Maru Gubena wrote that the 1974 Ethiopian revolution was began as a people’s revolution until it was forcefully snatched by Dergue. In addition to that I agree in the mess the Kinijit Diaspora Leadership, whatever the division is, created and wasted the good will of the Diaspora Ethiopians.

Here I would like to correct a general misconception. It is with pride that one writes, “ My generation is excellent. We did this and did that. ” Of course some take it further and compare theirs with others. This becomes a problem when this comparison belittles others and magnifies itself. I am pretty sure one way or another we heard:  “ Yezare gize ligotch….” and “The good old days” and the like. In a casual conversation it has its place but when one analyzes a historical perspective of a country it is dangerous. I am transitioning to the first of the foundations in my view Dr. Maru Gubena violated. Every generation has its own historical mission given not by choice but by being born at that time. No one goes to her or his choice of generation one is born into it.  In the late 60’s and early 70’s the historical call was to champion “land to the tiller” “education for all” and “a representative working parliament/government”. In that struggle progressives and saboteurs were created. This is what I think Dr. Maru Gubena called “Golden Period Generation” Unless Dr. Maru Gubena chooses his members selectively, it is this generation that gave Ethiopia the Mengistu Hailemariam and the officers that butchered thousands, it is this generation that gave Isayas Afewrki, Meles Zenawi, and their groups and political followers. Is this the generation that is lumped together and glorified? Of course I belong to it. For me there are bad and good in it as there are in every generation. In the generation Dr. Maru described, “War Born Generation” I found the students in the university in 2001 that fought hard and sacrificed their dreams for the Ethiopian people. I see many that swarmed the rank and file of opposition camps. Are these to be lumped with the few that served Dergue and few that are serving TPLF?  THERE IS NO GENERATION CLASH. I am definitely sure you have around you individuals that were born within 1974 ± 5 years you admire for their commitment to the Ethiopian people and their struggle against TPLF/EPRDF. Again, THERE IS NO GENERATION CLASH. The current demarcation is between those who side with the people of Ethiopia and TPLF.

Let me go to the second point.

What is the purpose of writing this article?

In general terms I can correctly say that what we in the Diaspora talk about is the struggle of the Ethiopian people against the illegal and ruthless TPLF/EPRDF group. This struggle is in Ethiopia where young children are telling the illegal group you do not represent me. The form of the struggle is many and the place is everywhere in Ethiopia. Where do we fit in then? Well we support. That is all to it. We could, if we were organized enough do the diplomatic part and help them financially. Thai is the big “if we were”. The problem is we think we are the people. We are the center of the struggle. We are the leaders. We own the struggle. Here is the biggest mistake. Now the shift has taken place. The struggle is inside the Diaspora, between those organized by EPRP and those organized by Kinijit Diaspora. Hallelujah! Let the fight be glorified! I totally disagree with Dr. Maru Gubena when he stated:

“…a good number of my compatriots argue that the 1974 Ethiopian revolution should be seen as an extension of the failed December 1960 attempted coup d’etat.”

First of all, Dr. Maru does not say which side of the fence he is standing on. Does he mean he accepts his compatriots view or not. If not why did he bring it up? For me it is comparing apples to oranges. The 1974 revolution was a grassroots movement be it on the side of the people or the army. Just because the end result was not what it started out to be does not make it an extension of the 1960 military coup d’etat. Could it different instead of the military other kind of government was established. No. The result does not define the nature of the revolution. It has nothing to do with the military coup of the 1960.

The following quote vents your frustration but does not weigh anything at all.

 

“Apart from being directly responsible for making our country a battlefield among various rebel groups and for the disintegration of Ethiopia’s territorial integrity, this is the worst remnant that the Dergue regime left behind: this generation – the War Born Generation”

Just because you do not like a few members of that generation you do not have to say this about all the members of that generation. Are you lumping the Shibre Desalegns in this category? Remember you are talking about a generation!

What the Ethiopian people want is fight TPLF/EPRDF now. Can we be on their side?

I admit there is a lot of mess created by Kinijit Diaspora. There are also some good efforts done by them. Each one of us should not be looking to find faults on others but do our part.

You see there is a simpler way of looking at things at this point.

  1. Given the opportunity, the people elected their own leaders.
  2. TPLF/EPRDF has been rejected at its own pools.
  3. TPLF/EPRDF group has illegally occupied the government power.
  4. The Ethiopian people are struggling against TPLF/EPRDF by any means they can.

Here comes the Diaspora; the part it plays is dictated by its wishes.

  1. Accept that the people are the owners of this struggle.
  2. Acknowledge that the Diaspora is a helper.
  3. Do the diplomatic struggle.
  4. Help financially.

 What political organizations do inside their political organization is the business of its members. Outsiders do not determine the organization’s political path. What they are following is going to determine their place in tomorrow’s Ethiopia. The problem is when one individual or organization says the action of the others is to do this and thus I have to block that now. The center of the struggle is forgotten. The only thing others must do is to evaluate the said organization is then to plan to cooperate with it or go their own way. The final judge is the Ethiopian People. Do not have doubts in the people. They are not afraid of any one with guns or without. The people know.

Published in: on November 27, 2006 at 10:25 pm  Comments (8)  

The Revitalization of Ethiopia’s Most Tragic, Nightmarish and Painful Memories of the 1970s: The Clash of Generations (Part I)

By Maru Gubena* 

Before you – my readers – commence reading this article, let me just say a few things about it, its objectives and the complex issues that are assessed. 

The writing of the paper was completed in early October 2006, when the political temperature within the Ethiopian Diaspora community was dangerously heated, even explosive; and when a good number of politically active Ethiopians were – as they are still – being intimidated by plans of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and AFD militants and supporters to hunt them down.  

For various reasons, including the long-anticipated split of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership into two factions, but mainly due to the Commemoration Day – one year after the jailing of Kinijit leaders – the posting of this paper has been delayed for some weeks. 

Because of the length of this article, the paper has been divided into two parts to make for smooth reading. However, to clearly comprehend the complex sources, processes, problems and issues articulated in the article, it is advisable to read parts one and two together.   

Apart from examining the on-going destructive roles of the self-installed Kinijit Diaspora leadership, the AFD, and their militant supporters in the politics of Ethiopia, along with their intimidating behaviour, this important paper analyses the many interlinked historical factors and actors that are the immovable sources of our unhealed wounds, divisions and obstacles – obstacles not just to a search for possible solutions to our longstanding and persistent socio-economic and political problems, but even to our living side by side and working together. However, because of the date it was written, this article does not assess either the sources of the most embarrassing of the recent crisis or the division that emerged within the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, which became public after the second week of October, 2006.    


 

The overall purpose of the paper is twofold. Firstly, to attempt to examine the role of the complex mechanisms used by the Dergue regime to encourage the image formation they wanted in the War Born Generation (defined in more detail in part two; see the section on “Distinguishing the Two Generations and their Socio-economic and Political Conditions”) which I see as an important source of the clash of generations. The second purpose is just to share my observations, views and experiences with you – my Ethiopian compatriots and friends of Ethiopia – regarding the increasing and worsening divisions among individuals involved with the many issues of our country, including Ethiopian opposition parties and in the Ethiopian Diaspora community in general. It is, however, not my intention to suggest that the targeted victims, the individual artists, political activists, or other individuals like myself and other Ethiopians, are in need or require your immediate physical, legal, or professional action or assistance. 


 

It is also appropriate to use this opportunity to thank friends and colleagues who have been helpful to me, including those who recorded and sent discussion messages, or passed on statements and written texts from the various paltalk rooms. Thanks also to those who notified me when discussions related to my work were underway in one or more paltalk rooms.  

Finally, this paper has been written in memory of my generation – the youth of the Ethiopia of the 1970s, particularly those who were inhumanly exterminated, to their families and to those who managed to survive the ruthless death squads of Ethiopia’s historic enemy, the Dergue, which left irremovable scars on the body of my generation, our country and its people. 

