Thursday, February 05, 2009

Birtukan Mideksa: Hope of a Nation

No, I have not met her, but I have been watching her, perhaps like a lot of you, as she blossomed right in front of our eyes, since she burst onto the Ethiopian political scene in 2005. The more I watch her, the more I am convinced that she may be the ONE, the one leader that may be able to pull Ethiopians together and inspire us all to dream big.

"Hold it right there...she is just another politician." Y
ou might be tempted to say.

Yes, she is a politician, alright. But she is definitely not just an ordinary one. I had some doubts in the beginning if she was for real, and I am sure some of her own colleagues probably did, too. However, my doubts were erased five weeks ago when she drew the line in the sand and authored that now famous letter of hers
to unequivocally affirm her unwavering stand for truth and justice in defiance of the Woyane regime's intimidation.

Here is what the blogger Dagmawi wrote about Birtukan's defiance:
Birtukan Mideksa's imprisonment demonstrates truth in a way that directly engages our conscience. And it is that conscience that makes us restless. We can't sit quietly. From Birtukan's prison cell comes some force that reaches out and touches us. What is it? Something spiritual? Metaphysical? Moral strength? Human dignity?... Even the supporters of the TPLF/EPRDF have to deal with this moral force.
That moral force, a force that no earthly power can break, like the Rosa Parks kind of force if you will, is what Birtukan will now forever be remembered for. Thank you, Birtukan, for leading by example and inspiring a nation to believe in itself again. You will not be forgotten!

19 comments:

Fayyis said...

She can be Hope of the nation if she can earn support of opposition parties in groups of both Nation-Based-Federalists and Region-Based-Federalists. As I do see, there are four opposition poletical groups in Ethiopia now a days:

1- on the extreme right are Ethio-nationalists, most of them being Amharas, who want to see Ethiopia with uniformily amharanized one people. Parties advocating this position seem to be AEUP, EPPF and EPRP (non-democratic).

2- in the middle right are Region-Based-Federalists, who do advocate for democratic federal Ethiopia, where there is no visible danger for future distintegation of the empire, for national areas like Oromia will be dismantled. Here belongs G-7, UDG, EPRP (Democratic)

3- in middle left are Nation-Based-Federalists usually known as "ethnic" federalists, who want to see autonomous nations like Oromia determining their fate in their national areas, the group which includes parties like ATSD (Arena), OFC (Oromo federalists), SEDC of Prof Beyene and SDFC of Somali (who are now making democratic dialog under FDD)

4- on extreme left are Ethno-nationalists, who want to see a sovereign, independent republics of their national areas like Gadaa Republic of Oromia. Here belongs ULFO and probably ONLF.

Interestingly the position of OLF is some where between the 3rd and 4th groups, i.e Self-determination of Oromo people per referendum which can lead either to Nation-Based-Federation (usually called Union of Independent Nations) or to Independent Gadaa Republic of Oromia.

Now coming to the call of Unity of opposition groups against Weyane, I think feasible is the unity of the 2nd and 3rd groups, who can agree on establishing federal democratic Ethiopia per public verdict to decide on Nation-Based-Federation vs Region-Based-Federation. OLF can be part of this unity, if it prefers the Union to the Independence. The 1st and 4th groups exclude them selves automatically from such unity due to their extreme postion or they give up their extreme position and join the unity of the middle.

Anonymous said...

Fayyis
The degree of mobilization of each groupe is an important factor! TPLF came to power because of its high capacity to mobilize the Tigre while OLF, after 40 years of struggle, can't even mobilize 10% of the Oromos!!

Anonymous said...

Well, such simple explanation for the "succes" of Weyane and "failure" of OLF can not be expected from a well versed poletical mind!!

Fayyis said...

To 1st Anonymous,
I really gave you a very remarkable reply. Unfortunately it is deleted by the moderator! I hope you guess, what I wrote. You deserve no more reply!!!

Anonymous said...

