Friday, July 27, 2007

The Next Big Thing

By Ephrem Madebo

So much of the long history of the struggle between autocratic regimes and the good people of Ethiopia can partially be explained by critically analyzing the essence of good and evil. It is an absolute truth that in every generation of Ethiopians, good citizens seem to clearly outnumber those who are evil, yet those who are evil seem to prevail far too often. It is utterly mystifying and frustrating to see few evils control the economic and political structures of a country for a long period of time. Intellectually, morally, or even statistically, it is appalling to have few evil people stand victorious over the good people of society despite the latter’s lop-sided numerical advantage. In Ethiopia, good and evil have been in a constant fight for many generations, sadly, the good people of Ethiopia have always been in the losing side. In the real world, the out come of the encounter between good and evil is not determined by how good one fights to win; it is determined by how bad one wants to win. The history of the world vividly shows that unless those who claim to be good are willing to stand up and fight for what they believe to be right, they will always be controlled by the few evils.

On Friday July 20, 2007, the struggle of the Ethiopian people for justice and democracy completed its long and twisted chapter when the TPLF regime released 38 high caliber leaders of CUDP. The news of the release sent many Ethiopians around the globe in to a town-hall hand clapping euphoria and all-night long “Eskista” extravaganza. Some jumped for joy, yet others cried hugging and kissing anyone that stood on their way. The July 20 weekend was the only time in memory that brought an unblemished smile on the faces of all opposition leaders. It was a day of jubilation, a day of solace, and most importantly a day of re-grouping. Yes, we completed one ugly chapter in our struggle, but let’s remember that we have a long and treacherous journey ahead of us.

It’s just a week since the CUDP leaders were released, but the question of why the CUDP leaders sign such a controversial document has already been the focal point of discussion among Ethiopians. Why did TPLF release CUDP leaders? Who were the released prisoners? When were they released? How were they released? What do these released leaders intend to do? These are first-class questions worth asking and answering, but to any human being who is conscious of the current political reality of Ethiopia, some of these questions are not even worth considering. In November 2005, evil prevailed over good and the CUDP leaders had to go to jail. Today, the shoe is on the other foot, CUDP leaders are out because good prevailed over evil. There is clear-cut truth here: Guilty, or not guilty, the release of the CUDP leaders is crucially important to the otherwise crippling popular movement. This by no means should imply that our struggle for peace and democracy will die with out CUDP. But, as any mindful person would observe, no single party captured the imagination of millions of Ethiopians in such a short time; and of course, no political imprisonment paralyzed the popular movement like the imprisonment of the CUDP leaders. From November 2005 to July 2007, TPLF was the only visible player in the political scene of Ethiopia, all others were dormant. In the last two years, the only big thing we saw was the formation of AFD, in which Kinijt played a major role, but still condemned, ridiculed, and hacked by the high-pitched elements of the old guard.

So, how should one answer the above five question? Well, it all depends upon who we are talking to. Idiots would answer all of the questions, but they do not make use of the answers. Like the idiots, earsplitting politicians would answer all of the questions and use the answers to make sure that they have enough rumors until another big thing happens. A wise person would consider all of the questions, but answers only the most relevant question(s). Today, some of the important questions to all Ethiopians are: What should be done to make Melez Zenawi the first Ethiopian leader to concede defeat and walk out of the Menelik Palace? How do the released CUDP and all other political leaders steer the popular movement to victory? How do our leaders make use of this momentous time? When do opposition parties stop mud slinging and forge a political alliance? What is the role of civic organizations, the media, and individual citizens in helping the political parities achieve their objectives?

In the last 16 years we vociferously condemned and denounced Meles Zenawi’s regime. Well, good job; but frankly speaking, it is much easier to denounce a wicked man than understanding and ultimately dealing with him. Today, time and momentum are in our side. Let us fully understand Meles and talk to him in the language of his choice. We have repeatedly heard Meles and company boasting to have been the fathers of democracy in Ethiopian. To them, the May 2005 voting process was the ultimate stage of democracy. To us, and to the people we fight for, “it's not the voting that's democracy; it's the counting”. If democracy was all about voting, since the majority voted against them; by now, Meles Zenawi and Bereket Simon would have gone to their own country, and Sebaht Nega would have been collecting social security checks.

