Saturday, January 21, 2006
A note to CUD leadership and the neo-chauvinists from a concerned Oromo. Part I
You guys just don't get it! Dear CUD leaders; Like any other Ethiopian national and non-partisan but a concerned Oromo, I would like to express my concern over the fact that you are detained and kept in jail without due process of law. Although I totally disagree with your political strategy and agenda, rest assured that I will fight for your right to express your views as long as it does not promote violence. I will also fight for the prevalence of the rule of law so that people are not arrested or detained for expressing their views. That being said and from the outset I have to highlight a fact that I don't belong to any group or political party and that this article is not intended to support one group and condemn the other one. I am just a concerned Oromo who is trying to understand the opposition agenda especially of the CUD regarding the never answered question of the Oromo people for freedom and equality. I am a bit at lose because on hand you - CUD - claim that you have the support of the vast majority of the Ethiopian people but on the other hand, facts on the ground suggest that the Oromos for example did not and do not support you at all. I am addressing this article to "you" it being not Hailu Shawl as a person but to CUD as an organization. Hence I am not expecting a reply from those CUD leaders who are in detention but rather from their supporters at home and in Diaspora who are free and have all the time and resource to reply if only they wish so. This being said, I will try my level best not to be seen as someone who is accusing CUD because it failed to achieve its goal. I am also very much aware of a fact that it has been and continue to be part and parcel of our political culture that we are not accommodating dissenting views and hence I am going to be accused of siding with this or that group simply because I am going to disagree with CUD. In our country if one expresses his/her view which is deviating from the mainstream, that person is very likely to be doomed to be liable as an enemy. My close friends of long time, supporters of CUD already told me that Dr Marara and Dr. Beyene are no more the heroes they used to be and that they are now "working for EPRDF" simply because they decided to join the parliament disregarding the "fathwa" as issued by CUD. Please note that the random comparison I am making between CUD and EPRDF should not be seen as an expression of my support to EPRDF. To the contrary. Being an Oromo and thus being member of a nation that suffered the most under EPRDF, I stand first on the line to witness the replacement of this regime by a democratic one. But we the Oromos are at cross roads. On one hand, we distaste EPRDF and wanted it to be replaced by an all-inclusive democratic government but on the other hand we fail to see sincerity in your political agenda. In this article I frequently refer to "Amhara ruling system" and "Amhara elites" as the root cause of our problem and this should not be interpreted as me being against ethnic Amharas. As a matter of principle, I have no problem whatsoever with Amhara people (mass) who are as poor and disadvantaged as any other ethnic group in Ethiopia. The Amhara elites whom I normally refer to as "neo-chauvinists" are my targets. I am going to deal with two major issues here: your strategy to unseat EPRDF and your political agenda as seen by Oromos. As a prelude to all this however, I would like to raise one issue which revived a serious concern among us the Oromos. That is the issue of "professional ethics" as raised by some of the practicing lawyers who are now lining up to defend the right of the detained CUD leaders and supporters. I was listening to an interview of one of the Ethiopian "defense lawyers" who was telling the world that he and his team have decided to defend the CUD leaders and supporters because of professional ethics. Professional ethics? Wow, I said!! This is the first time I ever heard from an Ethiopian lawyer that there is such thing called "professional ethics" which obliges practicing lawyers to go to court and defend "political prisoners". The only time I heard that an Ethiopian lawyer defended non-common criminal detainees on pro bono basis, was in early 70s when an Oromo lawyer went to court and defended the numerous Oromo students who were expelled from Wingate Secondary school after their fight with the Tigres (Tigres and Eritreans). Then he defended them alone and managed to secure their release. That was in 1972-73 I believe, and now some 30+ years later I see a large crowd of practicing lawyers claiming that "professional ethics" obliged them to defend the "disadvantaged" CUD leaders. Nothing makes me happier than seeing Ethiopian lawyers invoking this principle as long as it is not ethnic-sensitive and non-discriminatory.