NETSANET DEMESIE AND DANIEL BEKELE: MEN OF THE YEAR – Girma Kassa

December 23rd, 2007 Print Print Email Email

Dear fellow Ethiopians:

It has been more than two years since young and courageous Ethiopian lawyers Netsanet Demessie and Daniel Bekele are incarcerated by the TPLF leaders for the sin they have not committed.

Netsanet Demessie is the founder and director of the Organization for Social Justice in Ethiopia, an organization that has focused at fostering democracy through education, policy making and advocacy work. Daniel Bekele is the policy manager of Action Aid in Ethiopia, a group that has been taking an active role in anti-poverty campaigns.

These two men are not members of any major political groups or running for political offices. “Why would Mr Zenawi, who frequently talks about strengthening the struggle against poverty refuse to release anti-poverty advocates? What are their crimes that get them locked up in prison for more than two years?” some may ask. If careful analysis are done to understand the characteristics of the TPLF dominated regime, one does not need to go extra miles to answer these questions.

Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demessie are not incarcerated because they broke the law. Amnesty International called for their immediate and unconditional release for it regards them as prisoners of conscious, people who have not used or advocated violence. . “The courts must stop delaying. It is unacceptable to force these courageous civil society leaders to spend any longer in prison. Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Kuni Naidoo, CIVICUS Secretary General and co-chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP).

The TPLF rulers are dictatorial and totalitarian in their nature with phoney masks of democracy on their faces to deceive donor countries. They claim to be men and women of law, but use the law as a baton to punish without mercy anyone they consider a threat to their power. That is their nature – democrats on the outside but dictators on the inside.

If we study the history of known dictators, they all have common characteristics. They use similar tools and techniques to extend power.

The first tool dictators use to preserve their power is to emotionally, psychologically and economically weaken the populations they rule. They create the sense of hopelessness and fear within the mind of the people and create a false image of invincibility. They inculcate the complete submission to their authority. Therefore, people will be too frightened to share their hatred of the dictatorship and their hunger for freedom. They become often terrified to think seriously of resisting the regime. Instead, as Gene Sharp said, they face “suffering without purpose and a future without hope”.

A second tool systematically used by dictators is to divide democratic forces. If democratic forces are united, 100 % the efforts will be focused on ending the dictatorship. It would be much easier in the democratic struggle, to avoid duplications and use resources efficiently. “United we stand; divided we fall” said Ross Perot during the 1992 US presidential election, stressing the need for people to come together to achieve noble objectives.

The establishment of democracy and the deliverance of people from bondage is a noble cause that must be waged without division and with strong solidarity of all democracy and peace activists. Making sure the solidarity of democratic forces does not happen is one of the top priorities of dictators. (by solidarity I do not mean bringing the tent those anti-democratic elements, which claim to be opposing dictatorship but are themselves internally dictators.)

The third tool of dictators is to deny the people platforms over which they can communicate one another and empower themselves. Consorted and systematic attacks are done on social, political, economic and even religious institutions of the society that are outside of the government control. The independent civic institutions are deliberately weakened, subordinated or even replaced by groups that are affiliated with the dictatorial government.

Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demessie’s role comes here. As any dictators, the TPLF leaders do not want any activism intended to lift up the hope, moral and confidence of the public. In order for them to remain in power, the Ethiopian people must be weakened and fearful. As a result the people will lack confidence and is incapable of waging any resistance which in turns guarantee the continuation of oppression.

Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demessie’s civic activities to foster democracy and social justice through education and training were intended to give hope and empower the people so that each Ethiopian would gain confidence in him, understand his God-given right and consider himself as equally important as anyone.

These civic group activities should have been encouraged and promoted. However, for the TPLF leaders who are known in short-changing the long term interest of Ethiopia, such activities are something that are not welcomed. Hence comes, the refusal of the regime to release Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demessie.

The incarceration of these anti-poverty and social justice advocates is a clear indication that in Ethiopia “anti-poverty campaigns and social justice” are in prison. It is a clear indication that the TPLF leaders are nothing but arrogant dictators and totalitarians. It is a clear indication that the so called democracy and rule of law that we hear from Addis Ababa is only a fairy tail that is only good to the ears of children.

The dictators in Addis Ababa might thing they can silence the voices of democracy with the barrel of the gun and their barbaric military actions against civilians. However, they cannot silence the spirit of freedom and democracy. They cannot silence the desire of the Ethiopian people to live in dignity and respect in its own country.

With chains around their wrist, these two honourable young Ethiopians are sending us, in spirit, a message of hope, courage and heroism from Kaliti. They are telling us that the struggle for freedom and democracy is a struggle that is worth struggling for. They are telling us to put aside despair and defeatism and instead have hope and determination. They are telling us to believe in ourselves. They are telling us to say “NO” to dictatorship and lawlessness and “YES” to living in dignity in our country. They are telling us not to look the dark hours of this night but to think of the dawn of freedom tomorrow. As Malcolm X once said it, they want us to have “the I can do it” attitude.

My fellow Ethiopians,

Are we ready to seriously join these two brave Ethiopians in the struggle for peace and democracy? Are we ready to come out from our closets of despair and hopelessness? Are we ready to lift up ourselves and our fellow brothers and sisters, for good causes to that will take Ethiopia to the 21st century?

As the new 2008 is approaching, let us all start to count from one – start from ourselves. Let us start asking ourselves what we have done for our country. Let us take away for a moment our eyes from others. Let us start from us. One will become two, two will become three. Slowly and gradually we will become millions.

Finally I would like to ask all of you to join me in:

praying for the release of these two great men so that they can be unconditionally and immediately released;

thanking them for the great sacrifices they are making for the establishment of justice and democracy in Ethiopia;

calling them MEN OF THE YEAR.