"...Many Ethiopians believe that conditions favorable for a successful guerrilla war do not exist in present day Ethiopia. As already indicated, armed struggles can become successful when there is support from outside, especially when neighboring countries provide safe retreats, training centers, and arms. Both the EPLF and the TPLF waged a successful armed struggle against the Derg because they benefited from the support of neighboring countries as well as remote Arab countries. Likewise, the Cold War situation allowed them to benefit from the sympathy and support of Western countries, especially the US. Unfortunately, these conditions no longer exist, while Ethiopia remains surrounded by countries that are hostile to helping any movement seeking its renaissance and development. That is why existing guerrilla groups have no other choice than to depend on the Eritrean regime, which many Ethiopians consider as a completely unreliable ally, if not a hidden enemy. In light of this regional isolation, nonviolence remains the only strategy left to bring down the Woyanne regime...."

Ephrem Madebo said...

Anonymous,

When you make a comment use your own idea, or expand the idea of others. What you entered above is taken word to word from Dr. Mesay's recent article. You should have given him a credit by at least mentioning his name.

enset said...

Ephrem,

The person who posted Messay's quote left a very lengthy quote from Messay's recent article which contained this portion. He credited Messay, but added no idea of his own. So, I deleted it. He posted the same lengthy quote again, and I deleted again. The third time he trimmed the quote and posted it and I thought the length of the quote was manageable, though he forgot to attribute it to the author. Messay makes a very good argument and I am glad he made it at this point in time when a lot of folks are arguing, understandably, in favor of taking on the Woyane police state with some kind of force. But this is not an argument I want to pursue here.

Feyyis,

Your point that Birtukan can be the hope of the nation if she can earn the support of the middle two of your four types of opposition groups, would be a reasonable point if only the alignment of the opposition groups was as obvious as you made it out to be. The problem with that approach is that the opposition camp is too fragmented and too fluid to view it as you saw it. I think she can earn the support from all four groups.

Please allow me to illustrate my point:

I can picture members and supporters of the group that you labeled as "EPRP (non-democratic)" any where in group 1, 2 or 3 depending on the political climate. BTW, I do not like their current alliance with the Shawel group, but that does not make them non-democratic. As far as I am concerned, the democratic credentials of MOST politicians in the opposition camp leaves much to be desired. Having said that, I have to say that this group has contributed more than its share towards the fragmentation of the opposition camp.

I can also picture members and supporters of the OLF in groups 3 or 4 depending on the political climate. The OLF has also contributed immensely towards the fracturing of the opposition to Woyane, first by making a devil's deal with it in 1991 and then by distancing itself from the other opposition groups between 1992 and 2006.

And then there is Prof. Beyene Petros. Beyene doesn't really have much of a following these days, but he can easily be in group 2 or 3 depending on the political climate. Talk about undemocratic nature, I never thought he would turn out to be as undemocratic as he became when I used to be a supporter of his group between 1993 and 2001, but he did.

Coming back to Ms. Mideksa, I don't want to put too much expectation on her shoulders, but my thinking is that she got into the though and gloomy world of Ethiopian politics with the full understanding that it could bring enormous difficulties into her personal life. Obviously, this was not the first time she had defied the Woyane, but it was the first time the Ethiopian public got to see what she was made of. I am sure, in due time, the Ethiopian people from groups 1 thru 4 will come to appreciate the sacrifice she is making on their behalf and rally behind her. Well, at least this is what I hope will happen, and if that happens, she will have carried the hope of the nation on her back and inspire them to get the Woyane albatross off their collective backs. Now the burden is on the rest of us to follow her lead.

Fikru

Fayyis said...

Fikru,
well said except your cheap verbal shot at OLF. You could have also interpret the position of OLF between 1992 and 2006 as the bad act of Ethiopian (Amhara) parties, who classified it as Tegenxaay and isolated it, till they desperately needed help of OLF after 2005 disaster. Now it seems that all Amharas and amharanized others (you and Ephrem sound to be in this group) started to recognize that with out OLF, they can never get the support of Oromos they need desperately if they want to get rid of Weyane. OLF's coalition building with Weyane in 1991 and wirh Kinijit in 2006 is because of the good nature of OLF in particular and peacefull nature of Oromos in general to solve the problem in that empire peacefully. Unfortunately both Abesha groups (Weyane and Kinijit) betrayed OLF and started to persecute Oromos! I hope you start to use the "non-amharinized" part of your brain to look at the issue neutrally!!

Ephrem Madebo said...

