The people’s demand for democracy and justice cannot be eclipsed by the “Akeldama” drama UDJ

December 8th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Despite the fact that the people of Ethiopia have, for over four decades, waged a struggle that required precious sacrifices, they have not been able to establish a democratic system in their country. It was hoped that EPRDF, the regime that replaced the Derg, would learn a lesson from the past and build a better system. Unfortunately, it too turned out to an outright dictator and a repressive regime. Instead of striving to eradicate oppression, guarantee equality and establish a democratic system, thus enabling all sons and daughters of Ethiopia to have a role in the development of their country, the EPRDF regime has been bent on making hatred and dictatorship the defining characteristics of its rule.

It is to be recalled that Derg used to label TPLF as: “bandits”, “anti-peace” and “secessionist.” Now, EPRDF on its turn is calling the opposition: “anti-peace”, “anti-development” and “terrorists”. It is obvious that the regime has not learnt from its past experience of struggle. There is no better witness than EPRDF itself for the fact that a network of spies, no matter how complex, and a display of force, no matter how mighty, may delay the realization of the people’s legitimate demand but not stop it.

Lately, the government has embarked on a sustained spree of imprisoning and repressing members of the opposition and journalists. Harassing and throwing members of the opposition parties and journalists into prison has become a sustained daily activity of the regime. In the last three months alone, numerous journalists have been victims of imprisonment or exile. It is to be recalled that Dawit Kebede, the Managing Editor of Awramba Times, a popular Amharic weekly, was forced to go into exile.

The regime has come to realize that the reckless and shameful measures it is taking in the name of terrorism have failed to gain acceptance and credibility among the people. It is now engaged in spreading a cheap form of propaganda hoping to regain the trust of the people.

The Ethiopian Television (ETV) has broadcast, on November 26-28, 2011, a poisonous three-part programme named “Akeldama” (meaning “a land of blood”). This cheap propaganda, filled with hate and terror, has two obvious objectives. On the one hand, it aims to substantiate and support the Prime Minister’s recent speech in Parliament where he had said that it was with ample evidence that people were arrested and sent to prison and also to counter the overwhelming criticism and to ease public opposition. On the other hand, it aims to warn and frighten the people, already embittered by the high cost of living and lack of good governance, in case they begin to entertain ideas of following on the footsteps of the “Arab Spring”.

ETV’s three-part programme is self-contradictory and filled with hatred and with open defamation. People who are not members of UDJ were presented as if they were. For example, Ato Muluneh Eyoel was presented as someone “who was a member of the Central Committee of UDJ”. The truth is that Ato Muluneh Eyoel has never been a member of UDJ, much less a member of the leadership. Furthermore, UDJ does not have a structure called “central committee”. Ato Debebe Eshetu or the other individuals named as being members of the so called “merh yikeber” are people who have long been legally dismissed from the party for disciplinary reasons. This fact is fully documented and well known by the government. Ato Andualem Ayalew had left the Party soon after the 2010 election.

The ETV progamme has committed a serious act of defamation against the party and the leadership. It has labeled our party as “terrorist”. The television report has committed an act of defamation by clearly saying “…with UDJ and AEDP, parties that implement the mission of Ginbot 7.” Above all, the EPRDF propaganda programme called “Akeldama” has delivered, on television, a judgment on a case that is already in the hands of the court. The television programme has committed a crime of defamation by referring to those in legal custody as “So-and-so the criminal” even though the court has not yet given a judgment on the accused. If the regime labels citizens as terrorists by its own measures, where is the need for independent courts? And whence comes the freedom of courts?

From what we have observed in connection with the case of Ato Andualem Arage et al, the judicial system is unparalleled in its violation of the rights of citizens under its custody. One of the persons in custody, Ato Natnael Mekonnen, has been subjected to a serious physical and mental torture by investigators in the Central Prison. Despite the fact that Ato Natnael had described the crime perpetrated against him in the hands of investigators at the Central Prison, no immediate action was taken by the court. Also, a grievance was presented to the same court complaining that the programme, “Akeldams”, presented on television, criminalized the accused. In this case, too, the court did not want to look into the complaint. We find it difficult to believe that the interviews of party leaders and other members were conducted in an environment free from duress.

