The fight with TPLF is in the heartland, not along the border, Prof. Berhanu Nega


Chairman of the Patriotic Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracy, Prof. Berhanu Nega reiterated that armed operations by his Movement is not along the border with Eritrea as the regime in Addis Ababa would like the people to believe, but is inside the heartland as has been seen in the recent fight with regime forces in Arbaminch, south Ethiopia.

Addressing Ethiopians in North America at a meeting held in Washington DC on Sunday, the Chairman of Patriotic Ginbot 7, an armed coalition fighting the tyrannical regime in Ethiopia said the recent attack against regime forces in Arbaminch has proven the regime’s rhetoric wrong – that the armed group would launch an attack from the country’s border with Eritrea.

An attack by the Patriotic Ginbot 7 forces early this month killed at least 20 regime soldiers while 50 others sustained serious injuries.

Prof. Berhanu meanwhile called on Ethiopians in the diaspora to get organized and stay vigilant so as not to fall into the regime’s trap, which would otherwise destroy the fabric of Ethiopian civic and religious institutions in the diaspora.

He said Ethiopians abroad should work to bring officials of the corrupt regime to justice whenever and wherever they see them. He encouraged Ethiopians abroad to use alternative ways when they send money to their country as remittances are a significant source of foreign currency to the corrupt regime. He also urged Ethiopians to establish democratic institutions wherever they are and strengthen the culture of democracy.

(Video) Corruption VS Economic Development in Ethiopia

Corruption VS Economic Development in Ethiopia

Ethiopian Journalist: ‘I Was Jailed and Tortured’

Journalist Muluken Tesfaw doesn’t want to share his location, but talked to DW about press freedom declining dramatically in his country, Ethiopia.
By Eunice Wanjiru |
He is one of Ethiopia’s most critical journalists. Muluken Tesfaw is in Europe and too scared to return. He doesn’t want to share his location, but talked to DW about press freedom declining dramatically in his country.
According to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), released late last year, the number of journalists imprisoned in Iran, Vietnam, and Ethiopia increased in 2015. The report said that in all three countries a climate of fear for the media persists, with many of those released continuing to face legal charges or harsh restrictions, including forced exile.

DW: Why did you flee your country?

Muluken Tesfaw: I just came to Europe, because I wanted to participate in the World Press Freedom Day celebrations on May 3rd in Helsinki. I was representing journalists from my country there.
After that, I got many messages from family members and friends. They strictly warned me not to come back to Ethiopia. They said, they were questioned by different security officers and unknown people, and the manager of my newspaper was also held by police in the eastern part of Addis Ababa. And, for many other reasons that I can’t talk about now, I am obliged to ask for asylum and legal protection, here where I am.

As a journalist, what did you have to go through back in your home country?

I tried my best for the development of a free press in Ethiopia. Since 2012, I have worked as a columnist, reporter, editor and editor-in-chief in different newspapers like Ethio-Mihdar and Yekelem Qend and I’ve been featured on many other websites. While doing my job, I was jailed and tortured in 2012. And last year during the elections, security officers followed me.
Whenever I went to my home or came out, there were people around – that’s why I had to hide in a monastery near Lake Tana. I was in hiding there for about two weeks. After the elections I returned to Addis. Since then I got a lot of intimidating phone calls and I was also physically attacked. I reported these intimidations to the human rights council and wrote about it in social media and in the newspaper. In my articles, I always speak about human rights violations, press freedom and so forth. I highly criticized the regime.

What does that mean for your fellow journalists back in Ethiopia, what can you tell us about their situation?

Frankly speaking the press environment there is locked. Last year alone, more than 20 journalists and activists were forced into exile. Dozens of newspapers and magazines were forced to close down by the regime. The government might give you a license, but after you have it, there is no fertile ground to work with the license. I think the international community can understand that the press environment in Ethiopia is much more in danger than ever.

Why do you think is the government so sensitive to some of the news coverage that you do?

I just try to investigate facts, but there are still so many challenges. The government is totally autocratic. In a totalitarian government like in Ethiopia, it’s the nature of such regimes to be prohibitive. Sometimes they want to be seen by foreigners as being more democratic and liberal, but practically they are very autocratic. That’s the nature and behavior of the Ethiopian regime.
Source: DW

Ethiopia to Present Projects for Russian Companies to Make Up for $5 billion Debt

Ethiopia will present to Russia a list of projects for its companies before fall to make up for Addis Ababa’s debt before Moscow, the Ethiopian ambassador to Russia told Sputnik on Tuesday.

By Sputnik

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – In late April, Russian and Ethiopian foreign ministers met in Moscow and discussed the issue of outstanding debt relief.

Russia has been writing off Ethiopia’s debt since 1998 which at the time stood at $5 billion.

“The Russian Federation agreed to cancel most of the debt that we had and the remaining $126 million we agreed with the Russian side that we would use that provided that Ethiopia presents viable projects to be used by Russian companies,” Grum Abay Teshome said.

According to the ambassador, Ethiopia is already finalizing the list of these projects.

“They are in the engineering area, science and technology and innovation. Once they are finished we will present them to the Russian side. I think they will be presented before September,” the ambassador explained.

Russian companies need to be active in the market of the Ethiopian development projects as they face competition from Chinese firms, the Ethiopian ambassador said.

“They [Russian companies] have to be very active because the Chinese are there and are trying to take almost everything. The Chinese have always been around, but we want to diversify some of the infrastructure projects,” Grum Abay Teshome said.

According to the ambassador, Addis Ababa needs Russia’s technology and expertise. Gazprombank, one of the largest banks in Russia, and the Inter RAO energy firm are looking for expanding their operations in the country, he said.

“They [Gazprombank] are also interested in stretching to gold mining, and agro-industrial complexes also. That is going well… Inter RAO is engaged in renovating some of hydro stations that Russia and the Soviet Union built in the country,” the ambassador added.

In 2011, Inter RAO created a subsidiary to work on equipment deliveries for power plants abroad, with Ethiopia being one of the priority countries. The company launched a tender for a survey and evaluation of the technical condition of equipment of the Malka Wakana hydropower plant three years later. The plant was built by the Soviet Union in 1988.

In 2014, a subsidiary of Gazprombank and the Ethiopian leadership signed an agreement on production sharing at a promising hydrocarbon field in the country’s north. The Russian bank reportedly intended to spend some $2 million on the project.


By Yohannes Anberbir, Hargeisa, Somaliland

Somaliland's ruling party chairman and potential successor of the sitting president blamed Addis Ababa for delaying Somaliland's plea for recognition, which he said has not been answered for the last 25 years

Muse Bihi Abdi, chairman of the ruling party of the self-declared Horn of Africa nation and presidential candidate plus potential successor of the incumbent president, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, told The Reporter and other selected media on Friday that the main challenge for recognition of Somaliland as a sovereign state during the last quarter of a century is Addis Ababa.

He pointed out two reasons justifying the blame. The first and main challenge his country is facing is the African Union (AU) which he described as the ''tallest tower'' in the capital of Ethiopia.

“The tallest tower built by the Chinese at the heart of Addis Ababa, where the continent’s heads of state gather every year is our challenge,” he said.

The Government of Somaliland has submitted its case of international recognition to the AU decades ago but it has not been considered, he said.

The second main challenge, according to him, are neighboring countries, especially Ethiopia, he said. “The big brother in this part of the region is Ethiopia, followed by Kenya and Djibouti, who perfectly know the case of Somaliland more than any African nation; nonetheless, they just kept silent with regards to our case,” he said.

