Gasha and ITDA host a meeting in Washington, DC

August 19, 2007
Dr. Giday Assefa
Dr. Giday Assefa
The audience
Several questions raised revolved around the issue of how to consolidate the struggle of the people for democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia (Photo credits: Clean Photo ETN)
WASHINGTON DC – The sovereign territory of Ethiopia was violated in 1991 when the current regime came to power, and handed over Ethiopia’s sovereign territories to Eritrea in violation of the legal and historical rights of Ethiopia, a noted Ethiopian scholar has told a meeting in Washington, DC.

Organized by Gasha for Ethiopians and International Tigrian Democratic Association (ITDA) on August 11, Professor Negussay Ayele deliberated on how the Meles Zenawi regime dug up colonial treaties of the early 1900s and used them to violate the sovereignty of the country and reduce it to its current landlocked status.

The professor at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) used various maps to illustrate his lecture, and said a 1908 treaty that Italy prepared to suit its colonial conquest of Ethiopia, and which was later nullified when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1936 was intentionally resurrected by the Meles Zenawi regime to deprive Ethiopia of her undisputed Red Sea territories.

When Mr Meles Zenawi used such treaties later at the 2000 Algiers Agreement was a conscious, punitive measure aimed at anchoring Ethiopia as a landlocked nation, the scholar said.

Prof. Negussay also dwelt at length narrating how the northern part of Ethiopia has been the site of numerous battles, wars, and armed conflicts since it was the gateway to the outside world, and invaders were coming through the country’s Red Sea ports to launch their armed invasions.

He cited Tigrai as a region that bore the brunt of numerous armed conflicts, and attributed the region’s poverty to the armed conflicts carried out there since antiquity in defense of the rest of the country.

The current TPLF ruling regime claims to represent Tigray but it is a public secret that the TPLF leadership was controlled by Meles Zenawi and friends, who time and again made their vows public that their allegiance was to defending Eritrea from any potential attack from any corner.

Presenting a paper on Ethnic Federalism and Democracy, Dr. Giday Assefa, chairman of the International Tigrians Democratic Association (ITDA), warned ethnic federalism that lacked the company of genuine democracy was a time-bomb that could one day turn Ethiopia into countries like the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

Most of the questions from the audience revolved around dictatorship, media manipulation and democractic rights (Credit: Clear Photo Studio)
Abraha Belai
Ethiomedia Chief Editor Abraha Belai addresses the audience (Clear Photo Studio)
Ethnic federalism under dictatorship is prone to sparking fragmentation of the country,” Dr. Giday warned, adding “the numerous ethnic conflicts witnessed since the coming to power of the TPLF/EPRDF regime is evidence that we are living in a house of cracking walls.”

“The TPLF/EPRDF regime has established a Stalinist ethnic federalism since it came to power. Democratic and political rights are violated, no independent democratic institutions have been built, the sanctity of the rule of law is not respected. Under such circumstances, ethnic federalism in Ethiopia is what the TPLF/EPRDF regime uses as a weapon to divide and rule Ethiopians, and not to respect individual or group rights,” the political scientist said.

Dr. Giday warned that ethnic federalism is what the TPLF/EPRDF buried as a time-bomb in Ethiopia.

Ethiomedia editor Abraha Belai also demonstrated several methods of media manipulation tactics in the country that he said was kept in a news and information blackout.

“Home to about 80 million people, today’s Ethiopia is - in this Information Age - like a political prisoner confined to a dark cell. The entire media is monopolized by the Meles Zenawi regime, which enables it to promote information distortion and thrown the public into confusion,” Abraha said. “In other words, the Ethiopian people have no right to make informed decisions on key issues to their life.”

“Under such circumstances, it is little wonder Ethiopians go elsewhere to overseas-based media outlets to know about what's going on in their own country," Abraha said, as he presented his paper on "Media Manipulation Tactics and the ruling TPLF regime."

The audience later raised numerous questions to the speakers who urged growing awareness and united action of Ethiopians during the struggle to achieve democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia.