Bahr Dar and the wonderful art of silence. By Yilma Bekele

May 22nd, 2013 Print Print Email Email

Last Sunday May 12 a Federal police officer opened fire and murdered twelve or eighteen people depending on who is doing the counting in the City of Bahr Dar by the shores of Lake Tana. It was a random killing and the only reason he stooped shooting was because he run out of bullets. What makes this crime unique is that it was committed by some one that is trained to protect and serve. At least in most places that is what we think of the armed officers that move around with loaded guns amongst us. I said in most places, our Ethiopia is not such a place.

The Federal Police serve the TPLF party that is in charge of our country. Meles Zenawi set up the Federal Police to be accountable to him and his party and used this force to quell down any kind of native unrest against his group. The Federal Police is the most fearsome weapon of the TPLF party. Like everything else concocted by the late criminal the Federal Police is a uniquely Ethiopian force supposedly created to resemble other Federal institutions in the developed West. The name is the same but the purpose and mission is different.

In Ethiopia the TPLF party’s Federal Police is an instrument of terror. Their motto is shoot first, ask questions later. You will not find a single Ethiopian that would not be engulfed with fear when the Federal Police is mentioned. The force was purposely designed to instill fear. From what I know of the Federal system here in the US the FBI does not involve itself in local matters. The local Police that are answerable to the Mayor or elected official is the first line of response. The State Police is under the elected Governor who is accountable to the citizen. There is a clear line of jurisdiction built into the system.

Meles Zenawi’s Ethiopia is different. The Federal Police force under him is the ultimate arbitrator of justice or injustice in this case. The Different Kililis or Bantustans have no power or authority on this rogue force. No sane Kilil head will challenge the power of the Federal Police. I can safely say that regarding all Killis except the Sovereign State of Tigrai. Abay Woldu would not allow a Kenbata, Oromo, Amhara or Somali Federal Police to roam around in his State with immunity.

When the late dictator copied the Kilil system from Mussolini with upgrades from the South African Bantustan system he made a few improvements of his own. Bahr Dar is the capital city of the Amhara Kilil. What in the world is a Federal Police doing in the streets of Bahr Dar with a loaded is gun is one of the peculiarities of the Ethiopian scene. That practice is one copied from Apartheid system. Why the local Police are not enough to keep the citizens of Bahr Dar safe is not clear at all.

Thus on the evening May 12 a certain Federal Police officer opened fire and killed all he can find in his aim of fire. No one confronted the individual and once he run out of bullets in his high capacity gun he left the area. Things got more interesting after that. First there was a lot of argument regarding the numbers killed. Apparently counting dead bodies lying on the street is not an easy task. Before the blood was dry on the highway Awramba a new and obscure Website here in the US that seems to be on the know felt it was important to label the ethnic origin of the killer as if that will make the heinous act more palatable or clear.

This childish attempt to misinform was followed by the TPLF party in a more bizarre press release that defiantly can only happen in a country where there is no independent press to raise questions and demand answers or by a government that does not have an iota of respect for its citizens.

According to the Ethiopian government the above is the picture of individual that committed the crime. His dead body was fished out of a river. They did not bother to name the river. A body left in the water for a day or two will show all the symptoms of death by drowning. Our killer shows none of the effects of being in the water dead. His shoes are polished, his uniform is crisp and the blood on his face is not of someone left in water for any length of time. Do you think the rope tied around his feet is how he was dragged out? It is just curious he did not get dirty and with all that blood on his face no fish bothered to nibble. It is a miracle.

The story did not end there. While the Federal Police was displaying his dead body the Kilil administrator was issuing press release regarding the ongoing search to look for the criminal. It is just two versions of the same lie. The newly minted Prime Minter whose force murdered fourteen people did not even bother to go to the scene and console the victims’ families. He choose to send a high sounding message promising further investigation. What is the death of fourteen citizens when you can stay in the palace and play host to some Arab delegation? To add insult to injury several high ranking officers of the Federal Police in full uniform showed up at the funeral location the next day. I can see the whole drama from here with the officers arriving in their four wheel Range Rovers accompanied by zillions of security while descending on the poor folks sitting in a tent trying to console each other.

A week later the Federal Police put out a press release that they have detained ten members of their force for ‘neglecting and failing to act’. Do you mean to tell us there were armed police around while he was shooting randomly and they just watched, or did they know he was intending to do just that and they kept quiet which one is it my dear Workeneh?
No matter how you look at it the whole story is bizarre. Starting with the action of the insane individual to the conflicting press reports by the officials and the reporting by ETV that doesn’t even ask why the criminal’s clothes don’t show any signs of being in the water – it is vintage Woyane drama.