Somaliland is currently celebrating its 25th independence anniversary in the capital Hargeisa.
According to him, all three neighboring states, particularly, Ethiopia, “the superpower” as he described it, have a lot of excuses and said that none of the excuses could hold water for Somaliland.

He said that one of Ethiopia’s excuses is because of the age-long hostility it has with Somalia while the other is claiming neutrality as it is the headquarters of the AU. “The same is true with Djibouti and Kenya,'' he said, “They don't want to be the first to recognize Somaliland,” he added.

Analysts, however, blame world powers, specifically the United States and the European Union for hindering Somaliland's recognition aiming to maintain the Union of Somalia. Therefore, they say, the AU and member countries of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are helpless unless they got the nod from the world powers.

The chairman, however, opposes this assertion. “We are Africans and are independent to make our own decisions even if the western influence exists,” he argued.

Chairman Muse Bihi Ahmed believes that African leaders are phobic when it comes to recognizing Somaliland. African nations are afraid of the reality including Ethiopia which is brave to put
a secession article in its constitution, he concluded.

TPLF regime complained to Germany over orchestra performing in Eritrea

 LEIPZIG Philharmonic Orchestra performing in Eritrea 

By Yemane G. Meskel | Minster of Information

The TPLF regime has apparently contracted an incurable disease: that of lodging official complains against all & any foreign visits to Eritrea.

The latest I hear in the diplomatic grapevine is Ethiopia's Ambassador protesting in Bonn against visit of the LEIPZIG Philharmonic Orchestra.

Predictably, Ethiopia's officials are often "politely" told to mind their bl**dy business.  The silly habit persists nonetheless!

'Jamming ESAT help calm the protest in the Oromo region,' TPLF official


The Ethiopian government said jamming the Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio (ESAT) help calm the protest in the Oromo region. The regime jammed ESAT at the peak of the protest few months ago, but ESAT was able to come back to air after few weeks of interruption.

One of the world’s leading jailers of journalists, the Ethiopian regime, spends millions of dollars in payments to companies to drop ESAT from their satellites. ESAT has been at the forefront of covering the protest in the Oromo region that is still continuing, albeit sporadically.

Bereket Simon, an advisor to the Ethiopian Prime Minister and one of the top leaders of the ruling EPRDF said had the government not exerted an all-out effort in jamming ESAT, the protest in the Oromo region would have spread to the entire country and could have wiped out the regime.

Presenting a report at an EPRDF council meeting presided by the Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, Bereket said if the government did not muzzle ESAT, protesters would have killed loyal members of the party in the region and the protest could have potentially spread to the capital.

He also said the internal strife and division within the Blue Party, which was the work of his the government, as well as the inability of Patriotic Ginbot 7 forces to penetrate into the central regions of the country, had spared EPRDF from crumbling.

Bereket also said the strategy spearheaded by him in creating public forums to let the people vent their anger and frustrations help stop the people from engaging in an uprising against the government.

TPLF regime says the public has high regard for opposition political leaders in exile than for EPRDF officials


The National Intelligence and Security Service said the Ethiopian people have high regard for opposition political leaders in exile than for the country’s leaders in power.

At a meeting held in connection with the 25th anniversary of EPRDF’s ascension to power in Ethiopia, the security and intelligence department said the Ethiopian people see the exiled political leaders with respect and consider them as leaders of the nation.

Elaborating on the threats faced by EPRDF, the head of the Information Network Security Agency, Major Binyam Tewolde said if armed groups were able to organize in clandestine and if some members of the army are able to carry out a coup d’etat while religious groups protest simultaneously, the survival of the EPRDF would be in danger.

The Security Agency meanwhile disclosed that it has been successful in eavesdropping on telephone conversations of the Eritrean military. The Agency however said it has not been effective in spying against armed groups operating in north Gondar and along the border with Sudan.

The Agency also said it has so far not found evidence that Patriotic Ginbot 7 had infiltrated the army and that some members of the army have shown interest to join the armed group.

Why Ethiopia's Foerign Minister Tedros Adhanom is not qualified to head WHO

By Observer

Ethiopia's foreign minister T. Adhanom is purportedly vying to head the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Contrary to what is reported, he is not medically qualified. Dr. T Adhanom is a biologist who has been working in the health sector..

For the record, both the WHO regional Director's position as well as that of the Director -General require a medical degree coupled with a specialty in at least one field of medicine plus the requisite experience.

Once again, the WHO Director-General's post has always been held by someone who had the aforementioned qualifications and an outstanding track record in her/ his field and of course the backing of his/her regional constituency.

One wonders whether the minister is unaware of the requisite credentials.

An observer.

Oromo protesters 'force suspension of Ethiopia university exams'

Oromo protesters 'force suspension of Ethiopia university exams'


Ethiopia's university entrance exams, due to start today, have been cancelled because one of the papers has been leaked online, reports the government-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

Pictures of the English exam have been widely shared on social media.

Minister of Education Shiferaw Shigute is quoted as saying: “After a cross check, we decided to terminate the whole exam since we had no evidence that the other exams were safe."

People supporting the protests for greater rights for Ethiopia's Oromo people are saying that they are responsible for the leak.

Photographs of some of the exam papers have been posted on one activist's Facebook page:

The activists said they wanted Oromo students to have more time to study for the entrance exams after their high schools had been closed for several months during a wave of protests at the end of last year and the beginning of this year.

Ethiopia's education ministry has said that a plan for new exams will be announced soon.

UK’s Secretary Of State Hammond Heads To Ethiopia; Andargahcew May Be An Agenda

By DeBirhan

Philip Anthony Hammond, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingodm, is set to be in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia on June 1 and 2, 2016.

It is expected that Andragachew Tsige, an Ethiopian-British politician kidnapped by the Ethiopian government since June 23, 2014 from Sanaa Airport, Yemen will be among the main issues he will be having on his agenda.

The Twitter account of Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed visit:

UK’s Prime Minister was reportedly said to be travelling to Ethiopia in April 2016.

Hammond had previously noted that he had expressed his concerns and discussed about Andragachew whenever he met Ethiopian officials.

(Video) TPLF captured civilians and interviews them on TV as Ginbot 7 Rebels

TPLF captured civilians and interviews them on TV as Ginbot 7 Rebels for propaganda.

It is to be recalled, Ginbot 7 successfully ambushed TPLF forces in Southern Ethiopia, killing dozens. After the ambush, TPLF reinforcements arrested dozens of civilians from neighboring areas as "captured Ginbot 7 rebels" for propaganda. 

(Video) Ethiopia: Plot, Brutality and Confidential killings in Tigray Deserts

ESAT Human Rights: Plot, Brutality and Confidential killings in Tigray Deserts (EMFISHFISH!).

Nine year old daughter of Andargachew Tsige sues the UK government

Menabe Andargachew poses with a picture of her family. Cassandra Vinograd / NBC News

By Reprieve

The nine-year-old American daughter of a British activist who was rendered to Ethiopia has launched legal action against the UK Government, for its refusal to request his return.

Lawyers for Menabe Andargachew, 9, a joint US-UK citizen living in London, have begun judicial review proceedings against the British Foreign Office over ministers’ handling of the case of her father, Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege.

