Conference on Ethiopia and Horn of Africa – By Robele Ababya
There is a desperate move to subvert the Conference in title at this critical time when the international community is calling on the TPLF/EPRDF Party to open the increasingly narrowing political space; at this time when the renowned Congressman Donald Paine has a couple of weeks ago said, in his words: “I am deeply concerned and troubled about the deteriorating conditions in Ethiopia. The EPRDF regime is becoming increasingly totalitarian.” And earlier Senator Russ Feingold has called on President Obama not to be afraid to stand on the side of the Ethiopian people; at this time of the damning Human Rights Report on the atrocities of the regime has been made public by of the US Department of State.
It is sheer madness trying to undermine a Conference at this critical time when dialogue, peace and reconciliation are badly needed!
Meles is not a “statesman leading Africa” as some of his diehard supporters on his payroll would like us to believe. Ethiopians recall that his immediate act of betrayal started upon entry of his agazi forces to Addis Ababa to take power in May 1991; he desecrated the Ethiopia flag and desperately tried to dismantle the most revered monument of Emperor Menelik II standing in Addis in gratitude to the Monarch for His brilliant leadership of his entirely militia forces to deal a humiliating defeat to a well-trained and well-equipped modern army of Italian aggressor. The famous victory shocked European powers forcing them to recognize Ethiopia as a sovereign independent state and more importantly stood as a beacon of hope and strength to all black people in the Diaspora struggling for freedom and independence. The victory of Adwa set precedence to a long and arduous struggle and sacrifice culminating in the independence of countries like Ghana under the extraordinary leadership Kwame Nkrumah – visionary intellectual who dedicated his life to the creation of African Unity.
Unfortunately, the leader of the TPLF regime is the architect of ethnic federalism in nine regions in a country of eighty three (83) ethnic groups. This is certainly an illogical language-based federal arrangement inviting implosion. It would set a bad example and spread like bush fire to the rest of African states unless it is curbed with immediate effect first and foremost by Africans and the international community. Tribalism is a cancer feeding on the fabric of the overall development of African unity.
Meles is a deadly enemy of African unity. That is why he is hell-bent to subvert conferences on regional stability leading to a greater unity.
The international community has collected and recorded numerous gruesome acts of atrocities including genocide perpetuated over the last two decades by the Meles regime. Vital national interests have been betrayed; gross violations of human rights have been committed including genocide, crime against humanity and war crime.
The regime has lost the trust of the Ethiopian people due to betrayal of their vital national interests and throwing the Horn of Africa region into political turmoil, to wit:
• Dismembering Ethiopia thus leaving a country of 80 million landlocked cutting her economic lifeline and her vulnerable to insecurity
• Naked aggression of Somalia
• Committing act of genocide against the Anuak people of Ethiopia
• Denying private farmland ownership to peasants, which constitute 85% of the Ethiopian people. Peasants live in slavery in the serfdom of the ruling regime which is fooling the world that it is the midwife of democracy.
• Daylight robbery of votes at the election of 2005; selective killing of 193 unarmed citizens in cold blood and incarcerating tens of thousands of protestors.
• Selling fertile Ethiopian farmlands to unscrupulous foreign ‘investors’ while landless Ethiopian peasants are suffering in abject poverty
• The US State Department Report on Human Rights dated 11 March 2010 recorded: “Opposition UDJ party president Birtukan Mideksa, whose pardon was revoked and life sentence reinstated in December 2008, remained in prison throughout the year. She was held in solitary confinement until June, despite a court ruling that indicated it was a violation of her constitutional rights. She was also denied access to visitors except for a few close family members, despite a court order granting visitor access without restrictions. There were credible reports that Birtukan’s mental health deteriorated significantly during the year”.
• Senator Russ Feingold in his letter to President Barrack Obama “on the fragile state of democracy in Africa” (made public by his Press Release dated 05 March 2010) said: “There is no way that elections can be fair, let alone credible, with opposition leaders in jail or unable to campaign freely. At the bare minimum, the international community should push for the release of these political prisoners ahead of the elections. And if nothing changes, we should not be afraid to stand with the Ethiopian people and state
The resolve of the ruling regime to govern Ethiopians by denying them access to independent sources and discouraging academic freedom in tertiary institutions is evident. Italian Fascists did much the same during their short period of their occupation of our motherland. For the recent jamming of the VOA Amharic service Meles Zenawi is entirely responsible for he said:
“We have been convinced for many years that in many respects, the VOA Amharic Service has copied the worst practices of radio stations such as Radio Mille Collines of Rwanda in its wanton disregard of minimum ethics of journalism and engaging in destabilizing propaganda” – thus biting the hands that has been feeding him generously.
This is an insult to the intelligence and dignity of the Ethiopia people which one hopes that the envisaged Conference would address very seriously and pass a strong resolution thereon.
The stranglehold on our freedom of choice of access to information must be shattered primarily through our struggle with the help of well-meaning international community.
The desperate regime is totally isolated by the Ethiopian people and as such run out of ideas. So in retreat from its overly exaggerated claim in development activities, it is brandishing its image that it is the only strong option to ensure stability in the fragile region of the Horn of Africa – which in fact is a region destabilized by the regime beginning with allowing secession of Eritrea, the subsequent Ethiopia-Eritrea war of 1998- 2000 that claimed 100,000 lives, and the wanton invasion of Somalia, which proved catastrophic.
The Conference signals the beginning of consolidating robust unity of opposition forces with diverse views that Ethiopians have been so earnestly craving for decades. Its success is instrumental in what would be arduous but rewarding march to victory over tyranny. Pundits participating in the Conference have historic responsibility to seize upon this long-awaited opportunity to correct their past mistakes in a new mindset of paradigm-shift to bring stability. They owe this much and more to the Ethiopian people who have been victims of abject poverty, bad governance and arbitrary breach of the rule of law for the last 19 years.
The Conference organizing Committee should be congratulated for naming Birtukan Mideksa as its Honorary Chairperson of the Conference. This is a fitting tribute to the distinguished lady languishing illegally in jail and suffering psychological and physical torture for telling the truth about the negotiation leading to her in 2007. Her old mother and five-year old cute daughter are under the same ordeal in the larger prison, which Ethiopia is.
The Committee should also be appreciated for its courage, tenacity, and foresight in organizing the Conference that will bring together participants with diverse views.
Release Birtukan Mideksa and all political prisoners!
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!