One country, Ethiopia; one person, one vote! By Robele Ababya
Expression of solidarity
I do want to express my solidarity with the entire content of the special release by G-7 dated 31 March 2013 under the title “በአማራ ህዝብ ላይ እየተፈጸመ ያለው ግፍ በኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ላይ እየተፈጸመ ያለው ግፍ አካል ነዉ!”(The tyranny being inflicted on the Amhara people is part of the same being done on the Ethiopian people). I have a duty as a citizen to condemn ongoing tyranny in Ethiopia in the strongest possible terms without fear or favor as long as the EPRDF regime continues with its flagrant violation of universal human rights, inter alia: ethnic cleansing of the Amaras; holding prisoners of conscience most of them Oromos; imprisonment of Muslim leaders demanding for their constitutional rights of electing their leaders.
In the face of tyranny and racism
The 1974 revolution saw racism as detrimental to progress. For example, young men and women of the former Imperial Ethiopian Air Force produced the revolutionary song Tenesa Teramed (Stand up and stride) that was short-lived but a popular revolutionary; it was broadcast all over Ethiopia with the enthusiastic approval of the Derg regime. The rallying song: condemns differences based on race or creed; stresses the need for robust defense establishment; laments the wastage of our rivers and natural resources and; calls for economic development. It was taken of the air by the Derg because it was too nationalistic to the influential ideologists of the time. But the current inhuman tragedy afflicting the Amara people of Ethiopia has vindicated the validity of the song; I am glad that the revival of its spirit is being felt everywhere in the war against tyranny. Ethiopians need to be nationalists with global outlook, as it were act local and think global.
The civil rights movement conceived and spearheaded by Martin Luther King took place and succeeded in a democratic society open to listen to genuine grievances and sympathize with on either legal or moral grounds not to mention the support of political leaders like President John F. Kennedy. The Ethiopian revolution of 1974 was at first peaceful because of the decision of Emperor Haile Selassie not to counter it with force; the Ethiopian election of 2005 held a glimmer of hope of ushering in an era of democracy but was hijacked by the lawless ruling regime of thugs without moral standards or respect for their own constitution. So should one stay put in the face of tyranny and racism? The answer is NO! The only remedial action is to rise up in unison to defeat the EPRDF regime and do so in the spirit of “One country, Ethiopia; one person, one vote!”
Highlights from history pertinent to this piece
The set of values for which wars have been fought and revolutions have been sparked can be derived from history and our own experience garnered up to this age of abundant information. The Age of Enlightenment (1700 – 1800) preceding the French Revolution (1789 – 1799) no doubt provided the forums to debate on social issues, principles and governance best suited to humanity.
“Rousseau, for example, began to question the idea of the divine right of Kings. In The Social Contract, he wrote that the King does not, in fact, receive his power from God, but rather from the general will of the people. This, of course, implies that “the people” can also take away that power! The Enlightenment thinkers also discussed other ideas that are the founding principles of any democracy—the idea of the importance of the individual who can reason for himself, the idea of equality under the law, and the idea of natural rights. The Enlightenment was a period of profound optimism, a sense that with science and reason—and the consequent shedding of old superstitions—human beings and human society would improve.”
I is interesting to note that “The Enlightenment encouraged criticism of the corruption of the monarchy” including King Louis XVI and the aristocracy. “Enlightenment thinkers condemned Rococo art for being immoral and indecent, and called for a new kind of art that would be moral instead of immoral, and teach people right and wrong”. Is the Prime Minister (PM) of Ethiopia listening? Is he prepared to clampdown on endemic corruption and pervasive moral decay on his watch?
I find the EPRDF totally bankrupt in terms of cardinal principles or parameters below, followed by my comments:-
1.“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains” Jacques Rousseau (1712—1778): This is vindicated by the exodus of Ethiopians seeking refuge and thereby encountering gruesome human sufferings;
2.The all men are created equal assertion by John Adams enshrined in the preamble of the USA Constitution: This a pipedream for the suffering masses of Ethiopia living in serfdom and slavery
3.The all-inclusive principle of Liberty, fraternity, and equality enshrined in the French Revolution: Same as #2 above
4.Freedoms of expression, association, assembly and religion are inviolable natural rights: The EPRDF regime has completely barred these freedoms
5.Respect for human rights takes precedence over economic development: The EPRDF is one of the top human rights violators in the world
6.Equitable distribution of wealth is central to social justice: But land belongs to the EPRF regime; powerful government posts and all lucrative business enterprises are under the monopoly of minority ethnic groups. Thanks to the data provided by G7
7.Private land and property ownership enhances sustainable development and guarantees dignity, freedom and democracy: The ruling regime denies this vowing to adopt the China communist party model of development
8.Man does not live by bread alone – Matthew 4:4: The Stalinist proponents of Revolutionary Democracy dismiss this as nonsense
9.The all-inclusive Ten Commandments in the oldest book, the Holy Bible: There is no standard of morality in Revolutionary Democracy
10.The regime is promoting rampant corruption: This will lead to the downfall of the regime in disgrace, vide to the fate that befell Luis XVI, his wife Marie Antoinette and the aristocracy during the French Revolution.