Mr Tsege, a British citizen with American family, was kidnapped and illegally rendered to Ethiopia by forces of that country in June 2014. He remains held there under a sentence of death imposed in absentia in 2009 in relation to his political opposition to the Ethiopian Government.
With the exception of one brief telephone conversation in 2014, Mr Tsege has not been allowed to speak to his family. He has not been allowed access to a lawyer, nor brought before any court, and the Ethiopian prison authorities continue to deny that he is in their custody. Torture is common in Ethiopia, and there are fears for Mr Tsege’s wellbeing.

American diplomats observing Mr Tsege’s in absentia trial in 2009 described it as a means of “political retaliation”, which “lacked basic elements of due process”. In emails obtained by the international human rights organization Reprieve in 2014, British officials have said they “have not been shown any evidence [against Mr Tsege] that would stand up in a UK court”.

The UN’s Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the European Parliament have previously called for Mr Tsege to be released, as have US members of Congress. In a statement published today by NBC News, Senator Ben Cardin, who sits on the US Foreign Relations Committee, said “Mr. Tsege’s grave case is one of many that gives cause for concern.”

In the internal documents obtained by Reprieve, British officials said they believed Mr Tsege’s rendition to Ethiopia to be “completely unacceptable”, with some asking whether the UK had a basis for a “legal challenge”. However, the British government has refused to ask Ethiopia to release Mr Tsege.

Mr Tsege’s daughter Menabe is now challenging that position, arguing that given the illegality of his kidnap, detention and death sentence, the UK’s decision not to ask for Mr Tsege’s release – something it has done in other similar cases – is unlawful.

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Tsege’s family in the US and the UK, said: “Andy Tsege has been subjected to a series of shocking breaches of international law by a supposed UK ally – from kidnap, to rendition, to an in absentia death sentence – simply because he expressed criticism of the Ethiopian regime. It’s deeply disappointing, and simply irrational, that the British government refuses to ask for his release and put an end to these abuses. Enough is enough – ministers must call on Ethiopia to free Andy, and return him to his family without delay.”

Electricity went off in South Korean President’s hotel in Ethiopia

By The Korean Times

There was a short power blackout at the hotel in Ethiopia where South Korean President Park Geun-hye was staying during her state visit, hotel and South Korean officials said.

The electricity went out around 8:55 p.m. on Thursday and lasted for about 30 seconds to one minute at the Sheraton Addis Hotel in Addis Ababa before the hotel’s generators kicked in to provide backup power, hotel concierge Asheber Belay said.

Asheber said the power supply returned to normal later, though he did not elaborate on what caused the temporary power failure.

South Korean officials also confirmed the power outage, but Park’s security detail declined to say whether Park was at the hotel when the power went off.

Another South Korean official said Park was not apparently at the hotel during the temporary power outage, citing her attendance at a state banquet hosted by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday evening.

The South Korean officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing policy.

Park flew from Ethiopia to Uganda on Saturday on the second stop of her swing through Africa. (Yonhap)

Ethiopian runners win 16th annual Buffalo Marathon

Senbeto Geneti Guteta of Ethiopia wins the Buffalo Marathon. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

By The Buffalo News

The 23-year-old from Ethiopia crossed the finish line in a time of 2 hours, 22 minutes and 50 seconds to take home the $2,000 winner’s check in the 16th annual event. While he fell short of the marathon record of 2:15.50 set last year by two-time defending champion Kip Tisia, Guteta was elated with his performance on an unseasonably warm day.

“I’m very happy today,” he said after the win. “I’m working very hard. You have to plan to win, so I succeeded and I’m very happy.”
Guteta said the early start to the race – organizers moved the time up from 7 to 6:30 a.m. in an effort to combat the expected high temperatures – helped at the start, but that his pace slowed during the race.

“It was hot,” he said. “After 30 kilometers, especially. The course was very hard.”

Hirut Guangul of Ethiopia the first woman
to cross the finish in 2hr38min 
On the women’s side, Hirut Guangul of Ethiopia defended her title in record-breaking fashion. After finishing in 2:39.1 in 2015, she shaved 35 seconds off that Sunday, crossing in 2:38.26.

“This year there was no wind,” Guangul said of what led to her improved time.

A field of about 1,930 runners took part in the marathon, with another 4,700 taking part in the half-marathon. The marathon continues to grow by about 10 percent each year, according to organizers.

Race director Greg Weber said that several runners had been treated for heat-related issues like dehydration and cramping, but that he was not sure if anything more serious had taken place on the course. The finish line in front of the Buffalo Convention Center had a medical station next to it, and several runners were taken there immediately after they crossed.

May 28/ግንቦት 20 – The Day Ruthless Dictatorship was Replaced with Tyranny in Ethiopia

By Alem Mamo

Sinclair Lewis, the great novelist and the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930, once said “when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” With the sweeping rise of crypto-fascist groups branded as ‘far-right’ political parties in the western world and edging towards consolidating political power through democratic electoral procedures, one could be forgiven for being tempted to reflect on Lewis’ prophetic statement at this moment in history.

The rising tide of scapegoating and hateful rhetoric poisoning the western political landscape is beginning to resemble 1930s Europe. Xenophobia, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and racist micro-aggression sentiments are no longer on the fringes of political discourse. They have become the main menu in the political diet. Demagogues and racists are no longer confined into their secret clubs; they are out in the open speaking in dog-whistle language. While these trends are disconcerting in many ways, a different type of crypto-fascist and oppressive regimes, backed by western governments, are terrorizing their own citizens in various parts of the world.

Although, Sinclair Lewis’ primary concern might have been on the potential of rising fascism in America, as he outlined with a brilliant lucidity in his semi-satirical work “It Can’t Happen Here,”1 his concern, however, has far reaching and broad implications for democracy, liberty, and justice world wide. Indeed, it can happen anywhere and it is happening. In the post Cold War world (if one believes that the Cold War has actually ended) mini-fascist authoritarian regimes have skilfully mastered the mantra of democracy, freedom, and justice, while doing the exact opposite. They self-ordain as the only guardians of a nation, the ultimate authorities of the present and the future, they lip-sync the values of freedom and equality. In practise, they obliterate all values associated with freedom and human dignity. Case in point here is Ethiopia over the last twenty-five years. The institutional and state-sanctioned terror that has traumatized the entire nation for quarter of a century continues to be one of the darkest chapters in the country’s long and proud history. Officially, Ethiopia is called “Federal Democratic Ethiopia.” The fact is Ethiopia is neither federal nor democratic. Ruled by mini-crypto fascist gangsters, the country languishes in the dark dungeons of oppression and injustice.

As the regime prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Tigray People’s Liberation Front entry to Addis Ababa against the backdrop of massive and catastrophic famine, I wonder how the people of Ethiopia feel about the last quarter century. Since independent opinion polls are not allowed in Ethiopia, I set out to meet a few individuals for one-on-one interviews to gage the impact of May 28/ግንቦት 20 on their lives.

I talked with a sixty-eight-year-old grandfather, and I asked him what 28/ግንቦት 20 means to him. Frist, he appeared puzzled with my question. As if I was residing on a different planet over the last twenty-five years. “Follow me” he said with a gentle and soft voice. I followed him through semi-lit narrow hallway of his three-bedroom brick house. As we reached the end of the hallway, he opened a door to a small room, flicked the switch for the light. The room had a small wooden bed covered with a bright hand-knit comforter. To the right of the bed there was a small table with candles and three framed pictures. It looked like a shrine. “You see,” he said picking up the picture on the right side of the table, “this is my grandson; he was only 19 when he was gunned down by security forces.” “His father left the country right after the death of his son. I don’t know where he is. Some say he joined some resistance movement.”