Maru Gubena

24 November 2006


 

One Year After: An Overview of the Rise and Fall of the Ethiopian Resistance 

One thing all politically conscious Ethiopians can agree on now is that last year around this time a disproportionately high number of us thought Ethiopians had somehow been united by the processes of the May 2005 Ethiopian parliamentary election, by the election events and indeed by the turmoil that followed the election. It is also true that most Ethiopians at home, as well as those forced by the forces of power, greed and evil to leave their country and go in search of relative freedom, including freedom of self expression, thought “oh, at last, we have managed to come back to our senses” and were ready to collectively engage – not only to directly and indirectly resist, fight and attack as aggressively and progressively as we could against the historical and current enemies of our country and its people, which are directly responsible for the territorial disintegration of our country, for the prolonged internal tensions, armed conflicts – but also to work together in an attempt to assess and reassess the multiple and complex sources of our differences and conflicts, and to go forward with one voice, in a focused and harmonious fashion, with concern, deep involvement and consistency. Many of us thought that we all wanted and had agreed to rise up against our common enemies and do everything in our capacity to build an unbreakable bridge that would be most conducive to enabling our country and its people to test and face the fruits of our resistance and its overall outcome – freedom in a democratic system – a system which means simply, above everything else, living together side by side, peacefully, in a community or society with tolerance and respect for the values and views of one another. These were the desires and wishes we had in mind and the agreements we reached last year, even though unwritten and not officially ratified.  

A good number Ethiopians, including myself, have strongly and convincingly been arguing throughout the past eleven or more months that without first engaging in a confidence and trust building process among ourselves; without cultivating convincing and immovable common grounds – as a cardinal foundation for our resistance and unity; without revitalizing the feelings of patriotism, respect and love our ancestors had for each other; and without nurturing a relatively tolerant and harmonious Diaspora community, the perceptions, convictions and wishes outlined above, which most of us had last year around this time could not take root. Much to our dismay and regret, this has come true. Although we are the children of a single mother, we have failed to travel on the same track and the same road, because a few among our compatriots have chosen to advance their socio-political and economic position within the Ethiopian Diaspora community undemocratically and forcefully, based upon the feudalistic ways of thinking and the cultural logic traditional in our country, before our unity and resistance (see also Sharing the Sources of my Anxiety.) 

Yes, indeed, quite contrary to the perceptions and convictions Ethiopians had last year around this time, something more, something unthinkable, undesired and very disturbing, at least under the international standards, norms and values and contrary to the wishes and desires of the general public of Ethiopia, is in the making within the politics of the Ethiopian Diaspora community. It is also undeniably true that most Ethiopians, especially those of my generation who are residing in the Western world after experiencing the unforgettable, painful periods of Mengistu’s era, have never in our wildest dreams thought that the nightmarish terror of Mengistu Hailemariam’s era would follow our footsteps as far as to our countries of asylum and immigration, coming to haunt us – to terrorize us once again – after the long period of three decades. But however unbelievable, shocking and terrifying we may find it, the nightmarish events of the 1970s, which forced my generation to be the first victims of other Ethiopians in the long history of our country, are again coming to the fore within the Ethiopian Diaspora community.  
 

Indeed, instead of engaging those individuals with views critical of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and its big brother – the OLF dominated Alliance for Democracy and Freedom (AFD) – in discussions in the spirit of our jailed leaders, of the original political path, ideological thinking and political programme of Kinijit itself, and in a democratic and civilized fashion, the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, in collaboration with OLF and its militant media outlets and paltalk rooms, have chosen to openly and publicly intimidate, scare, terrorize, and aggressively attack those democratically-minded, peace-loving and highly concerned Ethiopians who reside throughout the international community, simply because of their differing views and because they decline to agree and accept the recently founded Kinijit Diaspora leadership and the AFD, who have wanted to impose their ideas upon us by force. Those individuals who have sacrificed their entire lifetime, energy, financial resources, resisting repressive regimes whenever and wherever they could, using all available means at their disposal, who have lived with little or no attention to themselves, and have been forced by the conditions of the struggle – combined with a feeling of guilt and responsibility – to lead a solitary life, without even creating the sort of family they deserve and without having a single child of their own, have not only been denied the right to express their democratic rights: we have been denied access to the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and the AFD controlled media outlets, so we have been unable to add our voices to the heated discussions and debates around the issues and problems that have faced our people for decades, including the future geopolitical face of our country, and have been told to be silent – not to write articles and not to give interviews even to other media outlets interested in our work, or to those who have views that differ from the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, the AFD and their militant supporters. Serious suggestions to the Ethiopian “pro-democracy” media outlets and websites to impose a permanent gag upon those individuals with views critical to the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and AFD have been submitted and, in fact, some of them have already been published. An article authored by “Gemechu Megersa,” which I take to be the pseudonym of an AFD and OLF activist, posted on the Ethiomedia website on the 12th of September, 2006, is a case in point. 

What is shocking, appalling above everything else, is the engagement, involvement and cooperation of former Ethiopian journalists who left their country of origin in search of individual freedom, freedom of self-expression, and to maintain respect and independence for their voices, who with the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, AFD and their militant supporters are actively participating in the process of silencing – making voiceless – those actively involved, innocent and concerned Ethiopian artists, political activists and political leaders. It is particularly disturbing, even embarrassing to observe the limited or non-existent self-respect and sense of independence of journalists among Ethiopian Diaspora websites, such as Ethiomedia, Ethiopian Media Forum (EMF) and Addis Voice, who have openly and publicly shown their intoxication and affiliation with the OLF and the Kinijit Diaspora’s futureless and fruitless partnership under the name of the recently founded AFD. The submission of those with backgrounds in journalism to the wishes and destructive strategies and policies of the OLF/AFD – including the decision not to include the highly respected and loved voices, views and writings of a good number of highly devoted and hardworking Ethiopians, just because our views differ from those of the anti-Ethiopian OLF and the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, and because our work includes terms and paragraphs that stress and signify “Ethiopian Unity” and “Ethiopia’s territorial integrity” – is most astonishing and indeed depressing. Such behaviour from Ethiomedia, EMF and Addis Voice directly contradicts not only the principles of “fair journalism,” but also the motives those involved had for leaving their country of origin. 


 

The saddest and possibly most damaging of all that we have been forced to observe is the recent creation of red or green dividing lines between the Ethiopian pro-democracy outlets, simply on the basis of their association and affiliation with the Ethiopian political parties and with those engaged in armed confrontation against the unelected regime of Meles Zenawi. The ugliest aspect of these dividing lines is that one gets the impression (especially since the OLF has managed to convince and control Kinijit Diaspora leadership members, supporters and media outlets) that the division suggests an increase in tensions between the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and OLF/AFD – who are making every effort to avoid the phrase “Ethiopian unity” – and those who would like to see our country, Ethiopia, as intact as it was before May 1991, who would like to stress the terms “Ethiopian unity” and “Ethiopia’s territorial integrity” as often as possible.   For example, in formulating and producing texts for an announcement, fliers or folders to be distributed to the Ethiopian Diaspora community, calling them to come in mass to demonstrate and collectively challenge the tyrannical TPLF leader, Meles Zenawi, during his appearance at United Nations Assembly in New York on the 22nd of September 2006, representatives of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership were worried and uncertain about the reactions of OLF; this made them reluctant to work cooperatively with other political and civic organizations who wanted to produce flier texts in the spirit of Ethiopianess, or “Ethiopiawinet.” Consequently and most embarrassingly, for a single objective – to demonstrate – two different fliers were produced. The one from the representatives of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership was written in the spirit, political ideology and strategies of OLF and AFD, and does not include any sense of Ethiopianess. The text produced by Kinijit representatives was posted on AFD controlled websites, such as Ethiomedia and EMF.  

