A note to President Obama. By Yilma Bekele
Dear President Obama,
I am sure you do not have time to read my letter nonetheless it gives me a certain amount of release from the pain I am feeling and the little chance of this letter getting to you fills my soul with great amount of joy and hope. I am an Ethiopian immigrant currently living in California. I came to your country to go to college. I am always grateful to the American people in general and the citizens of the State of Oregon in particular that supported me in fulfilling my dream. Their graciousness in welcoming me and their generosity in helping me with financial aid to finish my education will stay in my heart forever.
Upon finishing my education I have become a productive member of society and hopefully contributed my share in making your nation a beacon of light for all of mankind. I have been blessed enough to get married to a beautiful person and raise a family. I am glad to claim I am the personification of the American dream come true. I am not writing you to ask a favor for myself but I want to tell you about the dire situation regarding the homeland I left behind a long time ago. I want to give you an idea about my country Ethiopia and the horror faced by my people in the year two thousand twelve as the rest of humanity thrives.
The source of this unbearable pain forced on my country is none other than the individual that shows up in every meeting the heads of the advanced industrialized countries attend to solve problems and plan the future. I am sure you have noticed him during picture sessions and dinner parties. He is the one who claims to represent Africa and is usually given the corner seat in the back to keep quiet and observe.
His name is Meles Zenawi and his title is chairman of TPLF party and Prime Minster of Ethiopia. He has been in power for the last twenty years. It is not that he was elected to that position since free democratic elections are not allowed but he has managed to organize sham election and rigged voting not once but five times in a row. I will tell you a few things to give you an idea of how he manages to do that.
1) Press: There is no free press in Ethiopia. There is only one local TV controlled by his party. The only radio-broadcasting unit is under his communications department. There are no independent newspapers in the country. The few that are allowed to exist are routinely harassed and their publishers and editors spend most of their time in his rubberstamp court. Today a few are in his dungeon accused of fabricated charges and plenty are forced out of the country. There is only one Internet provider and his outfit controls that. He uses Chinese technology to block any foreign TV or Radio broadcast and Internet sites. Your Voice of America broadcast is routinely jammed. Today there are more journalists and Independent Web sites outside the country than in our homeland. The Ethiopian people are kept in the dark by design.
2) Political Party and Civic organizations: The dictator does not allow real independent political parties. On paper there are over eighty political parties in the country, but they are all the creations of the dictator. The few that dare to organize independently are subjected to harassment, imprisonment and even murder. His claim that there are no worthy opposition parties is a cruel joke. In Ethiopia being an opposition party leader is a death wish. We have lost many worthy leaders in the last twenty years. Independent labor unions, civic organizations and non-government affiliated associations are not allowed. If they dare to organize they are brought under government control within a short time.
3) Administration: He has divided the country into what is known as Kilil. Kilil is a black version of Apartheid; the system the White South African set up to control black citizens. The individual appoints all Kilil administrators usually local lackeys for show purpose. His party and ethnic group controls the Army and Security service with all commanders’ hand picked from his ethnic group. Ninety nine percent of high-ranking military officials belong to the dictators ethnic group. The individual and his party inherited the dreaded Kebele system set up by the departing military dictatorship to control neighborhoods and enhanced its capability using modern means. Today the Kebele system is the eyes and ears of the TPLF party and is present in every household to terrorize and control.
4) Economy: All land belongs to the state. The Ethiopian people are sharecroppers. When he took power twenty years ago facilitated by your State Department he created a congramolate called EFFORT controlled by his ethnic group. All major confiscated business and property were given to EFFORT and today it is the premier corporation in the country involved in banking, transportation, manufacturing, import export and the hospitality business. EFFORT is bigger than Ethiopia. Unable to grow the economy, ill prepared to unleash the creative potential of his people the dictator is currently selling our fertile and virgin land to foreign investors. This is despite the billions of aid dollars given by your country and Western Europe and the billions more written off the book from the IMF and World Bank. His sole purpose is to stay in power by bullying and enrich his ethnic group, family and friends.
Dear Mr. President, you might think what a coward people we are to allow such and individual to do us so much harm and accept it with silence. That is not so. We were not always that docile. The simple explanation I can offer you is that he came on the scene at a very unfortunate time for us. The twenty years of military dictatorship has sapped our strength to fight back. We were caught at a time when in the name of socialism our people and country had gone thru a very traumatic process. Our moral compass was left in disarray. No one was willing to continue the self-inflicted agony we experienced. The current dictator also showed up carrying an olive branch that promised to form an all-inclusive government. Your State Department was the premier facilitator of such transfer of power from the Military to the new liberators.
