No ordinary enemy – by yilma bekele

July 31st, 2008 Print Print Email Email

The discussion is centered on the word ‘enemy’. It is not a simple word. Once a certain person or group has been identified as an enemy further action is called for. You have to get rid of your enemy. Getting rid of the enemy takes many forms. Lately we have been spending a lot of time and resources coming to grips with these two questions. (more…)

The discussion is centered on the word ‘enemy’. It is not a simple word. Once a certain person or group has been identified as an enemy further action is called for. You have to get rid of your enemy. Getting rid of the enemy takes many forms. Lately we have been spending a lot of time and resources coming to grips with these two questions.

Before we go further I believe the whole discussion is a monumental waste of time and it is highly possible that the question has been raised by the Woyane forces to deflect our attention away from the task at hand of building a robust and united front to confront their crumbling system. As good Ethiopians schooled in the art of self-destruction we are too eager to wallow in this debate. I agree with Professor Alemayehu when he said ‘we have met the enemy’.

As we all know setting the agenda is the first order of business in any meeting. The agenda determines the outcome of the discussion. The agenda determines the tone of the meeting. Thus bringing the question of ‘enemy’ in the forefront of the debate regarding the ‘minority regime’ relegates the question of ‘what to do about it’ to the back. The discussion centers on this ‘philosophical’ question rather than the practical aspect of tackling the problem.

I will leave the definition of what to call the minority regime to the Ethiopian people whether at home or away from home. I am more interested in the actions of the regime since it ascended to power seventeen years ago. We will judge it by its actions rather than its pronouncements. In order not to be accused of bias and ‘hidden’ ethnic hatred I will rely on evidence by third party observers.

Woyane abuse of its power and authority started the day it assumed power. The first order of business was to implement the so called ‘ethnic based’ Federalism and the formation of ‘Kilil’. Every Ethiopian was forced to identify himself /herself as a member of a certain tribe rather than a citizen of a Sovereign Nation State. Populations were moved from one corner of the country to another to create artificial division and poison the atmosphere of unity and oneness that has taken many years to construct. The only beneficiary of this was the minority Woyane cadre that assumed the role of a baby sitter to the weak Kilil administrations they set up.

The yearly ‘Country Report on Human Right Practices’ printed by the US Department of State reads like some horror story fiction rather than a true report on the actions of a government in this day and age. The recurring words in every report is ‘extra judicial killings, rape, torture, forceful displacement of civilians and other ugly language. Following is extensive excerpts from sources revealing the ugly side of the minority government as seen by various concerned groups.

http://www.ethiopians.com/rep06.html – Human Right Watch 1993
“On Monday September 7, 1993 a large crowd of believers had gathered at Adebabay Eyesus, in the city of Gonder. Security forces who were trying to arrest Abba Amiha Eyesus, a hermit, opened fire on the crowd. The Ethiopian Human Rights Council has so far verified 18 deaths and 17 wounded. Large numbers of persons are still detained in Bahta Prison, the Palace, Police stations and other places. Even if Aba Amiha Eyesus had violated any law, there were better ways of apprehending him. To look for him in a crowd of thousands of people who had gathered to pray and cause such harm to many is irresponsible.”

The Massacre At Jarso Wereda (Harerghe)IFLO has alleged that on September 5, 1993 EPRDF forces opened fire at a gathering of peasants when the people failed to meet their demands to produce certain wanted individuals. The result is 26 persons killed and 12 wounded. The names of those killed and wounded are listed below. Seven of the 26 killed are women.

http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/af/8372.htm -US State Department Report 2001

Security forces killed and injured numerous persons while forcibly dispersing several demonstrations during the year (see Sections 1.c., 1.d., and 2.b.). On April 12, police forcibly dispersed a demonstration by students from Addis Ababa University (AAU); one female student was killed, and 50 persons were hospitalized for injuries (see Sections 1.c. and 2.b.). The demonstrations continued, and on April 17, police shot into a crowd of demonstrators after the demonstrations became violent (see Sections 1.c. and 2.b.). The official reports indicated that at least 31 persons were killed; however, there were credible reports that the actual numbers were significantly higher. No action was taken against the police by year’s end. In April the body of an Oromo Mekelle University student was discovered on a riverbank outside the city 1 day after the student participated in a peaceful protest against the use of force by police at AAU. The perpetrators remained unknown, and there was no reported investigation into the case at year’s end.

On May 8, authorities arrested Berhanu Nega and Mesfin Woldemariam, two prominent academics and human rights activists; 3 weeks later, they were charged with inciting the AAU students to riot during an April 8 panel discussion on human rights and academic freedom that was organized by the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) and with organizing a clandestine political party, the Ethiopian Democratic League (EDL).

