Bracing for truth and reconciliation in Ethiopia By Robele Ababya
Critical need to act fast in unison
Fellow Ethiopians, time is running fast. Even foreign powers running our vital interests by proxy by abetting and supporting the puppet regime are nervous for fear of losing influence on the most strategic location in the Horn of Africa. These powers make no secret of their worry at this point in time when the health of their strongman within the brutal ruling TPLF regime is reportedly in dire situation.
Communist China’s voracious appetite for Africa’s resources is insatiable; Russia is determined to regain its status of a superpower; both countries have a poor human rights record. Saudi is religious extremist; India is utterly corrupt. Some Western powers and all the countries mentioned have either economic or strategic interests in Ethiopia. Are we going to give in to these interest groups and surrender our ambition to becoming a democratic regional power? I hope not!
Are we going still to give in to the divide and rule evil strategy of the brutal regime at this time that it has suffered a deadly blow? I hope not! All we have to do is to forge the unity of genuine opposition forces that has been a nightmare to the regime. I would like at this juncture to remind the Amharas and Oromos that they have been targets for systematic elimination from politics in much the same way as Fascist Italy did by pitting one against the other. Both of them should now trust each other and join the other ethnic groups to form a solid unity. This makes a lot of sense in a country where the majority of its citizens product of mixed across ethnic boundaries.
TR as recipe for action in unison
It is excruciatingly painful that so much time has been lost and so much harm of epic proportion had emaciated the lives of the Ethiopian masses at home while their elite brothers and sisters in the Diaspora are still unable to summon courage of embracing truth and reconciliation (TR) and act in unison to optimize their contribution to the formidable effort of saving Ethiopia. There is no point in gnashing our teeth, biting our lips and splitting hairs, exchange blames regarding our loss due to our lack of positive thinking obscured by ignorance of our own history. Calculating the enormous hemorrhage on our dignity and natural resources since 1974 will get us nowhere except serving as a lesson for to conceive a better vision.
So, the quintessential overarching requirement is to act now and fast with vision underpinned by courage, foresight, selflessness and single-minded determination to end once and for all the present divisive political leadership based on ethnicity, ideology or creed for good. This requires incorruptible collective leadership spearheaded by an able leader with unquestionable integrity.
President Nelson Mandela suffered for 27 years in the infamous prison at Robin Island. He conquered Apartheid in collaboration with his selfless illustrious compatriots for freedom. They gave birth to the RSA. The remarkable attribute of this greatest statesman in the 20th and 21st century is that he bore no grudge; his foresight to set up Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is a uniquely epic example to emulate to the extent it is adaptable.
In our case promising relatively young leaders have been surfacing since 1974 and more will come once freedoms of association and expression are in place by popular uprising. The question is whether we have a common understanding of what a leader is and what is it that people want.
People versus political leaders
I recall once in a management workshop, held in Southern Africa, the question of what a leader is arising in lively discussion. A written handout distributed to participants a management professor from George Washington stated in effect that a leader is one with a clear vision of where people want to go but they won’t do it alone. Every participant including me loved it!
Do we have people that know where they want to go in our messy political chaos? The answer in my opinion is YES, to wit:
In my Open Letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton dated 19-Feb-09 I wrote: “On the historic election day of 15 May 2005 Ethiopians took a glimpse of the prospect of peaceful transfer of power for the first time in their ancient history. One week before the election more than 2.5 million citizens of Addis Ababa and its environ inundated the streets and squares of the capital city in support of the opposition. On the Election Day, over 90% of 26 million registered voters went to the polls in a magnificent display of decorum, discipline and patience and cast their votes and dealt a heavy defeat to the ruling party. Unfortunately victory was denied to the victors because the ruling party declared itself the winner and sent the victors to jail – including Judge Birtukan Midekssa who is now back again in jail. She did nothing wrong other than exercising her freedom of speech in truthfully clarifying the process of protracted negotiations that led to the eventual ‘pardon’ of her group. Birtukan had every right to make the said clarification, more so in her capacity as Chairwoman of the most popular home-based “Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJP)” committed to peaceful struggle for change. I also wrote in the letter that “unfortunately peaceful transfer of power such as in the USA remains elusive to us Ethiopians not because the Ethiopian people are not ready for democracy and peaceful transfer of power but because political leaders have failed them.
So, the Ethiopian people, irrespective of their ethnic origin, creed or ideology came out in overwhelming numbers seeking democracy and social justice; they knew what they wanted but leaders let them down! I would add that throughout our history people knew what they wanted; it was social justice – check it out!
Access to independent sources of information has been a big void in the political lives of the Ethiopian people for a long time. The advent of ESAT is a quantum jump in filling that void especially for folks at home. For us in the Diaspora pro-democracy websites and other media outlets have been doing sterling job in providing critically needed information.
Damaging robbery and/or rigging of votes
Tyrant Meles crossed the finish line of election 2010 well before voting started and ‘won’ the sham election laughably by 99.64% while wearing an albatross of genocidal crimes coupled with sellout of national interests around his neck. There is no need to dwell on the mantra of his heinous crimes but it is important to note his all too familiar habit to deceive the international community, this time to declare that he won the election by 99.64%.
Tyrant Meles attributes his laughable 99.64% sham victory to the strength of sustained economic growth achieved by his regime. However this claim will not last long because the 5 million strong activists of his party shall scramble for favor which the economy cannot support and the peasantry will not tolerate the parasites on its shoulders. The huge army of the unemployed youth is running out of patience; those promised three wholesome meals a day are tired of waiting. The honeymoon of the orchestrated victory of TPLF is already over.
Support massive flow of protesters to city squares
Staging a coup d’état by taking advantage of the current chaotic situation in Ethiopia would be a disaster in my opinion. Therefore, progressive revolutionary forces bent on regime change should encourage the inevitable spontaneous flow of protesters like we have seen in the run up to Election 2005 to inundate city squares and streets as a matter of basic right that no government can stop. Such spontaneity does not take place at the call of any dubious opportunistic self-appointed entity. The crowd occupying the city squares will then simply enunciate its demands by consensus to the power in being and not vice versa. It would be ecstatic to behold an enthusiastic sea of humanity waving the Ethiopian flag and dictating its terms to the illegitimate power in being at the same time asserting that the people are the true ultimate source of authority.
Civic organizations, political parties, and other movements for change will be free to set up their stalls and sell their programs or explain their vision and mission; the occasion at the mammoth gathering will provide ample opportunity for consultation among all stakeholders on the way forward to forming a national congress on home soil aimed at creating a truly democratic government for the first time in the long history of our country, Ethiopia.
The demand for setting up Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC would be the prerogative of the people. It is the moral obligation of the people to forgive those that show remorse in explicit terms as in the exemplary manner done by Dr. Negasso Gidada that endeared him to the Ethiopian people.
Nothing less than people becoming masters of their destiny will satisfy the spirit of patriot Abichu and his heroic compatriots: Amdetsion, Haptom, Gashu and Worku – heroes in their own right that gave a nightmare to the Commander-in-Chief of the Fascist Army based at Mekele. The soul of their role model Immye Menilik will rest in peace only when people heed his advice to stop internecine bloodshed and carnage.
I would like to reiterate my passionate plea earlier made to the military and security organs of Ethiopia to be on the side of the people and let them exercise their political rights for regime change through non-violent civil disobedience.
Finally I close by saying: Bravo ESAT and all pro-Ethiopia media outlets for becoming true voices for the voiceless!
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!
Release all political prisoners including Andualem Aragie, Eskinder Nega, et al!