By Yimer Muhe
Dear Mr. President:
The brutal dictatorship in Ethiopia that you have loyally supported during your entire presidency has been unleashing its security and special-forces against its people and hundreds of peaceful protesters have lost their lives and counting. There is no free media in the country, Muslim community leaders, journalists, conscientious objectors, and all those who dare to criticize it are behind bars serving lengthy sentences. The justice system is nothing but independent. The only outlet for the people – the social media – is shut off at will, etc. Let me ask you Mr. President, what is democratic about such a system? As a constitutional lawyer, it shouldn’t be that difficult for you to see the glaring absence of rule of law in Ethiopia today. The ‘clamoring’ of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, US Commission on International Religious Freedom, the Oakland Institute and some congressmen including Senator Mark Rubio, just to name a few, about the gross human rights violations being committed by the Ethiopian government obviously has failed to register with you. However, if you keep ignoring the elephant in the room Mr. President, the significance of your speeches in Accra, Cairo and Frankfurt including your Nobel Prize for Peace will definitely not escape being meaningless.
Mr. President, did you see by any chance the picture of the young lady – probably a mother – lying dead in a pool of blood that appeared on the Washington Post? Did you see the video of the young man who was being repeatedly beaten even after he died? No respect for the dead at all! Mr. President, you might not have heard of the young pregnant woman from Oromia whose belly was bayoneted exposing her fetus? Of course, she died instantly, so did her fetus. Such gruesome atrocities are being committed in Ethiopia today by government security forces that depend on the West’s largesse for upgrading their gears.
Mr. President, did you read the Washington Post Editorial of August 9, 2016? I am sure if you didn’t that your aides did. It stated, “…the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa remarked that it was “deeply concerned” and expressed its “deep condolences to those who suffered as a result” but stopped short of explicitly urging the Ethiopian government to refrain from using excessive force against its citizens.” In other words, it is not farfetched to conclude that your Embassy in Addis Ababa was in fact condoning the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters.
Mr. President, don’t you think it is time to break your silence on the side of the Ethiopian people and against tyranny? Last time you broke your silence in August 2015, we were deeply disappointed and felt betrayed because you sided with the government in a very grand way. The Ethiopian community is still in a state of shock, as a result. How could you extol a system that resembles apartheid as democratic and at the same time idolize the late Nelson Mandela who you met and quote from time to time?
Mr. President, the architect of your failed African Policy might be Susan Rice and her cohorts Gail Smith and Windy Sherman. Since you went along with it, no doubt you will own it in history. How does it feel Mr. President, to hear Harry Belafonte, one of the icons of the Civil Rights Movement saying that you have ‘failed to meet the needs of the most oppressed people in America and around the world’? How does it feel to learn about your own brother’s, Malik Obama’s, decision to vote for Donald Trump because he is so unhappy with what you have or haven’t done for Africa?
Mr. President, in the waning days of your presidency, do you have any pleasant surprises for Africa, especially Ethiopia? To be frank, we are not holding our breath. On February 25, 2016, during a Congressional Hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, your Secretary of State John Kerry didn’t have any qualms when he stated the Ethiopians (meaning EPDRF) “don’t have a five year plan, they have a 35 year plan” to combat terrorism thus betraying his wild hope for one of the most repressive governments to hold on to power as long as possible. I have bad news for you, Mr. President. That is not going to happen because the system that has been pampered by the West for the last 25 years is now gasping its last breath due to the peaceful struggle Ethiopians have embarked on across the country.
Year after year the West’s ‘War on Terror’ has been morphing into ‘War on Democracy’, especially in the case of Ethiopia. Yes, there is terrorism in Ethiopia – state terrorism which is ironically thriving on the West’s ‘War on Terror’. It is a monumental tragedy that the West is nurturing state terrorism in the name of regional stability by embracing stability via repression of a peaceful people instead of stability via empowering them.
Mr. President, even though you didn’t personally experience ‘Jim Crow’, as a black American, I believe you can understand the pain of those who lived through it. The African version of ‘Jim Crow’ is what has been instituted in Ethiopia today. A minority group controls everything: the economy, the politics, the bureaucracy, the media, the military and the whole security apparatus. The rest, 95% of Ethiopians are under the mercy of the ruling clique with nothing trickling down. As you know African Americans and progressive elements paid a huge price in the 50s and 60s to undo ‘Jim Crow’. In the same manner, today, Ethiopians are protesting across the nation to undo ‘Ethnic-apartheid’ that resembles the ‘Jim Crow’ of the South. In the process they are being mowed down by security forces and trained snipers. They are being beaten up, and incarcerated just as in the South African Americans were lynched, water-gunned and jailed. The victims range from expecting mothers, bread-winner fathers, school-age children, to young and old. So much for a government that claimed a 100% election victory just last year! So much for a system that the West is in bed with! Mr. President, don’t you think it is fair to conclude that the West indeed has long crossed the line of ‘guilt by association’ making it impossible to rule out ‘complicity’ and culpability no matter how things are twisted and the best semantics applied?
