Ethiopia: Cry! Cry Freedom the Beloved Country!y

By Prof. Al Mariam

October 12,2016

I cry for the hundreds of victims of the October 2, 2016 Irreecha Festival Massacres in Ethiopia.

I also cry out for freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia.

On October 2, 2016,  troops loyal to the Tigrean Peoples’ Liberation Front (T-TPLF) opened fire indiscriminately on crowds attending one of the most important cultural and spiritual events in Ethiopia, the Irreecha (Thanksgiving) Festival  in the town of Bishoftu, some 45 miles southeast of the capital Addis Ababa.

An estimated 500 plus people were killed by gunfire and in a pandemonium that followed the gunfire. Twice that number were severely injured and maimed.

For over ten years, I have been the unremitting voice of massacre victims in Ethiopia.

For over ten years, I have appealed to the conscience of T-TPLF leaders, but having none, they have ignored my appeals.

The people of Ethiopia petitioned, solicited and implored T-TPLF leaders and their cronies and supporters to change their ways; to become more human and humane;  to show a little compassion and understanding;  to be a little less greedy and to feel the pain and suffering of their. They have turned a deaf ear to the voice of justice and blinded their eyes to  the suffering of the people. The have answered the peoples’ pleas with repeated insults, injuries and massacres.

I became a human rights advocate outraged by the Meles Massacres which resulted in the deaths and injuries of over one thousand unarmed protesters following the 2005 election.

As a utopian Ethiopian, I believed that  “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” For over a decade, every Monday, without missing a single week, I have raised my pen to register my bootless cries to the conscience of humanity and the mercy of divinity.

I believe freedom is like a train that is always delayed, but also always arrives.


" The “end of the story” is that is time for the T-TPLF to run. It is better for the T-TPLF to run than to be run down."Pro AL

On October 15, 2007 (almost to the week this month), I announced to Ethiopians, “Hold on! Hold fast! Hold tight! Your Freedom Train is coming!” (See my commentary , “One Small Step for the U.S. Congress, One Giant Leap for Ethiopian Human Rights”.)

I believe the Ethiopia’s Freedom Train has finally arrived, though very, very late.

All aboard!!!!!

Oromos, Amharas, Tigreans, Gurages, Sidamans, Welayita, Hadiya, Afar, Gamo, Ogadeni, Anuak… Christians, Muslims…

All aboard!!!!!

I have made my preliminary case for a crimes against humanity investigation and prosecution in the Irreecha Festival Massacres last week. (See my commentary , T-TPLF’s Killing Fields in Ethiopia: Massacre by Stampede at the Irreecha Festival!)  In September 2016, the BBC reported  that “A[n] [Ethiopian] government statement says 21 died of suffocation after a stampede [at Qilinto prison] while two others were killed as they tried to escape.” Qilinto prison has a population of 3,000 persons who are held for three years or more as they await trial. Oromos constitute the largest percentage of the Qilinto prison population. Now over 500 persons died in a “stampede”.  Is “stampede” the newest T-TPLF massacre strategy in Oromiya elsewhere?

Let Barack Obama Speak! For the first time, in over a decade, I must hold my peace this week. This is the time for me to cry and cry again for the innocent young men, women and children who were slaughtered by the T-TPLF at the Irreecha Festival in Bishoftu on October 2, 2016. I raised my pen to write, but my pen refused to shed its tears of ink. So I must cry and cry again. I shall bite my tongue, just this once. I yield my pages to Barack Obama to speak directly to the Irreecha Festival Massacre victims, their families, friends and communities in Ethiopia.

To read the full commentary, click here(Al Mariam's Commentaries).