Ethiopia – PRESENTATION AT THE OGDEN YOUTH NETWORK CONFERENCE – Berhane Mewa at St. Thomas University, St Paul, Minneapolis

August 13th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

Ethiopia – My Reflection

My appearance today in this gathering is a privilege and an opportunity to meet with concerned, determined and energetic Ethiopians, I am delighted in many senses. I have lived for the last three years in the United States and addressed several meetings in different places. In the last two years I was honored to serve my party Coalition for Unity and Democracy, being a member of the Kinijit International Political Leadership, which was delegated to execute political and organizational affairs of the Party. berhane_mewa.jpg

My audience has been all the way supporters and members of the opposition, sympathizers and members of the EPRDF, critics and even adamant opponents of the party I use to represent. This is my first appearance in a sub?regional issue based conference. This is also my first presentation in the last two years, with the freedom of not being a party delegate and not worried of my political correctness. What excites me most is that this meeting is called by the youth, the future of the world, the future of Africa and the future of Ethiopia. What else can make me and all committed citizens happy than the concern and involvement of the Youth in the affairs of our motherland Ethiopia? Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to be part of this gathering.

Today I am not representing the CUDP party, I am participating on my own capacity, so whatever I say will be my personal view and reflection. As an introduction I will take the liberty to say few words about CUDP. CUDP which is commonly known as Kinijit is a coalition of four national parties with diverse profile and experience. In a very short time the party managed to galvanize millions of supporters who stood behind it and voted for it. It’s fundamental values comply with the dream and wish of the Ethiopian people. It centered individual freedom and acknowledged group freedom along with. It called for national reconciliation and tolerance. It stood for democracy, transparency, accountability and above all unity with diversity. To fulfill its objective It chose to wedge peaceful political struggle.

This method was chosen by the party not with the calculation that the price tag for armed struggle is higher but with the understanding that sustainable political empowerment emanates only from the wining of the mind. It is only when physical fighting is replaced with the fight of ideas that we insure the people’s desire sustainably.

For an unbiased careful political observer, CUDP’s response to the current situation of the country, demand of individuals and groups, wishes of the cross section of communities was well crafted. The thirst for freedom and democracy, the urge for the rule of law and governance, electrified the population. Millions marched to the ballot box with the hope that their vote will make a difference.

The historical election of 2005 in Ethiopia which gave the opportunity to the Ethiopian people to express their disappointment, disapproval and rejection of the ruling ethno?centered EPRDF party resulted in the daylight vote ragging of EPRDF, which in turn incited massive civil opposition, testing the countries readiness and ability for Democracy and tolerance. The Ethiopian people showed to the world their determination for change and understanding of the power of the ballot box. But EPRDF betrayed and deceived the people. Its true face exposed, its brutality and dictatorial gene dominated its cosmetic statements and promises. As a revenge for their rejection of its system, thousands were detained, many more flee their areas and hundreds killed. CUDP leaders were incarcerated as a revenge for their victory over EPRDF giants.

For the tyrants the price for peaceful struggle was tagged as death penalty, this was publicly demanded by the prosecutor during the “trial” of the CUDP leaders. Cynically ruled out and replaced with life sentence by the kangaroo court and further generously reduced to “pardon”. This was not only a mockery of justice but a sign of the depth of brutality against democracy by the ruling group.

Ethiopian political history is at a cross road, the struggle is changing faces, dreaming the fruits of peaceful struggle leaders, members and supporters of CUDP have already started paying the price. Truly, the defeat of the EPRDF has become more apparent as its legal system shatter in the face of the people and the international community. Its true face is revealed exposing it defenselessly. The release of the CUDP leaders out of the thousands of detainees is a signal that peaceful struggle will eventually triumph and enrich us
with our birth?rite FREEDOM.

At this juncture I would like to point out two important developments the world should take note of. The 1st is, oppressed people, when given the opportunity, knows what they want and embrace democracy. The pressure of poor governance, the luck of the rule of law and brute subjugation sharpens them to pierce the balloon of hopelessness. Thus the world should learn that no community should be underestimated and labeled as not yet ready for democracy.

The 2nd is, in a society where democratic institutions are not free and strong, pseudo democratic governments can turn overnight to brutal tyrants and reverse the hope to hopelessness.

We urge the peace loving people of the world and the pro?democratic governments and institutions to understand this facts and stand on the side of the Ethiopian people. However experience teaches us, even after having all the information at hand, they are siding the dictators or sometimes are reluctant to put pressure, especially if their national interest has some other priority. Some of them are ready to forgo their international and humanitarian commitments. It is not also surprising to observe them playing double standards and neglect their core values. Though we do solicit support and policy shift based on democratic and humanitarian principles, by now we should take the lesson and rely on our own peoples’ struggle.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The continuous repression, killing of individuals, mass massacre and destabilizing communities, diminishing rule of low, poor governance, intensified despite our efforts to bring change. Year after year the problem changes face and locality but the trend remains the same. Desperation, frustration and hopelessness rotates from locality to locality inciting bitter spirit for struggle. This is the most disturbing part of the equation.

