Opposition figure calls for change of attitude to achieve democracy – By Mahidere Andinet

August 13th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

ATLANTA, Georgia – There was a complete silence in the hall that one could hear a pin drop. The people were on their feet, and with heads stooped; all eyes were gazing at the colorful carpet of the Holiday Inn Hotel in Decatur, Georgia.

Some had in fact closed their eyes with deep praying mood, while others kept their eyes open but with a profound sense of meditation. Soon, a strong and low pitch voice broke the silence: “Let us pray!!” That soft and melancholic voice was that of Professor Mesfin Woldermaiam, a human rights activist now a member of an opposition party. (more…)

ATLANTA, Georgia – There was a complete silence in the hall that one could hear a pin drop. The people were on their feet, and with heads stooped; all eyes were gazing at the colorful carpet of the Holiday Inn Hotel in Decatur, Georgia.

Some had in fact closed their eyes with deep praying mood, while others kept their eyes open but with a profound sense of meditation. Soon, a strong and low pitch voice broke the silence: “Let us pray!!” That soft and melancholic voice was that of Professor Mesfin Woldermaiam, a human rights activist now a member of an opposition party.

The short and strong wordings of prayers by the visiting veteran activist read as follows:

“Ethiopia is in a deep serious problem; the Ethiopian people are in a deep serious problem. We, the people, are unable to agree, unable to cooperate and cannot create harmony among ourselves. Consequently, we are in a position where we can no more assist or help our people and country. Please (referring to the Almighty) open our minds to the truth, our hearts to love, and our spirits to harmony so as to make us save Ethiopia from disaster.”

During those moments of prayers some were seen fighting back tears, and yet others were trying to reach their pockets for a handkerchief.

This much sober was the session began by Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, along with Ato Asrat Tasse, secretary of the new Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (Andinet Party), when both addressed Ethiopians living in metro Atlanta and its environs last Sunday afternoon.

Earlier, Prof. Mesfin was introduced by Tewodros Haile, a former employee of Ethiopian Human Rights Council (Ehrco), and at present editor of Dinq, a popular entertainment and promotional magazine based in Atlanta.
“I know Prof. Mesfin as a man of deep-rooted Christian beliefs,” Tewodros said. “The professor would in fact live in solitude during the long Lent fasting season of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo.” So, it was no surprise for the audience when Prof. Mesfin called for prayer prior to his speech.

The professor’s address was centered around the need for “change,” a change that every individual, irrespective of who is who, should undergo in order to accomplish the noble cause – building a new democratic Ethiopia where justice, equality and genuine freedom prevail. According to the Professor, even members of the ruling party, TPLF, should be able to change themselves, with some participants arguing that it was the TPLF group not the Ethiopian people that is adamant to change.

“It is only when we stand for worthy principles that we can change ourselves,” he told the gathering, calling for every Ethiopian “to do away with rage and desperation.” He repeatedly questioned “how can one be desperate over this helpless country? How can one feel hopelessness over ones own people who are more destitute? “To run away from the struggle arena”, he said” is either foolishness or to completely overlook the basic principle in which the struggle stands for.”

Prof. Mesfin called on all Ethiopians to contribute towards the success of the struggle. He emphasized the necessity to build the financial capacity of Andinet Party in order to create a strong and civilized society, which subsequently would be able to establish a democratic government in Ethiopia.

The secretary general of Andinet Party, Ato Asrat Tasse, on his part eloquently addressed the need for a non-violent form of struggle in the country. He said that given adequate financial support, his party strongly believes that a peaceful means of struggle will undoubtedly bear fruits in Ethiopia.

He further noted that Andinet doesn’t believe that Andinet Party alone by itself would bring the necessary change in Ethiopia, but with the collaboration and full participation of all parties concerned. To this end, Andinet urges the convening of a national reconciliation conference. He also warned the ruling TPLF party that it would be absolutely naïve to think that the Ethiopian people would abandon the struggle for fear of harassment, persecution or even death.

Speaking of the financial need, the general secretary outlined that the party needs a total of $912,000 in order to smoothly run its 11 permanent committees and to carry out the party’s urgent tasks for a year.

Towards the end of the meeting, the Atlanta branch of Andinet Support Group in North America, hosts of the meeting, presented a crystallized plaque to both members of the delegation as a token of appreciation for their relentless sacrifices they have paid and most importantly as a reminder of the responsibilities they shoulder to safeguard the well-being of Ethiopia.

Ato Girmaye Gizaw, Chairman of the Atlanta Support Group said on the occasion that “every time you see this plaque and every time you read the wordings inscribed on it, we want you to remember your stay in Atlanta, and most of all, the high responsibility entrusted to you in protecting and safeguarding the Motherland.”

Ato Cheru Terefe, a veteran activist, was also awarded similar plaque for his unflinching struggle he made since late ’60s for the well-being of the Ethiopian people and establishment of a democratic government in Ethiopia.
The more than 3-hour meeting was conducted flawlessly by the secretary of the Atlanta branch support group, Ato Eyob Kidane Mariam.

Earlier, a moving poem in memory of those innocent Ethiopians gunned down by the dictatorial regime of Meles Zenawi regime was read out by Dawit Kebede.

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