“Why was your grandson killed?” I asked.

“Because they can, they kill with impunity, they are above the law.”

“Did he do something to anger them?” I asked again.

“What can he do? He is an unarmed little boy who spends most of his time between school, playing football, and hanging out with his friends.

He gently put his grandson’s picture on the table and lifted another from the left edge of the table. “This is my son. He was thirty-two when he was picked up by security forces from his home 2 years ago. We never saw him again. They didn’t tell us anything. We scoured all known prisons in the country with no avail.”

“My wife died six months ago. She couldn’t bare it; the pain, the sorrow was too great for her. She cried every day. Now I live by myself. The toll on my family is unbearable. Well, I hope I have answered your question.” He said looking out through the window. “This is what May 28/ግንቦት 20 means to me. Death, sorrow, and pain. That is what I got out of May 28/ግንቦት 20. There is nothing to celebrate. May 28/ግንቦት 20 is our day of disaster.”

My second interview took me to a home of a displaced farmer in the western part of the country. His wife and three children live in a small shack shelter made out of blue plastic and some cardboard. We sat outside just in front of his plastic home.

“How did you end up here?

“We were evicted from our ancestral land simply because they wanted to give our land to rich foreign companies for industrial farming. They took our land so that they can grow food and send it to their countries.”

“How is life here for you and your family?”

“We are suffering here. Our lives are being turned upside down. Our way of life is destroyed. We have become refugees in our country.”

“How do you feed your family with out farming?”

“Whatever we can salvage from the area, some root plants and whatever nature gives us. Some days we eat, some days we don’t. Living is hard under such circumstances.

“So in this context, what does May 28/ግንቦት 20 means to you?” I posed another question. “Injustice, displacement, and suffering, that is what May 28/ግንቦት 20 means to me and my family.

I met a young and aspiring journalist in her living room. She was articulate, well-informed, and frustrated with the political and economic situation. “I wanted to be journalist because it was my life-long dream. From the very young age I wanted to be journalist. Most importantly as I grew up my idealistic desire to be a journalist became more solidified and well-articulated. What I mean is I wanted to tell the truth. I wanted to speak truth to power.”

“Are you successful?”

She smiled and took a brief pause. “It depends what you mean successful. If you mean do I have the freedom and the legal protection to do things I wanted to do, the answer is no. However,” she paused again, “however, if I had remained truthful to my core beliefs and values, yes I am successful because I remain loyal to continue fighting for freedom of expression and justice in this country.”

“You see,” she said while putting the cup of tea she made for me on the table, “all moral choices have a cost and the willingness to pay that cost is the required currency in any struggle for freedom.” “You know,” she said with an assertive confidence and musical tone, “The struggle for freedom is not conditional on the outcome. The struggle itself is the way one becomes free and complete. We fight fascists simply because they are fascist. One doesn’t join a freedom struggle under the pretext of victory because the struggle itself is the victory. In the struggle we declare our freedom, mentally, physical, emotionally, and spiritually. Once you have that kind of freedom in your soul, you will
never settle for anything less.”

I sat there listening to her articulate analysis of freedom and justice. I felt I was in some kind of mini-seminar, democracy and justice 101. Brilliant, confident, and dedicated, she radiated practical hope that anchored on knowledge, understanding, and strong discipline. As we concluded our conversation she said, “Please stay in touch.” I promised to do so.

During the course of my interviews I have spoken to more than two dozen people and the dissatisfaction, anger and frustration with the status quo is unanimous. Displacement, extrajudicial killings, muzzling of journalists, treating peaceful political activists as “terrorists” all of this made the wider public to search for an alternative way of claiming their dignity and inalienable rights.

The rise of mini-fascist regimes under the guise of democracy and justice and most recently “fighting terrorism” has become a major obstacle for the political and economic development of countries like Ethiopia and elsewhere. The extended suffering of millions of citizens in Ethiopia under the iron fist of an authoritarian regime is a sad and intolerable reality in the country. Mothers bury their young. Fathers helplessly watch while their houses have been ransacked by security and police. Families are terrorized, farmers displaced, journalists locked up, and many citizens traumatized by the unchecked power the regime. The ancestors of the current generation fought fascism and successfully managed to defeat it. What they didn’t foresee was that fascism could be homegrown.

Ethiopia: Undoing The Counterproductive Cultural Reforms TPLF Carried Out

Tigrayan supporters attending the 40th Anniversary of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in Mekelle, Ethiopia, 18 February 2015

By Assegid Habtewold [1]

“Our Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes”- my latest commentary, addressed the importance of carrying out cultural reforms to defeat dictatorship, lawlessness, and poverty that have been plaguing our country for so long. When it comes to reforming our culture, we have two big tasks ahead: To undo the counterproductive cultural reforms TPLF has already carried out (The theme of this article), and To implement additional cultural reforms that may enable our country to advance in the 21st C (Next article’s theme).

TPLF carried out many counterproductive reforms to advance its sinister agendas that must be reversed. Using state sponsored corruption, state owned media, and other state machineries, TPLF succeeded in inculcating corruption, fabricating false information to mislead the public, and planting hatred in our culture. No question. There had been isolated incidents of corruptions, and state sponsored misinformation here and there by the previous regimes. Some discords among some ethnic groups and regions had been there too. The issue of ethnic strife had existed in certain parts of the country except that TPLF magnified it and used it and still is using it for its own advantage. Though there had been ethnic grievances before the reign of TPLF, at no point in our history, we were disintegrated like we are now. Never in our past these things were espoused as formal policies by former governments.

The current regime had recognized the need to circumvent the conscience of our people who were loyal to those cultural attributes that weren’t favorable to TPLF’s agendas. The regime was very clear from the onset that if it doesn’t get the critical mass support it desperately needs to carryout its schemes; it fails miserably and therefore losses power and influence to bring changes that were aimed at benefiting the regime and its inner circles. That was why soon after they took power, they waged attacks against prominent individuals, community organizations, and religious denominations they considered threats. TPLF understood that it couldn’t easily gain support for its divisive, shortsighted, and misguided policies without disarming our culture and in turn making what they say and do normal and acceptable by reasonably enough people. They had figured that out early on before they even took power. They were convinced that it’s unlikely to avenge, amass wealth, gain the cooperation of some key players, and stay in power long enough without using the state machineries to misinform the public, create division, and plant hatred in the soul of the nation. They knew that they must invest millions of dollars to break our societal fabric that detests these things.

In this article, however, I’d like to talk about just one of the unproductive cultural reforms TPLF successfully carrier out- resentment, mistrust, and hatred among ethnic groups (and regions within the same ethnic group). I’d also like to suggest for us to do something to reverse this perilous reform beginning now. It shouldn’t wait another day, let alone until TPLF is removed. Undoing this cultural reform isn’t only beneficiary in the long run and for the holistic health of our country; it’s mandatory for our current struggle to succeed in removing TPLF and undoing so many other misfortunate things that have happened against our great country. Using the state owned media, the ethnic based apartheid style federalism, the education system, corruption, and also brute, TPLF finally won this battle, and disarmed one aspect of our culture that had been promoting harmony, unity, and cooperation among the peace loving diverse people of Ethiopia. Regardless of sharp criticisms from global figures including the former Secretary General of UN- Kofi Annan, TPLF executed ethnic politics. TPLF knew the risk. They were warned that it would one-day backfire in their face if they take this road. They took the risk any ways, and went ahead to create ethnic strife as a means to survive, divide, and conquer.