In contrast, the other fliers, written in the spirit of Ethiopiawinet and including the phrase “Ethiopia’s territorial integrity” couldn’t be posted on Ethiomedia and EMF. These fliers were posted only on the Debteraw and Ethiolion websites. Isn’t this extremely depressing? Was this really necessary? Does this reflect the spirit of Kinijit and its jailed leaders? Why do we need such divisions? Why and again why? We have also been receiving information about serious and unpleasant confrontations in New York between the predominantly OLF/AFD and EPPF supporters on one side and those representing other political parties on the other, along with those who just came to support the Ethiopian people in the fight against the unelected regime of Meles Zenawi.” 


 

The Revitalization of Ethiopia’s Tragic, Painful Memories of the Dergue Era  

As part of the fruitless, ineffectual attempts of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, the AFD and their blindly militant supporters to silence highly concerned and involved Ethiopians and make them voiceless by boycotting their work, direct warnings and threats have also been reaching our e-mail boxes. Some frustrated and irresponsible individuals have even been doing their best to intimidate us, with the single objective of keeping those with views different from their own silent and isolating us both from the issues that we find most important and from Ethiopians, whether the mass of the Ethiopian Diaspora community or elsewhere. Sometimes this is done directly, by making phone calls, sometimes with the pretext of “journalism” – saying they would like to interview their victims, just to induce us to start talking with them on the telephone. Within a few seconds, however, the real purpose of these “interviewers” who are inspired by the Kinijit Diaspora leadership or who are AFD militants becomes more than obvious. The Kinijit Diaspora leadership and AFD radical militants who are currently so sleeplessly engaged in the process of revitalizing our most tragic, nightmarish and painful memories of the appalling years of the 1970s and the early 1980s move immediately from their original stated purpose of fixing a date and a precise time for an interview to a direct confrontation with their victims, questioning the integrity of the very person they initially said they wanted to interview, giving repeated warnings and threats, asking us to stay away from any political activities and issues related to our country, or join hands with their militant surrounded camps – the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and AFD – immediately, before something undesired, unpleasant and ugly occurs to their victims. A few of the victims of such intimidation by the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and AFD radical militants have already reported their experiences to law enforcement authorities in their respective locations, with evidence in their hands. The publicly made complaint of artist Solomon Tekalign during the interview he gave to theEthiopians in the Diaspora Discussion Forum on Monday, the 18th of September and Saturday the 7th of October 2006 and his report to law enforcement authorities in the area where he resides is a case in point. 

Much to the dismay and disappointment of both the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and a few AFD founders, and more particularly their actively militant paltalk rooms known as the “Ethiopian Current Affairs Discussion Forum” and the “Ethiopians in Switzerland Discussion Forum,” together with “Negat radio” and “Radio Kaliti,” however, the individual Ethiopian victims have continued to resist, arguing and even striking back as boldly and aggressively as they can by employing every media opportunity they can find to publish or post their articles and giving powerful interviews to media outlets of a democratic mind, saying that they cannot so simply be intimidated, silenced and prevented from exercising their democratic rights by threats and warnings from the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, the AFD and their radical supporters. In the articles they have posted and their interviews with various Ethiopian Diaspora outlets, these victims have insisted, arguing eloquently, that they would prefer to die rather than end the role they are playing and their engagement with the issues due to threats and the cold war being waged against them by some individuals seeking revenge, who were directly or indirectly affected by the changes of power either in May 1991 or thereafter, following the removal of the dictator Mengistu Hailemariam’s regime from power and the complete disintegration of the Ethiopian armed forces due to the rebel forces of Ethiopia’s enemies – the EPLF and TPLF.  

The victims of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, the AFD and their media outlets and militant supporters have included well-known artists, intellectual politicians, academics and others who have been working hard with the aim of witnessing relative freedom and democracy taking root in our country of origin – Ethiopia – in our lifetime. Going beyond defending themselves and taking some urgently required measures conducive to protecting themselves and their family members, both at home and within the Ethiopian Diaspora community, the victims of the self-installed Kinijit Diaspora leadership and the AFD militants have accused the two organizations and their supporters not only of being undemocratic and feudalistic in their thinking and self-centred in their behaviour, but also potentially dangerous to the future image and peace of Ethiopia and to its territorial integrity. In responding to the many attempts of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, the AFD and their militant media outlets to inflict untold damage on their political and personal reputations, some of the well known victims have further accused the two self-installed organizations, the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and its other rebel partners – who are said to be the creation of, and supported morally and assisted financially and militarily by Ethiopia’s historical and current enemies, OLF and Shabia – of lacking a legal basis for their existence, and being not only uninterested in helping Ethiopians cultivate the habit and culture of democracy in their country and enabling them to test the fruits of freedom and democracy and face its challenges, but instead concerned only with the immediate removal of the unelected tyrannical regime of the TPLF leadership and its replacement by themselves – by another unelected Dergue-type regime. Their critics, on the other hand, find it essential to begin now to create tools and mechanisms that will be conducive to changing and democratizing our attitudes and habits. 

According to inside sources, recorded discussions and interviews given to the militant paltalk rooms of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, the entire intention and most fervent desire of this leadership – whose members and supporters have personally and directly been affected by the unelected leadership of TPLF, both during the armed struggle and after the defeat of the Dergue regime in May 1991 – is to mobilize and redirect every resource they can find to provide money and manpower for the warfront in a war that is in preparation, which is to be waged under the leadership of OLF, with the supervision and cooperation of the regime of Eritrea. This will have a single objective: not to free Ethiopians, but to use every available means to revenge the members of the entire leadership of TPLF before they die by immediately removing the TPLF regime from power. It does not matter what follows, or what happens to the people of Ethiopia. They simply want to instantly – today rather than tomorrow – remove the unelected regime of Meles Zenawi. That is why they are not doing the sort of planning and political programme that takes into consideration the future face of Ethiopia and the safety and security of its people. 

A further remark, which should be stressed and articulated as effectively and often as possible, is in regard to the overall outcome of the short-lived – and, to any conscious and concerned Ethiopian, tragic, saddening and extremely hurtful – marriage committed between the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and its boss, the OLF. This marriage was celebrated from 19 to 22 May, 2006, in the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands – but with no invited witnesses and guests. As has already been stated in my previous article, Holding Back Sobbing Children at their Mother’s Untimely Death and Not Explaining what Happened is both Wrong and Unfair, posted in the first two days of September 2006, the marriage between these two organizations –which are totally unequal and have no common ground or common vision at all, and whose overall objectives towards the future geopolitical face of Ethiopia are entirely remote from one another and irreconcilable in all respects, except in their efforts and campaigns to force their undemocratic desires and strategies upon the Ethiopian Diaspora community – the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and AFD, together with their radical militant supporters and paltalk rooms, have managed not only to destroy the motivation, energy, morale and relative unity that existed among the Kinijit Diaspora community last year around this time, and with this the many vitally important activities and projects that were expected to be carried out in support and on behalf of our jailed leaders, the political programmes and generally the broadening and strengthening of the forces of the Ethiopian resistance, but also they have revitalized the complex mechanisms that were previously employed by the most hated and cruel regime of Mengistu Hailemariam as indispensable tools to hunt down and annihilate the youth of Ethiopia – a good portion of my generation, which the Dergue saw as its potential enemy.  

Due to their increasing frustration and inability to either convince the Ethiopian Diaspora community to accept and support them, or to silence and isolate their most outspoken and well-known critics, these two self-installed organizations, the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and the AFD, have embarked on a horrifying plan: they are organizing and assigning a large number of individuals among their militant members and supporters as undercover agents, who are to engage in the heavy task of following in the daily footsteps of those with critical views of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and the AFD or unwilling to give moral and financial support to their objectives and activities. This is taking place not in Ethiopia, but, shockingly, in our countries of asylum and immigration – on European and American soil, in the cities, towns and villages where we work and live. Some of the main tasks of the undercover agents are to be physically present in the areas where we live and work, to observe our physical appearance, movements, family members, our educational background, and the kind of job we engage in. Moreover, they are to make a complete list of our names.

