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.

  1. Kuyra
    | #1

    I wanted to ask the Professor as to why he said Woyanne is not an enemy. What happened to the geographical map and the country named Ethiopia.Was it not a piece of cake to be given out by them. Who adovocated at the UN for the Eritrean Independence and the first government to give recognition to Isayaas Government. Look at the Economy. Is it not under a Party monopoly and totally controlled by them. The Injera that is least sold here is part of their infrastructure. The Politics- what do you say on it. They demolished the Unity of Ethiopia via a Constitution and control the Country on divisive ethnic lines from the Menelik Palace.

    Their day light agenda is to annex land Gondar and Wollo for a greater Tigrai and smuggle ever bit of what they get to build their Tigrai.This is their Agenda they are all about. They stay in Addis as long as they are able to rule from there.
    What about the Massacre. They started shoting from the 5th year old onwards.
    The raping is rampant is everywhere and ethnic cleanessing in Wolekait, Armachiho and Ogaden.I
    So what are they if these are not enemies. The Derg was far to better at least he had a nationalistic feeling and had no intention of Genocide and ethnic cleanessing. An enemy of course an enemy worst than Mussoloni himself.

  2. chernet
    | #2

    Dear Mahdere Andnet,

    Your report is great.

    But, surprised to see you report it in english, hope next time you’ll report in our mother tongue.

  3. aha!
    | #3

    More money, more money in a second round of solicitation, the first in the name of Kinijit, this one I believe in the UDJP, a camoufledged Kinijit, having usurped all the previous kinijit website, and propagandized by Abugida website, for more money this time with religious fervour for the diaspora to pitch donation for the struggle. What type of struggle is he talking about after they have abandoned the victims of the ’97 peacefull protesters by their own assertions and political posturing and campaign for 2010 election, and yet sympathising for those that sacrificed their lives. Too little too late.

    Ethiopians in the diaspora need to wake up instead of being influenced by the dominating media and elites of UDJP, rally around the true and honest politicians/political factions.

  4. Kerim
    | #4

    Aha U seem to be No. 1 woyane!!! trying to weaken our struggle!!! pls. use ur mind!!!!

  5. atuba dolla
    | #5

    You better wake up and smell the coffee! Soon, you will run out of gasoline, you woyanaetplf agent.

    The day is so close that you will be surprised and shocked by the victory that Ethiopians and the democractic leaders achieve over woyanaetplf and its useless agents like you and your likes.

  6. | #6

    I think there are many aspects to Prof Mesfin’s enviable character.He is a man of great moral courage.Timidity is not the hallmark of his personality.Being a man of deeply held principles,he has always fearlessly spoken truth to power.He is the opposite of that ubiquitous and opportunist intellectual who while attending to the call of his appetite and lured by perks and status serves those who are in power.His self-respect and pride has carried him throughout the years enabling him to castigate servility (which he calls ASHKERNET)and never kowtowing to any one.

    He is spiritual.He is not one of those rather shallow,dogmatic and intolerant religionists. While remaining a Christian,he can,with large heart,engage with other faiths and can easily see the common denominators binding him with others.He strongly believes in the amazing and transcendent power of LOVE.
    He has the experiential knowledge that it is not easy to love in this world of greed,hate, division and injustice but still he draws his strength to love from a benevolent,righteous and just Deity presiding over a morally ordered Universe.When he is therefore inviting you to pray,he is not proselytizing you to his brand of faith but trying to energize you with the GRACE of LOVE and also attempting to spiritualize your politics which often is brutish lacking a moral and human dimension to it.

    Yes,Prof Mesfin is also a humanist.And there is no contradiction between his spirituality and his humanism. The latter informs his conviction that men and women are makers of their own destiny.They are born free;They have inalienable rights and they want to live in dignity. He believes that people themselves, not any other force,are the ones who autonomously fashion their lives according to their legitimate and earthly needs.And that is why Prof Mesfin was able,for instance,to envisage and organize EHRCO,the pioneer human rights advocate group and the first of its kind in the political history of our country.

    What is more,Prof Mesfin is a non-conformist, broad yet single minded in his thinking and candid in his expressions.
    Neither today nor yesterday,these qualities, however,have endeared him to some.
    There was a strange time in the past in our country when it was a vogue to be a Marxist and everybody in those Marxist days was an intolerant Marxist who never tolerated anyone except a Marxist.Yet,Prof Mesfin,’the‘reactionary feudo-bourgeois intellectual’,who,despite the Marxist wrath and anathema heaped on him,was the lonely voice who openly and courageously declared that he was not part of the day’s oppressive communist orthodoxy.

    Similarly,he is now single-mindedly but liberally advocating non-violence as a viable means of changing the authoritarian political tradition of our country and this, once again, is sadly earning him harsh criticism and at times outright verbal abuse.Not surprisingly,he is taking this in his stride.He,as he stood tall yesterday with our fear or rage,is also standing tall today too harboring no timidity or nursing no resentment.

    As such,Prof Mesfin’s strategy of non-violence is not,as it is often made out to be,some cranky idealistic vision.It is a strategy steeped in reality.His politics is a politics of realism.

    Prof Mesfin has closely lived with our people all his life.He has his hand,as it were,on their pulses.He knows their day to day struggle;he is conversant with their diverse culture and tradition;he also understands what makes them‘a historic people’;he discerns their aspirations and while not lacking a very keen perception of their possible pitfalls.

    Of all the politicians who have stood the opposite side of the regime,Prof Mesfin,I believe,is that one person who brings us the much desired LONGER PERSEPCTIVE for our struggle.
    Our rulers think that they can easily deal with us saying that we have short memory,short perspective.

    We on our part can overcome the challenge of of relating with each other and indeed more effectively deal with the regime and its wicked ways if we have a LONGER PERSPECTIVE.

    Thanks to his LONGER PERSPECTIVE,Prof Mesfin has seen it all,experienced it widely and lived through three successive regimes and their many ‘revolutionary and democratic’ challengers.

    As a father,so to say,he is agonizing to share his ‘first hand experience’ and his ‘knack’ with his youthful and fiery sons and daughters so that they can safely navigate through their journey which is otherwise fraught with many dangers.

    He invites them to pray because he wants to remind them that the stakes are really high and he eagerly urges them to contemplate their chosen path in order to safely arrive at their final destination.He does that as a reflection of his committed life and his noble mission to serve.

    If his ‘children’ give him deaf ears or if they rash to malign his message for what it is not,they do it at their own peril.

    May the Almighty help us!

  7. Medeksaa
    | #7


    Ethiopias National language should be Democratized and majoritysized by changing from Amara minority language (Amharic) to ethiopias Majority (Afaan oromoffiaa).

  8. Medeksaa
    | #8


    Ethiopias National language should be Democratized and majoritysized by changing from Amara minority language (Amharic) to ethiopias Majority (Afaan oromoffiaa).

  9. aha!
    | #9

    You can go ahead and worship your double talking professor if you like, who is promoting W/t Birtukan Mideksa, who consigned with the current regime by sendinding an acknowledgement letter to Prof. Ephrem Isaac, to the effect of collaborating with the current regime. He is was not a party member then, now prof. Mesfin is a top party member of party making policy statement as TPLF is not an enemy.

    You do not mix politics with religion. If he wants a priest to bless the meeting, he may may have to bring Aba Gebremedhin on tour.It is hypocritical and to late to appeal to the diaspora that his preceeding dissident group did not do.

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