So what is the next big thing? The next big thing is all about trusting each other, working together and building grass root movements in every locality of Ethiopia. I will repeat my creed of the past. OLF, UEDF, CUDP, SEPC and the many other parties exist in the context of each other, therefore, accepting and exploring the rich context of individual differences does not imply defeat or loss. Nor does it mean surrendering your own intellectual, aesthetic, or moral perspective. It simply means that you gain a deeper, broader understanding of where your own views fit in with society. Evidently, Ethiopia has a huge amount of complex social and economic problems; however, the remedy for Ethiopia’s problems does not warrant the existence of such a countless political parties and ethnic liberation fronts (LFs). The next big thing requires extended dialogue that brings the multiethnic parties and the LFs towards a single common objective. Temporary disagreements and some procedural impediments should not discourage the different parties and the LFs from attending dialogues. After all, isn’t it the mark of great minds to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it?

The multiethnic political parties and the ethnic LFs might have some deep-seated differences, but I do believe, they all agree that TPLF is an evil that should be dealt with. Hence, they need to understand that the life of TPLF is extended by the things they do and the things they don’t do. To work together, dialogues are inescapable tools that curb differences, not to just get rid of TPLF, but to establish a true democratic and united Ethiopia. So, will our political parties stand together and fight the TPLF regime collectively, or, continue their never ending individual race to “Arat Kilo”? Will CUDP, OLF, SEPC and UEDF do something different, or keep on playing the mind numbing “do nothing” type political game of the 60’s? We need to understand that more than 75million good people are sill suffocated by a handful of evil people. Let’s never forget that the only necessary condition for the triumph of the wicked is that good people do nothing.

Fortunately, we find ourselves at the dawn of the third millennium. Let’s celebrate this once in a thousand year moment by Laying the foundation for a stable state of Ethiopia in which all citizens are equal before the law. If we accomplish this noble task, our names will be immortalized in the history books. In deed, our names will be written in a completely different tone and page than Meles and company. At the end of 2999, we will be remembered just like Nelson Mandela, George Washington, and Kamal Ataturk. Are we determined? If yes, so help us God!

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Ethiopian Freedom Bus is on the March

Very happy about the release of the CUD (Kinijit) prisoners of conscience. Sad about the thousands of others left behind bars.

I have heard that the CUD folks have signed a document in which they have admitted to "mistakes" to win their release. Naturally, I feel that the document has some relevance, to the extent that what it may reveal about the nature of the regime that incarcerated them, and I am curious to read the document in its entirety. But, obviously, the document was signed under duress and, as such, I do not think it is of any use to spend precious time talking about it. What is more important to me and, I am sure, to most Ethiopians is what the freed CUD leaders plan to do to further the cause of peace, justice and democracy in Ethiopia in the days, months and years ahead. I hope they will remain united and continue to lead by example. I also hope that they will not forget those whom they left behind in Woyane's dungeons.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

High Court, Low Verdict

By Ephrem Madebo

The absolutely nonsense and preposterous ‘political’ verdict that started on June 11 calumniated to its worst stage yesterday when the Ethiopian High Court nominal judges read a political manuscript sent from Zewnawi’s office. The rule of law might have never been the way of life in Ethiopia, however, neither the judges of the 16th century nor the emperors of the 19th century, or the Military dictators of the late 20th century exhibited such a contempt and despise to the rule of law and to the people they administered. Yesterday, the ever degenerating Ethiopian justice system reached its rock bottom and proved itself to be nothing, but a decayed formation of dead processes and futile human vultures. As the illustrious Ethiopian proverb says, yesterday’s verdict was nothing, but “Ferde Gemdel”.

As one would not expect a wheat kernel from an acacia tree, we sure did not expect justice from an injustice system. But, I personally, never thought my country would have a regime that kills the hope of the very people that it purportedly leads. Fifteen years ago, Zenawi and his poisonous rats like the retarded Sebhat Nega gave Ethiopia’s natural sea port (Assab) to Eritrea. In 1999 and 2000, the same bloody duo and their supporters led the Ethiopian people to war, but deliberately lost the political cause of the war after sacrificing tens of thousands of people. In 2005, they invited political parties and organizations for a free and fair election. But, when the outcome of the election went against their expectation, they took out their anger on innocent demonstrators. Yesterday, the TPLF gangs surpassed all of their past sins by giving a life sentence for absolutely innocent and relentless defenders of democracy.

