Resolve epic Ethiopian issues now By Robele Ababya
Quotation by Abraham Lincoln
“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.”
The ongoing social unrest will inevitably lead to total civil disobedience in Ethiopia because our country’s ages-old Orthodox Tewahido Christian and Islam faiths are being under state-sponsored severe attacks. Considering also the well-documented heinous crimes of the ruling regime, I ask what choice do Ethiopians have but stage a massive peaceful strike for liberating Ethiopia from paranoid thugs.
Four Monarchs in the eyes of Ethiopians in Uganda
In modern history, Emperors Thewodros, Yohannes IV, Menilik II and Haile Selassie are cited as stalwart defenders of vital interests of Ethiopia. I recall that, on the same date Eritreans were celebrating the result of their referendum in favor of separation by 99.83%, Ethiopians threw a big party at the Sheraton Hotel here in Kampala (Uganda) – not to celebrate the dismemberment but to pay gratitude to these illustrious Emperors while gazing at their magnificent portraits displayed on the walls of the ballroom of the Hotel. They were celebrated and extolled in genuine reverence to defend and preserve the honor, dignity, freedom and vital natural resources of Ethiopia.
On that day, I was deeply saddened the sudden bizarre situation that the best of friends and loving couples were torn between the choices of which party to attend at different locations in the same city. To some naïve people it was as if the historical bond between Ethiopians and Eritreans had ended for good.
Resolving at least five persisting epic issues now
1.Land to the Tiller: This was a cardinal issue, exacerbated by the famine in the north of our country that rocked the foundation of the Imperial regime in 1974. In all fairness, however, there was a land Proclamation made by Emperor Haile Selassie for distribution of private land to Ethiopians. He issued the Proclamation right after His return from His very first official visit to the United States of America (in 1954) and on His way there to some European countries including Germany. As a young boy under ten years old, I knew several people in my village in Addis Ababa each acquiring 40 hectares of virgin land in the south – in Arsi for example. I knew so because my mother was entitled but being a single-parent could not leave her children behind to go that far. In retrospect, I see the problem was due to, among other things: government bureaucracy on the one hand and inability to afford travel expenses by some beneficiaries of the Proclamation on the other – not to mention the poorness or absence of road infrastructures for the few vehicles in those days. The political will on the part of the Monarch was there but the capacity to deliver was poor for reasons mentioned.
I know my best friend with scores of IEAF personnel received 40 hectares each in Neche Sar near Arbaminch; they were at good stage of forming a farmers’ association spearheaded by Dejazmatch Tesfayohannes Berehie – a former high ranking official in Eritrea and entrepreneur. The outbreak of the 1974 Revolution thwarted the aspiration of the association. Incidentally, the economy of Ethiopia was growing at an enviable rate before the Revolution as acknowledged by the international community. Ethiopia was creditworthy at her best!
The first draft I saw of the 1975 Rural Land Proclamation by the Derg was to nationalize all rural lands but entitle each tenant peasant household to keep up to ten hectares and disown their landlords. The subsequent proclamation (47/1975) transferred all urban land and extra houses to government ownership; it was disastrous and ridiculous in more ways than one.
2.Independent judiciary: There is no justice for prisoners of conscience for judges pass sentences under duress or strict instruction – the sentences passed on 24 political leaders and prominent journalists, including Andualem Arragie, Iskinder Nega et al is the latest example in addition to those of in the aftermath of election 2005 where winners and tens of thousands were jailed and then brought to court that gave life sentence to the victors of the election and lesser prison terms to their innocent supporters protesting the stolen votes by the ruling regime. The heavy assault on the Ethiopian Muslim community is already spewing victims in terms loss of life and hundreds of arrests.
3.Freedom of Expression: The denial of this paramount right can only be described as the worst in our history in the 21 years of genocidal tyrant Zenawi’s oppressive regime. The Ethiopia people are fortunately intensifying their struggle to resurrect this cardinal right from total absence to vibrant presence knowing that it is an indispensable tool for effecting regime change.
