Democracy versus obstructionist TPLF

By Robele Ababya / March 22, 2010

Choice in a democracy

Democracy is all about freedom of choice of each and every individual living in a free, tolerant and compassionate society without infringing on the right of others. Only a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” can sustain such a society, whereas the very opposite is true in a government run by thugs such as the ones holed up at Menelik’s Palace in Addis Ababa. The word “choice” does not appear in the TPLF lexicon. Anyone who does not fall in line with TPLF political views shall do so at his/her peril because Stalinism does not allow opinions different from official diktat. Adios freedom of choice!

The gruesome of Arena/Medrek candidate Aregawi G. Yohannes on 02 March 2010 is a case in point. He was cruelly denied his right to choose. His death marked yet again another dark spot on the trail of heinous crimes committed by the ruling regime. It is a clear manifestation that such atrocious crimes perpetrated by the ruling TPLF regime over the last 19 years show no sign of abating despite promises by Meles for a fair and free democratic election in May 2010. Of course, no one in his/her right mind would believe the blood-thirsty pathological liar who had earned the reputation of ‘butcher of Addis Ababa’ because of the atrocities committed by the security forces under his direct command in the aftermath of election 2005 where his Party was dealt a humiliating defeat.

The international community have gathered and recorded credible evidence of gross human rights violations including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed by the regime. Meles is scared to death of the real prospect of facing the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

US 2009 Human Rights Report on Ethiopia is most welcome. However, the Ethiopian people expect to see the Obama Administration to show the world that it is back on the saddle of moral leadership by changing its policy of cooperation with the brutal regime in Addis Ababa. Dealing with a regime that makes a mockery of democratic elections is tantamount to choosing short term political gain over enduring multifaceted ties with the Ethiopian people who had shown world-acclaimed civility, political maturity and readiness for democratic rule at the polls in 2005.

The political murder of opposition candidate Aregawi G. Yohannes

Public perception is that the killer instinct of the butcher of Addis Ababa manifested itself this time in Tigray through the brutal murder of Ato Aregawi Gebreyohannes, candidate for parliament representing MEDREK/Arena Tigray in the 2010 election. Mr. Aregawi is 39 years old and father of five (5) children who need immediate help.

Ato Aregawi was cruelly stabbed to death on 02 March 2010. The news of the assassination spread around the world with lightening speed. The government communications minister Bereket Simon instantly denied that the murder was not politically motivated stressing that it was a mere quarrel between the killer and the deceased. This instant response by Bereket as if he was the eye witness to the murder on site has raised eyebrows prompting calls for independent investigation. Deputy to the minister of communications shamelessly reinforced the statement of his boss.

Bereket does not understand the meaning of the word “absolute” when he says: “There is an absolute guarantee” that the safety of opposition candidates will be protected. The facts on the ground show there is harassment of opposition candidates everywhere in blatant breach of the so-called ‘Code of Conduct’.

The sudden loss of this good-looking young man, Ato Aregawi, is a setback, but the fact that millions of his fellow citizens in quest for freedom like him will not rest until TPLF officials who had masterminded the murder in cold blood are brought to justice. In that way the family of the bereaved will find some consolation. The momentum now generated by Ethiopians and international human rights organizations to initiate an independent investigation is an encouraging sign. The habitual killer at the helm of the TPLF government qualifies as chief suspect for this gruesome crime on the basis of his threatening speech at the 35th Anniversary of the founding of TPLF party and his track record of gross violation of human rights for the last 19 years of his misrule. The swift verdict of only 15 years imprisonment heightens the public perception that Ato Aregawi was pretty much a victim of pre-meditated murder.

This writer extends his deepest condolence to the wife, children and loved ones of the deceased and pledges his contribution to a fund that may be set up to support the bereaved family. .

The historic debut of Medrek in Mekele

The meeting of Medrek on 14 March 2010 was a stupendous success graced by the presence of Dr. Bulcha Demekesa who spoke to a large cheering crowd reportedly made up of mostly young residents of Mekele, the historic city of Emperor Yohannes IV who sacrificed his life fighting to defend the territorial integrity of Ethiopia and basic values of her citizens.

Those who spoke in defense of Birtukan Mideksa drew applause from the audience. It was a well-deserved applause given that the icon Judge had apologized on behalf of Kinijit during her visit in Minnesota to all the Tigres for any perceived hatred against them.

The meeting signaled a beacon of hope for a brighter future for all citizens in a united, prosperous and democratic Ethiopia where justice is assured and freedom of choice is guaranteed for each and every individual to realize his/her aspirations in a just and compassionate society. It signaled the beginning of the end of the dreams of those separatist liberation movement myopic leaders bent on creating mini-states prone to instability due to fighting over demarcation of borders or quarrel over fair share of water flowing through their adjacent territories.

The meeting gave credible hope that dialogue will flourish paving the way for peaceful change through the ballot box – much to the utter disappointment of Meles whom peaceful change scares to death.