The Age of Enlightenment led to the French Revolution that laid down the cornerstone of the democratic culture entrenched in modern French society without a single prisoner of conscience in contrast to Ethiopia forced to become a giant dungeon in the 21st century.
Resistance to free debate demolished the Imperial and the Derg regimes; the same fate is awaiting the brutal ERPDF regime provided that the opposition political entities and civil societies act in unison by setting their minor differences aside with a covenant to solve them through a civilized debate at a later time following the downfall of the misruling regime. Effectiveness should transcend selfishness at this hour of extreme emergency much like at the outset of Italian invasion where our ancestors organized into a guerrilla force, by the way the first of its kind in Africa, if not the world, that gave hell to the uncivilized soldiers of Marshal Graziani – labeled by the international community as the” butcher of Ethiopia”.
Rousseau said: “I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery.” But the reality in Ethiopia is slavery without peace. And I therefore strongly believe that Ethiopia’s problems should be seen and resolved within the framework of the above principles or parameters.
Laudable “Election 2013” in Kenya; Inaugural ceremony on 09 April 2013
I was spellbound with my eyes glued to the television listening to the electrifying speech President Uhuru Kenyatta to a jubilant capacity crowd of more than 60,000 in which he, among many other achievements, expressed his pride of the level of political maturity Kenyans have reached in just 20 years of entering into a multi-party democracy. He: reassured his fellow Kenyans that there will be no place for divisive ethnic politics and that political pluralism will be there to stay irreversibly; promised self-sufficiency in food security by developing agriculture; pledged transparency and accountability of his administration to the people; praised the local media for their maturity and integrity; praised to bank on his predecessor’s rich legacy and forge ahead to score double-digit growth; pledged work with all contestants in election 2013 s in the development of Kenya for common good as a President of all its citizens.
The outgoing President Mwai Kibaki, beaming with pleasing smile all the time, also made a moving speech underlining the unity of democratic Kenya and outlining the enormous economic growth of Kenya now self-sufficient to finance development schemes. He branded his successor President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Deputy President William Ruto as new breed of leaders that can elevate the phenomenal economic growth of the last ten years to a new height.
It was a retirement with honor for President Kibaki. Kenyans should be proud for setting a shining example for Africa. The motto “One country, Kenya; one person, one vote” has worked for Kenyans in that “Kenya election 2013” has paid a rich reward for the costly and bloody election of 2007. I am optimistic the motto will work for Ethiopia too!
I would like to close this section by witnessing that I had the honor to see, at close range under the same roof, the celebrated Founding Father of Kenya twice; the first time at the National Theatre in Addis Ababa where he and his colleagues enlightened the enthusiastic audience with the Harrambe song from the stage while he was still the fiery leader of guerilla warriors for freedom and independence; and the second time (during official visit as Head of State ) at a luncheon at the Debre Zeit Air Force Base after a brilliant air show of which he spoke admiringly. I am proud of my country’s leading role in the struggle for independence in Africa right from the Emperor Menilik’s famous victory at Adwa that became the beacon of hope for the black people.
In my view
1.Freedoms of expression, association, assembly and religion are inviolable natural rights given by the Almighty God; claim these rights through massive inundation of public squares and streets throughout the country; demand the immediate stoppage to ethnic cleansing in general and that of the Amhara people going on at present in particular; demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners; dictate terms for change to democratic governance; condemn government for its adamant refusal to accept the legitimate demand of Muslims’s constitutional rights; stop flagrant involvement in religious affairs as in the fake election of Aba Matias as Patriarch
2.All round assistance by the Diaspora to home-based political parties is critical to the success of popular uprising in Ethiopia; I stand committed
3.Good relationships with democratic forces in Egypt and the Sudan are paramount in view of the share of the waters of the Blue Nile River. Ethiopian democrats should welcome democratic Kenya as a partner in building democracy and prosperity in the region; should thank Ugandans and their leadership for being a hospitable host to the Ethiopian refugees for the last 22 years in the spirit of Pan Africanism. Those patriotic political refugees resettled elsewhere that were once in Uganda will testify to the said hospitality
4.It would be prudent to hold an urgent consultative meeting with the aim of organizing a national conference at a convenient venue in Africa in which opposition political parties/entities at home and in the Diaspora participate under the facilitation of the African Union; expeditious action is critical to stem the unmaking of Ethiopia’s history by the repressive EPRDF regime
5.Ethiopia has sunk to the abyss of corruption perpetrated by the EPRDF regime. Governance is at its worst in the country. Replace the regime by new leadership committed to the tenets that serve the Ethiopian people best. The mother of corruption Azeb and the other EPRDF/TPLF warlords must face justice. Imagine the fate of Marie Antoinette haunting the paranoid Azeb – a habitual liar that said her late genocidal husband had never negotiated away an iota of Ethiopia’s interest!
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!