The report by the Diaspora press was something to behold too. We were told the citizens of Bahr Dar were fuming. They were showing signs of anger and were seating ready to let of steam. No adjective was spared to describe the mental and physical anguish of Bahr Darians. Thus I waited to see how this criminal act of an invading force was going to manifest itself by the citizen reacting back. Pictures of Palestinian citizens under the watchful eyes of the Israeli Army burying their dead clad in their beloved flag and defiant in their tone passed thru my head. I remembered the scene from Cairo where the citizens carried the dead bodies of their martyrs shot by the Mubarak’s police during the Arab spring as it flashed vividly in front of my eyes.

Nothing like that happened. Someone once said we Ethiopians have even lost our capacity to be angry. The best explanation that comes to mind is what was said by our Holy Father Abune Melkesedek explaining the silence of his people a while back as ‘Bechelema Gelmecha’. That is what took place in the city of Bahr Dar ‘Bechelema Gelmecha’. It must be very satisfying to the individuals but no one saw it. What is the point is a good question to ask. How is the evil doer going to understand the hurt inflicted on those families and the entire city? Is a simple defiant procession to protest and let the regime know the citizens feeling much to expect? Isn’t there one brave soul in the whole of Bahr Dar that is not afraid to respond in kind?

Well to settle the matter once and for all the Woyane government brought in ‘Special Forces’ unit to Bahr Dar to even control the thought of defiance let alone the act. I still do not understand the presence of all this armed groups in such an idyllic location. Bahr Dar is far from any border and currently there is no one threating the peace and harmony of the city. I just don’t understand why our cities are military camps during a peaceful time. I also don’t understand why we have so many people serving the military while so many of our schools are starving for teachers and books, our hospitals and clinics are poorly stocked and our children and grandparents are fed once a day if lucky. I guess it is all about priorities. The regimes first order is to protect itself from the people and it is perfectly understandable budget allocation favors security over anything else. As for the citizens of Bahr Dar I say to you no one can save you from yourself you just have to figure a way out of the current dilemma of occupation by an outside force of course in collaboration with you present day bandas. It has been done before and I have no reason to think you will not rise up to the challenge. We can echo your scream from afar but there is just no one like you to do the job. Good Luck!

  1. Dawi
    | #1

    [[..When the late dictator copied the Kilil system from Mussolini with upgrades from the South African Bantustan system he made a few improvements of his own...]]

    You cracked me up man! it is good that you at least gave him credit for some “improvement”. :)

    I felt as if I am reading some detective story. It is a good write up.

    [[...I can safely say that regarding all Killis except the Sovereign State of Tigrai. Abay Woldu would not allow a Kenbata, Oromo, Amhara or Somali Federal Police to roam around in his State with immunity...]]

    Probably the largest Federal army of Ethiopia is stationed in Tigrai and mostly male with uniform roam around that state. That is why 1 out 3 children born there are the off springs of that situation. So no need for Abay to call on the federal police on top of that. Are you crazy?:-)

    The “federal police” need to respect the constitution; if that is the issue you’re raising it is good. Such issues of police/army respecting civil rights are raised even in developed states. The roaming around of the federal police all over the nation however, is not a problem if you ask me.

  2. Kumessa
    | #2

    Now Ethiopians should start arm-struggle to get rid of this Woyane.Enough is enough, Hagos/Mohammed!We are for long undecived. TPLF is given a rare opportunity to hold the helm power for years.It has neither offered a cultural enlightment or prosperty in terms of prosperty to the non-Tigryans. TPLF wants to reduce us “others’ to a nation roadside beggares.Let us chase the bastards to go where they belong. That is the only way to acheive peace and prosperty without,borrowing Eritreans favorite word “human vermins” for Woyane.

  3. aha!
    | #3

    Yilma Bekele you are on target describing the federal police force as being protector of the party and ethnic federalism, secessionism and totaliarinism built into the constitution to say the least about the reneged press freedom in the constitution together with the security forces,the military forces and the teletafi parties in this case ANDEM as being nothing else as direct supporter of the constitution as part of the ex-liberation fronts in lieu of oppression of nations and nationalities by previous regime of colonial Ethiopia and administering the country in a colonial and/or Ex-South Africa’s apartheid style of ethnic homelands-the killil/ethnic federalism. In that context, it does not represent the national agenda for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty of Ethiopia and Ethiopians and is part and parcel of the negative forces of disintegration of Ethiopia upholding the constitution drafted with TPLF as its major architect to which the loyalist (ethnic federalist) parties are also implicit supporters and co-signers of the charter. Those parties with the national agenda are outside of the sphere of influence in the three branches of the government, however there is no independent branches of government, there is no federal investigation to look into a crises with regards to a rampant shooting spree by a federal police in the City of Bahar Dar, because it amounts to investigating ones own political apparatus.