Are we missing something? At this political crossroad of our country this is what we need to ask, Are we missing something? We tried the revolution and ended up with irreversible devastation and soaked in blood.

We tried armed struggle and ended up by replacing one dictator and tyrant by another. We tried peaceful struggle, though early to predict, and yet the suffering continues. That is why we say this is the time to revisit our actions, efforts and the value of our sacrifices. This is the main point I would like to share with my sisters and brothers and specially the younger generation.

What is our understanding of the extent of the problem? do we really know who has been the victim of the system. Every one tell you my people, my tribe, my ethnicity and so on. And do we know who benefited? Can we find a common denominator to converge the scattered struggles?
I am one of the unfortunates, if Ethiopians are kept in different boxes, based on the viscosity of their blood, to be confused as to where to be packed. I am also one of the fortunate’s who witnessed the suffering, torture and injustice across the country. Focusing on the conference theme let me share with you some of my reflections.

I was grown up in Harer and Diredawa, have lived and played with the Oromos the Ogadens the Aderes the Amharas and many more ethnic groups, which helped me to understand all. This was further strengthened when I joined a boarding school hosting Ethiopians from all over the country. I have traveled to most of Ethiopia on personal or business. Everywhere I travel I witnessed the grievance, the suffering, the poverty and the hopelessness. The degree and intensity, the Varity and manifestation might differ. But as if it is a blessing from the constitution, we all are boiling in the same pot.

I have also observed the spirit of struggle, readiness to fight, readiness to protest and anxiety to be free.

I have also observed that all the efforts are localized and separate, everyone presumes that they are the only victim and assumes everybody else is against them. I have also observed that the EPRDF is enjoying the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and geographical division and using it to stabilize its system. Using the north to suppress the south, the south to suppress the west and so on.

EPRDF is benefiting from every uprising, in the sense that the locals will focus on the identity of the foot soldiers and not on the system. From every uprising the people are losing one partner considering the identity of the foot soldiers and taking them as enemies.

When the Oromo are targeted tortured and killed in Welega Bale and other places, It is a news not different than the problem in Iraq. When the Anuak were massacred in Gamblla it was another news not different than Ruanda. When the southern people were massacred in Awasa It was similar to a news from Afghanistan. When the Amhara are massacred in Arba Gugu, Western Shoa, Gonder and Gojjam, We take it as a news from Nigeria. And when people are massacred tortured and killed in the Ogaden we still consider it as a news from India or China. And surprisingly EPRDF makes sure in engineering the repression to use foot soldiers from different locality. Not only this, it is facing it one at a time gaining a very comfortable offensive position.


Ladies and Gentlemen

This is the missing link, this is what the equation lucks. And this is the card among other things EPRDF uses to stabilize its dynasty. We need to come to our senses and act as one. Let us not forget when one punches our nose naturally our eyes will be full of tears, our mouth will be resounding, not only that our hands will start acting defending our body. This is the secret of our survival. And this can happen to us if we care for each other and if we embrace our Ethiopian identity. We have our differences and at the same time we have many things in common, Unity in Diversity is what we need for our survival, freedom, prosperity, equality and democracy. Let the spirit of friendship, brotherhood and sisterhood sublime and fill our mother’s house, Ethiopia. We need this understanding not only to struggle weyane and free ourselves from its grip but we badly need it beyond.

Replacing woyane alone will not help us live free, or democratize or even will not be a guarantee for Pease.

We face serious of challenges, not only peace and the rule of law but also poverty, globalization, the new global order, and survival all demand our readiness to unite and struggle. We have to start caring for each other and come in terms on how to live united with diversity. We should say no to any repression, killing massacre in any part of Ethiopia as if it has happened to our locality. This is the only way to feel the missing link, and march to a bright future. My generation might have done a lot to bring change, but surely failed to fill this missing link. It is my wish and my dream that the YOUTH, whatever happens will not do the same mistake, and understand its pain is the pain of all other Ethiopians, the suffering of everybody in Ethiopia is
its suffering. It is imperative that we stand by their side when the others suffer and protest in an organized manner, from south to north from west to east, saying no to any type of oppression and brutality in
Ethiopia.

And once again Let us not forget when one punches our nose naturally our eyes will be full of tears, our mouth will be resounding not only that our hands will start acting defending our body. Ethiopians should use this formula for our survival and peaceful co?existence.

Together we shall demand, the release of all political prisoners and protest to stop the massacre in OGADEN and other parts of Ethiopia.