Mr. President, when are you going to pay attention to the plight and woes of Ethiopians? Today, Addis Ababa, the capital of the nation, also the capital of Africa by dint of the location of the AU Headquarters, is a city under siege. Its notorious prisons: Kaliti, Kilinto, and Zewai, etc. are multiple times overcapacity. Major street corners are equipped with security cameras to control each and every movement. Addis Ababa, the medina of African Freedom is a city of fear completely gripped by paranoia. Don’t you think, Mr. President, it is time to recalibrate the ‘War on Terror’, so that making democracy, rule of law and peoples’ aspiration for their God given rights its collateral damage could come to an end?
Mr. President, did you watch the Olympics Marathon in Rio? I am sure as a half-Kenyan you didn’t want to miss Eliud Kipchoge winning the Gold Medal. The Silver Medal winner was Feyisa Lilesa from Ethiopia, our hero, who made a daring political statement with his crossed arms about the massacre of peaceful protesters that is underway in Ethiopia. The 26 years risked it all: his wife, children and extended family for the sake of his generation and his country. He could take the oppression no more, and at Rio, he chose to be the voice of the voiceless thereby winning the hearts of millions around the world. Mr. President, what is it going to take to convince you to side with the people of Ethiopia and for you to say ‘enough is enough’ to the brutal regime? Does Ethiopia have to be another Rwanda to prove to the West to take responsibility?
Mr. President, one last note: eight years ago, when you won the presidency, we Ethiopian Americans were elated like the rest of your supporters because the unthinkable happened in this land of opportunity. That exuberance and elation has since been replaced with deep disappointment because you turned your back on our people back home. Mr. President, now is the time to act and nobody is going to blame you for being late. Say, “Enough is enough!” to the murderous regime in Ethiopia. I believe this is the only route that could partially absolve you for now, though you might not escape history’s castigation, and you will have to thank Susan Rice for that.
Redwan Hussein Embarrassed the TPLF
By LJDemissie | August 26, 2016
“The most ethical way to deal with an unethical situation would be to simply say: ‘we did
something wrong.’ But nobody in a family like mine [the hatemonger regime of the Tigrayan
People’s Liberation Front (the TPLF)] would ever respond like this.” Patti Davis For his bravery at the 2016 Rio Olympics marathon’s finish line and at the Games’ Closing Ceremonies, I dedicated this article to Feyisa Lilesa the men’s marathon silver medalist and my new hero.
That, to increase the world’s awareness about the TPLF’s killing of the Oromo people and to show his solidarity with the Oromo protesters in Ethiopia, he protested on the world’s largest stage. Watched by billions of people across the globe as he finished his race, Lilesa crossed his wrists in front of his forehead which is “a gesture of the Oromos’ protest” that shows they are held captive by the TPLF. Moreover, following finishing his race, he didn’t attempt to get the TPLF’s flag from a spectator to show pride in his country by waving it. To me, this is a significant action he exhibited that showed his disrespect for the TPLF’s flag. I think Lilesa’s heroic protest was the greatest moment of the Olympics which unveiled the TPLF’s ruthlessness and nepotism to billions of people.
The only remark I have about his protest is that the Oromo people aren’t the only people the TPLF is killing. It is slaughtering all Ethiopians, including the Tigrayans those who are peacefully requesting a democratic government that replaces the TPLF’s autocratic regime. So I think he should have protested for every Ethiopian instead of only for the Oromos.
Another embarrassing moment of the Games for the TPLF was Kiros Habte Kinfe and Robel Kiros Habte’s (a Tigrayan father and son) greed which exposed the TPLF regime’s greediness.
Redwan Hussein sent the flabbiest swimmer the Olympics have ever seen
The Ethiopian Minister of Youth & Sport and the TPLF/the EPRDF’s executive committee member, Redwan Hussein, exposed and embarrassed the TPLF by presenting to the world the supersized swimmer the fattest the Olympics have ever seen.
