Martyrs are eternal treasures

By Robele Ababya , July 07, 2008

Exemplary sacrifices of our martyrs and patriots: lift us up when our apathy to burning national is intolerable; invigorate our spirit to fight back when our freedoms are abused; remind us of our duties as citizens to spur into action when our core common values are violated; appeal to our conscience to act in the defense of those values; urge us to retaliate in kind when armed aggressors cross into our land and persecute our fellow citizens on silent watch of their government; compel us to confront the government of the day that fails to defend the territorial integrity of our country and protect our fellow citizens. Above all, martyrs are credible evidence of who we are; they are an open book in which to read the noble causes for which our heroes and heroines sacrificed their precious lives. It should therefore infuriate us when traitors in the top echelon of the TPLF leadership ride roughshod on the fundamental value of independence bequeathed to us by martyrs who had made the ultimate sacrifice.

Snapshot of venerable martyrs

In our internal conflicts of recent decades, the Dergue and the TPLF left trails of iniquities through their despicable extrajudicial brutalities. The latter is continuing to add to the list of gruesome activities. Adding insult to injury, the TPLF has erected monument for its ‘martyrs’ - the first divisive monument in a series of shameful fratricidal conflicts in the history of Ethiopia. With due respect to the innocent who had lost their lives in such ugly internal conflicts, divisive monument of the kind TPLF had built would be out of place in the context of the following few examples deserving statues or monuments commemorating the noble unifying causes for which they died:

* Emperor Thewodros took his own life on the mount of Maqdala rather than surrender to Napier’s army and thus make Ethiopia a colony;

* Emperor Yohannes IV was beheaded in Metema fighting the Turks who had colonial ambitions on Ethiopia;

* Fallen heroes and heroines in the famous Battle of Adwa scored a spectacular victory over Italians thus lighting a beacon of hope for all black people living under the yoke of colonial oppression;

* Fallen heroes and heroines in the war with Italian Fascists which committed gruesome crimes including use of poison gas;

* The innocent victims for whom Yekatit-12 Monument in Addis Ababa stands to witness the carnage unleashed on our citizens by the ruthless Fascist security forces;

* The statute of Abune Petros who was executed in cold blood for his open defiance of Fascist rule and, in his capacity as ordained priest, forbidding Ethiopians not to submit;

* Ethiopians who lost their lives during the senseless 1998 – 2000 Ethio-Eritrean war and robbed of their total victory that would have culminated in the restoration of our natural sea frontier are martyrs;

* Victims of TPLF several atrocities verified and recorded by the international community including those in the aftermath of the historic election of 15 May 2005. More on this elsewhere in this writing.

The Statute of Emperor Menilik II in Addis Ababa served as a rallying point where patriots met to confer, plot, and formulate strategy for covert operations against the Fascist Italian Government. The Fascists discovered the venue of the plot and secretly took away and buried the statute. The statute was later discovered and restored after the Fascists were vanquished and driven out of our country in disgrace. It is interesting for the young to know that the statute was a target for destruction once again as soon as the TPLF entered Addis Ababa and mercenary Meles desecrated our national flag. However, the resolute, spontaneous and massive public protest of citizens of Addis Ababa and its environs saved the statute. Therefore, the statute of Menilik II will stand forever where it is today as a beacon of hope and symbol of freedom not only for Ethiopians but also black Africans on the continent and in Diaspora. It is a pity that there is no statute erected for Empress Taitu who had played a key role in the Battle of Adwa. Ethiopians better think of erecting one for Her now! Ethiopia is a museum of cultures. She is a victim of wars imposed on her by external aggression and, unfortunately also, of shameful fratricidal internal conflicts. The distinction between those who suffered for noble causes and those who fought for selfish ends in the pursuit of naked power is therefore clear. I wish to suggest, especially to young readers, in case they visit famous monasteries, parish churches, and cemeteries to note inspiring epitaphs on the tombs of martyrs during the Fascist Italian aggression. I went on occasions to funerals at the Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa and saw the honor with which patriots were laid to rest – their compatriots forming in circle and beating their chests with one hand while holding their rifles they were using in the battle fields high up in the other. From the names engraved on the tomb stones, I was convinced that Ethiopians of all ethnic groups suffered for the noble causes of defending our independence at great sacrifice. I listened to old men on purpose in remote villages recounting their ordeals as a result of aggression and hailing famous heroes and heroines who had made the ultimate sacrifice to repulse aggressors. They tell the stories of heroic deeds in plain language without fear. Meles has denied young Ethiopians their natural right to think independently - I should add in much the same way as the policy of the Fascist Italy did not want Ethiopians to think by limiting the level of their education to 4th grade. He wants the young to believe that the statutes and monuments erected by his treacherous, divisive, and parochial TPLF party depict good cause transcending all others of national stature mentioned elsewhere in this writing. Young Ethiopians should say no Meles you can’t fool us any more. As future leaders, the young should continue to defend values enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which the Meles regime recognizes in its imposed Constitution but shamefully violates.