Moreover this writer found the article entitled “The Federalism Debate in Ethiopia” by Andinet Teshale, posted on website 10 March 2010 very enlightening. It was a brilliant analysis on the ongoing debate between some opposition parties and the ruling party dominated by TPLF. The article states that in the debate, an engineer representing one of the parties argued that: “Surely, intelligent elements in EPRDF itself must realize that creating 9 regions has not created 9 ethnic regions, or ethnic regions for all 83 ethnic groups of Ethiopia, and hence the current regional structure is biased in favor of only 7 groups of elites who speak only seven of our 83 languages” and went on to give an interesting example: “… it was ridiculous to create a region for 15,000 Harari people, and impose the Harari language on some 200,000 other people in the region where most were Oromos from rural areas outside Harar, where the Amhara was a majority; he wanted EPRDF to explain why such a small minority of 15,000 Hararis has a region and why ethnic groups such as the Gurage, Welaita and others that count in millions have none”.

The ridiculous TPLF policy of containing 83 ethnic groups in nine ethnic areas has indeed failed because it was based on the wrong premise from the start.

In view of the above MEDREK offers an excellent option on the way foreword to shedding off ethnic labels of political parties.

Embezzlement and related lies

The 1984 -1985 Ethiopian famine is once again surfaced as headline news because the search for truth is incessant until it emerges in glory and authentic records of the gruesome episode are written in history books to serve the present and future generations as a lesson.

For the defenders-in-chief of TPLF crimes such as EPRDF spokesman Getachew and Shimeles Kamal of the ministry of communications, facts coming out after 25 years are too late and therefore inadmissible. But both are dead wrong. For, no earthly power can determine the point in time at which the truth is told about perpetrators of a crime as the gruesome and colossal as the famine in Tigray. In this age of information nurtured by advanced science and technology, the search to discover the past as far back as billions of years ago is common. The futile attempt to discredit Dr. Aregawi Berhe, cofounder of the TPLF, and its treasurer Gebremedhin Araya who told the truth that money meant for famine victims went for the purchase of arms and to finance the lavish party for the founding of Marxist Leninist League of Tigray is therefore unacceptable.

Meles after meeting Bob Geldof in Nairobi accused the BBC investigative journalist Mr. Martin Plaut as a former supporter of Eritrea. Meles forgot that he fought tooth-and-nail to dismember Ethiopia and create Eritrea thus leaving Ethiopia landlocked. He is so desperate that he would do anything for his political survival. He wants to fool Ethiopians that he and Isaias are two faces of the same coin. He will never support Ethiopia to claim her right of access to Red Sea.

Jamming the VOA Amharic Program

The policy of Fascist Italy was to make sure that Ethiopians must not exceed 4th grade of elementary education. This was obviously due to fear that informed citizens would be difficult to enslave.

Similarly, the brutal TPLF regime is hell-bent on keeping Ethiopians ignorant by, in this age of information, denying them access to sources of information of their choice. In effect, the regime is behaving like an occupying power by contemptuously censoring objective sources of information that it does not like. This is an insult to citizens and subversion of democratic principles at this time when the morally bankrupt and financially impoverished regime is promising Western donors that election 2010 will be free and fair.

The case in point is that Amharic Program has been jammed with effect from 22 February 2010. Government spokesman Bereket Simon told the world that his government has nothing to do with the jamming because it is committed to the policy of free access to the media for all Ethiopian audiences/stakeholders. His deputy Shimeles Kamal kept repeating the grand lie for up to the time of this writing the jamming of VOA is fully in force. Meles contradicted Shimeles by confirming at a news conference that testing has been ongoing to jam the VOA Amharic service program and that he will give clear guideline to silence it.

Meles drew a parallel between VOA program and the notorious Radio Mille Collines in Rwanda accused of inciting genocide. The US government is well justified in condemning Meles on this issue. One would hope that the condemnation would be followed by a further biting response.

The TPLF regime has gone too far in riding roughshod on our freedom to think critically and express ourselves on issues as informed citizens. This must not be tolerated. The hatred of the brutal regime for the Amharas and contempt for the Oromos is all too clear and therefore must be stopped through united action of genuine democratic forces.

In closing

Senator Russ Feingold in his letter to President Barrack Obama “on the fragile state of democracy in Africa” (made public by his Press Release dated 05 March 2010) said: “There is no way that elections can be fair, let alone credible, with opposition leaders in jail or unable to campaign freely. At the bare minimum, the international community should push for the release of these political prisoners ahead of the elections. And if nothing changes, we should not be afraid to stand with the Ethiopian people and state clearly that an election in name only is an affront to their country’s democratic aspirations.”

This is the most powerful message to the repressive regime since the unanimous passage of HR 2003 by the House of Representatives of the United States Congress. It is a most welcome idea to stand with the Ethiopian people to defeat extremism and dictatorship in the destabilized region of the Horn of Africa. MEDREK and other democratic forces should ask the US Administration to convert words into concrete action such as withholding direct budgetary support to the corrupt regime.

The stranglehold on our freedom of choice should nevertheless be crushed at the polls in order to build a democratic, caring and compassionate society on the graves of archaic doctrine of TPLF. To that end, the name of the game is self-reliance! The main actors are the young generation!

Release Birtukan Mideksa and all political prisoners!

Long live Ethiopia!!!

Robele Ababya