Hussein is from the Gurage tribe who sold out his tribe and became a nonTigrayan crony of the TPLF. He turned a deaf ear to the mockery of Robel Kiros Habte by the international media about his fitness to compete in the Olympics men’s 100 freestyle swimming heat. He disregarded how Kinfe managed to make his own son Ethiopia’s Olympics team flag bearer at the Opening Ceremonies. He also ignored questions about why Habte’s father accompanied his son to the Games instead of his coach. His silence makes his nepotism and favoritism to his masters - the TPLF’s cronies - obvious. Moreover, Hussein’s silence is an evidence for the TPLF’s failure to fight corruption because its executive and central committee members, including Sebhat Nega, Seyoum Mesfin, and Abay Tsehaye are the most nepotistic.
The best swimmer the TPLF produced in 25 years is too
Fat As a country’s economy grows, its sports are supposed to grow. But, although the TPLF led government has been claiming a double digit economic growth for more than a decade, it was only able to showcase at the Rio Olympics Habte aka “Robel the Whale”, a supersized 24-yearold Olympian swimmer, as Ethiopia’s best swimmer (overeater) that it produced since it has been in power.
Watching Habte on the Olympics’ swimming starting block caught me by surprise. And it made me chuckle and shake my head because he looked physically unfit to compete in the men’s 100-meter freestyle heat. I also thought out loud that Ethiopia might become the first country in the world that presented the fattest Olympian swimmer ever.
Since he didn’t look like an Olympics swimming competitor, he became the talk of the world that unraveled the TPLF’s nepotism and favoritism in the athlete selection process. So I heard and read some of what was said about him. I also watched and/or heard some of the interviews he gave to various media. In his interviews, he sounded like a joyful person and a believer. Although he appeared a Christian, he received what he didn’t earn, and he wasn’t shy to be in front of a camera and/or a microphone to show off what he didn’t deserve. For example:
- He undeservingly received from his father – who is the Ethiopian Swimming Federation’s president – the honor of carrying the Ethiopian flag at the Olympics’ Opening Ceremonies. And he showed confidence leading the world renowned Ethiopian athletes in front of tens of thousands of spectators not to mention countless television screens across the world.
- He boldly put his dad-bod on display at the Olympics’ swimming starting block. And he made himself a laughing stock - and by extension the TPLF. Sarcastically some said that he helped by improving the Ethiopians’ famine images of 1970’s and 1980’s which “pierced the conscience of the world”.
In my opinion, to look athletic, he doesn’t need to have nutritionists, coaches and/or a fancy workout facility staffed with exercise equipment. To explain, a few times I got out of shape and got back into shape by doing basic workouts while I was eating and drinking what I like. I controlled my food portions and beverage intake, and I ran, jogged and walked. I did sit-ups and squats at a public park or at home.
To be fair to him, comparing with the swimming training resources and support the TPLF could afford to provide to him (accepting the reality of the double digit economic growth), I thought his finishing time was good. I also thought his rank 59th out of 59 competitors wasn’t bad because at least he showed that he could finish his competition. However, I believed it was greed that made his father and him take a task that they didn’t deserve and weren’t prepared for.
The family act is a manifest failure of the TPLF
To lengthen their grip of power, the TPLF’s elites organized Ethiopians along their ethnic lines. And they foment ethnic strife among the ethnic groups by amplifying their differences than there commonalities. To elaborate, first, one has to be a Tigre to be a member of the TPLF. In other words, an Amhara, an Oromo, a Wolayta, etc., cannot be a member of the TPLF.
It is also a fact that members of the TPLF/the EPRDF are part and parcel of the ruling class of today’s Ethiopia, so they are privileged. They get key posts of the government, the military, the security, the media and they control the country’s economy. Based on their loyalty to the TPLF, they also have easy access to higher education. And once they are admitted to a higher educational institution and they keep their loyalty to the TPLF they are guaranteed to graduate and to get the best government position. Then they assist the TPLF to rule Ethiopians, including ordinary Tigrayans with an iron fist.
To illustrate, on the one hand, Ethiopia’s top post of the military and the security are in the hands of the most loyal members of the TPLF those who have little or no education. In the TPLF’s cold, ruthless security apparatus, junior to senior interrogators, torturers, snitches, snoops and spies are Tigrayans.
On the other hand, Tigrayans are the most oppressed people of Ethiopia under the TPLF’s regime. However, they appear willing captives of the TPLF. For instance, most people of Tigray, including Tigrayan scholars don’t think, speak or write freely although they should objectively analyze Tigrayan problems in order to help to create a better Ethiopia that is unified with the commonalities of its nations and nationalities than divided by their differences. I think Tigrayan social and behavior scientists need to consider analyzing what’s wrong with most of Tigrayan scholars’ that they appear a happy captive of the TPLF.
How did Ethiopia select its unmerited flag carrier at the Olympics?
