Contributions towards the Journey to Democracy and the Rule of Law in Ethiopia – Shebelaw from Europe
I wanted to share my thoughts concerning the recent book by the previous Woyane journalist Tesfaye Gebreab, the “Journalist Memoir” and its contributions towards struggle for democracy and the rule of law. I was eagerly waiting for the book to reach my hands since I first read excerpts in the electronic outlets. Fortunately, a friend of mine helped me to get a copy of it. After reading the book and the articles written in favor of and against the book, I decided to voice my perspective. At this point in time, it is difficult to exactly pinpoint the motive of the author behind writing the book unless one is part of the mission. As it is reported by different people, the motive might be to continue his previous agenda this time in covert under the sponsorship of TPLF and/or EPLF, or genuinely expose the true nature and characteristics of the current regime and how it has been operating to suppress democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia. I do not want to enter into this debate since I do not see the importance of doing so. I am interested, rather, in looking into the contribution (or not) of the book and the author towards the struggle for justice and democracy, and how we evaluate others who willingly or forcefully left the TPLF/EPRDF block.
We need to be clear about the fact that it is not possible to embrace all issues and personalities that make up TPLF/EPRDF, for various reasons including page limit and lack to information. Secondly, I strongly believe that one mechanism of evaluating a book is through its content regardless of the author. Of course, if it is difficult to do so, one might look for other mechanisms. But the case at hand does not invite us to do so. Rather, let us judge the author in terms of the content of the book. The rest will be just speculations that might be difficult to prove. As we all know, the book conveys important information which some of the previous articles testified to be correct. Finally, as the book angers the TPLF/EPRDF block, other whose deeds are mentioned in the book may also be equally angry at Tesfaye. The TPLF/EPRDF block expressed its anger via Seiko Ture, while the other block has been doing the same using the electronic outlets. I have read two such articles including Ethiopian Yingalish. Beside the articles, some of them have courageously distributed the electronic version of the book cutting out parts that mentions the names of few people. I did not know the person who did it but it is a serious crime and tells a lot about these personalities than the one who wrote their deeds. It is a timely call to rethink of the people around us.
Contributions of the book
The book conveys important information concerning individuals that have been ruling the country, their objectives, plans and tactics used to perpetuate the regime, and altogether, exposes the non existence of the rule of law and a system that governs a country of more than 80 million people. “Mezimure Walwa” reveals that only those who “fought hard” will take the lion hare of power necessary to rule the country and burgle its resources. No one else is entitled to assume political power. This ruling came not from a TPLF cadre but from a person top in the government hierarchy and in the party – Tefera Walwa. The book indicates how naïve are we to seek political power with a ballot. Tesfaye justifies this fact when he talks about his previous experience in relation to the 2005 election and the split of TPLF into two groups. The main issues behind the split of TPLF were neither installing a democratic system nor to lay down the ground for the rule of law. Neither of the group thought about free press, freedom of speech, nor the rule of law the Ethiopian people are desperate about.
The book eloquently illustrates how few people in the regime ransack resources of the country, and ravage youngsters and the opposition block. The involvement of loyal “generals” and “police commanders” in drug business, chat trading and agricultural investments in collaboration with Azeb Mesfine are among the many mentioned in the book. The human right abuses are well-expressed so that readers can visualize the events as they are happening. No one forgets the orchestrated killing of Derara Kefene in Ambo and subsequent actions of his killers, among others. Tortures, human right abuses, deceiving, defamation, and all sorts of wrong doings are reported in the book. I will never forget what Bereket Simeon has told to his cadres about the All Amhara Nationals Association (AANA) and repeated during the 2005 election about the “anti-nation characteristics of AANA despite winning elections”. From this we can understand how hard they are working to continue destroying the country even with white lies. I highly appreciate and agree with the recommendation of Tesfaye. We all have to be like the “Kundido Feresoch”; we should say no to our perpetrators in unity. The effort has been already started in different respects and the book has some contribution in this respect. Particularly, for those who have illusions in understanding the true nature and characteristics of the perpetrator, I strongly recommend them to read this book. The book is also important to those who have been serving TPLF/EPRDF if they really want to come to their senses. Understanding the characteristics of the regime is crucial to designing appropriate strategy like what Ginbot 7 leadership did. Tesfaye has given important information in this respect. Bravo Tesfaye! Where are others? Even if, scientifically exploring the whereabouts of previous TPLF/EPRDF members and their contributions towards the reconstruction of Ethiopia takes time, it is possible to raise two or three personalities to illustrate the issue at hand. The cases of Seiye Abraha and Gebru Asrate are worthwhile to look into. As we know, both of them were high ranking officials in the government structure and were senior members of TPLF. They and their friends were architects of the current minority and corrupt regime in Ethiopia. They are the ones who made Ethiopia a land locked country. Under their rule countless people were tortured, murdered, disappeared, and so on. Too much has been said about the structure of the defense force while Seiye was in charge of the ministry of defense. Gebru Asrate in his part denied the rule of law, freedom of speech, and democracy to people in the Tigray region. Under his rule the people of Tigray were denied access, even to the existed voice of the general public – the independent media. Both of them were not under the influence of someone else. They did it consciously.