Last week, a wise Ethiopian lady was escorted from the court room for laughing at the prosecutor when he asked the court to impose the death penalty on innocent people who fought for the life of many Ethiopians. To the Zenawis’ and the shameless judges, her laughter could be seen as an act of disturbing order in the court, but to millions of Ethiopians and to many peace loving people of the world, the famous July 8 laugher in the Ethiopian court room is a historical event of great magnitude that resonates to posterity. She preferred to laugh when most of us cried because when one has no more tear to shed, laughter is the only means of expressing emotions. Her laughter has a great role in shaping our struggle for peace and justice just like Rosa Park’s resistance to give her seat for a white man ignited the civil rights movement of the 1960s’.

Yesterday morning when I first read news of the verdict (on Ethio-Zagol blog), I was shocked not by the verdict itself, but by the kind of inequity that comes only from the rancorous heart of the TPLF gangs. During the Second Word War, Italian soldiers used to stab every soldier killed by the Nazis; well no wonder for the Italians were trying to make sure that Nazis left no life in the fallen soldiers. Today, the Ethiopian ruling party and the High Court are repeating the infamous act of the Nazis and the Fascists. Here is part of the verdict that made me giggle like the lady who was escorted out of the court room: Thou shall not vote and run for public office for the rest of your life. What kind of nonsensical verdict is this? How can one kill a person and then punch the dead body? How can one take the right of a person when the very person has no right to be taken?

Dear fellow Ethiopians, Meles Zenawi has explicitly demonstrated his recklessness towards Ethiopia, and his pig-headed confidant Sebhat Nega has complimented Meles’s unruliness by renewing TPLF’s covenant with EPLF [we will die for Eritrea]. We Ethiopians always called ourselves the proud people of Africa for no white power dared to touch or take our freedom. Our fathers died for the cause of freedom and made us proud Africans. Does it matter if our freedom is taken by a white or black power? If no, then where is our fighting spirit that annihilated the Mahdists, the Italians, the British, and the mercenary armies of the Pashas of Ottoman Turks? Freedom is always freedom; therefore, enemies of freedom should always be dealt with the same decisive blow regardless of their origin or skin color. If we are the true children of Alula Aba Nega, Balcha Aba Nebso, King Tona, and Colonel Abdissa Aga, let’s pass to our children what these heroes passed to us!

For the last forty years, the Ethiopian political scene was jam-packed by unsynchronized agglomeration of parties that showed no sign of cohesiveness. EPRP, EDU, AESM, and many other parties proliferated with an identical objective of bringing peace and democracy to the Ethiopian people. But, none of these parties achieved their objective. Division, uncompromising, lack of trust and cooperation, and individual race to power were among the principal causes of the failure. Today, the only route to unseat the TPLF regime is unity. We can individually bark, but we can’t plant a bleeding bite on our enemies. Forget fighting for Ethiopia, with out unity, we can’t even firmly stand for our individual parties. Let me leave you alone by repeating what the lone African Pope and Philosopher [Saint Augustine] said 1500 years ago: “A divided will shall not stand for itself”. The political momentum will definitely be in our side as our jailed leaders soon join us in victory. Let’s unload our baggage, change our attitude, and create a united forum that propels us to a united Ethiopia.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Abusing the people doesn't make sense"

In a recent must-read article ("Fallout from war on terror hits Ethiopia") by a foreign correspondent of the Chicago Tribune, an article that deals with the repercussions of Ethiopia's interference in neighboring Somalia in the name of the war against terrorism, an Ethiopian government official was quoted as saying:
"We don't see any basic violations of human rights," said Bereket Simon, an adviser to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. "Abusing the people doesn't make sense. You abuse people and they look to the subversives. It's counterproductive."
For those who are an uninitiated in Ethiopian politics (or those who are ill-informed) such talk may come across as straight talk and sound refreshing. Unfortunately, the true nature of the people who are currently ruling Ethiopia and the state of human rights in Ethiopia could not have been any further from the truth. The truth is, the human rights record of the current rulers for the last 16 years is diametrically the opposite of the image the above quote is intended to project.

One thing the current rulers have excelled at in the last 16 years has been in the PR game. Their talk has always been designed to hoodwink the international audience about the reality in Ethiopia and give an image of a political leadership that is cool-headed and rational. The international audience pretty much had bought into their propaganda up until two years ago. Fortunately for Ethiopia, that game is over.

This Bereket fellow and his master, the prime terrorist Meles Zenawi, can try all they want to say the right things while doing the exact opposite. But no matter how skilled they may be in the PR game, one thing they can't control for sure is the reality on the ground. The reality in Ethiopia, including the Ogaden, is human rights abuses that rival the record of the Dergue regime, the regime Meles and his terrorist friends replaced.