I learned that most countries that participated in the Rio Olympics had a standard to choose their flag bearer. For example, according to Wikipedia, for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Kenyan’s flag bearer Shehzana Anwar - a recurve archer - was chosen by the Kenyan National Olympics Committee.
It seemed to me that Ethiopia doesn’t have a criterion for choosing its flag bearer at the parade of nations at the Olympics Opening Ceremonies although it has been participating in the Olympics since 1956 and has an “Ethiopian Olympic Committee, founded in 1948 and recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 1954.”
To illustrate, to my knowledge, Ethiopia’s Olympic swimmer, Robel Kiros Habte’s father, Kiros Habte Kinfe, is a member of the TPLF which means he is a Tigre. And he is the Ethiopian Swimming Federation’s president.
Although he didn’t have an authority to choose Ethiopia’s flag bearer for the 2016 summer Olympics parade of athletes, he made his son the Ethiopian flag bearer at the Games Opening Ceremonies. And his son blissfully accepted from his father an honor he didn’t earn and became Ethiopia’s flag bearer. And he led some of world renowned Ethiopian athletes during the parade of nations at the Games that made his and his father’s integrity and motive questionable.
Robel’s father is a self-serving president of the federation
According to Habte, his father funds the federation because it doesn’t have sponsors, and it doesn’t get any funding from the TPLF/the EPRDF government.
According to the Journal of Sport Management, “Sports teams and events are business investments both for the individual entrepreneur [Kiros Habte Kinfe the Ethiopian Swimming Federation president and also Robel Kiros Habte’s father] or athletic department that organizes and promotes them and for the communities that subsidize and host them.”
Based on the above information, it appears that Robel’s father has an economic benefit for funding the federation. Also it seemed that he might be one of the TPLF’s snitches or snoops that went to the Olympics to spy on team Ethiopia members. To explain, Lilesa said that team Ethiopia members don’t freely talk among themselves because they don’t trust each other.
Body shaming is mean spirited I think body shaming is rude. So I thought it was offensive calling Habte names such as: “Robel the Whale”, “fat”, “overweight”, “flabby”, “ልማታዊ! ዋናተኛው” “በላተኛ!” ዋናተኛው . . .
Though I think it was impolite making fun of Habte’s flabbiness, I got laughter out of his nicknames, especially from his nickname: “Robel the Whale”, “Flabby”, “ልማታዊ! ዋናተኛው” “በላተኛ! ዋናተኛው. I think they are right nicknames for him because comparing his body size with the other Olympian swimmers’ body size he looked supersized. Moreover, they unrevealed the Ethiopian double digit economic growth.
I also highly enjoyed the ሪፓርተር (a loyal mouthpiece of the TPLF though sometimes it plays a different cord and appears an independent media) satire about Habte, which read, in part: “አዋረደን ክቡር ሚኒስትር [Redwan Hussein]፡፡ ግን ሲታይ ልማታዊ ይመስላል፡፡ እንዴት ማለት? ቦርጩ የአገሪቷን ልማት ቁልጭ አድርጎ ያሳያል፡፡ምን አሉኝ? አታየውም እንዴ ቦርጩ ላይ የ11 በመቶ ዕድገቱን? … እናንተ ፖለቲከኞቻችን ከዋናተኛው አትሻሉም፡፡ ምን እያልክ ነው? እናንተም ከሌሎች የምዕራባውያን አገሮች ሚኒስትሮች ጋር ብትወዳደሩ እንደምታዋርዱ እርግጥ ነው፡፡”
I think the satire is reflective because it is Redwan Hussein, the TPLF/the EPRDF’s executive committee member and the Ethiopian Minister of Youth & Sport who made the TPLF a laughing stock of the world by sending an oversized swimmer to the Olympics.
If there is any accountably in the TPLF/the EPRDF’s government, Hussein would be held responsible and forced to resign from his post for embarrassing the TPLF: honoring an unmerited Olympian to carry the Ethiopian flag and sending the flabbiest swimmer the world have ever seen at the Games. Fortunately for him, he wouldn’t be held accountable for his decisions because he is the TPLF’s mindless, faithful servant.
Lastly, if Habte and his family need any encouragement, I extend my compassion to them because I think ridiculing Habte’s physical unfitness for the Olympics swimming competition is being unkind to them. However, I think they brought it on themselves by appearing to conspire to make Habte an Olympian and his father a member of the Ethiopian Olympics team in order to spy on team Ethiopia members.
The writer LJDemissie can be reached at LJDemissie@yahoo.com
When marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa crossed the finish line at the Rio Olympics, he crossed his arms above his head in an "X", a sign of protest against the Ethiopian government's treatment of his people, the ethnic Oromo.