4.Respect for human rights: This is conspicuous by its absence in terms of draconian heinous crimes including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the brutal ruling regime for the last 21 years in breach of its constitution and blatant defiance of Universal Human Rights Declaration of the United Nations to which Ethiopia is a signatory party.
5.Democracy: This has degenerated to a one party system ala Stalinist style; so no need to elaborate it other than to stress that Ethiopia is a totalitarian state ruled by one man that his sycophant inner circles are trying to transform to a personality cult – dubbing him a ‘statesman leading Africa’. The truth is that Zenawi is a supreme racist ruining Africa by following the model of the defunct apartheid system of ruling of Ethiopia divided into nine regions.
All the above (1-5) gigantic issues remain unresolved and in view of their multiplicity of their details and all-pervasive complexity, peaceful civil uprising is the only way forward to arrive at a lasting for all the time that will guarantee peace and tranquility in a carrying democratic society of Ethiopia.
An interesting true story before concluding
I and other colleagues were incarcerated in a hall for a couple of days and all of a sudden one afternoon after lunch there were soldiers in dark coverall pointing automatic machine guns (Uzi and Thompson guns) at us waiting for orders to mow us down. But it did not happen because one among them refused pointing his gun at the others. His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie 1st (HIM) ordered the standoff between the Imperial Bodyguard and the hostage-takers in the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force. Incidentally, His Excellency Ambassador Imru Zeleke wrote the following among others in his glowing tribute to HIM posted on Abugida website on 23 July 2012:-
“At the end he did not allow his reign to terminate in bloodshed and sorrow, for which we are all grateful. Emperor Haile Selassie was an exceptional human being and a great Ethiopian Emperor whose name will be remembered as such in the annals of World History.”
I told Mengistu in the face, that military government would not be good for Ethiopia; the coward repeatedly complained about my objection in public; I noted the exclusive nature of TPLF and wrote objection to the fact; I hope that I shall not live to see a similar thing repeated for the third time on my watch. I hope that the EYNM will see to it that this won’t happen again in a genuinely democratic Ethiopia emerging from massive civil uprising throughout Ethiopia.
•Great sacrifice by Birtukan Midekssa, to bring our fights for human rights to higher level;
•The exceptional patriotic contributions of Tamagne Beyene, Theodros Kassahun, Shambel Belaineh , Tsehay Wodajo, et al to rally the Ethiopian people en masse and keeping their hopes alive;
•Stamina and good heart of Dr. Negasso Giddada to show remorse and apologize to the Ethiopian people in public – a rare courage uncommon in our culture;
•An act of trust and prudence to form the Orthodox Tewahido Christian and Muslim Council dedicated to the defense of the centuries-old faiths now facing draconian clampdown;
•Courage and foresight of the ENYM determined to do their part to end tyranny peacefully;
•Vision and ingenuity to create independent media such as ESAT and all other democratic websites to provide voice for the voiceless
And it will take:
•Goodwill and moral obligation to reconcile and demand peaceful change of regime for the sake of freeing Ethiopia from harmful foreign influence and ending tyranny;
•Embracing faith, hope and love to rise up from the abyss of desperation to the height of victory over tyranny;
•Sincerity to admit that: the judicial system is dead in Ethiopia; justice as a paragon of virtue was ingrained in the culture of our ancestors who had faith in it to the extent that plaintiff and defendant walked hand in hand walking long distances to find a judge to resolve their case – (I have seen this in my life time as a small boy).
Thanks to the Almighty God the field is awash with dynamic selfless young leaders; moreover, Ethiopians have demonstrated magnificent display of decorum at the mammoth demonstration on the eve of the ever memorable election 2005. Therefore, Ethiopians CAN do it again even better now.
So let us go for total coordinated civil uprising in unison to engender regime change without bloodshed as the best option; let us go for it with calculated speed and set an example to the international community in that noble effort. Let us begin the act and rejoice our victory in the streets and city squares at home and in the Diaspora – proclaiming the birth of an oasis of peace and tranquility called modern Ethiopia.
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!
Release all political prisoners including Andualem Aragie, Eskinder Nega et al