Unfortunate for Ethiopia your country still is coddling and enabling the dictator. He is considered the front line in the fight against terrorism The Pentagon is pouring money and resources to train his army. He is given the green light to interfere in Somalia in the so-called war against terror. We pay the price. The US is not made safer with all the support given to the regime but the Ethiopian people are made insecure and hopeless. Today the Ethiopian people are migrating out of their homeland at an alarming rate. The young and able and the educated are leaving their country in search of a better tomorrow. Washington DC your capital is living proof of the flight of our people outwards.
We ask you to intervene and stop this human catastrophe. We believe it is the right thing to do. It is the moral thing to do. Ethiopian Americans were in the forefront of your campaign for the presidency. We were filled with hope that you will intercede and help our motherland enter the twenty first century with dignity. It has not happened. Your State Department never fails to record and publish the crimes of the Ethiopian regime. The annual report is a very alarming detailed testimony of the nature of the illegal regime and the crimes it commits against its own people. Thanks to Wikileaks we are made conscious of the terrorist acts of the security department’s involvement in setting up explosives on its own citizens and blaming the opposition. Your Ambassador was part of the cover up of this crime. It is wrong.
We would like to call your attention to the policy the US followed in the aftermath of the Second World War when it came to Europe. The US was instrumental in encouraging democratic forms of government. US aid was based on the rule of law. Sixty years later Europe enjoys the fruits of such progressive and forward-looking policy. We ask your administration follow the same principle when it comes to Africa. We deserve nothing less. We ask your administration stop coddling and enabling dictators, misfits and loathsome individuals from terrorizing their own people.
The Ethiopian people are faced with a sad dilemma. How could they fight back against a terrorist regime armed and supported by a big power like your country? It is not a fair fight by any stretch of imagination. They find it confusing that on one hand you preach democracy and human rights while on the other hand you furnish the weapons and facilitate loans from World Bank and the IMF to the their tormentor. Wouldn’t you say the US would have a lasting and worthy relationship with a strong and democratic Ethiopia rather than a country always on the verge of civil war and a pitiful hand stretched begging for food and medicine?
The Prime Minster is showing up at your dinner table next week. We all know he has nothing to contribute to such discussion. The country he has been leading for the last twenty years is beset with famine, double digit unemployment, runaway inflation and human misery in a large scale. He has no record to be proud of. He has no opposition to shame him. His presence at this gathering is unexplainable and undeserved. His single TV station and his sole Radio broadcast will present a different picture. They will use the occasion to bully the Ethiopian people. There is no other voice to set the record straight.
We wish you would UN invitee or dis invite him. We know that will not happen. On the other hand we ask you use the occasion to make it clear to him that your constituents are not happy with his actions. We wish that you explain to him US aid goes hand in hand with the existence of the rule of law and respect for human rights. The American people are blessed to have such a caring and honorable person as a leader. You lead a very honorable and generous nation that has stood with Ethiopia in its time of need. We ask you to step forward and do the right thing at this critical moment in our history. We ask you to think of the eighty million Ethiopians that are made to suffer because on man and his ethnic based party is enabled by your country and others to run amok and brutalize. History will not look kindly at such abdication of responsibility.
Dear Mr. President, we are aware of what happened to dictator Gadaffi. We are witnessing the unfolding human misery in Syria. That is what is waiting Ethiopia if the regime continues its mal treatment of its won citizens. That is what we are trying to avoid from happening in Ethiopia. You can help us.
Finally we are not asking you to fight our war. We are perfectly capable of doing the job ourselves. We are simply petitioning you not to stand with the dictator. Not to give him lethal aid and training to turn his fire on us. We know it is in your power to make a stop to this enabling activity. The children of Ezana, Tewodros, Yohanes, Minilik, Aba Jifar, Tona and many others are up to the task given the opportunity. We have taken care of our business for over three thousand years and there is no reason to think we will not rise up to the occasion now. Just give us a level playing field and Green Yellow and Red will fly high on our ancient mountains and fields.
P.S. We have a petition on line to be presented to your office along this letter. The Web address is as follows: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/obama-stop-monster-zenawi-invitation.html