The champion runner did not return home after the Olympics, fearing for his safety even though the government said he would not be punished.
"[I knew] I would be jailed or killed if not, I would [never be allowed] out of that country and allowed to participate in any international competition or race at all," Lilesa told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"I am quite sure those things would happen to me," he said in a Skype interview from Rio where he has been staying since Monday when the rest of his team mates returned to Ethiopia.
The Oromiya region, home to more than 25 million Oromas, has been riven by unrest for months over land rights and allegations of human rights violations.
Lilesa, 26, is one of thousands of Ethiopians estimated by activists to have left the country amid a security crackdown on demonstrations sparked by a conflict over land use policies.
Human Rights Watch estimated 400 demonstrators were killed by security forces between November and June during protests triggered by government plans to include some parts of Oromiya within the capital Addis Ababa's limits.
Up to 100 were shot in a single weekend in August when security forces also shut down the internet for 48 hours, according to activists.
Thousands more have been arrested, including the prominent Oromo activist Bekele Gerba, who was taken from his home in December.
The government, which disputes the death toll and says the protests are being staged illegally, stoked by rebel groups and overseas-based dissidents, did not respond to several requests by the Thomson Reuters Foundation for a comment.
FEAR OF REPRISALS
Lilesa's fear of being jailed upon his return home reflects the experiences of other Ethiopians who have spoken out against the government.
In the Greek capital Athens 26-year-old Muaz Mahmud Ayimoo is staying in a cramped apartment with five other Oromo friends who are traveling with him.
A student from Haro Dumal city in Oromiya, Ayimoo was arrested by authorities and imprisoned for a month last November after he attended several non-violent protests along with fellow students.
Conditions for those detained were wretched and abuse was regular, Ayimoo said.
"They used to take us out one by one, torture us with electricity and beat us badly," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Ayimoo's family in Ethiopia paid a bribe for his release, later selling everything they had to get him to Europe.
"I can't go back because I would lose my life," he said.
Those in Athens are the lucky ones: Ayimoo's wife and baby girl drowned in April after the boat they were on crossing the Mediterranean from Libya sank, killing hundreds, according to survivors.
"I could hear the screaming of my baby as I fell I couldn't save my family," he said.
Other Ethiopians now following the unrest from abroad include the journalists of the Oromia Media Network, a dissident satellite TV channel broadcasting into Ethiopia in the Oromo language from Minneapolis in the United States, a city home to around 40,000 Oromo.
"We became part of the whole protester story," said Jawar Mohammed, executive director of the network, which he said is watched by more than 11 million people in the Middle East and Africa at peak times.
Mohammed also regularly posts updates on his Facebook page, with more than 800,000 followers, about the unrest in his homeland.
Abel Wabella, 30, an activist who wrote for Zone9, a blog which focused on social and civic issues in Ethiopia, was imprisoned between April 2014 and October 2015 in what critics say was an attack on press freedom.
"I think the government is not ready for real reform the people are demanding right now The people are tired of their false promises and will escalate their resistance," he said.
By Engidu Woldie |ESAT News (August 25, 2016)
Aided by ground forces and helicopters, the TPLF regime forces approached the Angereb jail in the city of Gondar on Wednesday to take custody of Col. Demeke Zewdu, the symbol of the revolt in the Amhara region. The local defense forces however refused to transfer his custody.
Regime security forces in plain cloth but armed, who managed to sneak into the jail to whisk away the Colonel, were arrested and their weapons confiscated by the local forces.
Residents of Gondar, who were holding a stay at home protest on Wednesday were irate over the news and repeated attempt by the TPLF forces to take Colonel Demeke.
The Colonel, a leader of the movement against Tigrayan oppression in Amhara, had reportedly killed three TPLF forces last month as they attempted to arrest him at his residence. Since then, Gondar has seen one protest after another demanding an end to TPLF rule. The protest in Gondar was joined by Bahir Dar and other major towns and even smaller localities lately. 150 people were killed by security forces two weeks ago when residents of Gondar and Bahir Dar held a peaceful demonstration.
The revolt in the Amhara region was sparked when TPLF forces arrested members of a committee that spearheads the demand by the people of Wolkait, Tgede and Telemt to reclaim a territory that was forcefully incorporated into the Tigray region by the TPLF and against the false Tigrayan identity imposed on them by the regime.
In Finote Selam, West Gojam, residents blocked a highway to Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa keeping regime forces at bay. The people then marched to the central square of the town, burnt the flag of the TPLF and hoisted the original Ethiopian flag, a significant sign of freedom from TPLF rule.
New rounds of stay at home protest began on Wednesday in Gondar as the protest in Bahir Dar entered its fourth day.