1999 ETA president Taye Woldesemayat was convicted of treason and alleged involvement in an underground terrorist organization and sentenced to 15 years in jail (see Section 6.a.).
http://hrw.org/reports/2005/ethiopia0305/ -Human Rights Watch 2005
Following the December 2003 massacre of some 400 Anuak civilians in a Gambella town by mobs and soldiers, the military launched a series of attacks on Anuak villages that destroyed well over 1000 homes and left several dozen villagers dead. In numerous smaller incidents, soldiers have severely beaten and sometimes killed Anuak men they encounter along roads or in sweeps of Anuak villages. These abuses have forced several thousand Anuak civilians to flee their homes for camps across the Sudanese border, while others have sought refuge with friends or family in the relative safety of Gamble’s larger towns.

http://www.abbaymedia.com/Remembering_Victims_of_June_2005.htm -Abbay Media

8th June 2005: Epode’s heavily armed forces deployed in the streets of Addis Ababa massacre at least 42 innocent civilians for taking part in a demonstration demanding the respect of the outcome of the elections in the country. Most of the dead had gunshots to the head and hundreds were wounded while thousands were abducted and sent to remote military prison camps.

8th June 2005: Business owners, taxi and mini-bus drivers take strike action to protest over the ruling party’s alleged massive election fraud and its fierce violations of human rights. The streets of Addis Ababa under the intimidating control of the Pelf’s armed forces. The government places opposition leaders under house arrest.

9th June 2005: Amnesty International issues a press release saying that ‘over 1,500 students and other demonstrators are at risk of torture [and] further arrests are reportedly continuing in Addis Ababa and in other towns where student demonstrations took place’. The organization condemns the excessive use of force by the police, who it says ‘used live ammunition against peaceful protestors’. ‘The excessive and indiscriminate use of force is in contravention of international

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/06/africa/somalia.php – Amnesty International 2008

Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Ethiopian troops in Somalia of killing civilians and committing atrocities, including slitting people’s throats, gouging out eyes and gang-raping women.

With all due respect this is the regime we are discussing here. It was given a clear slate to write on. This is the story as recorded by foreign observers. It is the tip of the iceberg. This is our starting point when we contemplate the definition of enemy.

We will always remember Dr. Asrat Woldeyes whose only crime was love for his country. Dr. Asrat was repeatedly hounded by Woyane tugs and confined to a small hospital room with armed guards outside. He was charged with the usual ‘armed conspiracy against the government’ and spent three and half years in Kerchele where he was ‘denied books and writing materials and other prisoners were punished if they spoke to him.’ The harsh prison conditions, stress and inhuman treatment by the authorities should never be forgotten. For every Dr. Asrat there are thousand other who are name less but nevertheless children of Ethiopia victimized by the regime.

We can include the many journalists who have been forced into exile, and those who are surviving under constant terror and harassment into the mix. We will remember those who have drowned in the ocean while trying to flee from the house of horror. We remember Ato Bisrat Abdi of Dessie who was savagely beaten by Woyane tugs just a week ago his crime being a member of Andenet. We as a people have paid a heavy price, are paying a heavy price in our unending quest for freedom and a yearning to build a strong and prosperous Ethiopia.

When the discussion centers on whether the regime is a friend or foe it is not an idle intellectual exercise. Those thousands of victims of the regime in its attempt to cling to power under any circumstances are real. They have family that loved and cared for them. They are not ordinary criminals but rather freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives so the rest of us can live free. No amount of self-righteousness will justify killing so a few can impose their form of democracy on all others.
I believe it is up to the minority regime to ask for forgiveness and join the civilized world where people are held responsible for their actions. It is not up to the victim to beg the victimizer and turn a blind eye to wards his crime. The victim might forgive but that does not mean he will forget. We do not hate because we are cursed by some ‘mindset’ that is clouding our judgment. We are forced to hate because some have refused to mend their ways of criminal behavior and continue to self deny their destructive action. Hate is a negative state of thought. But it is also a perfectly understandable manifestation when one is clubbed for seventeen years. No use to blame the victim for being outraged, it is a whole lot better to somehow reform or get rid of the victimizer.

How many have perished in Dedesa, Showa Robit, Bilate, Bir Sheleko, Zeway, Sendafa and numerous other camps. Auschwitz Birkenau, Treblinka, and Dachau were just names of places. The horror did not come out till late. Let us not dismiss criminal behavior as a simple matter of police action. Remember if we have properly dealt with the crimes of the Derg we would not be having this discussion today. The next government would have understood that there is a price to pay for illegal action. No amount of sophistry will save the Woyane regime from the harsh judgment of the Ethiopian people. Life is a learning process. I believe we are learning and our hope is the next time around will be a forward progress and a time of renewal. It is up to each one of us to contribute towards this noble cause.

Please refer to the following documents to have an in depth understanding of the criminal regime:

• http://hrw.org/reports/2005/ethiopia0305/
http://www.abbaymedia.com/Remembering_Victims_of_June_2005.htm
http://www.ethiopians.com/rep06.html
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/af/8372.htm
http://www.asylumlaw.org/docs/ethiopia/usdos00_ethiopia_cr.pdf
http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/1139
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/12/ethiopia.humanbehaviour
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/06/africa/somalia.php

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