According to statements of some individual members of the two political organizations in meetings and discussions held around the end of August and in early September, 2006 on the two extremely vocal and militant paltalk rooms mentioned above, the overall purpose of the undercover agents in collecting names of actively involved individual members of the Ethiopian Diaspora community is to charge those listed of treason and see them convicted, with charges as harsh as possible, by new judges who are yet to be appointed and by new courts that are to be established when the Kinijit Diaspora leadership (Ato Andargachew Tsigie) and the OLF, together with other small rebel groups such as EPPF, ONLF and SLF, succeed in intensifying the war under the leadership of AFD, defeats the unelected regime of Meles Zenawi, and establishes a new government in Adds Ababa and throughout the rest of Ethiopia. When that would take place, no one knows. 

Ideas and measures like those broadly discussed above have been undertaken by the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, the AFD and certain Ethiopian Diaspora media outlets, including their militant paltalk rooms, with the aim of intimidating and silencing a good number of innocent hard working Ethiopians who are themselves an indispensable part and parcel of the Ethiopian Diaspora community, and who could be an important contributing force to activities beneficial to the well-being of our community. These actions are not only divisive and dangerous to Ethiopians – who are generally peaceful and peace loving – and to the activities of the Ethiopian resistance against our common enemy, but are also horrifying. Such ideas and measures should immediately be denounced and condemned by all Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia. 

It is probably healthy and even wise to convey to you – to my readers – a positive reverse side of the coin that could be very comforting to those targeted victims: the two political organizations and their militant paltalk rooms will not be able to hurt any of us, since their power bases have continuously been and continue to become weaker and weaker, and all of the individuals involved have empty hands – no guns and no bombs, nor any other tools to harm any of us directly. And, even though the radical militants may not like to hear it and will possibly not accept it, it is also true that the leaders of the two organizations, their members and supporters will soon be disappointed, because these organizations will soon cease even holding their usual empty, arrogant talks with one another. This is especially likely given the limited or non-existent common ground and common agenda, to say nothing of the lack of political power and capacity within the two organizations. They lack not only military power but also organizational structures, including leadership, feasible policies and viable strategies.  It is on the other hand true, that despite their limitations with respect to political and organizational structures, the socio-political and psychological damage the two organizations and their militant supporters have inflicted, including the divisions, fears and anxieties they have caused among the Ethiopian Diaspora, in particular for politically active Ethiopians, cannot and should not be underestimated; it will have an enormous impact on the community for at least some years, and will not be easy to reconcile and redress. The damages and divisions inflicted by these two organizations is already having an effect. For example, the enormous difficulties being experienced today by the community and the Ethiopian opposition parties in attempting to successfully move H.R. 5680 (the Ethiopian Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act) from the hands of certain powerful individual(s) to the floor of the U.S. Congress for a final vote is a clear sign of the problem; it is a direct repercussion from the antagonisms and animosities that permanently smolder in our minds and hearts, increased by the tensions, anxieties divisions among us that have recently emerged and are growing day by day.  

As has often been observed, millions of Ethiopians – those who torment themselves with the heaviest questions, such as why do we Ethiopians seem to be incapable of working and living in relative peace with each other? Why is it that we behave so disrespectfully, so destructively – as we have been doing and still do – towards one another, as if we have been born to be detrimental, not just to others but to ourselves as well? Remember that if one conspires to eliminate others, they will definitely do everything possible to conspire in turn and strike back. Further, what might be the sources of our deep-rooted animosities and hostilities?  

Also, as we have often been told, a good number of Ethiopians appear to be well aware of the historical reasons behind our most tragic enemy: divisions and lack of confidence between and among ourselves. Unfortunately, however, many of us persist in arguing that the causes – especially the sources of our resentments and animosities, which have been created and expanded by the propaganda machines and the well crafted traditional mechanisms such the institution of the family, the media and, since the 1974 Ethiopian revolution, our educational system – are too sensitive and difficult to discuss. The big, unavoidable question then becomes: when the effects of such enemies are comparable to a huge foreign force coming towards us, armed with complex and highly advanced weapons, how long can we simply keep them inside our hearts and minds, without attacking them as aggressively and progressively as we can, without debating them or going in search of possible solutions? How long can we do this? Further, apart from asking about the causes, whether historical or recent, of our current sickness and deep-seated animosities, we need to think about whether there may be the logical reasons behind what has happened to some of my compatriots, who have become disinterested, unwilling and even allergic to the idea of joining in intellectual discussion on ways to tackle the most damaging repercussions of the Ethiopian revolution, the effects it has inflicted upon Ethiopians and inculcated deep in the minds and hearts of the “ Dergue Generation” – a generation born some five years before and after the ousting of the aging Emperor Haile Selassie on 12 September 1974. What can these reasons be? And what were the roles and contributions of the then military regime and its propaganda machine in moulding its “newly born” generation, which I will call the War Born Generation,” so that it became so resentful and hateful – a persistent enemy of the previous generation, to which I will refer as the “Golden Period Generation?” More explanation regarding these two generations will be provided in the subsequent pages.  

Finally, why is it that we Ethiopians continue to be, and even seem addicted to, establishing associations, organizations and political parties, while knowing how good we are in making them ineffective; while knowing perfectly well that we are people who live side by side, but without a sense of confidence or trust in each other; and while we clearly know that the organizations we quite often want to establish never become functional and operational, due also to our confrontational and suspicious behaviour towards one another, as well as our habits and cultural orientations – orientations that are predominantly centred on ourselves, our families and our groups?   While I will make every possible effort to examine and assess the questions raised above, I may not be able to cover the extremely complex and indeed sensitive factors involved in the clash between the two generations, including the historical sources, as effectively as many of my readers would like and expect. Therefore I sincerely hope some of you will help me in responding to them, since in recent times these questions have become a source of persistent concern and anxiety not only to me and a few of my generation, but to a large number of other Ethiopians as well.  
 

Reviewing Historical Causes behind Ethiopia’s Painful Memories: The Clash of Generations 

Even though it is difficult, if not impossible, to speak with confidence, and even though the 1950s, 1960s and the first few years of the 1970s could be characterized as “golden periods” – relatively stable and peaceful, compared to the periods Ethiopians were later forced to experience – I would boldly argue, and I believe that Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia of my generation, including a good portion of the generation of my parents, will not hesitate to agree, that in the early years of the 1970s there were growing needs and fervent desires among the majority of Ethiopians for new socio economic and political changes, including a change of leadership. Again, this was despite the fact that the territorial integrity of Ethiopia was intact and respected by all of Ethiopia’s neighbours and the international community at large. It is also true that the international community and world leaders respected and loved Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Entry or travel visas were not required for Ethiopians to Israel and to certain European countries. The periods were also marked with a sense of Ethiopianess and Ethiopian nationalism among Ethiopians and indeed, with relative respect and love among Ethiopians. 

Further, it would not be wrong to insist that as in many African countries the need for political and leadership changes in Ethiopia were concentrated in Ethiopia’s major cities, particularly in Addis Ababa. As far as my recollections go, from the stories and jokes told in family get-togethers and around coffee tables, from educational institutions and from the Ethiopian media outlets of the period, the needs and demands of the Ethiopian urban population for a change of leadership began in the 1950s. The December 1960 military coup d’etat launched by the Officers of the Imperial Guard, led by their Commander, Lt. General Mengistu Newaye, and his brother, Girmame Newaye, was a result. Regrettably, however, due to three or more critically important mistakes in the planning of the coup, which is nostalgically remembered and referred to as the “December 1960 coup d’etat,” was soon put down by the forces loyal to Emperor Haile Selassie.

