Saturday, January 21, 2006
A note to CUD leadership and the neo-chauvinists from a concerned Oromo.Part IV
Like all other Ethiopian who grew up under the imperial regime, we all have this wrong perception about ourselves and the place of our country in global politics. We were told that the world needed us. That was then. Today, the world remembers us only because of our famous athletes or chronic shortage of food and starvation. That being the case, the West simply does not care a bit about us. An assassinated former prime minister (Hariri) is much more important to them and the UN than the human rights of dozens of CUD political leaders who are detained arbitrarily or the lives of thousands alleged OLF sympathizers who were summarily executed. If there is any international concern about Ethiopia, it only comes from individual researchers (former peace corps and the so called Ethiopianists for example), human rights activists and the likes of the Carter Centre. The report of Anna Gomez (I heard the Ethiopians baptized her as Hanna Gobeze) is nowhere to influence the attitude of Blair or Bush towards Ethiopia. Then what is their impact? Are they in a position in whatsoever manner to influence the foreign policy of Bush and Blair? International human rights organizations have produced series of reports of gross violations of human rights of citizens for example in Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt etc, but the above mentioned leaders of Western Democracy are rather preoccupied with the removal from power of democratically elected leaders like Mugabe, Hugo Chavez and Luhashenko. Keep in mind that they already removed a democratically elected president Aristide of Haiti from power, because of America's national interest a la Bush. In short, we don't have any leverage whatsoever which would have forced the West to press on Meles to negotiate with the opposition. While you are in detention and face mistreatment in the hands of EPRDF law enforcement officials, Meles and his top officials are wining and dining with some of the international leaders whom you thought would defend you to the end. As simple as that! b) It appears to me that you are so full of yourself to the extent that you did not mind to discount the Oromo and people of the South from your campaign agenda. You and your supporters claim that the entire Ethiopian people voted for you and still rally behind you but fact on the ground suggest that you did not have a single follower in a non- Amhara region (with the exception of Gurages). Unless your understanding of "the people" is equivalent to "the Amharas", I don't see any link between your assertion and the reality on the ground. The Oromos unanimously and rightly so disregarded your call for civil disobedience but when the OLF aired a brief message that they should rise up against EPRDF they did so without any hesitation. You see the difference? They simply don't see anything plus for them in your agenda but they fully trust OLF no matter how ineffective it may be. Civil disobedience Political parties and groups aspiring to achieve certain political objectives were seen applying civil disobedience at different times in history. Americans and Gandhi' India used it to weaken the British colonial might. ANC and the civic society used it to weaken the apartheid regime of South Africa. But the civil disobedience as applied by the above countries against the respective brutal regimes is quite different from what CUD tried to apply. Lately, Georgia and Ukraine successfully applied civil disobedience and managed to unseat the ruling party. But in the case of Ethiopia, civil disobedience a la Georgia or Ukraine obviously did not work and in my opinion, for the following reasons: a) unlike in Ukraine and in Georgia where the professional army is composed of members of all ethnic groups in the country, the Ethiopian army, security and intelligence is mainly composed of ethnic Tigres especially at the commanding level. In Ukraine and Georgia the military by law is not allowed to be a partisan and hence their task is to protect their respective nations territory from foreign aggressors regardless of which party is ruling the nation. In Ethiopia, we have a EPRDF army totally loyal to the ruling party which leaves no room for defection no matter what. Their task is not only to defend the nation from foreign aggressors but also to defend Meles from "aggressive citizens". The same is true for Ethiopian Police Force. b) One of the elements of your fathwa is that you urged Ethiopians to boycott the purchase of products from EPRDF owned factories. I fail to understand your logic here because I never heard citizens of one nation boycotting purchase of products of companies belonging to an opponent but from the same nation. Such a boycott could have made sense if the companies were owned by foreigners or where the owners are said to be transferring capital out of the country which is not the case here. Hence your fathwa is affecting the employees - poor Ethiopians who earn their daily bread only by working for such companies and not EPRDF. c) Our country is known to be one of the poorest in the world and yet you are calling for a civil disobedience which included strikes, stay-homes etc. It seems that you are not aware of the reality that nearly 90% of the population of Addis Abeba who voted for you are daily laborers and petty trades whose daily bread depends on their daily activity. They don't have bank savings and stocks of food on which they can survive for the duration of the strike but you expected them to listen to you and stay at home. Not only you miscalculated the reality but you also subjected these very supporters of you to starvation. I am sure your middle class constituency did not have to suffer this much because they naturally have a reserve of "food or money" to survive on. d) Ethiopians, thanks to the combination of propaganda and counter-propaganda between AAPO (now CUD) and TPLF, is divided along ethnic lines than ever before. Hence every time when Meles targets one ethnic group, the other ethnic groups seem to remain indifferent, to say the least. When Oromo students from university were expelled not a single non-Oromo student supported them. The participants of the peaceful demonstration as organized by Macha and Tulama were bitten arrested and detained but not a single non-Oromo group ever raised its voice of concern and support. Now you expect these offended group of people for example the Oromos to listen to your call and become "disobedient". It does not work! e) From the outset, you already laid out your plan as to what you are going to do with Meles and his entourage. That naturally sent a scaring message to EPRDF and no wonder you were met with strong resistance. You did not want to give Meles ample time to clean his exit road so that he will not be charged with whatever crimes he had committed once he lives the office. Meles does not have a safety net in Ethiopia and there seem to be no place where he could take a refuge and yet you wanted him to accept defeat and surrender to you. He knows that he had committed serious crimes and offended so many Ethiopians that once he leaves the Office, he would not continue living a decent tranquille life. He knows it very well and therefore he had to apply all possible repressive methods to prolong his stay in power. Put yourself in his shoes and tell me what you would have done?