It is well known that, in the past, numerous high-ranking leaders and members of EPRDF have left their party and joined OLF. It is also a public secret that persons who were members of the security and the army have joined OLF and Ginbot 7 in mass. If we were to follow ETV’s logic, EPRDF and the Defense Forces would be terrorists. UDJ is a party that has rules that govern its members. As is clearly stated in these rules, a person who is a member of UDJ cannot be a member of another party. It is forbidden.

This sinister smear campaign designed to isolate UDJ from the people has to stop. If the ruling party thinks that it stands to gain from such cheap propaganda, it is mistaken. In another aspect, ETV broadcasting such a cheap programme filled with hatred indicates that it is suffering from lack of professional skills and professional ethics.

During its armed struggle, EPRDF had no equal in repeating the slogan: “Wherever there is oppression, there is a struggle”. The fact that, when it was in the bush, it used to rob banks is an act about which TPLF has often boasted in public UDJ, committed to a peaceful struggle, does not believe in using robberies and killings as a means of political struggle.

Trying to link, directly or indirectly, UDJ with Sha’bia could not go beyond being a smear propaganda. In the context of the long history of Ethiopia, when it comes to protecting national interest, there is no other party that is as credibility-deficient as EPRDF. Ever since its founding, the position TPLF, the nucleus of EPRDF, has maintained on Eritrea has made our country pay a heavy price. The story of our country being landlocked was the result of EPRDF’s mistaken policy of giving priority to remaining in power rather than to protecting national interest. As if this was not enough, when Sha’bia blatantly violated our sovereignty and territorial integrity, instead of protecting the interests of our country, the ruling regime was an obstacle preventing the closing of the Sha’bian agenda once and for all. By so doing, it gave the Sha’bia regime a new lease of life. It could well be said that the blood of our heroes who died to protect the sovereignty of our country was shed in vain. At the time, the ruling regime amply demonstrated that its loyalty was not to the Ethiopian people but to its Western masters. Viewed from this angle of history, it is ironic and utterly wrong that EPRDF is trying to link UDJ, a party that is struggling for national unity and sovereignty, with Sha’bia and terrorism. The ruling regime has no moral power to lodge this accusation. The Ethiopian people know this truth.

It is to be recalled that the anti-terrorism proclamation has been approved as the law of the land. However, we strongly believe that the law in its present form is a serious obstacle to the spirit of tolerance and reconciliation that we wish to see created in our country. Above all, we believe that the law infringes on the basic rights of association and free expression enshrined in the Constitution. We demand that the law be re-examined and appropriately amended.

It is unfortunate that, so far, we have not been able to come up with a system that accommodates differing views in a civilized manner. We have not been able to build a system by which people can choose the best of existing alternatives. Still, we are in a situation where forces label each other as enemies and work day and night to eliminate each other. In this situation where mutual political elimination is the rule of the game, the country, the people and political parties could not in any way be beneficiaries.

The call that we issue to EPRDF is not to depend on a structure of spying and repression but to build a system in this county where genuine democracy and the rule of law would prevail before it is too late. The dictatorial approach of repressing the people’s desire for change is a downward journey. It is the choice of the defeated whose days are numbered. We call upon the members of EPRDF to advise their party to refrain from continuing on its journey that is bound to lead to a disaster with serious consequences for the country as well as for the party itself.

The regime’s propaganda that portends bloodshed is designed to terrorize people. It is a road of intransigence that leads to strife. The ruling party must distinguish between its ambitions and the needs of the country. As always, UDJ calls upon the people to join hands in the struggle to extricate our country from the political vicious circle, to rid ourselves of fear and to bring about democracy and the rule of law in our country.