Although there is little or no recorded, verifiable evidence in our hands or on our bookshelves, a good number of my compatriots argue that the 1974 Ethiopian revolution should be seen as an extension of the failed December 1960 attempted coup d’etat. Even though the resignation of Aklilu Habte-Wold’s cabinet was sudden and unexpected, the ousting of Emperor Haile Selassie was a relatively gradual process. The 1974 Ethiopian revolution was began as a people’s revolution, despite that it was forcefully snatched by the Ethiopian armed forces. There were increasingly intense and growing opposition from the Ethiopian left, especially students and youth in general, who were in the forefront in challenging the uninvited, unexpected emergence of the fascistic enemy of the military regime known as the Dergue or Committee, which came to be known as the Provisional Military Administrative Council and became the uncontested and most ruthless ruler of my country and the oppressor of my people. Therefore there was soon not only, for the first time in the history of Ethiopia, the most appalling urban bloodshed, with indiscriminate executions of hundreds of thousands, mostly of my generation, in their own houses, in offices and in the streets, day and night, without any charge or trial; accompanied by a forced mass exodus of Ethiopians into neighbouring countries in all directions, using all available means of transportation, whether cars, horses, donkeys or of course, on foot; but also the regime was fully engaged in fashioning a new propaganda machine, with mechanisms intended to create and expand hostilities and animosities among Ethiopians. This propaganda machine included the “Zemecha” programme, a programme purposefully constructed to disperse all politically conscious Ethiopians, including the entire body of Ethiopian students, throughout the rural Ethiopia, to avoid the continuous direct challenges faced by the Dergue from the politically conscious urban student population. The Zemecha programme was intended to teach the Dergue philosophy, inculcating it into the minds and hearts of the rural people of
Ethiopia as well as those forced into the countryside or remaining in urban areas. The Dergue’s cruel propaganda mechanisms rapidly and forcefully imposed its programme on every household, family, school, college, university and on the Dergue controlled media, to help remodel the minds and thinking of the “Golden Period Generation” – those who resented and hated the rule of the Dergue, who were challenging it and demanding immediate resignation. Extremely hostile political propaganda and all available channels were used to carry out the process of implementing the political ideologies of the Dergue in an accelerated fashion. These who appeared to be reluctant or unwilling to be oriented, reoriented and remolded to accommodate the fascistic ideas and ideologies of the Dergue regime were automatically and mercilessly executed by the cadres of the Dergue – cadres who are living with us today as members of the Ethiopian Diaspora community and who are active leaders and members of Kinijit Diaspora leadership and the AFD. Others among the Golden Period Generation were forced to leave their country and go into exile, leaving their loved ones behind.

Then came the “War Born Generation,” born from families who either were an inseparable part of the Dergue regime, worked with or were indoctrinated by it. They are the main victims of the dramatic campaign, the imposition of the ideologies and hateful propaganda of the cruel and hated Ethiopian enemy – the Dergue. Apart from being directly responsible for making our country a battlefield among various rebel groups and for the disintegration of Ethiopia’s territorial integrity, this is the worst remnant that the Dergue regime left behind: this generation – the War Born Generation – which was molded to think and envision the world in exactly the same way as the former members of the Dergue regime and its cadres, and who are therefore convinced that the regime of Mengistu Hailemariam did nothing wrong to Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Consequently, the ever-growing clashes and tensions between the two generations – the Golden Period Generation and the War Born Generation – continue to be not only a source of daily conflict, but more worryingly are a potential obstacle to the resistance against the tyrannical regime of Meles Zenewi. As will be clear in part two of this article, it is the War Born Generation, together with those who served the regime of Mengistu Hailemarim, who have skillfully and successfully managed to paralyze all of the engagement planned by the Kinijit Diaspora and Kinijit itself. 


 

*   Dr. Maru Gubena, from Ethiopia, is a political economist, writer and publisher. Readers who wish to contact the author can reach me at info@pada.nl

Published in: on November 26, 2006 at 12:59 am  Comments (10)  

Inviting the Devil to Preach the Gospel Act of Mr. Louis Michel

Geresie Bonkie (California, USA)

As the whole world knows, after the May 15, 2005 Ethiopian National Election, the TPLF led Ethiopian government has added a brand new chapter to its book of scandal. The government has declared war on its own people, jailed elected opposition leaders, journalists, civic organization leaders and thousands of youth to the Nazi-type concentration camps and are being tortured and are dying.

In the past fifteen years, the TPLE/EPRDF self-appointed government has portrayed itself as the only party that could achieve democracy, development and peace but failed miserably. Above all, killed thousands of innocent citizens and was busy hiding its crimes on humanity. Under Meles dictatorship the courts became his private chambers, prosecutors became his mouthpieces, and judges are serving as his loyal butlers. Otherwise they will be jailed, harassed, and forced to exile. Just last month, his own appointed judges assigned to investigate his killings abandoned him fearing for their life shocked by the atrocities the regime is committing. What they brought to the world, in daylight is a drop in an ocean. If all the crimes committed by Meles Zenawi regime for the last fifteen years are investigated by international independent investigators, we are sure that the world would be shocked and it will be recorded at the top in the 21st century. All these events were happening under the watchful eye of United Nations and western countries who claim that they stand for human rights and democracy.

But, these western countries, including the United Nations, failed to deliver the fundamental objective and promise they stand for. Once again we Ethiopians have painfully witnessed the invitation of the self-crowned prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, invited by Mr. Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, to lecture on good governance. This was the same as inviting the devil to preach the gospel. Singing “Halleluiah” everywhere for Meles does not prove piety.

Under the regime of Meles Zenawi, for the last fifteen years, human rights abuse, corruption, poverty and disease became the sole identity of Ethiopia. The country went from the slide to the mud because of the deceit nature and doings of EPRDF government. The only difference we Ethiopians have noticed from the self-appointed EPRDF is its changing its empty, unpractical pile of words from democracy to good governance. When Meles Zenawi gangs killed hundreds of innocent citizens in Gambela, Tepi, Addis Ababa, Awassa and other places in Ethiopia, the Western countries, who are champions of democracy and human rights, turned their blind eye and deaf ear to all the atrocities committed. Since childhood we all remember when couple people were killed in some parts of the world how these champions of democracy and human rights condemned those acts and how the media was disseminating information to the whole world and exposing the evil act of the doers.

In the case of Ethiopia, when thousands are killed, democratically elected leaders jailed, students and the youth are languishing in concentration camps and death squads ,personally appointed by Meles Zenawi, killed hundreds of innocent citizens and critically wounded thousands, neither the west nor the United Nations are seriously condemning the world class criminal acts committed by Meles Zenawi. Instead, it is very sad and painful to see this world class criminal individual getting a free ride to the heart of Europe and USA to preach about democracy and development, and even to come to New York to attend United Nations meetings. As we all know, the sponsor of human rights declaration, the United Nations, is in New York, USA and the international court in Europe, Hague, the Netherlands where the authorities are rolling a red carpet and handing bouquets of flowers for the world class criminal Meles Zenawi. How many more has Meles to kill to get the attention of the western countries and United Nations?

The praised new breed of Africa, leader Meles Zenawi, has become the fiasco Prime Minister. Meles Zenawi has turned himself into the Devil and his gang will call it democracy, while they take care that they will pull every string the way they want. They are playing with the rules, not by the rules. That is why they are operating under the disguise of fake democracy and good governance to cheat the world.  Nevertheless the western leaders, in particular the USA and Great Britain, have to examine their policies towards the inevitably dying regime of Meles Zenawi which is on its fast lane towards its end.

Once again, we urge all peace loving people of the world and the world leaders to be part of the solution in the Ethiopian crisis, to stop supporting the dictator and stand with the people of Ethiopia and help to stop the reign of terror in Ethiopia. Meles has to stand trial in Hague and should be accountable for the atrocities he committed with his death squad. This is the responsibility of the whole world, not only Ethiopians.

Published in: on November 19, 2006 at 9:24 pm  Comments (3)  

REPORT ON A HARVARD FORUM

By Debteraw Associate Reporter

Here are my observation and impression as an audient at Harvard Forum that was organized by Ethiopian Students Association at Harvard. The topic is Ethnicity and National Identity in Ethiopia, with five panelists and twenty-five to thirty participants. For panelists’ resumes and accomplishments, please see http://hcs.harvard.edu/~ethiohs/events.php. The forum runs the whole day with two sessions of three panelists each. 
I-The morning session started with the three panelists, Teshale Tibebu, Mohammed Hassen Ali and Sarah Vaughn, each with twenty minutes presentation and twenty minutes comments from the panelists and audience.

