ESFNA leadership still misleading stakeholders By Robele Ababya

November 3rd, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Obnoxious records of EPRDF

This time in the long history of Ethiopia is unlike any others in the magnitude of betrayal of vital national interests, grave violation of human rights and endangering regional stability. The naked invasion of Somalia by the puppet ruling regime is detrimental to the most desirable and essential neighborly relations between the peoples of the two countries for a very long time. The boss of the regime has sold Ethiopia barrel-and-stock. Meles has openly and arrogantly called his political opponents enemies of his regime. Therefore genuine Ethiopians and civic organizations functioning in the name of Ethiopia should retaliate to this threat of a leader whose agazi ruthless invading army is crushing democracy.

The regime has stolen twice in broad daylight in 2005 and subsequently in 2010 this time around by 99.6% of parliamentary seats. It found it convenient to conceal the declaration by the electoral board that it also won nearly as much in popular votes. The scene is now set for our children to take them on the march backwards to crude communism singing revolutionary democracy slogans.
The perception that a billionaire is underwriting the expenses of the regime as well as making generous financial contributions to ESFNA is unavoidable; it will continue to be a source of acrimony and mutual suspicion. The man made inroad to the corridor of power during the Derg regime; he threw a lavish party at the Hilton Hotel for the wedding of Dictator Monist’s female private secretary; it was a hot talk of the city that the wealthy man had a hidden agenda to do that. This is another good reason why tempers flare between the tiny supporters (but well-financed) of the regime and the vast majority of us who relentlessly remind the global community of the colossal damage done to our country by the brutal ruling regime, vide paragraph one above. It is reasonable to see the regime through the prism of its evil deeds at this critical time when the future of our country hangs in the balance; to seize every opportunity to retaliate. Ethiopian civic organizations such as ESFNA are morally bound to do likewise.
Misleading by ESFNA officials
ESFNA is governed by the same law as The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), which files its annual returns as an “Organization Exempt From Income Tax under section 501(c), 527, or4947(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code. “ Of course JFNA is huge and plays advocacy role for Israel.

It is written in the website of the Federation that “The General Assembly (GA) inspires and engages Jewish leaders, tackles the most critical issues of the day, and showcases the best of the Federation movement. The GA plenaries, forums and workshops feature top speakers from the political, business and nonprofit arenas.” So, Jewish leaders invariably address the General Assembly irrespective of their political party affiliations in Israel. For example, the current Prime Minister of Israel is scheduled to address the GA this month in November 2010. In principle a legitimate Ethiopian leader can also address ESFNA at its annual event. But Meles is NOT a legitimate Prime Minister.

Therefore it stands to reason that ESFNA can also play the role of advocacy for human rights, nothing will prevent it from doing so. The least it can do is invite political leaders with impeccable records as guests of honor as it had done before. Attorney Shakespeare N. Feyissa has elucidated this issue from the legal point of view supported by historical facts of past practices of ESFNA regarding invitation of guests of honor- vide his article entitled ESFNA vs. Birtukan Mideksa: The errors, posted on and on 23 October 2010.

Quintessential nature of liberty, freedom and equality

Mr. Ephrem Madebo in his article entitled “Does the Letter “E” in ESFNA Stand for Ethiopia?” – posted on on 22 October 2010 – wrote the following:

“The late Yidnekachew Tessema, the undisputed father of modern sports in Ethiopia, was a man who effectively used sports to create closeness, peace, and understanding between people. Mr. Yidnekachew hailed from a highly political and uniquely poetic family, but during his lifelong service to our nation and to the African continent at large; Yednekachew clearly identified the fine line between sports and politics. He knew and understood where sport and politics differ and where they relate to each other.”

Furthermore, Ephrem cites the striking example of 28 African nations led by Yednekachew Tesemma that requested the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to ban New Zealand from the 1976 Olympic Games in Montréal, because its (NZ’s) all-black rugby team was playing in apartheid South Africa at the same time. When the IOC declined to their request on grounds that sports should be free from politics, the African Nations disagreed. Indeed “what mattered was freedom and equality

The law in a democratic society protects the liberty, freedom and equality of every citizen of that society. There is nothing in the ESFNA bye-laws, it being consistent with higher laws of the USA that would prohibit it from upholding these basic values in the United States.

Closing remarks

Our country is on the brink of catastrophe. It is not a normal situation. We are contending with a destructive brutal leader who calls us his enemies. After two stolen elections he is brainwashing the young generation to adore a one party state. This dire situation has to be reversed. ESFNA has advocacy role to play as part of its input to stop gross abuse of human rights in Ethiopia known to the global community.
It would be foolhardy to believe that the ESFNA is not penetrated or influenced by TPLF cadres who would leave no stone unturned to steer the organization in favor of their masters including the billionaire. It is sad that the majority fell in their trap in the name of breaking bye-laws to reverse the decision to invite the elected guest of honor.
Colonel Abdisa Aga broke out from high security prison in Fascist Italy and joined the guerrilla forces of Marshal Tito at their mountain hideout and dealt hell to the invaders on their home turf; he commanded his own forces and flew the tri-color Ethiopian flag Green, Yellow and Red; Zerai Deresse cut the throat of Italians in Rome and gave his life rather than see the flag of his country mocked; Abraha and Asgedom threw bomb at Graziani as he was preparing to make a speech in Addis Ababa. All these courageous patriots broke the laws of the invader for liberty and freedom. It is a pity ESFAN leadership failed to invite a human rights champion even when it didn’t have to circumvent its bye-laws in anyway.
This brings me to the cardinal question whether ESFAN would at its annual event allow the flag of the regime imposed on the Ethiopian people.

