A Declaration in Defense of Human Rights in Ethiopia – By Alemayehu G. Mariam

February 7th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful change impossible, make a violent revolution inevitable.” The English colonial government made peaceful change impossible in the American colonies leading to the American Revolution in 1776, an event memorialized in the American Declaration of Independence and celebrated annually on July 4.

On July 4th 2007, an informal group of Ethiopian human rights defenders, civic society activists, academics, journalists, concerned individuals and others signed a Declaration pledging to defend freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia, and set up an online petition for all Ethiopians worldwide to join in the pledge. The the Declaration was signed by 1,875 individuals in 2007.

At this critical moment in African and Middle Eastern history when decades-old dictatorships are being challenged by the people, it is vitally important for all Ethiopians who believe in freedom, democracy and human rights to stand up and take a stand.

The online petition remains open for signature here . [ http://www.petitiononline.com/Alem1234/petition.html ]
The Declaration with the list of 74 original signatories as it appeared in 2007 is reproduced at the online petition site and here [ http://www.ethiomedia.com/atop/declaration_of_freedom_ethiopia.html ] and various other websites.
DECLARATION TO DEFEND FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN ETHIOPIA IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM July 4, 2007

Preamble

In the history of all great nations, there comes a moment when the people must make a choice that will define them in their own time, vindicate the enormous sacrifices of their ancestors and enable them to bequeath an enduring legacy for generations yet unborn. They are often forced to make that choice by arrogant tyrants who use brute force to entrench and perpetuate their dictatorial rule, and unabashedly proclaim to the world their contempt for the rule of law, democratic principles and civil liberties.

In the history of oppression, tyrants have spared no effort to erode the natural courage of their people and force upon them a life of cowardice and submission, debilitate their natural instincts for bravery and valor and intimidate them into accepting servility, replace their yearning for liberty with false hopes and pretensions of freedom, trick them into bartering their desire to live in dignity for a life of shame and fear, subvert their natural sense of honor, duty and patriotism for vulgar materialism, and corrupt them into selling their fidelity to truth at the altar of falsehood.

In 1776, the American people had their defining moment when they stood up and defended their liberties against a tyrannical king who taxed them without representation, closed down their legislatures and imposed upon them laws made by representatives for whom they did not grant consent. They declared then, as we do now:

“When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, it becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.”

Our Moment to Stand Up Against Evil Rulers and For Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights in the New Ethiopian Millennium is Here! We Must Act Now!

Ethiopians the world over must now make a choice, a choice that will define them today, tomorrow and in the next Millennium. We must plant the seeds of liberty today so that future generations may harvest its bounty.

We MUST therefore rise to defend freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia against a tyrant who has:

Connived and made alliances with enemies of the Ethiopian people to break up the country and bargain
away its territory.

Subverted the civil and criminal laws of the land and encroached upon the fundamental rights of the people by denying them due process of law.

Forbidden the people from speaking freely, assembling peacefully, petitioning government for
grievances, and the press from reporting.

Trampled upon the basic human rights of the people, and flagrantly violated international human rights laws and conventions.

Employed the malicious methods of divide and conquer, and dredged up historical grievances to sow hatred and discord among the people.

Threatened and made good on his threats to visit violence, intimidation, terror, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment and torture and untold privation upon the people.

Dispatched swarms of soldiers throughout the land to harass the people and administer street justice against them.

Refused to step down and leave office after he was overwhelmingly defeated in a democratic election, and rejected by the people.

Unjustly imprisoned the elected representatives of the people and persecuted peaceful political opponents on false and fabricated charges and crimes.

Obstructed the administration of justice by neutralizing and intimidating the judiciary to do his bidding.

Intervened in the internal affairs of neighboring countries and waged war against their people creating lasting and insurmountable enmity.

Refused the aid of Great Nations to build democratic institutions and institutionalize human rights and the rule of law in Ethiopia, and has hired at great expense to the people’s treasury, mercenaries to lobby against such efforts in the Legislatures of such nations, and

Practiced cruelty and crimes against humanity scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages.

In every stage of these oppressions, the people have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms. We have sought the intercession of international human rights organizations, the Legislatures of the Great Nations of the world and appealed to his sense of native justice, magnanimity and patriotism.

He has sneered at the people’s pleas for justice, scoffed at their petitions for redress of grievances and turned a deaf ear to the advice of the international community.

We, the undersigned, therefore, solemnly publish and declare, that the People of Ethiopia have the God-given right to live in freedom, democracy and human rights, to be free and establish a government that is of their own choosing and consent, and that we shall work tirelessly and without reservation or evasion to:

Gain the unconditional release of ALL political prisoners of conscience.

Restore the democratic rights of the people.

Institute democratic reform and accountability.

Enhance the capacity of legislative institutions to enact fair and just laws.

Strengthen civil society groups and organizations and support human rights advocates.

Cause the arrest and prosecution of human rights abusers, and to bring to justice the killers of 193 innocent men, women and children and wounding of 763 others.

Increase the independence of the judiciary.

Establish permanent human rights monitoring and reporting processes.

Secure the rights of women and promote families as a foundation for a stable society.

Encourage and engage youth to become future leaders.

Remove all press censorship, restore full press freedom and strengthen private media.

Improve the electoral process to ensure fraud-free elections, and strengthen competitive party politics.