 

Teshale Tibebu, the author of the Making of Modern Ethiopia, 1896-1974, which I get a chance to read the book, I would categorized is book as mainstream. His presentation topic is Competitive Nationalism in Ethiopia. The theme is Ethiopian nationalism vs. ethno-nationalism. He categorized Ethiopian nationalism into three theses:

  • Imperial Ethiopianness, “

    Christian
    Island”, landlords and landless

  • Marxist (socialist) Ethiopianness, “

    Revolutionary
    Island”, class struggle

  • Liberal Ethiopianness, such as Kinijt.

 

His description of Ethnocentric Nationalism is focusing on more domination and oppression and differences than common shared experiences or common grounds.


  • Oromo, Somalia, and Sidama Nationalism,
  • Colonial question, self determination including secession
  • EPRDF in the middle between Ethiopian and ethnocentric Nationalism
  • EPRDF with its solution of linguistics policy (line) of nine ethnic regions

 

His concluding remarks are:

  • Well founded fears of disintegration or dismemberment of the country
  • Problems of Kilele
  • Genbot 7 Election and aftermath
  • Playing like with recent religion incitements is like playing with fire
  • Diluting history is not solution to our problems
  • The need for common grounds to save the country 

Mohammed Hassen, the author of the Oromo of
Ethiopia: A History, 1570 to 1860,
focusing on the development of Oromo nationalism within the Ethiopian state. His presentation title is Ethiopian Nationalist and Rival Nationalism. He talked in general on similarities and difference as follows:

  • Long history of
    Ethiopia with rival nationalism
  • Contest between various ethnic groups
  • Nation formation, question of legitimacy
  • Nationalism in not divisive, fear from ignorance
  • Christianity vs. Islam in
    Ethiopia
  • Creation of modern
    Ethiopia by Menlik
  • Imposition of one’s culture and custom, language
  • Amharanization, Hegemony’s Amhara elite

 

His concluding viewpoints are not specific and put it general scholarly manners and terms:

  • Lack of democracy
  • Need for institutional identity such as institution of nationalities during time of military government
  • Devolution of power through federalism did not specified.

 

Sarah Vaughn, I do not much care about her, she looks to me more of a technocrat than academician. Her presentation is careful worded and well guarded not to offend the present government. Anyway her topic was Ethnic Federalism in Practice: Issues from
Ethiopia’s South and West.
Her focus on current situation based on her work for the government and study are:

  • Linguistic federalism
  • How ethnicity changing
  • How the government policy is working
  • Phases of government policy and response 1991-2006
  • Relationship between local evolution and transformation of ethnic identity
  • Deep rooted in local understanding of the policy of environment, government actions and institution
  • Political organization mushrooming

 

In concluding remarks, she told the audience that she is not at liberty to say any bad things about the Ethiopian government because she does not to jeopardize her privilege to go in and out of
Ethiopia. Please make your judgment by looking on the Harvard website about her expertise.

 

Comments and questions for three panelists are:

  • Why is the minority ethnic group  dominating the majority?
  • What is the relationship between Derge nationalism and class struggle?
  • What is the problem of ethnic federation? Is it with its implementation? Or with itself?
  • What should be done to keep the country together?
  • Are ethnic groupings fighting for identity or share of limited resources? Or both?
  • Why is Article 39 important for ethnic groups?

 

II-Afternoon Session was supposed to start with the three panelists, Messay Kebede, Asafa Jalata and Ghelawdewos Araia, because Messay unable to attend due to sickness, the afternoon presentation began with Asafa Jalata and followed by Ghelawdewos. The session was not any more like the first session brainstorming. It is heated debate and everybody wants to score points. Ghelawdewos and Asafa were confronting and combating each other without giving much time for audience to comment and ask questions. Despite back and forth arguments, the audience was not bored or tried.

 

Asafa Jalata, I did not read any of his works, but from what I learn from his presentation, he looks like more of a vanguard member of the OLF  political organization. To learn more about his works, please see Harvard website.  His title for the presentation is
Ethiopia On the Fire of Competing Nationalisms: The Oromo People’s Movement, the State, and the West. His emphasis of the presentation is as follows:

  • Focus on the struggle of Oromo’s people
  • Showed a large map of
    Ethiopia with the present ethnic divisions with state of Oromo in green color
  • Question of colonialism
  • The Abyssinian colonizer and colonized ethno-nations
  • Ethiopian Empire
  • National self determination
  • Ethiopian settler colonialism and its institutions
  • Labeled the Ethiopian Student Movement as Amhara Student Movement
  • Objectives of OLF
  • Ethiopian racism and radical/ethno-national hierarchy
  • Compare Oromo’s People Struggle with that of African American Movement

 

His concluding remarks are more offensive to the audience at large except few well-known radical OLF members in our community are cheering him. According to him:

  • Tewodros, Yohannes, Melik and Haile Sellasie are/were warlords
  • His solutions to the present crisis in the country is to recognize the past and present state crimes committed against the Oromo people
  • Accepting the principle of self determination
  • Common ground to save the country from disintegration can only be established by accepting the past and present crimes as well as accepting the right of self determination
  • Ethiopianness should not be pre-condition for opposition forces to form an alliance. He did not mention by name AFD or Kinijit, just said an alliance between two major ethnic groups meaning the Oromo and Amhara.

 

Ghelawdewos Araia, . In comparison to Asfa Jalata, Ghelawdewos looks to the audience as an Ethiopian patriot. For his works and accomplishments, please the Harvard website. His topic is Ethnocentric Politics. His main points are:

  • Ethno-nationalism and Ethiopian nationalism
  • Highlight the history of
    Ethiopia from antiquity to the present
  • Ethnic groups in
    Ethiopia have more common grounds to stay together than their differences to force them to disintegrate.
  • Battle of Adwa and the participation of various ethnic groups as Ethiopian
  • Battle of Bademe and the participation of various ethnic groups as Ethiopian

 

His concluding remarks are:

  • The need to broaden common ground to save the country
  • Eritrean model of
    Independence is not acceptable to the Oromo
  • Bringing religion to politics is more dangerous than ethnic politics

 

Comments and questions from the audience are:

The audience made comments in favor and against Ethiopian and Ethno-nationalism. Some are real and legitimate grievances and others are unacceptable to most Ethiopians or advocates of ethno-nationalism. Overall, the presentation and discussion were good as brainstorming and I believe the presentation will help the Ethiopian students to be more familiarizing with problems of our country and seek possible solutions. At the comment session, I felt bad to be only good listener and not telling at least students and young people my viewpoints.  . For the records, the real issues that should have been discussed are:

·       
Ethiopia is a multiethnic and multi-religious nation –state and not an empire

·        To save the country, the need for a grand coalition of opposition forces under common ground of Ethiopianness

·        To recognize and support the legitimate grievances of ethnic groups, women’s rights

·        The need for transition period for a multiparty democracy

·        The need for democratic constitution making

·        The exploration of federalism will be more meaningful and useful if addressed during a democratic constitution making by future democratically elected representatives. To me it wills useful, if future federal structure is considered based on linguistics, geographic, cultures and most of all by endorsement of Ethiopian people with rights to make amendments.

·        Under a united democratic federal
Ethiopia, there will be not problems that will be addressed and seek acceptable solutions to the majority of Ethiopian people without affecting the right of minority.