Fayyis,
One of the problems of the past, especially form the early days of modern Ethiopia well in to the days of Mengistu, was that the South including the Oromos were forced to mask their identity with another identity. With the advent of Derge and now TPLF the greater part of that problem has gone. Except that Fayyis wants to continue it in his own wicked way. You have repeatedly called me "Amharanized" Ethiopian or Abesha. If I don't think like you [the Oromo way] then to you I am not a person of my identity, but a person who borrows the identity of others. Where is the freedom of being me? Or are you showing me the preview of the future of the so called pocket minorities in Oromia? I tried to continue the argument respecting you for who you are. But for you, I am not the person who I think and I believe I am. When I argue with you, you are not arguing with me. You are arguing with a different me imagined or temporarily created by you! I am "Amharianized" entity because I love Ethiopia. Loving Ethiopia has nothing to do with being an Amhara. The Amharas can never make me love what don’t and they can also never make me hate what I love. Love and hate come from the inner me; they are part of my soul. What I do here in the US, I do it with deep concern to people, love to my country, and passion to the principles of democracy. I do things with at most freedom not to appease anybody, but to do what I think is the right thing to do! I know love is respect and forgiving others, but when there is reciprocity at least once in years. Unless you positively tell me that you take me for who I am, and make a clear apology for your use of derogatory words, I refuse to continue the debate with you. It is this kind of disrespect and lack of understanding to each other that gives Woyane time to breathe and keep on doing what it is doing! Without civility, our dialogue will be full of anarchy, and this by no means is my intention!

Fayyis said...

Ephrem,
I know you don't like to be called "amharanized", but you act as such. Well, I think it belongs to my right to express my opinion about you, just as you can do concerning me. It can be wrong or right, but it has nothing to do with "disrespect" regarding your person. Just as you do have a freedom to be you, I do have a freedom to be me. And having such opinion about you belongs to my freedom. You may say: "don't write your opinion about me", but you can't hinder that I do have that opinion. The only difference is then that I did express honestly the opinion I do have instead of hiding it. Do you want me to hide my opinion, then how can we discuss whole heartedly? You can tell me that you are not amharanized, but don't try to hinder my right to express my opinion. You can do the same thing regarding me! If you are ready to discuss with only people who write positive things about you or only with those who adore you, then I am not that person. I admire what i think is positive about you, and criticize and give names to what I think is negative side of you. I also expect you to do the same! That is the way ideas/opinions can flow freely with out any hinderance. That is part of democracy, which you now put at second place next to "Unity" in your last post. As I understood you, you prefer unity with out democracy to democracy with out unity. This makes you no more pop of democracy as you, Dr. Birihanu, Ato andargachew and other G-7leaders try to preach and teach. It makes you the advocator of unconditional unity, at any cost, be it including Oromos and other oppressed people live eternally under slavery. I hope you will check your position and start to struggle for freedom and democracy, be it with unity or with out unity!

Galatoomi!!

Anonymous said...

I doubt that Birtukan will be the future for she has not yet expressed her position on the Oromo question for self-determination. If she is against this question, she will lose support of Oromos. If she is for the question, she will lose support of Amharas. So her being quite is very good tactic, if it works!! But surely she will lose support of both and will be Nobody just sacrifised for Nothing!!

Anonymous said...

It's because of Ethiopianism, what minorities forget to acknowledge, gurages and other minoriteis etc can do business in the whole Ethiopia. Now these groups are attacking Ethiopianism, for them Amhars. Have you seen an american of anglo saxon race ranting being called Whiteys! Amhara has no meaning for native amharic speakers. It's a word coined by hate mongers.. minorties of Ethiopians. Hope our minorites learned something from Obama success. He did not win because of minority's votes. God bless our nation

enset said...

Feyyis,

You say Amharization, I say Oromization. Both are different sides of the same coin as far as I am concerned. For more on this, see what I said in the comments section here.

What I said about the OLF is just the facts. Even while in a coalition with Woyane in the "transitional" government, the OLF chose not to ally itself with the Southern groups. After leaving the Woyane coalition, the OLF then chose to ally itself the Eritrean regime, which in effect signaled to the opposition groups that the OLF's goal was to dismantle Ethiopia. Only after its preferred options became dead ends did the OLF show a willingness to work with the opposition in 2006. It is also true that the CUD, the opposition group that was willing to work with the OLF, did so out of weakness as you correctly suggested.