The “Journalist Memoir” raises some points concerning these people such as Seiyes role in one of the instruments used to abuse the economy. Seiye and his allies are the victims of a system they themselves put in place. The other group did not bring any miracle to imprison and harm Seiye and his allies within two or three days. The system they put in place, the system that denies democracy, basic human right, and the rule of law to the people of Ethiopian rather used against them. Had Seiye and his group were thoughtful for the people of Ethiopia, they would have not put such a system in place and should not have left the block forcefully. The point is that as the saying goes “ጉድጛድ አትቆፍር፣ ከቆፈርከውም አታርቀው፣ የሚገባበት አይታወቅምና” Seiye and his allies dug the well deep and they themselves tested it. Is it not good? I do not want to repeat what we already know of them but, I wanted to emphasize the current roles these guys are playing in Ethiopian politics. In my view, these people do not have the morale ground to lead any kind of movement that is made for democracy in our country. The political stage did not fall short of qualified leaders and I do not expect anything special from these guys concerning leadership either. A leader should have basic values such as respect for human right, dignity, equality, and democracy. Do these guys have such values? Is that possible to swing following the direction of the wind? Did they not participated in the killings, disappearances, imprisonment, and torturing of those who stood firm for democracy and the rule of law? I leave the answer to you, the reader. A leader in my judgment should have good track records at least in such basic matters as human right, equality, and democracy. Imprisonment by the current regime should not be used as a card to joining the opposition block as leader or statesmanship. How can we be led by those who abused the rule of law and violated human rights in the recent past; those who tortured, killed, and forced people to disappear? How we cooperate with those who were working day and night for disproportionate allocation of resources? What is new today? In this respect, Tesfaye Gebreab is much better than the Seiye group. At least Tesfaye told us the nature and characteristics of the ruling junta and how to tackle it, which we did not get from Seiye and his allies. The other group brought Seiye and his allies to “the court of justice” from their perspectives. I personally think that Seiye Abraha was the victim of the justice system in Ethiopia. I equally submit that through relentless effort, it is Seiye Abraha and his allies that built the system. He should be brought to the court of justice for what he did. I do not see the difference between Seiye Abraha and Meles Zenawi from this perspective. They are different faces of the same coin.
What is next?
Well, Tesfaye, despite his motives, has given valuable information about who has been ruling and how Ethiopia, home to more 80 million people, were governed and the mechanisms used to do so. He told us his accounts of torture, killing, imprisonment, etc. This information will be incomplete unless we ask the role of Tesfaye in the destruction of democracy, the rule of law and, above all, the country. Using his authority, he has misinformed the public, directly or indirectly involved in torturing, killing, and imprisoning Ethiopians. Using his artistic skill, Tesfaye, has allowed and participated in the effort to perpetuate the minority rule knowingly. Tesfaye ran away neither because he was unable to bear the atrocities of the ruling group on the people of Ethiopia nor he wanted to expose these wrong acts. He might have abused Ethiopians till this time had the Ethiopia-Eritrea border war not broke out. He has blood in his hands! This confession whatever helpful it is does not clean him from his sins. I wish Tesfaye could be returned to his beloved land and Bishoftu, and fulfills his dreams. It is my sincere wish that he plants trees, raise cattle, plays with his friends and families, write books, and live his dreams. I sincerely wish him all the best so that his dreams are fulfilled. However, it is also my strongest belief that before this happens, before he fulfills his dreams, he could be brought to the court of justice. The dreams of justice need to be fulfilled first so that he, and others for that matter, could not repeat the same mistake again. I would like to say that every defector should write a book exposing all the wrong deeds of TPLF/EPRDF. Rather than, for example Seiye preaching us the problems of revolutionary democracy, he would have contributed a lot had he told us about the regime using the media. Otherwise he should keep quiet like the other top criminal who has been talking about “love, love, and love” and leave the politics aside. Of course, those around “medrek” are like teeth less dogs barking together for nothing. Nevertheless, Seiye and his allies do not morally deserve the current position they have.
We will defeat the abusers soon!