God Bless the Youth
God Bless Ethiopia

Berhane Mewa, former Member of the Kinijit International Leadership (On a personal capacity) breemewa@gmail.com

Ethiopia – My Reflection

My appearance today in this gathering is a privilege and an opportunity to meet with concerned, determined and energetic Ethiopians, I am delighted in many senses. I have lived for the last three years in the United States and addressed several meetings in different places. In the last two years I was honored to serve my party Coalition for Unity and Democracy, being a member of the Kinijit International Political Leadership, which was delegated to execute political and organizational affairs of the Party. berhane_mewa.jpg

My audience has been all the way supporters and members of the opposition, sympathizers and members of the EPRDF, critics and even adamant opponents of the party I use to represent. This is my first appearance in a sub?regional issue based conference. This is also my first presentation in the last two years, with the freedom of not being a party delegate and not worried of my political correctness. What excites me most is that this meeting is called by the youth, the future of the world, the future of Africa and the future of Ethiopia. What else can make me and all committed citizens happy than the concern and involvement of the Youth in the affairs of our motherland Ethiopia? Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to be part of this gathering.

Today I am not representing the CUDP party, I am participating on my own capacity, so whatever I say will be my personal view and reflection. As an introduction I will take the liberty to say few words about CUDP. CUDP which is commonly known as Kinijit is a coalition of four national parties with diverse profile and experience. In a very short time the party managed to galvanize millions of supporters who stood behind it and voted for it. It’s fundamental values comply with the dream and wish of the Ethiopian people. It centered individual freedom and acknowledged group freedom along with. It called for national reconciliation and tolerance. It stood for democracy, transparency, accountability and above all unity with diversity. To fulfill its objective It chose to wedge peaceful political struggle.

This method was chosen by the party not with the calculation that the price tag for armed struggle is higher but with the understanding that sustainable political empowerment emanates only from the wining of the mind. It is only when physical fighting is replaced with the fight of ideas that we insure the people’s desire sustainably.

For an unbiased careful political observer, CUDP’s response to the current situation of the country, demand of individuals and groups, wishes of the cross section of communities was well crafted. The thirst for freedom and democracy, the urge for the rule of law and governance, electrified the population. Millions marched to the ballot box with the hope that their vote will make a difference.

The historical election of 2005 in Ethiopia which gave the opportunity to the Ethiopian people to express their disappointment, disapproval and rejection of the ruling ethno?centered EPRDF party resulted in the daylight vote ragging of EPRDF, which in turn incited massive civil opposition, testing the countries readiness and ability for Democracy and tolerance. The Ethiopian people showed to the world their determination for change and understanding of the power of the ballot box. But EPRDF betrayed and deceived the people. Its true face exposed, its brutality and dictatorial gene dominated its cosmetic statements and promises. As a revenge for their rejection of its system, thousands were detained, many more flee their areas and hundreds killed. CUDP leaders were incarcerated as a revenge for their victory over EPRDF giants.

For the tyrants the price for peaceful struggle was tagged as death penalty, this was publicly demanded by the prosecutor during the “trial” of the CUDP leaders. Cynically ruled out and replaced with life sentence by the kangaroo court and further generously reduced to “pardon”. This was not only a mockery of justice but a sign of the depth of brutality against democracy by the ruling group.

Ethiopian political history is at a cross road, the struggle is changing faces, dreaming the fruits of peaceful struggle leaders, members and supporters of CUDP have already started paying the price. Truly, the defeat of the EPRDF has become more apparent as its legal system shatter in the face of the people and the international community. Its true face is revealed exposing it defenselessly. The release of the CUDP leaders out of the thousands of detainees is a signal that peaceful struggle will eventually triumph and enrich us
with our birth?rite FREEDOM.

At this juncture I would like to point out two important developments the world should take note of. The 1st is, oppressed people, when given the opportunity, knows what they want and embrace democracy. The pressure of poor governance, the luck of the rule of law and brute subjugation sharpens them to pierce the balloon of hopelessness. Thus the world should learn that no community should be underestimated and labeled as not yet ready for democracy.

The 2nd is, in a society where democratic institutions are not free and strong, pseudo democratic governments can turn overnight to brutal tyrants and reverse the hope to hopelessness.

We urge the peace loving people of the world and the pro?democratic governments and institutions to understand this facts and stand on the side of the Ethiopian people. However experience teaches us, even after having all the information at hand, they are siding the dictators or sometimes are reluctant to put pressure, especially if their national interest has some other priority. Some of them are ready to forgo their international and humanitarian commitments. It is not also surprising to observe them playing double standards and neglect their core values. Though we do solicit support and policy shift based on democratic and humanitarian principles, by now we should take the lesson and rely on our own peoples’ struggle.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The continuous repression, killing of individuals, mass massacre and destabilizing communities, diminishing rule of low, poor governance, intensified despite our efforts to bring change. Year after year the problem changes face and locality but the trend remains the same. Desperation, frustration and hopelessness rotates from locality to locality inciting bitter spirit for struggle. This is the most disturbing part of the equation.