Published in: on November 16, 2006 at 7:01 pm  Comments (15)  

Congratulations on DEBTERAW’s first year anniversary

Dear Editor of Debteraw, 

Congratulations on your first year anniversary.  You have done a tremendous job in the short time you have passed through.  I greatly appreciate your hard work, efficiency, dedication and, above all, patriotism.  You are one of the few Ethiopian websites that do not compromise the interest of the Ethiopian people in any form and shape.   You have proved yourself to be totally reliable in this regard and other issues.  This is what the Ethiopian people have been lacking for a long time, and congratulations for being a source of inspiration.  Most other websites have the tendency to waffle on certain key issues concerning your motherland, thus occasionally hurting the struggle of our people against tyranny.  Some of them even align with the enemy of the people for short-term benefits.  Thanks to you, in the last one year, you have provided us the courage, guide and hope for our desire to establish democracy in our country where all its inhabitants would live in equality irrespective of ethnicity, religious affiliations, gender, and so on.  We trust you will continue your noble efforts and patriotic duties until our people achieve their goal of removing dictatorship and become the masters of their destiny. 

We are with you.    

Best wishes. 

Wowoka Abebe

Published in: on November 15, 2006 at 8:29 am  Comments (14)  

Alert: Sudan to start a nationwide alien’s registration and control campaign. Ethiopians asylum seekers who are denied Refugee IDs are very much disturbed!

By Debteraw’s associate reporter

Khartoum (Sudan) – A crack down on allegedly unlawful foreigners is to start within a week’s time. The nationwide preparation has been echoed both by the state owned and the private Sudanese mass Medias for about a month. According to the mass Medias the Ministry of interior has given directives how and when the crack down is to be commenced.

There is a close to hundred thousands of Ethiopian in the Sudan. The bulk of these migrate within the last four years in search of work. The majority of them are girls between the age of 12 and 25. Their passports are expired and in most cases they did not register upon their arrival. The most affected of such a campaign will be the help less refugees particularly Ethiopian. Ethiopian refugees have been neglected by both the UNHCR and COR since Woyane took power in 1991. It is estimated hundreds of Ethiopian refugees do not have valid refugee Identity cards. This is partly due to the politically motivated and donors driven application of the Cessation clause that stripped thousands of Ethiopians their refugee rights. Though the mistreatment and denial of refugee status of Ethiopian refugees by the UNHCR started all over the world soon after the TPLF took power the most glaring one started after the UNHCR implemented this infamous cession clause since March 2000. The Double standard of the UNHCR became more apparent again when it applied the same cessation clause On Eritrean refugees.

Ethiopian refugees with no valid IDs could roughly be classified under the following six categories:

·         Those who live in the Eastern Sudan cities such as port Sudan, Gedarif, Kesela, Meden and

·         In refugee camps such as Umgulga, UmraKuba

·         now reside in Khartoum and whose IDs were issued other than the Khartoum UNHCR office

·         either came to the Sudan when they were small kids with their parents or born in the Sudan and now are above the age of 18

·         fled from Ethiopia between 2000 – 2005 May, when UNHCR stopped issuing ID for Ethiopians

·         escaped to the Sudan after the June – November 2005 Massacre.

The above categories of Ethiopians will be affected by the upcoming aliens crack down unless COR and UNHCR could protect them. The double standard of the UNHCR Sudan office and COR can clearly be seen with two glaring Ethiopian refugee Cases. Case one is when UNHCR denies appeal for the pre 1991 screened Ethiopian while it granted more than one appeal chance for Eritreans who were on the same situation. Case two:- UNHCR and COR give automatic refugee status for new arrival of Eritrean refugees but for Ethiopians even those who fled after the June – November 2005 Woyane massacre of innocent and peaceful demonstrates are denied. The new arrivals have been begging for more than a year without success. Until this report is compiled the majority of CUD and UEDF members and supporters who applied for refugee status did not get ID. If they are not given in the next few days they are at risk of being dragged back as illegal aliens. It is also worth to mention here the Case of the four new arrival Ethiopians( Habtamu Zewdu of UEDF, Habtamu Wale and Mohamed Seid of ex EPPF, Tsege Mebratu who claimed as CUD member) reported deported On September 06 2006 due to UNHCRs and COR’s failure.

Therefore Ethiopian human rights and political organizations and concerned Ethiopian are advised to put pressure on the Sudanese Government representative, Commission for Refugees (COR) and the UNHCR to protect the refugees by at least issuing temporary IDs. It is also necessary to lobby the Sudanese government and concerned organizations to make the alien control process less painful i.e. to make sure the search is conducted only during day times. Those who conduct the search must carry out their duties properly after identifying themselves so that the process is not used for some sinister motives. Ethiopians should be treated humane.

It is worth to mention here that because of the UNHCR and the Sudanese government’s neglect many Ethiopian tried to cross to Europe illegally. In doing so many hundreds have perished in the Sahara Desert and Drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. Now many are contemplating the unthinkable unless the UNHCR and COR make a change of heart to protect.

Published in: on November 10, 2006 at 10:43 pm  Comments (3)  

Averting the creeping disintegration of the Diaspora Kinijit

By W. Selameab

 

A significant segment of Ethiopians believe that Kinijit represents a clear departure from the traditional opposition politics of the last 30 years. Part of the promises of Kinijit rested on the fact that it was formed and led by seasoned and mature intellectuals. Kinijit’s founding leaders thrusted themselves into politics, though politics continues to be a very dangerous field of human endeavor in Third World countries, due to a keen sense of social responsibility and the higher calling of public service.  Many of these leaders are accomplished professionals in their respective fields and many of them have advanced in age. While they had the wherewithal to spend their twilight years in a relative comfort and tranquility in Ethiopia or abroad, they decided to jump into the political fray risking everything.  Now, they along with their families are paying dearly for their naiveté in trusting Ethiopians.  Kinijit’s founders’ relative cleanliness from past political ‘baggage’ and the academia background many of them came from gave Ethiopians a sense of authenticity and a measure of political idealism. Ethiopians cherished that idealism as a breath of fresh air after near-exhaustion and awful disappointment from the years of political infighting and intrigues of the “mature” opposition parties.

Kinijit not a Trojan horse

Those “old” parties that are fond of asserting their political maturity, have very little to show for their strategic thinking and tactical prowess for all the years they have been involved in politics. On the contrary, many Ethiopians viewed them as serious stumbling blocks strangle-holding opposition politics for far too long. It is amazing that elements of these “mature” parties are now openly vilifying Kinijit. Of course, this is not new. They have been doing that to just about every fledgling coalition in the last 16 years. Now, that Kinijit had demonstrated its capability to mobilize millions of Ethiopians and overwhelmingly win an election, I would have expected the “mature” parties to be a bit more circumspect in their criticism of Kinijit. Instead, they seem to be doing it at full blast.  Here is an example. A Haile Abai in a recent web-article said the following:“Had the fathers of Kinjit envisioned a well-solidified coalition that incorporated banned organizations as vectors of the struggle, the struggle of the opposition would likely have weathered the shameful defections of Beyene, Merera and Lidetu, and would have continued to galvanize the Diaspora and citizens inside to force TPLF to respect the vote, release the jailed, and the struggle may have been crowned with success. Another opportunity lost in a series of lost opportunities!”

Kinijit’s leaders have definitely made tactical mistakes. But, the severe problems the party faced since the May 2005 election had been imposed on it by the ruling TPLF. While forming a broad-based coalition is always desirable, to portray “banned organizations” that are externally based as saviors of the struggle is foolish. Those that “shamefully defected” actually were the very leaders and long-term allies of the externally based “banned organizations.”

 

Externally based organizations could help the struggle for democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia only at the margins. Political organizations that would make the greatest difference are those that are in the midst of the people inside the country. Accordingly, no self-respecting political party operating inside Ethiopia would consent to external manipulation by parties that have no significant physical presence inside the country. It is also pointless for Diaspora Ethiopians to use up their resources in bolstering externally based parties.  The resources provided to such parties over the last 20-25 years have not produced any tangible results except disappointments for thousands in the Diaspora.