Limit the use of U.S. security assistance to maintain global peace, and NOT against the civilian population, and

Work tirelessly to bring to justice all persons guilty of crimes against humanity.

In support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other and to the People of Ethiopia that we will defend and promote, without evasion or reservation, the cause of freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia in the New Millennium.

IN SUPPORT OF THIS DECLARATION,

ALEMAYEHU GEBRE MARIAM
ABRAHA BELAI
ABEBE GELAW
KIFLE MULAT
KINFU ASSEFA
SELESHI TILAHUN
MAMMO MUCHIE
LEMLEM TSEGAW
WONDIMU MEKONNEN
SHAKESPEAR FEYISSA
AYALNESH CHIANIALEW
AMARE GIZAW
ELIZABETH NEGA
SEBLE TADESSE
AMARE GIZAW
LULIT MESFIN
ALEMAYHU ZEMEDKHUN
MERON AHADU
WASI TESFA
ASTER DEMEKE-HANSSON
ZUFAN YIMER
AZIZ MOHAMMED
ELIAS WONDIMU
ABEBA FEKADE
ZENEBWORK TEKLU
GHENET GIRMA
DANIEL ASSEFA
TIRWORK WONDIM
DOROTHY AMARE
MARIA C. LUGO
JOSEPH M. CIUFFINI
EHITE GEBRE
KEIF SCHIEFIER
MULU AYELE
NEWAY MENGISTU
MULLUNEH YOHANNES
ALMAZ TAYE
ANDARGATCHEW TSIGE
WUYNABE ABEBE
NATHAN YIMER
BELAYNESH T. HAIMANOT
BERHANE MEWA
MULU AYELE
ZEKE AYELE
FEKADE SHEWAKENA
AKLOG LIMENEH
FIFI DERSO
YOUSOUF OMER
MEAZA EGIJU
TADEWOS BEYENE
GIDEY ASSEFA
BELAYNESH SOLOMON
HAREGEWEIN MISMAKU
HAILU AWLACHEW
ZEMED YITREF
BERHANU DINKU
TSIGE MOGES
MESELE ALEM
ADAM ZERIHUN
GIRMA DAWD
YITAGESU WELDEHNA
SOLOMON KEBEDE
MULLUNEH YOHANNES
JUNIOR YIGZAW
ABIY ASSEFA
ABEBE BOGALE
TESFAYE SILESHI
SAMUEL BELIHU
SEMOU ZINABOU
GIRMA KASSA
MEKDESE B. KASSA
TARIKU BADAMA
BINYAM YINESU
TESFAYE LETTA

  1. aha!
    | #1

    Professor Gebremariam, the 14 points stipulated in the declaration to defend freedom, democracy and human right to which is signed on by 74 elites does not have a single strategy attached to achieve those goals.

    Inorder to inductively resolve the political, economic and human right crises in Ethiopia we have to portray the prevalent political models in terms of their attributes of party platform where the TPLF/eprdf regime may be described as the multi-layer, hierarchcal political model, with ethnic and secessionist politics at its core, similar to to the Apatheid regime of Africaners against the ANC, the PAC and Comunists. You do not need to draw parallel with of US situation of 1776, when you have South Africa next door. the quest for freedom in Ethiopia is different from of US in 1776, the silent majority of Ethiopians are yearning for political, and economic freedom and liberty from ethnic and secessionist politics, ethnicfederalism and secessionism, of divide rule policy, with continued skirmishes of war to secesde and border disputes among ethnic groups, and lack of upholding the territorial integrity and sovereignity of Ethiopia and ethiopians, higes on retoring unity and sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians in the same way the freedom fighters stood for African Nationalism, and Pan African Nationalism, the freedom fighters in Ethiopia will be engaged in a peaceful and/or armed struggle to restore the Ethiopian nationalism and its interests by adhering to goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians with stategies to achieve those goals with no 14 points conditions, which are window dressing on the existing TPLF/eprdf regime. Freedom is qualitative event, which you have it or you do not have it and it should be hinged upon the individual supeseding the ethnic right with the right to prperty ownership of individual as means of production and accumulation of weath in a capitalistic system, rather Marxist, and apartheid system.

    Having said that with respect to the concept and understanding of freedom, I acknowledge, the struggle against human right violations both in terms of genocide, war crimes,and incarcerations is a common denominator to all factions including the the liberation movements, which along with forming a democratic government is the end result of tipping the balance from the negative forces of disintegration to the positive forces of disintegration by raallying the silent majority to stand up for their economic and political freedom from a Marxist and apartheid system of governance, coupled with exploitation and political and economic strangle hold of the countries resources and its silent majority by TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprises to say the least of the exploitation of the farm lands by foreign governments and businesses swithing the fate of displaced farmers from serfdom to platation workers, if there is work available in a mechanized farm operations of cash crops rather than grains, a product not intended to alleviate food shortages in the country.

    Amidst all these predicaments, including famine, starvation and stagflation prevailing in Ethiopia, UDJP’s agenda is centered on to bring democracy with no changes in the government or dismantling the system, respect human rights and bring justice with no tangible strategies in sight, when those suset agenda will sort themselves out when one coalesces on the national agenda for unity, territorial integrity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. And the loyalist opposition parties are bebdt on the goals for respect for ethnic rights, ethnic rather than state federalism and respect for human rights, which are already in place except the human right violations.

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