Kinijit Delegates To Europe Working Around The Clock – KSOUK
Following the very warm welcome given to freed Kinijit delegates to Europe by Ethiopians in London at Heathrow airport on Sunday 09/09/2007, the delegation did not waste anytime before it began tackling the businesses of its trip. (more…)
Following the very warm welcome given to freed Kinijit delegates to Europe by Ethiopians in London at Heathrow airport on Sunday 09/09/2007, the delegation did not waste anytime before it began tackling the businesses of its trip.
10.00 A.M – 3.00 P.M.
• Kinijit delegates to Europe were given a complete briefing on the diverse nature of the struggle conducted by the Diaspora while they were in captivity. The briefing was made by Mr. Andargachew Tsege, member of Kinijit supreme council and ex-member of the now defunct Kinijit International Leadership. All the delegates, Ato Mulualem Eyoel, Dr Yacob Hailemariam, Ato Kifle Tigneh, Ato Abayineh Berhanu and Ato Aschalew Ketema were present. The briefing was divided in sections. The sections included organizational affairs, diplomacy and lobbying, mass mobilization and finance.
• Using the same headings, a special attention was given to the activities of the various European countries and the European council. During the briefing the delegates were made to see the challenges faced and the achievements recorded by Kinijit support groups in Europe. The strength and weakness of the movement and the current reality prevailing in different countries were also discussed.
• Relation between Kinijit support and other political parties, civic and communityorganizations was another agenda item that was given proper attention. This issue was discussed with the view to create a broad alliance against tyranny in Ethiopia.
• Taking into consideration the needless division that plagued Kinijit support movement in the Diaspora, the need to talk to individuals and groups that may have grievances or differing opinions than members of the support groups was highlighted during the briefing.
• In order to avoid spillage of interpersonal or inter group conflicts into the support movement thereby affecting its healthy functioning, the delegates have surmised that fundamental democratic values, rules and regulations governing the support organizations should be laid down in concrete and transparent manner.
5.00 P.M. – 9.00 P.M.
• A meeting with members of Kinijit Support organization in UK and The secretariat of the European council was held at the offices of KSOUK and the European secretariat.
• The different activities of KSOUK were explained using supporting documents and pictures.
• The formation, the structure and the activities of the European Council were explained by Ato Hailemariam Legesse, secretary of KOSUK and the Council of Europe.
• A fruitful discussion that focused on the Future of Kinijit was conducted. The delegates have replied to the concerns of the members of the committee. The concerns mainly focused on the democratic nature of Kinijit as an organization and the extreme need to maintain unity of the party.
11.30 A.M. – 2.30 P.M.
• A meeting with the officials of Amnesty International was held. At the meeting all Kinijit delegates were present. Ato Taye Alemayhu Chairperson of KSOUK and Ato Andargachew had also attended. Dr Martin Hill head of the East African desk and other staffs working for the desk represented Amnesty International.
• The meeting was very warm and friendly. Both groups were happy to see each other. The delegates expressed their appreciation for the vigorous campaign Amnesty conducted on their behalf and its efforts to highlight the overall human right abuse in Ethiopia. Dr Martin Hill and other staff from Amnesty expressed their joy to see ex-prisoners of conscience that Amnesty had campaigned for their release, sitting in their office and discussing matters related to Human rights.
• The discussion at Amnesty centred on the human right abuse that took place since May 2005 and on the trial of Kinijit leaders. The continuing suppression of civil liberties and the fate of thousands of political prisoners in various prisons in Ethiopia were discussed. Delegates pleaded to Amnesty to remain vigilant on issues of human rights in Ethiopia.
• Another tentative meeting was scheduled for Thursday 14/09/2007 so that the delegates could address staffs at the headquarter of Amnesty International and give interview to the amnesty legal team to help them complete their report on the trial of Kinijit leaders.
5.00 P.M. – 10 P.M.
• Eve of the New Year and New Millennium: Celebration of the Ethiopian New Year and New Millennium at Trafalgar Square in London.
• Delegates mingled with the huge crowd and talked to well wishers.
• Ethiopian residents in UK gave heroes welcome to freed Kinijit leaders at the millennium celebration in London. Kinijit leaders addressed tens of thousands of Ethiopians at Trafalgar Square. As the evening progressed more Ethiopians poured into Trafalgar square. Ethiopians in UK were all there. In contrast, there were 20 men and women at the Woyane embassy at Princess Gate. Kinijit delegates to Europe went on stage late in the evening and they were greeted with the largest applause that tore the sky over the square. This was indeed a day to remember. Looking at the spectacle and the size of the crowd one can safely conclude that Ethiopians in the United Kingdom were determined to deny the tyrannical regime of Woyane one of it’s wishes for a Happy New Year, that is, to see 300,000 Ethiopians from the Diaspora in Addis Ababa.