Anonymous of February 09, 2009 8:29:00 AM:

You are too much of a pessimist, but you could also be right. If Birtukan shows any weakness or her party's resolve to carry on its declared strategy flounders in the face of Woyane repression, then her sacrifice will be in vain. But your pessimism stems from your narrow generalization of the politics of the Oromos and the Amharas into two polarized groups: Oromo politics=self-determination, Amhara politics=anti self-determination.

I think this either-or approach is incorrect and fails to take in to account the heterogeneity that is inherent in these two largest Ethiopian ethnic groups. The very fact that these to groups got to be as big as they are is a clear testament to the diversity of political interests among both groups. There is some polarization for sure, but there is also much overlap.

This suggests to me that if there emerges a smart politician who can appeal to a broad section of these two groups and can listen to the concerns of both, which I hope Birtukan is such a politician, then it quite possible to bridge the gap between the two and create a win-win political environment.

Fikru

Anonymous said...

I do not have a problem with Birtucan her self. However, I have a problem with her supporters who worship her and define her more than she is. She is just a politician who doesn't like Weyane and she thinks she is better than EPDRF to lead the country..... Mengstu's supports used to worship him too....

Fayyis said...

Fikru,
well, both CUD and OLF forged that alliance out of weak position for they could not challenge the brutal regime separately. The opposition groups are yet in the same weak position, but have no more alliance like AFD as that time. That is why it is very necessary that both unity forces and liberation fronts should find a common ground to forge a broad based alliance against Weyane. I personally believe that common denominator is: acceptance of public verdict aka self-determination. Both blocs can preach UNITY and LIBERTY respectively in a democratic atmosphere with freedom and then leave the decision for the public.

Regarding Birtukan's fate, you wrote that she can be a smart poletician who can appeal to a broad section of the two big nations and can listen to their respecitve concern in order to bridge the gap between the two to create a win-win poletical enviroment. I think you are very optimistic here. As far as I am concerend, let's wait and see her development. I am neither as pessimistic as the Anynomous nor as optimistic as you are! She is yet a fertile field which can grow any sort of poletics she will be fed with: chauvinism, genuine democracy, unconditional unity mantra, unconditional liberation, right of people to self-determination, simple puppet of the West or as you said win-win poletician? Wait and see!!

Anonymous said...

Forget birtukan1 She is simply Abesha soft-ware in Oromo hard-ware i.e she is psychologial Abesha, physical Oromo. That means she is simply Abesha minded, who serves Abesha interest, which is usually against Oromo interest!!

Anonymous said...

We like it or not either certain devine power or certain western power is preparing her for premiership! Now her party joined the Forum for Democratic Dialog (FDD) according to Ethiomedia. The election in the year 2010 will be mainly between EPRDF and the coming coalition party out of the FDD. If Weyane be put under pressure from inside and outside to open the democratic space like that of 2005, with out doubt FDD will have a chance to win and Birtukan can have a chance to be elected as a candidate for prime minster position. It seems westen powers are proping her for this position. If she is wise and can manage to address the question of all poletical, ethnic and religious groups in the empire, she will be accepted as a compromise leader specially by Amhara and Oromo nations, of course also by others.

Wro Akalu said...

You guys who think you are advocating for the right of Oromo people are still living in fear of Amharization/ Northerners what ever name you call it, that monster is in existence only in your mind.
Good riddance! That monster system was killed by obnoxious Derge Mengestu and buried by Woyane.
I sincerely believe that you guys are no doubt sincere for your cause but that fear of the Northerners, which you are not willing to let go blocked your view to see what we saw a great leadership in Birtukan Mideksa. Sorry! For real!
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail”.
Good Luck!

enset said...

Anonymous of February 09, 2009 11:19:00 PM:

It is healthy to be skeptic, but you strike me as a cynic. Mengistu was not worshiped; he was feared. I have not yet detected any sign of worship with regard to Birtukan's supporters. Yes, they admire her. I do, too. But that is well deserved. One could disagree with the extent to which she is admired. But at the end of the day we should not forget that we (Oromo, Amhara, etc.) have a lot more in common than what divides us. We just need to practice listening to one another better and unlearn our habit of talking at each other. I have ample reason to think that Birtukan is not just another politician. But only time will tell if my take about her is correct. So, let's try to stay positive.

Fikru