Venerable martyrs of TPLF misrule

Never before in the history of Ethiopia have so many inundated voting polls in their millions to reject the brutal misrule of the puppet Meles as in the historic election of 15 May 2005. The historic election albeit for a moment marked a clean break with the past culture of grabbing power by the barrel of the gun, but Meles stole the voice of the people. Never before in the history of G8 has a dictator, just after he had stolen votes and gave orders to the security forces under his direct command to execute unarmed peaceful protestors in cold-blood, been invited to a red carpet treatment at Gleneagles - while wailing mothers, bereaved fathers in tears, close relatives in grief pleading for the bodies of their loved ones were being asked by the Meles regime to pay money for those bodies in the very capital city of Ethiopia where the envoys of the G8 countries bask in oasis of luxury while the majority of our citizens languish in abject poverty. Never before has a US top diplomat scorned a human rights bill in the Ethiopian capital and posed for a photograph with a monster accused of robbery of votes in broad daylight; murdering 193 innocent unarmed protestors; incarcerating tens of thousands; declaring state of emergency to cover up his heinous crime.

Never before was the bizarre coincidence seen where in full view of senior diplomats including Ambassador Aurelea Brazeal, Vicki Huddleston, Jendayi Frazer, and Secretary Rice the tyrant unleashed terror on the Ethiopian people. What a line up of feminine diplomats, all African-Americans but one, over whom both reason and compassion should have prevailed, turning a blind eye to the wailing mothers of Ethiopia! Never before in the history of Ethiopia have acts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity been committed on a massive scale seen under the Meles regime. Genocide on the Annuak people of Ethiopia, the massacre of the Amhara people in Arba Gugu, the carnage on the Ogadeni people of Ethiopia, crimes war crimes and crimes against humanity inflicted on the Somali people by the invading security forces of Meles are among abominable examples of shocking brutalities.At this juncture that true son of Ethiopia, Professor Asrat Wodeyes, is sadly remembered for the magnificent heroic role he played in stemming the genocide unleashed against the Amharas. He must be remembered as a hero who had suffered psychological and physical torture and thrown to jail on tramped up charges. The TPLF regime delayed granting permission for the Professor to receive medical treatment abroad. The belated permission did not save the life of the Professor for he died in the USA while on treatment. Professor Asrat is a true hero and martyr. He shall be affectionately remembered forever!

Self-exaltation & another grand lie of Meles

Meles is portraying himself as a hero. Look at the following quotation. In spite of his heinous crimes Meles unashamedly told the world:“And I start with the fact that Ethiopia is an extremely diverse society. I start with the fact that previous regimes in Ethiopia have tried to resolve the issue of diversity through homogenization, attempted homogenization, and assimilation. I start from the fact that they have completely failed. I start from the fact that the best way of accommodating diversity is democracy. Therefore, in the case of Ethiopia in particular, democracy is not a question of choice; it is a question of survival. Either we accommodate diversity by peaceful means or we implode”. The naked truth being that all pillars of democracy are under his tight grip or destroyed and that gross human rights violations are rampant, whom does the tyrant think he is fooling when he says: “Therefore, in the case of Ethiopia in particular, democracy is not a question of choice; it is a question of survival. Either we accommodate diversity by peaceful means or we implode”. The naked truth is that Meles never intended to deliver democracy. The international community must therefore redouble its effort to hold him to his word and show that democracy in the case of Ethiopia “is not a question of choice; it is a question of survival”. Otherwise the generous donors of the rich industrialized world should as a matter of fulfilling their moral obligations withhold all direct support to his brutal regime. The young leaders must consistently demand the tyrant to show proof that he is committed to creating conducive environment for the development of democracy.

Voices of reason calling for unity

Voices of reason from the south and west are calling for unity. Some say that the Amharas and the Oromos by the sheer size of their numerical majority must set examples by setting their differences aside and engage in constructive dialogue aimed at evicting the TPLF from power and saving Ethiopia. Ethiopia is on accelerated descent to the abyss. All ethnic groups, big or small, have the duty to act in unison to retaliate in kind against external aggression. Fratricidal internal conflicts should however be avoided in favor of civil disobedience which must be intensified in order to evict Meles from power sooner than later. We have seen the double standard of western powers by their connivance over the daylight robbery of votes by Meles in the historic election of 2005. We need to believe in our own united ability in restoring our dignity as independent people bequeathed to us by our martyrs and patriots. President Bush did not utter a word about the stolen votes of Ethiopian people and the brutal carnage in its aftermath. This is in sharp contrast to his intervention in the Kenyan election and presently in Zimbabwe to the extent of circulating draft resolution in the UN Security Council to condemn Mugabe and his cohorts. Ethiopian democrats are morally bound to uphold the spirit of Kinijit now fully captured in the UDJP in the domestic front. This infant Party is the result of courageous and tested veterans in the struggle for peaceful change; it is still seeking recognition from the subservient NEEB; it needs the full support of those of us in the Diaspora in order to gather strength to serve the people of Ethiopia. In closing, I wish to underline we owe it to our martyrs, our eternal treasures, to heed the voice of reason calling for unity aimed at stopping the brinkmanship of Meles.