Those few initial state sponsored ethnic frictions had led to more conflicts, and finally drove individuals in one ethnic group (and regions within the same ethnic group) resenting- even hating- other people from other ethnic groups (and regions). Though this radical change in our culture began small scale with few people, slowly but surely, it reached a tipping point and has become part of our culture. Sad! In his classic book, ‘The Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference’, Malcolm Gladwell wrote, “…Rain had become something entirely different. Snow! We are all, at heart, gradualists, our expectations set by the steady passage of time. But the world of the Tipping Point is a place where the unexpected becomes expected, where radical change is more than possibility. It is- contrary to all our expectations- a certainty.” One of the signs that show you there exists a reform in a culture is when a thing, which was once a taboo in that culture, becomes a norm- when a thing that was once despised becomes the standard. The reverse is also true. Talking against the new cultural attribute also becomes a taboo. I posit, many of my readers may feel uncomfortable, and even some may get irritated as I challenge the new normal.

Recently, I had a chat with a colleague about this unproductive reform that passed the tipping point. In that discussion, I found out that my colleague wasn’t surprised at all. He had noticed many people leaving the existing diverse groups to join organizations, associations, and parties formed (or led) by people from their ethnic group (or region). He further pointed out, “In today’s Ethiopia, it’s common to witness one’s ethnicity and where he/she (their parents) was born is scrutinized as someone seeks friendship, love, and partnership.” Of course, if people opt to check someone’s bloodline before they make decisions, it’s their right. Nevertheless, the new reality we should understand is that if many individuals identify and align themselves with their respective ethnicity and region publicly, and without fearing other people’s opinion for taking this approach tells us that the issue is no more a taboo. It got acceptance by the majority. It’s now the norm and part of the culture. As we grew up in Harar, for instance, such things like one’s ethnic background had no place to form friendship. Unfortunately, I recently came to realize that this aspect of our subculture in Harar has changed. I was shocked when I found out some of the people that I knew, when I was there more than 2 decades ago, forming alliances with people who share their ethnicity and/or where their parents were born. It’s saddening to witness the old fabric that held our friendship severely broken, and new ties are formed based on bloodlines. My colleague too, though he isn’t from Harar, noticed: “You are right, some years back, I looked around and those friends I’ve had from diverse ethnic groups and regions were gone one by one.” He then mentioned some Ethiopian institutions by name (community organizations, churches, and parties) that we both know very well and asked me if I know the bloodline of the core leaders. I couldn’t! I learned the bitter truth from him. The core leadership (the real decision makers) of these institutions is consisted of people from the same region. What is more? The core supporters of these organizations are from the same region. It was an eye opener exercise but, at the same time, embarrassing since I was unaware while the ground under my feet was shifting. My colleague was generous. He helped me stop beating myself too hard. He pointed out that since I didn’t care about my own bloodline, it was okay if I didn’t know the people I fellowshipped with and the organizations that I joined had some forms of ethnic and region biases. He’s right! This had been one of my blind spots…

For your info, I came to know the origin of my parents as late as end of last year when I was required to fill the last names of my parents on a form. I sought help from my relatives to fill the form. In the process, I came to realize that my bloodline is a mix of Amharas and Oromos from diverse regions. My colleague was wondering whether this new discovery has changed me. It hasn’t! I may be old school. I don’t define myself, and also seek alliances and partnerships based on the blood that runs in my veins. I strongly believe in the oneness of humanity. There are many things that unite us than divide us. It’s counterproductive to beg for what differentiate us and build wall around it, especially in the 21st C where the world is shrinking, thanks to technology and globalization, and becoming a small village. We cannot survive, thrive, and advance as a society unless we downplay our differences and capitalize on what unite us. I admitted to my colleague that I had been too slow to notice the changes in our culture. Though I knew that TPLF had been working hard to reform our culture to introduce hatred, mistrust, and discord, I never for the life of me expected the damage has reached such a tipping point where many Ethiopians align with their ethnic group or the region of their parents to form friendships, partnerships, and alliances. Once we were on the same page about this unproductive cultural change TPLF succeeded implementing, we talked about its implications. We finally concluded that this division along ethnic and region lines created mistrust and is sabotaging our efforts to unite against the big elephant in the room- TPLF.

I don’t enjoy sharing the above negative stories. But I have to show you how culture is powerful- both positively and negatively. There is no way that we can succeed in any endeavor that requires major transformation without taking into account the roles of our culture. If our goal is to defeat tyranny, we need to deny it the environment that allows it to flourish. If our desire is to be where we have never been, a place where each and every Ethiopian regardless of their ethnic, religious, and political view points are treated equal, we need to work on our culture and create the environment. The first place to begin is with our leaders from diverse industries. Unfortunately, we’ve very few leaders who are trying their best to stick out their head above the overwhelming water (culture) that attempts to drown them. My colleague, who is an insider in Ethiopian politics, shared with me a shocking comment he heard a prominent party leader said about another party. The leader said, “We prefer TPLF to stay in power forever, if necessary, than these people to come to power.” While we have this kind of deep mistrust and hatred at the top level, it’ll remain the main roadblock why we keep failing to defeat tyranny. Of course, we all should play our part but our efforts won’t bear fruits if our leaders don’t buy into it. Undoing the hatred sowed by TPLF should be the principal responsibility of our contemporary and future leaders. They should embrace harmonious co-existence among our diverse population. We need our leaders at all levels to refrain from promoting the dominance of one ethnic group and/or region over others both in private and publicly.

One quick disclaimer: It’s a reality. Some ethnic groups think that they should have their own advocacy exclusive groups and parties. That is their right. Nonetheless, leaders of these exclusive organizations should discourage some elements within their groups that promote hatred towards other groups both internally and publicly. These leaders should begin reaching out to other groups to protect the house from falling on all of us. Abraham Lincoln is known for his classic speech, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” We’re divided gravely! If there are people out there who pretend as if everything is going to be okay, they’re kidding themselves. However, the house (Ethiopia) must equally be for all of its citizens to save it from falling. Unfortunately, in our history, some mistakes were done by the past regimes that created some frictions. These must have been addressed. Unfortunately, not only TPLF failed to tackle past grievances appropriately, but also it shrewdly used past incidents to create further divisions, resentments, and animosity among our diverse people. TPLF had a chance to create a more perfect union but it squandered it. TPLF made a historic mistake. It created state-sponsored classes of citizens, and allowed one group to dominate others. In current Ethiopia, a few (TPLF leaders) are first class who control almost every major sector in the country while some (supporters and sympathizers of TPLF’s rule) are second-class citizens. The majority Ethiopians is third class citizens, rather, slaves. Ethiopia cannot stand while we’re divided like this. We need a country where no one ethnic group, region, or religion dominates others. We cannot correct past mistakes by similar other mistakes. Thus, we must untangle this anomaly from our culture beginning NOW. This task cannot wait. Those who are organized along side ethnic and/or region lines should stop trying to maneuver, upstage, and outsmart one another. What we need is a true, genuine, and unadulterated unity in diversity. That is our competitive advantage, and a win-win scenario for all of us.

The authors themselves or leaders in the opposition camp can undo this counterproductive cultural reform. But, I presume, it is unlikely that the leaders of TPLF to show genuine remorse, and begin undoing their own mess. Due to their built-in nature (molded by the kinds of books they were reading, books that were written by the cunning Italian diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli, to just name one), the chance of current TPLF leaders changing their minds and exterminating the artificially created classes of citizenship, and promoting unity in diversity is remote. It’s also implausible to expect the rise of new blood rank and file TPLFites that could renounce the current faulty policy. Mathematically speaking, it’s improbable for such members to survive, flourish, influence, and lead reform within this secretive organization. The second option is to have Mandela like leaders from the alternative forces. Mandela was black and his party was ANC. His preoccupation was fighting for the rights of blacks in South Africa. However, he was a values-based leader whose hatred against apartheid didn’t blind him to seek the domination of blacks over the minority whites. Here is his famous statement that shows how Mandela was a principle-centered leader: “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” We need principle-centered leaders like Mandela. Regrettably, there’re some elements in the opposition camp that work hard so that their exclusive group to dominate once TPLF is gone. This is unhealthy. It has created mistrust and the lack of cooperation within the opposition camp. We shouldn’t follow the example of TPLF. We must work together to create a shared vision where all citizens are treated equal. Without having this shared vision, we cannot genuinely come together and defeat dictatorship, and in turn reverse the rifts, resentments, and mistrusts it created.

In conclusion, TPLF introduced into our culture ethnic politics to divide and conquer. It cracked down our native culture that had been promoting unity, tolerance, and harmonious co-existence among diverse ethnic groups and regions. TPLF scrupulously reconfigured our culture in order it to favor its evil plans. It allowed the formation of ethnic political parties (discouraged and dismantled multiethnic parties), crafted a constitution without involving the public, designed an ethnic federalism, forged our history, and used the state’s resources and deployed its cadres to create division and hatred among ethnic groups (& regions). It also incentivized and rewarded individuals and groups, which joined TPLF in promoting ethnic mistrust and hatred. What is more, many in the opposition camp joined the ride- not immediately, slowly but surely. As never before, at this juncture in our history, we are divided, not only just along ethnic lines alone, but also along regions within the same ethnic groups. What a low place to find our proud and once the flagship country in Africa that inspired the oppressed people of the world against colonization by coming together as one people. Yes, it took TPLF more than two decades to dismantle our culture and introduce a damning cultural attribute that further disintegrates and divides us. That is why we cannot wait any longer. Reforming a culture takes time. We have to admit defeat, and do something about it and begin inversing the damages beginning NOW. The best place to begin is raising, empowering, and supporting leaders (including those who fight for the rights of their respective ethnic group and region) who won’t promote the domination of one group over others; leaders who believe in unity in diversity; leaders who unite and bring us together; leaders who are principle-centered; leaders we all can trust and follow regardless of whether their bloodline aligns with ours or not; leaders who are visionary. We should also encourage and incentivize the already existing leaders who are promoting unity in diversity both publicly and in private. Even if their number is small, with our support, like a single drop falls into the ocean creates ripples; these few leaders could influence others. And in turn, we could be able to reverse this damning cultural plague TPLF infected our people with. It’s possible, and we can do it!

[1] Dr. Assegid Habtewold is an organizational and leadership development expert. Assegid can be reached at

(Video) Ethiopia: Political prisoners go on hunger strike while the regime celebrating May 28

Political prisoners in Ethiopia go on hunger strike while the regime celebrating May 28 (Ginbot 20). (ESAT Breaking News).

Get rich or end up in jail: the tale of an Ethiopian intelligence officer

By Hindessa Abdul

Convicting an intel

After almost three years of proceedings, former head of domestic intelligence at the Ethiopian National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Woldeselassie Woldemichael, has finally been convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison just the other week. Doubts linger as to the real motives of the charges. A falling out with colleagues cannot entirely be ruled out. After all, nobody out of the tight-knit band of brothers could have known about the misdeeds. It has all the signs of a domestic affair situation.

For reasons unknown, the stories of the trial for the large part were covered by ruling party owned and affiliated media: Walta Information Center(WIC), Fana Broadcasting Corporate(FBC)and the Reporter. In the good old days Walta was addressing the accused as “senior researcher on peace and security” occasionally quoting his “words of wisdom” in terror related stories.

We’ve heard that before

Woldeselassie, along with two of his siblings (if it rings a bell, you got it!),was charged with grand corruption,namely,using public office for personal gains and accumulating wealth beyond his means. If you think about it, owning expensive properties in the posh suburbs of the capital; hoarding prime lands; opening multiple accounts under various names by officials and the army top brass is a stuff of legend.

One charge brought by the Federal Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (FEAC) is particularly interesting: misleading a top official (currently minister of state) into printing his work entitled Terrorism in Ethiopian and Horn of Africa. Little did we know the security chief had the calibre to take on such global issues in the absence of information about his academic or professional credentials. To add salt to the wound, he also forced scores of enterprises to buy hundreds and thousands of books taking cash in advance and never delivering the products In the most anecdotal fashion, Et Fruit, a public enterprise responsible for the most mundane task of distributing fruit and vegetables is among the major sponsors of the publication!

Indications are Beyene Gebremeskel, former director general of Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency (PPESA), seems to have cowered in the face of the mighty security official. Not only did he give a green light for the production in at least three of the printing houses he oversees, but also according to the charging documents, might have been involved in editing the manuscripts. No charges were brought against him.

Handle with care

After the court passed a guilty verdict, the consideration of mitigating factors clearly shows how some citizens are handled with special care. The defendant didn’t let the opportunity slip without mentioning his involvement in the “struggle” to topple the Marxist regime gone a quarter of a century ago. The judge bought it! Translation: being a member of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) can help reduce prison terms! Paradoxically, the publication which is at the center of the crime has also helped lesson the gravity of the sentence as the court concurred with the defense the work has created awareness about terrorism in the society.

The roots

Publishing books and squeezing companies to buy them has helped some ardent party hacks make quick money. Almost all who wrote the story of Meles had no difficulty disposing of the books to schools, various institutions and local government offices. One most notorious example is a Colonel Eyasu Mengesha who cobbled together a “biography” of the dictator launched in a pompous ceremony at the Sheraton Addis in the presence of the then head of state. A couple of others followed suit making good fortune in the process. The late head of Ethiopian International Institute for Peace and Development (EIIPD) had a knack for churning out volumes and twisting the arms of government agencies into buying them. In that regard, it is hardly surprising that another TPLF official comes up to claim his share of the pie.

Woldeselassie’s actions are typical instances of abuse of power and lack of accountability at the highest level. The war against corruption is hopelessly lost. FEAC which is in its last legs,happily so, after a series of legislation took their prosecutorial power away from them, may take credit for successfully bringing a criminal to book. However, without risking to sound cynic, it is the squabbling rather than the actions of the dormant government watchdogs that eventually will bring the corrupt officials down.

The writer can be reached at

TPLF to punish Ethiopians who don't celebrate May 28


Notices have been given to Ethiopians who do not celebrate the 25 years ruling of the regime.

The warning by the unpopular TPLF, the ruling political party of Ethiopia declares, "those who do not turn up for the occasion will be given a disciplinary action by their employers."

TPLF (Tigray People's Liberation Front), still a liberation front to create Tigray republic from Ethiopia has ruled the country since 1991 under EPRDF name.