Wednesday 12/ 09/2007
• Dr. Yacob gave an interview to BBC World Service Focus on Africa. The interview focused on the new millennium – its meaning, the challenges ahead and the role of CUDP in meeting these challenges.
• 12.20 P.M. – 2.00 P.M. Meeting with officials of the Foreign office. The delegates had a cordial discussion with the Head of Africa Department, Mr. Robin Gwynn. Various issues ranging from human rights and democracy in Ethiopia to regional security, terrorism, peace and stability around the horn of Africa were discussed. The delegates expressed their appreciation to the efforts of the British government in helping the Ethiopian people in their struggle to create a
democratic political system through which human rights and the rule of law are respected. The delegates also explained the challenges ahead and the need for the international community to be more vigilant and adapt an aggressive approach in its dealing with those who abuse human rights and suppress civil liberties. Mr. Gwynn on his part explained the centrality of human rights issue in British foreign policy dealing with Ethiopia and how his government will keep on monitoring violations of human and other civil rights. At the same time, Mr. Gwynn did not hide the approach in dealing with the regime in Addis Ababa will be one of gentle rather than combative diplomacy.
• 2.30 P.M. – 4.00 P.M. Meeting with Amnesty International. Due to time constraint, the program to address staffs of Amnesty International was cancelled. Ato Muluneh Eyoel and Dr. Yacob Hailemariam were interviewed by Amnesty’s
legal team and provided the legal staffs with information vital to complete their report on the trial.
• 4.30 P.M. – 6.00 P.M. A round table discussion with staff of the Chatham House. An influential private think-tank group whose research papers and advices are well sought by government department Ingo’s and the private sector. The discussion revolved on Election 2005 and its aftermath and the issue of democratization, the need for reconciliation and the challenges ahead. An agreement has been reached that a major conference on Ethiopia will be organized by Chatham House and CUDP in the very near future to discuss vital political issues in greater depth. Chatham House was represented by Ms Sally Healy, Associate Fellow, Africa Program.
• 7.00 P.M. – 10 P.M. Discussion with KSOUK’s coordinating committee and members of all subcommittees. The meeting took place at the Ethiopian community centre at Ladbroke Grove. The meeting had two objectives. To engage a larger number of Kinijit support members and openly discuss all issues pertaining CUDP and at the same time explain CUDP’s vision on how support groups should be organized and what structural link they will have with the party. Again in this discussion, the issue of Unity and Democracy dominated the conversation. Ato Muluneh Eyoel the secretary of CUDP has made it clear that all support organisations need to be organized democratically and freely. All positions within the support movement will be held not by appointees but only by those who are elected by members of the support groups. Ato Muluneh also explained support organizations will be structurally linked to the foreign affairs committee of CUDP in Ethiopia either through their continental or international bodies.
• 10.00 A.M. – 2.00 P.M. Meeting with Lawyers Without Borders. Lawyers Without Borders is one of those international institutions that had been closely following the trials of CUDP leaders in Ethiopia. The meeting took place at the headquarters of the organization in Broadgate West, Appold Street, London. The organization was represented by Mr. Edward Turner, who had been assigned by the organization to follow all the courts proceeding at Kaliti. Ato Muluneh, Dr Yacob Hailemariam and Ato Kifle Tigneh were interviewed by Mr. Turner and had a discussion on the rule of law and the judiciary in Ethiopia. The purpose of the meeting was to help Lawyers Without Borders complete their report on the trial.
• 7.00 P.M. – 9.00 P.M. A round the table discussion with members of the support group for civic organizations. This group has been active in supporting and promoting the causes of civic organizations in Ethiopia including EHRCO, ETA and EJA. This group also staunchly supports political organizations that strive to bring democracy, freedom, peace and unity to the Ethiopian people. The cause of Kinijit has been taken up as the cause of this group and it has been working in cooperation with Kinijit Support Organization in the UK against tyranny in Ethiopia. The meeting took place at the Ethiopian community centre in Finchley. It was chaired by Dr Mekonnen Wondimu who once took part in a hunger strike outside Downing St along with others demanding the release of the delegates he met on Friday evening. The discussion was frank and views were expressed on the nature of the struggle against the tyrannical regime in Ethiopia. The issue of further strengthening the cooperation between Kinijit and the civic support groups were also discussed. The civic group has pointed out to the delegates what it sees as serious shortcomings of the Kinijit support group that are adversely affecting the formation of good and strong relationship and the delegates have promised to raise these grievances with KSOUK and find solutions.
• 2.00 P.M. – 10 P.M. Town Hall Meeting. The Venue was Acton Town Hall. When the main show began at around four o’clock with the appearance freed Kinijit leaders hall was packed to it maximum capacity of 500 guests. The band at the stage played a very touching “Enquan dehna metachiu” melody as the delegates walked to the stage accompanied by ululation of the ladies and the applause of the audience. It was indeed a grand entrance and very emotional!