  4. yilmab
    | #4

    Ato Dawi, You seem to have a nonchalant attitude about human life, rule of law and the welfare of your people, assuming you are Ethiopian. You think your cute and dismissive write up will be considered as an explanation. May be in the circles you travel with but most Ethiopians don’t find being second class citizens in their own country funny, don’t find the rule of a single ethnic group because they are armed and powerful at the moment acceptable and would do anything to avoid blood shed among family. That is why we are very patient people. But after a certain point we explode and that has not helped our country. It is not good at all for a small minority to test the limits of other peoples tolerance level.

    Your answer about the whole of Tigrai being armed and trained is not impressive, because most Tigrais will not come in defense of a few Woyanes. When the rubber hits the road they are on their own. One out of three you said, good luck that is such a waste of human resource especially when they don’t have enemies to threaten them. If Woyanes fights their cousins up north you know the rest of Ethiopians are the ones defending the mad guys in Arat Kilo. We lost more than eighty thousand because of that idiots miscalculation. He was never a military man that is why he was always brave and cute with his security behind him. Talk to Ato Gebremedhin to know how much of a coward he was. See what happened in DC when Abebe heckled him, I heard they found his seat wet. As fore the Ethiopian Constitution it does not exist. It is not a document agreed by all and it has been revised in just a weekend so many times it is not worth the paper it is written on. Remember every thing Hitler did was lawful and constitutional. But it was wrong and lots of Germans paid the price. May I suggest you spend a little time reading instead of being an internet troll (Google it) defending the indefensible.

    I agree with my friend Aha not because he supported my argument but at least he thought about it and wrote a coherent response and that is how one carries an intelligent dialogue not throwing cute one liners and being know it all and blind to reality. Good day sir.

  5. Dawi
    | #5

    Dear Yelma,

    [[..One out of three you said good luck that is such a waste of human resource especially when they don’t have enemies to threaten them…]]

    1 out 3 was meant to tell you that the multi national army stationed in Tigrai is having that many children with the local Tigrean women. They don’t need additional federal police on top of that.

    I don’t know how the “racist woyane” is allowing for that to take place? Was the question I was expecting from you however, you disappointed me by not even getting my point. :-)

    In hindsight the route Meles took to come to power was wrong but, as I see it, he has worked to overcome that, to his last breath, in trying/finding a soft landing for the people and country he loved.

    Federal police means multi national force. As far as I know they may be known for “brutality” not for being one single ethnic group.

    I don’t know why you and aha don’t see the two side of the federal coin. I expect HD to change the image of that of federal institutions just like he is dealing with the grand corruption ring and ethnic cleansing of the Amara.

    As Prof. Tecola said, let us give HD the benefit of the doubt. I think you should because you don’t have a better alternative.

    I know you only want to see the negative side of Woyane but, looking at the lack of preparation of you/opposition have today, If you ever come to power I expect the worst to happen to that land. The Syria scenario per Prof. Messay shall be a very likely outcome.

  6. yilmab
    | #6

    @Dawi Ato Dawi, your response is again not based on facts as we know it nor verifiable. Now you telling us the army is having kids with the locals. It is a fantastic assumption but I thought they stayed in the camps by the border and they are busy defending the nation or do they go around fornificating also the Federal police is not a border guard but a tool of repression in the towns and cities. Meles was an evil person that came to amass money and destroy Ethiopia and he succeed on both points. He sold our land, he gutted our education system, he divided us in Kilils, he encouraged the worst in us and left us broke and strangers to each other. Today we don’t have any education system so to speak of since the educators were exiled, we don’t have industries since even our beer producing plants are sold off, we don’t even make shoes, our coffee industry never developed thus Starbuicks makes more from our raw coffee than us and look at us we spend more time arguing politics tan building our country. We are the second to the last in Africa in Internet and Mobile technology because the TPLF party under the Tigrean minority is afraid of new ideas and knowledge and spend more money on blocking and censoring. Dr. Debretsion the Prime Minter behind the scene went in front of parliament lied with his make believe figures about Ethio Telecom as if we are so stupid that we have no way of verifying his lies. Meles built TPLF to lie, that is second nature to them. They say the ‘highest growing economy in Africa’but it don’t produce no jobs. Our children are running away from home cause there is no future. What kind of growing economy produces no jobs? Building those fake condominuims and roads that don’t survive one rainy season is just another ponzi scheme for the TPLF and Tigrean operated companies to cheat borrowed money and fleece the Diaspora. Please don’t assume we are stupid and you have a monopoly on the media like in Ethiopia. Here we tell facts, we discuss our position based on facts and we don’t just blindly follow like a cadre. Meles was a scum, an evil waste of a human being and he took our ancient country on a path of destruction and we are paying for it. Look if all of us roll up our sleeves and work together we can take our country further up but if our children are running away we end up building other peoples nations.I have said enough I believe to show you we are rational people and we don’t worship individuals , we worship God.

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