May God Bless Ethiopia!
Girma Kassa (muziky68@yahoo.com)

Dear fellow Ethiopians:

It has been more than two years since young and courageous Ethiopian lawyers Netsanet Demessie and Daniel Bekele are incarcerated by the TPLF leaders for the sin they have not committed.

Netsanet Demessie is the founder and director of the Organization for Social Justice in Ethiopia, an organization that has focused at fostering democracy through education, policy making and advocacy work. Daniel Bekele is the policy manager of Action Aid in Ethiopia, a group that has been taking an active role in anti-poverty campaigns.

These two men are not members of any major political groups or running for political offices. “Why would Mr Zenawi, who frequently talks about strengthening the struggle against poverty refuse to release anti-poverty advocates? What are their crimes that get them locked up in prison for more than two years?” some may ask. If careful analysis are done to understand the characteristics of the TPLF dominated regime, one does not need to go extra miles to answer these questions.

Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demessie are not incarcerated because they broke the law. Amnesty International called for their immediate and unconditional release for it regards them as prisoners of conscious, people who have not used or advocated violence. . “The courts must stop delaying. It is unacceptable to force these courageous civil society leaders to spend any longer in prison. Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Kuni Naidoo, CIVICUS Secretary General and co-chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP).

The TPLF rulers are dictatorial and totalitarian in their nature with phoney masks of democracy on their faces to deceive donor countries. They claim to be men and women of law, but use the law as a baton to punish without mercy anyone they consider a threat to their power. That is their nature – democrats on the outside but dictators on the inside.

If we study the history of known dictators, they all have common characteristics. They use similar tools and techniques to extend power.

The first tool dictators use to preserve their power is to emotionally, psychologically and economically weaken the populations they rule. They create the sense of hopelessness and fear within the mind of the people and create a false image of invincibility. They inculcate the complete submission to their authority. Therefore, people will be too frightened to share their hatred of the dictatorship and their hunger for freedom. They become often terrified to think seriously of resisting the regime. Instead, as Gene Sharp said, they face “suffering without purpose and a future without hope”.

A second tool systematically used by dictators is to divide democratic forces. If democratic forces are united, 100 % the efforts will be focused on ending the dictatorship. It would be much easier in the democratic struggle, to avoid duplications and use resources efficiently. “United we stand; divided we fall” said Ross Perot during the 1992 US presidential election, stressing the need for people to come together to achieve noble objectives.

The establishment of democracy and the deliverance of people from bondage is a noble cause that must be waged without division and with strong solidarity of all democracy and peace activists. Making sure the solidarity of democratic forces does not happen is one of the top priorities of dictators. (by solidarity I do not mean bringing the tent those anti-democratic elements, which claim to be opposing dictatorship but are themselves internally dictators.)

The third tool of dictators is to deny the people platforms over which they can communicate one another and empower themselves. Consorted and systematic attacks are done on social, political, economic and even religious institutions of the society that are outside of the government control. The independent civic institutions are deliberately weakened, subordinated or even replaced by groups that are affiliated with the dictatorial government.

Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demessie’s role comes here. As any dictators, the TPLF leaders do not want any activism intended to lift up the hope, moral and confidence of the public. In order for them to remain in power, the Ethiopian people must be weakened and fearful. As a result the people will lack confidence and is incapable of waging any resistance which in turns guarantee the continuation of oppression.

Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demessie’s civic activities to foster democracy and social justice through education and training were intended to give hope and empower the people so that each Ethiopian would gain confidence in him, understand his God-given right and consider himself as equally important as anyone.

These civic group activities should have been encouraged and promoted. However, for the TPLF leaders who are known in short-changing the long term interest of Ethiopia, such activities are something that are not welcomed. Hence comes, the refusal of the regime to release Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demessie.

The incarceration of these anti-poverty and social justice advocates is a clear indication that in Ethiopia “anti-poverty campaigns and social justice” are in prison. It is a clear indication that the TPLF leaders are nothing but arrogant dictators and totalitarians. It is a clear indication that the so called democracy and rule of law that we hear from Addis Ababa is only a fairy tail that is only good to the ears of children.

The dictators in Addis Ababa might thing they can silence the voices of democracy with the barrel of the gun and their barbaric military actions against civilians. However, they cannot silence the spirit of freedom and democracy. They cannot silence the desire of the Ethiopian people to live in dignity and respect in its own country.

With chains around their wrist, these two honourable young Ethiopians are sending us, in spirit, a message of hope, courage and heroism from Kaliti. They are telling us that the struggle for freedom and democracy is a struggle that is worth struggling for. They are telling us to put aside despair and defeatism and instead have hope and determination. They are telling us to believe in ourselves. They are telling us to say “NO” to dictatorship and lawlessness and “YES” to living in dignity in our country. They are telling us not to look the dark hours of this night but to think of the dawn of freedom tomorrow. As Malcolm X once said it, they want us to have “the I can do it” attitude.

My fellow Ethiopians,

Are we ready to seriously join these two brave Ethiopians in the struggle for peace and democracy? Are we ready to come out from our closets of despair and hopelessness? Are we ready to lift up ourselves and our fellow brothers and sisters, for good causes to that will take Ethiopia to the 21st century?

As the new 2008 is approaching, let us all start to count from one – start from ourselves. Let us start asking ourselves what we have done for our country. Let us take away for a moment our eyes from others. Let us start from us. One will become two, two will become three. Slowly and gradually we will become millions.

Finally I would like to ask all of you to join me in:

praying for the release of these two great men so that they can be unconditionally and immediately released;

thanking them for the great sacrifices they are making for the establishment of justice and democracy in Ethiopia;

calling them MEN OF THE YEAR.

May God Bless Ethiopia!
Girma Kassa (muziky68@yahoo.com)

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