I am Eskinder Nega. By Eskinder Nega
Actually, I am the voice of Eskinder Nega.
Eskinder Nega is today the prisoner of Meles Zenaiwi in Ethiopia.
Though Eskinder Nega is locked up, his voice echoes and reverberates in the cries and whispers of millions of his fellow Ethiopians who speak his language of freedom. I am but one of the millions of voices of Eskinder Nega.
They can jail Eskinder Nega, but they can’t jail the tens of millions of Eskinder Negas. They can’t jail freedom. No man can jail a man who is the voice of freedom because the voice of freedom is the voice of the people; and the voice of the people is the voice of God. (Vox populi, vox Dei.)
I am the voice of Eskinder Nega. I speak of the coming of democracy to Ethiopia: I am “one of tens of millions of Ethiopians who aspire to nothing more than see the day when our votes will not be stolen in our lifetime.”
I am the voice of Eskinder Nega. I preach about peaceful change in Ethiopia: “In the event of prolonged absence of peaceful action, an implosion, perhaps violent and no doubt dangerous, is unavoidable. The time to call for peaceful and legal action has arrived in Ethiopia.”
I am the voice of Eskinder Nega. I talk about the volcanic despair and hopelessness of the powerless and downtrodden Ethiopians: “This is where yet another crucial lesson lies for Ethiopia’s archaic ruling party, the EPRDF. Despite reprehensible lootings by rioters and the omnipresence of hysterical tabloids, there is more to the English riots than mere criminality. Unemployment and hopelessness are underlying causes. If protests break out in Ethiopia for any reason they will also spread swiftly and uncontrollably like they did in England. There is repression, corruption, inflation, unemployment and rising hopelessness to serve as underlying causes. But unlike the apolitical British protests, Ethiopia’s will most probably be quickly overwhelmed by the political issues of repression and change. And as has happened in Egypt and Syria there will then be no turning back.”
I am the voice of Eskinder Nega. I teach about freedom for I deeply believe that it is “hope not oppression that had made revolutions possible. Neither Egyptians nor Libyans had more reason to rebel in 2011 than they did for decades. Too few were any more capable of imagining life free from the oppressive status-quo. Too many had been co-opted; many more had simply learned how to muddle through. But events in Tunisia changed everything. Change was proved possible. And as Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest dictatorship during Mubarak’s reign, was the Arab Spring’s golden prize, so will Ethiopia, sub-Sahara’s biggest dictatorship, be the golden prize for an African Spring. There couldn’t have been an Arab Spring without Egypt. There will be no African Spring without Ethiopia.”
I am the voice of Eskinder Nega. I testify for the suffering of the people of Ethiopia: “The repression is as unrelenting as ever. Food inflation has reached the atrocious 50% mark. Unemployment shows no sign of declining. Small businesses, the backbone of the expanding service sector, are suffering perceptibly. The specter of famine dominates the headlines. Corruption is getting worse. There is growing tension within the ruling party.”
I am the voice of Eskinder Nega. I proclaim a new youth awakening and leadership in the struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia and elsewhere: “The consensus is that both the Tunisian and Egyptian popular uprisings are leaderless. What has made this possible are the tens of thousands of tech-suave under-30 youth—politically unaffiliated and un-ideological— who have used social media—Facebook and Twitter—to plan, strategize, mobilize and sustain the protests. They have upstaged established opposition groups—-including the Muslim Brotherhood. Protests are too important to be left to the leadership of the opposition. The youth have opted to take charge—peacefully but persistently. And it’s working. Every time the government responds with violence—however limited and restrained—more and more people are joining them. Their moral fortitude—exemplified through their non-violence— is galvanizing not only their peoples but the world to their cause.”
I am Eskinder Nega. I and my wife Serkalem Fasil are “banned Ethiopian journalists who were charged with treason by the government of PM Meles Zenawi subsequent to disputed election results in 2005, incarcerated under deplorable circumstances, only to be acquitted sixteen months later. Serkalem prematurely gave birth in prison. Severely underweight at birth because Serkalem’s physical and psychological privation in one of Africa’s worst prisons, an incubator was deemed life-saving to the new-born child by prison doctors; which was, in an act of incomprehensible vindictiveness, denied by the authorities.”
I am Eskinder Nega. I have been jailed, threatened, persecuted, prosecuted, intimidated and warned: “Your writings on the Internet and the interviews with various media outlets were inflammatory. Be warned that you have already crossed the boundary. We have enough to convict you already. I want you to understand that this is a serious warning. If anything happens, we will first come to you.”
I am Eskinder Nega. They have finally come for me. I am the prisoner of Meles Zenawi. I am a Prisoner of Conscience for Amnesty International.
I am Eskinder Nega. Like my hero Nelson Mandela, my soul is unconquered, my spirit unbroken, my head unbowed, and my heart unafraid. I, Eskinder Nega, am the only captain of my soul.
I am Eskinder Nega. I resolutely stand for freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia. I resolutely stand against dictatorship, tyranny and despotism in Ethiopia.
FREE POLITICAL PRISONERS ESKINDER NEGA, DEBEBE ESHETU, ANDUALEM ARAGIE, WOUBSHET TAYE, REEYOT ALEMU, ZEMENU MOLLA, NATHNAEL MEKONNEN, ASAMINAW BERHANU AND ALL OTHERS ILLEGALLY HELD IN ETHIOPIA.