Unity for Democracy and Justice
November 30, 2011
Addis Ababa

  1. aha!
    | #1

    UDJP has missed the target ever since it split from Kinijit, which was in the process of merging as one party instead of a coalition, but failed. Ever since, the party is engaged in the argument about the behavior of of TPLF/eprdf regime in terms of democracy and justice as well as human right violations, which is a common denomiator for those with ethnic agenda and for those with national agenda. While the latter is can be handled through the ICC, the former two are like expecting a dove from the egg of a snake, or as the Ethiopians saying goes “yekotun awerd billa yebibituan talech”. The very ideologies in question for the silent majority, silenced but not silen majority are ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalirianism, which as I have already stipulated in the past hinders capitalism and democracy as well as individual freedom, liberty and equality upon which the western democracies are built upon.

    Democracy has the the TPLF/eprdf regime, albeit it is for TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprises and cadres, and laws it has legislated by non-independent parliament, and excuted by non-independt juduciary accountable to the executive branch emanating from the main operating system, the constitution of ethnic fereralism, secessionism and totaliarinism, allowing for for ethnic minority rule, to say the least of divide and rule policy as in appartheid and/or colonial style.
    With out attaching your campaign to the constituion of ethnic feralism, secessionism, and totaliarinism as systemic problems hindering capitalism, democracy and individual freedom in terms of the national agenda for freedom, liberty and equality of individual to supercede ethnic and secessionist rights with the goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians and with agreed upon strategies to achive those goals in a non-violent approach to freedom in stead of democracy and justice, does not take you anywhere.

    To reslove the humanitarian, economic and political crises in Ethiopia prevaing for the last twenty years, one first need to understand the problem, then set up the goals in tems of the national agenda of individual freedom, of restoring Ethiopian Nationalism and the sovereignity of Ethiopia and then agree upon a common strategies to achieve those goals by all factions which consider themselves as opposition to the current regime.

  2. abiy
    | #2

    UDJ could organise boycott of companies controlled by the politbureau members of the tigre people liberation front, as a practical step to advance the struggle:

    Boycott TPLF companies.
    Whilst TPLF officials and cadres are the sole beneficiaries of Ethiopia’s wealth, their income actually comes from many of us who buy the products sold by various TPLF controlled companies. We have a chance to register our contempt for these gangsters by boycotting the products they and their companies sell. These are companies robbed from the Ethiopian people and turned into the private properties of the families and clans of these greedy thieves who are hated by the Ethiopian people.

    Don’t use TPLF banks,
    Refuse to take rent on property owned by TPLF and their cadres,
    Stop using buses etc owned by TLPF
    Blacklist their traders

    Display Ethiopian tri-colour in public in defiance of TPLF

  3. Sam
    | #3

    UDJ stated “in the past, numerous high-ranking leaders and members of EPDRF have left the party and joined OLF. It is also a public secret that persons who were members of the security and the army have joined OLF and Ginbot 7 in mass. If we were to follow ETV’s logic, EPDRF and the Defense Forces would be terrorists.” Not quite. They would be terrorists breeders. The problem is EPDRF use one as long as his/her sevice is worthwhile. The very moment one switches side he/she becomes a terrorist. I understand the dillema UDJ found itself. Try to work towards Democracy in a country where the government is hell-bent to do otherwise. The party tries to keep political dialogue going. But I am afraid no matter how hard the party tries EPDRF will not relent. The hope that EPDRF would be a part of democratic Ethiopia seems to me a wishful thinking. Is not time to say EPDRF will never embrace democracy, but UDJ will try to bring democracy in Ethiopia despite the government’s outright opposition towards democracy? I think that time has come.

  4. Fighter-Jet
    | #4

    Well said UDJ, the right wing of our Fighter-Jet! Your movement including the still strong Oromian Students’ Movement (OSM) is part and parcel of the Oromo liberation movement (part of our Fighter-Jet). I think we can present our Fighter-Jet as an airkraft with the differentiated three parts of its left-wing, with its middle body and with differentiated three parts of its right-wing. The skilled pilot of the fighter-Jet is our famous mindset of bilisummaa (of freedom), the OLF. I would like to personify the three parts of the aircraft with the following prominent Oromo nationalists.

