By Fikru Helebo
Mesfin Wolde Mariam, the retired Addis Ababa University professor and former head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, is now one of the leaders of UDJ (Andinet) party. He wrote an article recently describing how Ethiopian government security personnel had cornered him in his car in the middle of a busy street in Addis Ababa and tried to intimidate him. You can read the piece at ethiopiazare.com (you need Ethiopic/Geez font). This incident Mesfin wrote about is eerily similar to another story I recently heard about a harassment of an opposition activist who was followed by Woyane security agents every where she went and where, one day, the agents attempted to create a bogus traffic accident with the intention of causing injury.
It is an open secret that the Woyane regime routinely employs various intimidation tactics like these ones above and many others to instill fear in the minds of its political opponents. Sometimes, if the target of the intimidation ignores the message and does not change her behavior or tone down her opposition activities, then the regime uses various extrajudicial methods to eliminate her. Just to mention one example, a vehicle accident was used as a means to kill a top fighter pilot named Daniel Beyene in 2006. Stories like these are prevalent in Woyane's Ethiopia, especially in the aftermath of the crackdown on the opposition after the stolen elections of 2005.
The intimidation regime that the Woyane government has put in place, which I believe rivals that of the Derg, seems to be accomplishing its objective very well, at least in the short term. Tired of the constant harassment and afraid for their dear lives, most opposition activists have fled the country and sought asylum in all corners of the globe. Those who remain in the country either do not have the means to flee the country or have resigned themselves to whatever punishment may come their way. Mesfin seems to be in the latter group. In the long term though, I believe this extreme harassment of the opposition is bound to backfire and help to hasten the demise of the regime itself. Newton's law of physics -- "for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction" -- works in politics, too!