In the 2010 Ethiopian election, the EPRDF took 99.6 percent of parliamentary seats after using the fraudulent practice of eliminating votes that supported the opposition. But in last year election, the ruling party refused to accept a defeat of a single seat by grabbing 100 percent of the votes that brought even laughter in Washington, the regime's political and financial backers.

TPLF officials which are known 'Dedebits' in a derogatory term are closer to perfect the meaning of election. Unlike one-party dictatorships like in Eritrea, it recognizes opposition parties, allows them some freedom of maneuver, only to deprive them of even one seat in the parliament as a manifestation of its absolute hegemony.

One Western diplomat in the capital Addis Ababa quoted, "why is the ruling party going through such a costly, time-consuming, and utterly useless election?

Now, the people of Ethiopia are threatened with losing their livelihoods by TPLF if they refuse to celebrate with the enemy they despised the most.

Ethiopia: The treasonous May criminals and their bloody police state

By Getahune Bekele

(The Horn Times) SOUTH AFRICA— Wincing in terror and shedding tears of blood, more than 85 million disillusioned Ethiopians are this week solemnly remembering how their beloved nation, nicknamed Africa’s Yugoslavia, was stripped of sovereignty to a degree not seen in Africa or elsewhere since the end of the Second World War.

It happened 25 years ago in May 1991, and after being dismantled, the impoverished East African nation was permanently placed under brutal Tigre regency in the hands of melancholic secessionist Tigre warlords dubbed “the May criminals”.

Ethiopians are since living in barbaric apartheid police state, forgetful of the world by which they are forgotten and utterly betrayed; all due to US machinations and sickening geo-political game played by western powers. Twenty five years later, severely tyrannized Ethiopians still do not know who to hold responsible for the impoverishment, disintegration and distraction of their beloved motherland. Are western powers alone responsible for the supreme crime or should we blame an invisible hand from somewhere that forced the land of patriots into a humiliating surrender?

The next 21 years after May 1991 were the most chaotic and the bloodiest in the country’s history, largely characterized by ethnic purges, genocide and unimaginable ethnic persecutions perpetrated by mad Tigre Peoples Liberation Front/TPLF war criminals. The ex Soviet satellite state- Ethiopia, once a militarily continental super power and the jewel of African independence was mercilessly dismantled, disarmed and looted by home grown terrorists under US supervision. The large scale pillaging then wrecked the already weakened economy and as a result, millions nosedived into the sea of bone crashing poverty overnight. The so called “change” only brought an endowment of shame upon the battle- hardened and battle- scarred people of Ethiopia and when the much talked about change failed even to silence the guns, Ethiopia stretched out her hands to the Almighty and lapsed into a coma.

Thereafter, in awe and in sheer agony, millions of shell-shocked young country men and women watched their nation forcibly made undressed and placed on hilltop naked, for all generational enemies to see and laugh at her. A humiliation that will never be forgotten, a humiliation that will never fade away from our collective memory, even in million years.

That was how Ethiopia’s vicious downward spiral kicked off and that was how the proud nation with very strong anti-colonialist, anti- imperialist and anti- capitalist tradition turned into a bloody police state with unschooled and uncultured TPLF warlords, infected by the same communist virus, taking full control of the abandoned nation. The next step was to cleanse Tigray republic of non-Tigre Ethiopians. “There is not one Amhara who has not murdered our fathers. Every Amhara is a killer. Every Amhara is a murderer.” One of the most feared TPLF warlords Aboy Sibehat Nega openly declared in June 1991. All non-Tigre Ethiopians were then deported empty handed after being held at Adigrat sport ground under squalid and appalling conditions for months.

Some deportees who made it alive and camped on the outskirts of Addis Ababa told reporters, including this writer of ordeals during their detention in the Tigre town of Adigrat while the world’s attention focused entirely on the conflict that was raging in the former Yugoslavia. One Amhara woman recalled that notwithstanding the unrestrained brutality that pervaded most other aspects of daily life in the camp, rape or other forms of sexual assaults at the hands of bad-tempered TPLF rebels was common or somewhat “normal.”

The ethnic cleansing campaign of TPLF was followed by the emergence of ethnically homogeneous “killils” or provinces, replacing the old ethnically mixed administrative regions. The hostile Killils or provinces or sometimes referred to as tiny banana republics with the right to self determination, were hastily carved out to deliberately fuel centuries old ethnic nationalist grudges to end the so called “problematic” and “doomed” One Ethiopia-One Africa ideals of revered supra-nationalist Ethiopians such as the late Emperor Haile Selassie.

The prime engineer of such divisive move was, of course, none other than the dead totalitarian terror guru and the ring leader of TPLF May criminals, Legesse Zenawi a.k.a Meles Zenawi.

As we all remember Zenawi, son of notorious traitor Aboy Zenawi Asres who fought Ethiopia alongside the Italians during the second Italo-Ethiopian war, did that to legitimize the ceding of his native Eritrea and to jumpstart the creation of semi-independent greater Tigray, the historic hotbed of treason, deceit and betrayal throughout the existence of Ethiopia as one nation.

Nonetheless, why so harsh punishments were imposed on war ravaged and impoverished African nation that gave up communism and made a fresh start in the post cold war world? Why was Ethiopia handed over to dastardly and credulous TPLF warlords with her hands tied behind her back? If accepting communism was a crime punishable by hanging, then why hang more than 50 million indigent people who had no stake on the matter?

That was nothing but a punitive victor’s justice administered on a subdued nation.

The 27 May 1991 abortive London peace conference that sealed the fate of Ethiopia was very similar to the controversial 1919 treaty of Versailles that sealed the fate of Germany after the end of the First World War. Germany caused the death of millions and massive distraction across Europe and was punished accordingly with significant loss of territory and hefty payment in reparations. Then 73 years later, an African nation without any war guilt clause suffered more crippling, unprecedented territorial and massive financial loses.

But how did a nation that caused the death of 8million European soldiers and 5million civilians, Germany, and a poor country that was decimated by internal strife, Ethiopia, received similar punishments? Wasn’t that at least morally invalid?

The treaty of Versailles bore more resemblance to the so called London peace conference. The same Victor’s justice mentality was easily discernible, even if the incidents were separated by more than seven decades. Just as Woodrow Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Orlando destroyed Germany in the Hall of Mirrors, Individuals who pronounced Ethiopia guilty were Herman J Cohen, then assistant secretary of state for Africa, alongside Isayas Afeworki of EPLF, Meles Zenawi of TPLF and Lencho Leta of OLF,- the May criminals.

Moreover, with highly respected Tesfaye Dinka systematically ejected from the conference, Ethiopia had no representative at a gathering that took away her ports and eventually made her the world’s biggest land locked nation. What a notorious miscarriage of justice.

However, the biased and most disapproved conference which gave Tigray and Eritrea far more than they bargained for, but left Ethiopians embittered, didn’t restore stability or maintain a lasting peace in the Horn of Africa. Only seven years later, a senseless boarder war that claimed the lives of 70,000 soldiers broke out between EPLF and TPLF in 1998. Eighteen years later, large numbers of troops are still stationed along both sides of the boarder, making a mockery of the so-called London peace conference of May 1991.