    1) The left wing (pro-’independent Oromia without Ethiopia’):
    - Galaasa Dilbo, who strives to achieve an independent Oromia seemingly disregarding the possible regional union with the neighbouring nations, who are now living within Ethiopia. In case this position is not against such a union, there is no clear difference with the position of Ob Leenco.
    - Daud Ibsa, who is open for both Leenco’s and Galaasa’s position as long as the Oromo people will decide per referendum.
    - Leenco Lata, who advocates a nationally independent Oromia within a regional union of free nations in the Horn of Africa (around Oromia).

    2) The middle body (supporting both an ‘independent Oromia’ and an ‘integrative Oromia’):
    - Fayyis Oromia and his likes, who are open for all the positions of the left and the right, as far as the determiners in this choice are the Oromo public at large per referendum. This part of the fighter-jet believes that neither an ‘independent Core Oromia’ nor an ‘integrative Cush Oromia’ is disadvantageous as long as bilisummaa of the Oromo people will be realized and further respected.

    3) The right wing (pro-’independent Oromia within Ethiopia’ = pro-’integrative Oromia’):
    - Bulcha Dammaqsa, who wants to have an integrative Oromia in a form of an autonomous Oromian state within Ethiopian federation.
    - Marara Guddina, who once said “Oromian national autonomy within Ethiopian federation is not bad, but we don’t need to die for it”; he was considering that even Gondar and other northern parts of the empire are parts of Oromia; accordingly, he wants to realize either Nagaasso’s or Bulcha’s position per Oromo public referendum.
    - Nagaaso Gidaada, who tries to achieve through his UDJ party an integrative Oromia = the whole Ethiopia, without necessarily having an autonomous Core Oromia within Ethiopia. All individuals and institutions with such goal can be classified here.

    But, in order to accomodate the move of these different Oromo positions regarding our future type of sovereignty (walabummaa) of Oromia, Oromo nationalists have to be able to concentrate on the common denominator of all the positions, i.e on bilisummaa of the Oromo people. To comprehend what I do mean, we just need to compare the following interesting three concepts: secession, independence and sovereignty. Let me try to put the difference in short as follows:

    - secession needs the precondition of being legally part of one sovereign nation and being a minority nation at the periphery. Oromia has never been legally part of Ethiopia and it is neither a minority nation nor at periphery unlike Tigrai. So Oromia’s question is not a question of secession in this sense. This is the point, which Ob. Amin Jundi recently tried to explain to the Habesha elites.

    - independence is the liberation of an oppressed nation from the other oppressive one, as we do see in the attempt of some Oromo nationals like Ob Galaasaa trying to emancipate the occupied Oromia from the oppressive Abyssinia.

    - sovereignity is the right of the liberated and free nation to decide on the type of arrangement it wants, like the sovereignty of the Oromo nation to decide on its future, be it in a form of an independence within or without Ethiopia, per referendum; this seems to be what Oromo nationalists like Ob. Daud try to achieve.

    According to the right of the Oromo nation to its own bilisummaa and walabummaa, it is not wrong even if Ob. Amin or Gen. Kamal strives for the right of Oromo and Oromia WITHIN Ethiopia, as long as the determining factor is the result of the referendum. Thus, it is nice to see that our nationalists are bombarding tyranic Abyssinists from the three parts of our Fighter-Jet:- Gen. Kamal, Ob. Daud and Ob Galaasaa from the left wing; Ob Fayyis Oromia and co from the middle body; as well as Dr. Nagaaso, Dr. Marara and Ob Bulcha from the right wing.

    This is really very scary for the enemy of the Oromo nation. Important is that all the three parts do fight the enemy, but do not attack each other. In the currently ongoing rhetoric, I didn’t hear Ob Amin attacking the other factions of the OLF. But, it is clear that we do read nowadays a lot of Woyane criminal cadres camouflaging as Oromo in order to sow a discord among Oromo nationals by trying to support one faction of the OLF and attack the others, as well an attempt of a vice versa!

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