• After a brief introduction by Ato Hailemariam, Secretary of KSOUK and Ato Taye chairperson of KSOUK, each of the delegates were given the opportunity to say few words. They expressed their gratitude but warned the audience that adulation given to them was unwarranted and undeserving. They stressed what they had done and will do in the future is what is expected of any citizen of Ethiopia. “Whether one is rich or poor or one is educated or uneducated one has no option except to fight tyranny. Tyranny offends the humanity of all thus the struggle for freedom democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia is not a struggle conducted on behalf of someone else’s cause but only ones own cause.” Once again the message was clear “please do not look at us as some kind of exotic and altruistic liberators. Our liberty and human dignity needs to be defended from the attacks tyranny. You have the responsibility to liberate yourself and your family from tyranny. At the end of the day, Ethiopia is your home and where your children would end up in the future.”
• A lot of the time was allocated to listen to the opinion of the audience and to answer questions from the floor. Once again the main topic and the concern of the audience was the unity of the party and most questions and suggestions were centred on this issue. The delegates gave assurances that the party is indivisible but explained the airing of different views by officials of the party on different issues should not be seen as an organizational split. Unlike highly centralized parties, Kinijit allows its officials to express their views freely even if that view is different from the view of the majority but at the same time when it comes to execution it is the will of the majority that is implemented.
• Another major issue that took sometime was division within Kinijit support movement in the diaspora. Ample time was given to those who believe that there is such a division to air their views. The delegates were given first hand
knowledge on the perceived or real the nature of the division and it’s size. In the end, the delegates’ conclusion was that they could not see any major differences and no reason why all should not work in the spirit of Kinijit which is love. The large audience in its part has proved to the leaders that there is no major rift in the Kinijit support movement and the issue was very much exaggerated by few individuals.
• The discussion with the general public was so free and open, even well known supporters of the tyrannical regime of Woyane were allowed to join the audience and to raise questions prepared for them by the Woyane ideological command centre. The same well worn out accusation that Kinijit hates Tigreans was thrown around. The audience listened to this accusation with remarkable civility and delegates replied to the accuser in dignified calmness that makes such an accuser hang his head in shame. The head of the delegation Ato Mulualem pointed out that it is only those blinded by ethnic hatred who fail to see the human capacity to love others that are not ethnically related. He mentioned how the trial and tribulation of shared history, collective suffering imposed by successive authoritarian rulers including the current one and the challenges faced to our independence and victories gained by all Ethiopians which include the people of Tigray in a highly significant way and centuries of shared social religious and cultural values can give a non Tigrean to fall in love with the people of Tigray. And it is with this kind of love that Kinijit has to destroy the wall of hatred that EPRDF is building to isolates the people of Tigray for the sole purpose of using them as cannon fodders for an evil design.
• In addition to the discussion, the audience was entertained by Ethiopian singers residing in UK. In an impromptu attempt to raise funds, two t-shirts that were worn in prison by Ato Muluneh Eyoel and that caused him repeated solitary confinements for refusing to take them off were sold in an auction for a total of £1700.
• The Highlight of the evening was a surprise award ceremony for exemplary services in fighting for freedom and democracy in Ethiopia. The first prize was presented to the CUDP itself. Ato Muluneh accepted the round shaped glass plaque on behalf of the party. From KSOUK members, W/O Wubelaem Assefa and W/O Tiruwork Mogus were awarded Certificate of Excellence for their contribution to the support organization in the UK. Dr. Wondimu Mekonnen who represents the civic movement in the UK was also awarded Certificate of Excellence for his contribution to the movement in the past two years. The audience expressed its delight with massive applause. The last person that was
given an award was Ato Andargachew Tsege. He was presented with a round glass plaque engraved with “Former KIL Member – Recognition for services to democracy and freedom”. With a standing ovation, Ato Andargachew walked
down the aisle and took his award from CUDP Secretary Ato Muluneh Eyoel.
• The event was concluded with artists playing patriotic songs on the stage adored by the tricolours of green, yellow and red – Ethiopian national flag. These songs sent the patriotic feelings of the audience to fever pitch as they sang along to
“Ethiopia Hagere Memekiyaye and Tekebresh yenorshiwe beabatochachin dem (later added benatochachin dem on the advice from Dr Yacob Hailmariam) enat Ethiopia Yedeferesh Yiwudem!
Sunday, 16/ 09/2007.
• 6.00 P.M. – 11.00 P.M. A dinner party organized in honour of the Kinijit delegation to United Kingdom and in Europe. Individuals from all walks of life representing themselves or organizations and institutions joined the delegates for a dinner party. It was an occasion where the delegates intermingled with the community and political leaders in London for a one to one conversation on topical national issues. The delegates thanked London KSO and all involved in making their visit a success and the crowd in its farewell message wished that their working visit across Europe would also be successful.
Monday, 17/ 09/2007.
• 10.30 AM. Delegates departed for Brussels, Belgium continuing their mission in
Detailed pictorial account of the visit in London will follow.
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