Release all political prisoners in Ethiopia!

  1. Fassil Abebe
    | #1


    In hopes that an unbiased reader might want to know ESFNA’s side of what took place at our Atlanta Winter meeting on October 17, 2010, I offer the following account of events.

    Before we get to Judge Birtukan’s nomination, as guest of honor, in the cultural category, I would like to explain what Guest of Honor means in the “eyes” of ESFNA.

    Each year, since 1985, ESFNA invites Ethiopians that have excelled in sports on the national and international stages; from soccer players to long distance runners that have made a proud nation even prouder with their achievements. Lately, besides sports personalities, ESFNA has also honored Ethiopians in the arts and social fields.
    The sports figures who were invited were, for the most part, at the sunset of their lives, old and forgotten and lived in relative obscurity when we invited them. It’s our way of saying thank you and we’ve not forgotten your contribution. If it was not for the invitation of ESFNA, most of these heroes would not have had the opportunity to visit America. While here, we arrange sight visits of other major US cities for them and it’s been known that at these visits the local teams will raise additional funds for them. When they finally return home ESFNA will give them $3,000 to $5,000 as a parting gift. Over 45 Ethiopians have been honored in this program since its inception.

    At the October 17, 2010 Board of Directors meeting, towards the end of a very long day, the Board began discussing the Guests of Honor for Atlanta 2011. In the Sport category Ato Wondimu Bekele, of Mechal and National Team fame and long time EELPA Coach was nominated and passed. We also selected the famous Ethiopian soccer player Sehwangezaw Agonafer, who resides in the US for special recognition along with Gash Mehari Taye, of Atlanta who has served ESFNA for a long time.

    The vote for the cultural/social category was NOT if Judge Birtukan should be invited or not. The first name mentioned in this category was Artist Mahmud Ahmed. As some members were showing their support of Mahmud by clapping, a first time Board member nominated Judge Birtukan which was seconded by another member right away. A discussion followed as some Board members reminded everyone that, since Judge Birtukan is a political leader, her nomination goes against how we’ve been doing business so far. They argued that it will go contrary to what we’ve believed and said for years, that ESFNA is non-political, non-religious and non-ethnic. Others argued that there is a seconded nomination on the floor and the Board should vote for it. A vote was taken between Mahmud and Judge Birtukan and Birtukan’s nomination narrowly prevailed. The vote was 12 to 10 with some abstention. Immediately after the vote, some long serving members got up and spoke, with passion, urging their fellow Board members to review their decision. Some of the arguments offered by these long serving members were that ESFNA lasted 27 years because it stayed clear of politics and politicians. Others pointed out the danger we might encounter in the future if we invite Judge Birtukan a major political leader. How can we say no to Berhanu Nega, Merrara Gudina or any other political leader if nominated by their supporters next year? In the past political personalities like Dr. Taye Woldesemayat’s nomination was rejected for similar reasoning. After another round of heated and emotional discussion, the Board members who supported Judge Birtukan’s nomination, one by one, got up and withdrew their nomination and support.

    As a democratic organization with internal and external rules and guidelines to follow ESFNA chose to stick to its core principal of being non-political. Just for the record, the Executive Committee (EC) does not vote. Therefore, the widely reported account of the EC overriding and reversing the Board members vote is totally false and irresponsible. It was the Board that nominated Judge Birtukan and it was the same Board that withdrew the nomination. Second none of these ESFNA detractors report that this year, at the San Jose tournament, ESFNA gave the “Free Birtukan” movement a booth where they can gather petition for her release while she was still in jail. We’ve received a very warm thank you letter from the movement right after the conclusion of the tournament. Why would we do that if we are what these tabloids say we are? I’ll leave the answer to the reader.

    Another thing that gets mentioned often, by those who want ESFNA to disappear, is the donation we received from Sheik Al Amoudi in 2008. In the 27 years of the Federations’ existence the Sheik has donated money twice, both times when the tournament was in DC. How about the other 25 years? They want to make it sound like we have a yearly budget from the Sheik. By the way the 2008 DC tournament cost ESFNA over a million dollars and the generous donation has helped us pay some bills. This donation should not be looked at differently than the Sheik’s donation to sports and athletes in Ethiopia. Can anyone point out to one thing ESFNA did in return for these donations? I’ll leave the answer to these questions to the readers as well. The whole attempt at trying to link Sheik Al Amoudi’s politics or political support to ESFNA is unfair and unjust. We’ve never said that there might not be individuals in ESFNA, as players, fans or Board members that support the current regime, as there might be some EPRP, OLF, Genbot 7 or UDJ supporters among us. The secret for our success is that we don’t care what one’s politics is or where one comes from. The only criterion to join ESFNA is that you love Sport. We also believe that Sport supersedes politics, race, religion etc… Our long standing motto “Bringing Ethiopians Together” says it all. It does not say some Ethiopians.

    In conclusion, we at ESFNA urge everyone to take a deep breath and understand the need for the Federation, as an organization, to be non-political. We also want everyone to know that every Ethiopian everywhere owns ESFNA and it does not belong to any one group. As the only viable Ethiopian organization, outside Ethiopia, for almost 28 years, it deserves everyone’s support. We encourage those that are interested to look up one of the 28 teams near you and join and contribute to this worthy organization that does a lot of good.

    ESFNA regrets any confusion or misunderstanding our decision might have caused. See you all in Atlanta.

    Fassil Abebe
    ESFNA, PR Officer

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