 

Averting a disaster within the Diaspora Kinijit

 

Now, to the main point of this article. The Diaspora Kinijit movement, at least, the one I am somewhat familiar with in North America, has been facing a near-paralysis since the imprisonment of its genuine leaders in Ethiopia. In particular, the recent crisis within the North America Kinijit’s leadership group has accelerated the downward spiral.  In my view, the following have to be considered to stop Kinijit North-America’s freefall to oblivion.

 

a)         Living and not preaching democracy

 

Part of the problem that led to the current dysfunctional sate of the Diaspora Kinijit movement had to do with the lack of commitment to basic democratic percepts. Very few of the current leaders of Kinijit in North America are genuinely elected officers of the chapters they represent. Even some of the elected officials do not feel that they have to answer to the constituency that put them in office. There are a number of examples where chairpersons of chapters had taken substantive actions without consulting their constituencies. U.S laws governing nonprofits, however, stipulates that officers are to be directly responsible to their constituencies.

 

It is no secret that Kinijit’s leaders in Ethiopia, based on friendship and personal relations, appointed some of the current Kinijit North America leaders. In such instances, leadership ability, management competence and ideological clarity were not the primary consideration for assessing the individuals’ fitness to the leadership positions. In a way, this may have been unavoidable. Very few individuals with the leadership talents and political acumen may have come forward to help with starting-up regional chapters. 

 

Nevertheless, once the chapters were established, based on the laws of each state, a constituent assembly should have elected the leaders of the chapters in an open and transparent manner. In some cases, this may have taken place nominally. However, that may not be sufficient. To move forward, therefore, it is important to fully assert the sovereignty of local chapters to elect, recall or dismiss their elected officials. To establish this principle and to advance the movement with new vigor, it is important to immediately undertake a new round of elections for chapter leadership teams and bring new people with new vision and vitality to the struggle. In addition, administrative and control instruments would have to also be put in place without further delay.

 

b)         Lack of clarity on the relationship between local chapters and the North America-wide Kinijit

 

Attempt was made to organize a North America wide organization to better coordinate and streamline the activities of regional Kinijit chapters. The effort was not successful since it lacked clear definition of the relationships between the center and the regional chapters. Control mechanisms for the continental organization were awfully lacking or left deliberately vague leading to huge financial scandals

 

While local chapters are expected to transfer funds to Kinijit North-America, in return, they are not given basic information on how their funds are utilized. The justification has always been that providing such information even to the leadership of local chapters would jeopardize the works of Kinijit, which, it is asserted, had to be pursued clandestinely both at home and in the Diaspora.

 

While there may be a genuine need for secrecy, the arrangement quickly tuned out to be a recipe for financial mismanagement. The recent report of a single official transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars under his own signature to a bank account known only to him is a good reminder of the danger associated with the lack of transparency and accountability. We have also heard about unnecessary travels and lavish expenditures by some Kinijit North America officials.

 

Critical steps for quickly stopping the hemorrhage of the Kinijit movement in North America would have to include the quick reconstitution of effective mechanism for chapters’ oversight. Officers of chapters have to report to their constituency periodically and they should be prohibited from taking substantive decisions without the expressed will of those that elected them. Officers should be promptly relieved of their duties when they consistently fail to implement the directives of the oversight organs. Failure to provide effective oversight of nonprofits is a serious matter in the U.S.  According to the law, members of oversight entities would be legally liable, collectively and individually, for failing to exercise their fiduciary responsibilities.

 

c)         Prohibition of the practice of “democratic centralism”

 

There appears to be an emerging effort by a few to transform Kinijit’s regional chapters to party outposts. First, I am not even sure if Kinijit could be organized as a political party in North America. And if it is actually possible to do so, I’m not sure how the Party would operate particularly how it would be funded. What has been tried so far has been organizing Kinijit support groups to assist in garnering resources for supporting the humanitarian and educational activities of Kinijit in Ethiopia.  I would assume that Knijit support groups are organized as nonprofits under the laws of each state. Nonprofits that are eligible to solicit funds from the public are required to operate as democratic entities accountably and transparently. Nonprofits are also required to maintain records of their activities and such records have to be made available to the public upon request within a reasonable amount of time. 

 

I do not have insider information on the motive of the Kinijit faction that is trying to organize Kinijit as a party in North America. If I had to speculate, I would say it may be because of the desire for instituting democratic centralism or “drijitawi aserar” in order to manipulate the relationships between central and local chapters. This dubious practice has been effectively used by Marxists to manipulate millions of people without much accountability. It had offered effective cover to close-knit cliques to embezzle public funds and to engage in questionable activities with no one asking tough questions.

 

Kinijit support groups have to remain grassroots volunteer-driven participatory entities. They have to be proving grounds for democracy and accountability for Ethiopians. In each chapter, all issues have to be settled on their merits and after through deliberations by members. The old top-down command and control structure of “ye belay tiezaz new” (It is what higher ups want) should not have any place for any Ethiopian and/or Ethiopian group operating in the most democratic societies of North America. Most of all, drijitawi aserar fosters corruption and the empowering cliques while disenfranchising millions.

 

d)         Keep KIL at bay

 

Kinijit’s founders in Kaliti have the right to appoint any individual or group to carry out any task. Such is the essence of commissions. However, when the task is accomplished commissions submit reports and usually disband. It was in that light that I looked at the so-called “Kinijit International Political Leadership (KIL)” earlier.  I was wrong!

 

It appears that this un-elected body is a permanent supra-local chapter entity with the power to fire and appoint chapter officers and continental Kinijit leaders. I was appalled when I read KIL’s communiqué of October 16, 2006 through which it suspended Shaleka Yosef from his chairman position in the North America Kinijit to which, I assumed, he was elected by local chapters. This is not a defense of the Shaleka. In fact, the Shaleka may deserve removal, if for nothing else, for his audacity to transfer a huge sum of money from Kinijit’s official account on his own authority, whatever may have been his motive. This is about upholding democratic principles including the sovereignty of regional Kinijit chapters!

 

Where did KIL draw its authority to remove an elected official of Kinijit North America? The only democratic way for accomplishing what KIL attempted to do would have been through convening a meeting of the North America Kinijit chapters and providing the opportunity to the Shaleka to present his case. It was also important to receive the report of the Inquiry Commission that was established earlier by the chapters.  The power to relieve the Shaleka from his responsibilities should have ultimately rested with the chapters that put him in office in the first place. The un-elected KIL has no legitimate reason to usurp the power of the chapters.

 

As stated earlier, KIL may continue to operate as a commission with no direct say in the management and activities of chapters and their North America wide organization. It should limit itself to whatever assignment Kinijit leaders at Kaliti may have given it. It must also remain in the background and let elected officers run the show, so to speak, in North America.

 

Most importantly, KIL should not act as if it is a party in exile. There is no need for such a party in the Diaspora. As I stated earlier, Kinijit endeared itself to Ethiopians by staying inside Ethiopia and resisting tyranny. By forming KIL in the Diaspora, if the intention of Kinijit’s founding leaders is to henceforth prosecute the struggle from abroad, they would, at least, loose me as a supporter. I have no interest to support an externally based Kinijit!

 

e)         Pull Kinijit out of the AFD immediately

 

 Kinijit North America’s problem compounded after it unwisely entangled itself with the so-called “ Alliance for Democracy.” The confusion and anger that followed the  announcement of AFD had completely sucked the life out of the strong Kinijit movement world- wide. The way to get back to the pre-AFD status has to begin with the unequivocal disassociation of Kniijit from AFD. AFD has not shown interest to rectify the glaring discrepancies in its bylaws and memorandum of understanding.  Kinijit’s association with this group has completely derailed the struggle off its base. It has relegated the focus of the struggle, which includes the freeing of the gallant leaders from prison, democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia off the radar screen for many Ethiopians in the Diaspora.  At this stage, AFD cannot be redeemed. It has to be abandoned. Kinijit has to disassociate itself from this group if it is to refocus its efforts on the most important issues facing Ethiopia and rehabilitate itself with the Diaspora Ethiopian communities. 

Published in: on November 4, 2006 at 8:30 pm  Comments (7)