Are we missing something? At this political crossroad of our country this is what we need to ask, Are we missing something? We tried the revolution and ended up with irreversible devastation and soaked in blood.

We tried armed struggle and ended up by replacing one dictator and tyrant by another. We tried peaceful struggle, though early to predict, and yet the suffering continues. That is why we say this is the time to revisit our actions, efforts and the value of our sacrifices. This is the main point I would like to share with my sisters and brothers and specially the younger generation.

What is our understanding of the extent of the problem? do we really know who has been the victim of the system. Every one tell you my people, my tribe, my ethnicity and so on. And do we know who benefited? Can we find a common denominator to converge the scattered struggles?
I am one of the unfortunates, if Ethiopians are kept in different boxes, based on the viscosity of their blood, to be confused as to where to be packed. I am also one of the fortunate’s who witnessed the suffering, torture and injustice across the country. Focusing on the conference theme let me share with you some of my reflections.

I was grown up in Harer and Diredawa, have lived and played with the Oromos the Ogadens the Aderes the Amharas and many more ethnic groups, which helped me to understand all. This was further strengthened when I joined a boarding school hosting Ethiopians from all over the country. I have traveled to most of Ethiopia on personal or business. Everywhere I travel I witnessed the grievance, the suffering, the poverty and the hopelessness. The degree and intensity, the Varity and manifestation might differ. But as if it is a blessing from the constitution, we all are boiling in the same pot.

I have also observed the spirit of struggle, readiness to fight, readiness to protest and anxiety to be free.

I have also observed that all the efforts are localized and separate, everyone presumes that they are the only victim and assumes everybody else is against them. I have also observed that the EPRDF is enjoying the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and geographical division and using it to stabilize its system. Using the north to suppress the south, the south to suppress the west and so on.

EPRDF is benefiting from every uprising, in the sense that the locals will focus on the identity of the foot soldiers and not on the system. From every uprising the people are losing one partner considering the identity of the foot soldiers and taking them as enemies.

When the Oromo are targeted tortured and killed in Welega Bale and other places, It is a news not different than the problem in Iraq. When the Anuak were massacred in Gamblla it was another news not different than Ruanda. When the southern people were massacred in Awasa It was similar to a news from Afghanistan. When the Amhara are massacred in Arba Gugu, Western Shoa, Gonder and Gojjam, We take it as a news from Nigeria. And when people are massacred tortured and killed in the Ogaden we still consider it as a news from India or China. And surprisingly EPRDF makes sure in engineering the repression to use foot soldiers from different locality. Not only this, it is facing it one at a time gaining a very comfortable offensive position.


Ladies and Gentlemen

This is the missing link, this is what the equation lucks. And this is the card among other things EPRDF uses to stabilize its dynasty. We need to come to our senses and act as one. Let us not forget when one punches our nose naturally our eyes will be full of tears, our mouth will be resounding, not only that our hands will start acting defending our body. This is the secret of our survival. And this can happen to us if we care for each other and if we embrace our Ethiopian identity. We have our differences and at the same time we have many things in common, Unity in Diversity is what we need for our survival, freedom, prosperity, equality and democracy. Let the spirit of friendship, brotherhood and sisterhood sublime and fill our mother’s house, Ethiopia. We need this understanding not only to struggle weyane and free ourselves from its grip but we badly need it beyond.

Replacing woyane alone will not help us live free, or democratize or even will not be a guarantee for Pease.

We face serious of challenges, not only peace and the rule of law but also poverty, globalization, the new global order, and survival all demand our readiness to unite and struggle. We have to start caring for each other and come in terms on how to live united with diversity. We should say no to any repression, killing massacre in any part of Ethiopia as if it has happened to our locality. This is the only way to feel the missing link, and march to a bright future. My generation might have done a lot to bring change, but surely failed to fill this missing link. It is my wish and my dream that the YOUTH, whatever happens will not do the same mistake, and understand its pain is the pain of all other Ethiopians, the suffering of everybody in Ethiopia is
its suffering. It is imperative that we stand by their side when the others suffer and protest in an organized manner, from south to north from west to east, saying no to any type of oppression and brutality in
Ethiopia.

And once again Let us not forget when one punches our nose naturally our eyes will be full of tears, our mouth will be resounding not only that our hands will start acting defending our body. Ethiopians should use this formula for our survival and peaceful co?existence.

Together we shall demand, the release of all political prisoners and protest to stop the massacre in OGADEN and other parts of Ethiopia.

God Bless the Youth
God Bless Ethiopia

Berhane Mewa, former Member of the Kinijit International Leadership (On a personal capacity) breemewa@gmail.com

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