New law to to further criminalize civil society & private sector By Keffyalew Gebremedhin
Exactly 55 days, after the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) on September 19, 2014 approved a load of recommendations to facilitate improvements in Ethiopia’s human rights record, the TPLF regime has chosen to further tighten the nooses of repression against the neck of remnants of Ethiopia’s civil society. As a matter of fact, in keeping with past habits and practices of the regime, this sombre development has also come on the eve of the May 2015 election.
That total membership-wide effort on the part of the United Nations is its so-called Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Its recommendations pertaining to Ethiopia are recorded in document A/HRC/27/17s (press E for English), which, among others, is calling for the removal or revision of the country’s anti-civil society and anti-terrorism laws.
Not surprisingly, instead, today Ethipoians have learned that the TPLF regime has sent to parliament, according to Fana Broadcast – TPLF’s news and information outlet – draft legislation for deliberations by parliament on an “anti-corruption bill focusing on civil society organizations and the private sector.” In Ethiopia, the parliament is nothing different from a ‘potted plant’ of the TPLF, whose 99.6 percent of its seats the regime’s members occupy, rather than it being a body for the peoples’ representatives crafting legislation to advance and protect the interests of citizens and the nation’s wellbeing.
The intention of the draft bill is described as being to create “a legal framework whereby private corporations, unions, share companies, civil society organizations, education and health institutions, banks, insurers, etc. will be held accountable in the fight against corruption.”
An already trodden path
Nonetheless, experience has shown Ethiopians that any illegal action to be taken by the TPLF regime after the 2005 election has, without exception, come on the back of legislations. That shows the TPLF’s mockery, sending an ironic message that casts it as always abiding by the rule of law. By so doing, it is aiming to strengthen its hand, thereby enabling it to take charge of all means of state control over citizens under legal cover. Simply put, in a world full of individuals, small and powerful nations willing to be duped the sense and face of the agency of law allows the Addis Abeba regime to extend its continuation in office until the Second Coming.
A look back to the birth in Ethiopia of the charity society and anti-terrorism laws in 2009 shows that this is how the anti-civil society and anti-terrorism laws have been born in Ethiopia and proved effective in becoming the vehicle of state control and its violences that have resulted in subjugation and subordination of Ethiopians. Any nation with capacity to oversee global leadership is lamenting in secret disappointed how it has become collaborative in this endeavor and in summoning the evil it could not dismiss, such as Ethiopia’s explosive situation.
Notwithstanding the discomforts of passivity this has engendered, global power contiues to be passive observer of the evil designs of the minority group in Ethiopia and elsewhere the influence has reached, as Africa Review recently noted in (Taming the civil society. East Africa aping Ethiopia » Taming the civil society. East Africa aping Ethiopia).
All this because of the prioritization of Western security and economic interests. However, they realize that the mafia is in power in Ethiopia, which has been lusting after the privileges and riches power proffers on its holders and are willing to exercise control, repression and oppression whatever its price – just for their own continuity in the palace. Unfortunately, this Ethiopian experience in repression and control of society since 2009 has proved potent, thanks to the collaboration of China, the West and the global corporate interests. This has forced payment dearly of price by ordinary people in all countries; this path has further diminished open and democratic public space, concern for fundamental human rights, respect for human dignity and equity in society. As Africa Review has observed, this has given the TPLF regime many admirers that are borrowing leaves from the dictator’s book, who has endangered Ethiopia’s future, even governing it from under the grave.
In other words, this is not the first time that something like this is happening in Ethiopia under the TPLF and on the eve of election. Just exactly on the eve of the 2005 election, a band of selected TPLF cadres – under the auspices of the then Mayor Arkebe Oqubay, fanned the length and breadth of Addis Abeba to handover charges of tax evasion initially to well to do business owners. Many individuals were sent to prison. At present, State Minister of Finance Abraham Tekeste of the Ministry of Finance was responsible for snatching Addis Abeba’s lands from its legitimate owners.
The past guiding the present?
The objectives of the marauding at that time by Arkebe’s troops, according to former State Minister Ermias Legesse’s book: የመለስ “ትሩፋቶች” ባለቤት አልባ ከተማ ኤርምያስ ለገሰ, were two: to threaten into submission those well to do people into politically and financially supporting the TPLF.
The election result being what it was – source of displeasure to the TPLF – in the post-election days and weeks, the of mobilizing support by threat was transformed into the transfer from non-Tigreans of prime urban lands, kebele houses and several businesses to Tigrean ownership. The beneficiaries were and are still TPLF civilian officials (ministers, ambassadors, company managers, businesspersons, etc) and senior military officials (above rank of colonel), political cadres (the media and severa in the civil service). With its quality of fungibility and generating more resources, the assets so acquired became the source of enrichment of Tigreans, with support and loyalty to the TPLF, and a further basis of ethnic inequality in Ethiopia, the illegality of has no parallel in Ethiopian history.
In other words, what happened is that when the TPLF realized that the people so much wanted to see its back, the illegal acquisition of Addis Abeba’s prime lands, businesses and homes was translated into action.
While this draft bill before parliament (for formality’s sake), Ethiopians understand that in a very typical fashion befitting the TPLF un-statesman behavior, history is repeating itself. This means that the outcome of this latest exercise with a loyal and submissive parliament is likely to be cruel, dangerous and an added source of dissension likely to be destabilizing in an already strained and resentful society.
Although the draft bill states that it would not be applicable to religious and political organizations, the sense is that Mahibere Kidusan, probably the only independent civil society youth organization in the country under the Ethiopian Orthodox is likely not be outside reach of the TPLF attacks.
Already, the regime has been signaling its lustful intents to do so, including through the use of the Tigrean head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church patriarchate that has accused them of insubordination and “extremism.” Fortunately, the Synod has openly rebelled and rebuffed the endless interference in Church affairs. This might be the reason why the clause for the inapplicability of the law in its draft form has been specifically included. Since when has the TPLF ever been accountable to laws and institutions of the country?
Similarly, the Muslim society of Ethiopia, especially the youth have been facing lots of state violence, with its committee members going into their second year now.
There is possibly some truth in the story by the TPLF sources that the bill would not be applicable to opposition political parties. This is not because of the TPLF accountability. But simply because from Tigrai in the north to Negele and Arba Minch in the south, Jijiga in the east and Gambella and Benishangul-Gumuz in the east, in brief, the whole width and breadth of the country including in Addis Abeba, the TPLF has managed to abduct, imprison and even kill lots of opposition members and supporters in these three months!
Accountability is rude word for the TPLF regime
Stop for a moment and think of the sister of one of the opposition leaders in Armachiho, Gondar, who at 5:00 A.M. woke up when security forces broke her family’s door to take her brother. She believed in the potency of the law and pleaded with the security forces and at the height of emotion she told them that they had no right to do so or take her brother.
Their response to her was quick: the butt of a gun, whose collapse expedited her exit from their way to find herself in a hospital bed! This is the Ethiopia the TPLF has been ruling!