We Ethiopians have derived unspeakable deprivation, modern time slavery, genocide, ethnic cleansing, Ethnic apartheid, war and terror out of the ill- fated London conference. We remember the conference among other things for bringing forth a cold hearted and shallow murderer known as Meles Zenawi. Journalists who suffered in his prisons call him “the mad black Caligula.”

The tyrant died in office in 2012 without facing war crimes tribunal for the bloodcurdling atrocities he committed against the non-Tigre population of Ethiopia. And as distance from the sea, corruption and serious economic crimes continue to make life unbearable for the people, the month May remains month of national mourning and month of national rage in Ethiopia proper.

Those who were massacred during the recent Oromo protest and those desperate souls who perished at sea and beheaded by ISIS extremists in Libya while fleeing ethnic persecutions back home, are all direct victims of the decision taken at the London conference.

Moreover, Ethiopians shall never forget victims of the Gondor pogroms and the May 1995 martyrs of democracy, -also direct victims of the so called London peace conference of May 1991.

We reject all the outcomes of the conference that created an apartheid state and formed the most barbaric minority Junta of the 21st century, with the contempt it deserved. In addition, we strongly denounce the covert formation of ethnic supremacist Tigray sub-state on occupied land of Gonder, including Wolkayt.

The cry for justice, freedom and liberty is reverberating.

Dr. Tedros for WHO or Never Tedros for WHO?

By Mastewal Dessalew

After following the debate about whether we should support or oppose Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s campaign to clinch the position Director General of the World Health Organization, I have decided to reflect my take on the issue by answering some of the questions raised by Dr. Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni on face book.

Birhanemeskel has listed five points to corroborate why he supported Tedros’s appointment to the position. I agree on the first one, Tedros’s appointment is helpful by minimizing or completely eliminating his role in Ethiopia’s internal politics, yes it is a blessing in disguise. But, I beg to differ on the other four points.

Birhaneseskel questions the value of the #Never_Tedros_for_WHO campaign in promoting representative governance, transparency and accountability and then recommend “ I would have been impressed had these types of campaigns were conducted against the appointment of incompetent and corrupt regional, particularly in Oromia, and federal officials”. It is just like treating the symptom than the root cause of the problem. Isn’t it the opprobrious sham election which is orchestrated and conducted by Tedros and co that is barring representative democracy in Ethiopia? It is unrealistic to make such people transparent and accountable when we all know and witnessed that the authority of Tedros and his colleagues emanates from the barrel of the gun; their response and motto to popular demand is “pull the trigger and make them suffer”.

The other point raised by Birhanemeskel is the appointment of Tedros to the position might enhance the prestige of Ethiopia and even Africa. This point is fine in principle but should we support those who killed, tortured and imprisoned us to improve the prestige of our country? As the saying goes what is good for the goose is good for the gander; so if other ministers of this repressive regime come to the international arena, are we going to line up behind them? No, we should not allow dictators and criminals to hide behind the image of our country and our patriotism. Actually, the prestige of Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular is destroyed and tarnished by such kleptocrats and dictators. If Tedros and co are determined to change the image of the country, they could better do it as a minister and if there is anything nocent to the prestige of our country, it is the indigence of its people. We should solve our real problems if we want to have prestige. We could not support those people who are responsible for the starving of our people for the sake of prestige. We lost our prestige when the country begs food from abroad while its wealth is amassed by politicians and their cronies. If we support them, as Joseph de Maistre said “every nation gets the government it deserves”.

Brihanemeskel has also argued that the campaign against the African Union endorsed candidate undermine African countries interests far beyond Ethiopia’s borders. One thing we should not forget, the African Union itself is a collection of dictators and that is why it is dubbed dictators club. Incongruous to its founding principles, it is the institute that legitimizes oppression, torture, mayhem, and killing in Africa. I have never heard of this organization taking a position against dictators for the benefit of the majority. On the top of that, the perfidious Tedros and his government could also easily mislead who know little about them. It is up to Ethiopians to reveal the real picture of the oppressive government and make the rest of the world canvass their deceitful self portrayal.

The final argument of Berhanmeskel is we should not oppose the membership of Ethiopia and Ethiopians representation in international organizations. Things are mixed up here. I don’t see anybody opposing the country’s membership in international organizations, but it is appropriate to oppose a person who has a track record of oppressing people in any opportunity we get. It does not matter if he is our fellow countrymen or not and even as victims of his oppressive government policies and practices, we should be the first to oppose. Isn’t it under the auspices of his leadership that the ministry of health vaccinated and sterilized Amhara women without their consent with a malicious intent of attenuating the Amharas through demographic reengineering? It is documented with videos. Isn’t his government massacring Oromos in broad daylight for resisting the forceful eviction from their ancestral land? Isn’t his government hampering democratic change in the country by conducting feigned elections and narrowing the political space in the country? Weren’t many people killed, tortured, imprisoned, persecuted and faced countless atrocities only for having a different opinion with the incumbents? To sum up, if there is any campaign about Tedros and co, it is to let them face their verdict at ICC.

A Race to the Bottom: Is Proud Ethiopia at Risk?

A Race to the Bottom: Is Proud Ethiopia at Risk?

By Aklog Birara (DR)

Part I

Regardless of our political, religious and ethnic differences and the formidable odds Ethiopia continues to face, most ordinary Ethiopians agree Ethiopia has a remarkable and long history as a free and independent multiethnic and multi-religious nation. Although we claim and believe in this fundamental principle, we are so afraid, timid, fractured and reluctant to express Ethiopia’s inviolability in the strongest terms possible that we are setting the country for Balkanization. For instances, those who believe in one Ethiopia, one country, one diverse but unified population in which---as a matter of right and not privilege--each person is endowed with the legal right to live anywhere safely, express, voice, participate in the socioeconomic and political regardless of tribe, religion and location have failed to collaborate and speak with one voice. It is not uncommon these days for political elites and intellectuals to speak with two voices depending on their audiences. As a result, the voices of tribalism and secession dominate the political scene. This suits the ruling party.

I suggest in the strongest terms possible that Ethiopia’s loss as one country will be everyone’s loss; and its durability will be in everyone’s interest. Historically, Ethiopia’s enormous potential to survive and thrive has been thwarted by foreign aggression, internal divisions and foreign encirclement as well by a lack of an-all inclusive, fair, just and participatory governance. This can be fixed. But it takes wisdom, will and readiness to accommodate one another for the common good. The political ethos of government change and continuity by force of arms rather than through public discourse, consensus, political pluralism and power sharing is now driving the country and its 101 million people to the bottom. From its inception, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that purportedly spearheaded the overthrow of the Socialist Dictatorship embraced an anti-Ethiopian position dismissing Ethiopia’s historical evolution as a multiethnic and multi-religion society. It has kept the country and its diverse population on a permanent suspense. In the process, it undermined the country’s inviolability, territorial integrity, national security and sovereignty.

The TPLF’s narrative in “የኤርትራ ህዝብ ትግል ከየት ወዴት!” 1979 ዓ.ም framed what was to emerge as consequential. The group opined that “Today’s Ethiopia is composed of varied and competing regions (read nations). This composition does not at all convey the evolution of a continuous integrated, unified and shared state and central government spanning 3,000 years” that is often asserted by champions of one Ethiopia and one country. It argued the contrary, “Its current status as a country administered by one central government authority begun under Emperor Menilik. Accordingly, Ethiopia’s existence as a unified country is about 100 years.” This served as a prelude in asserting the notion that Eritrea has never been part of Ethiopia. “The argument that Eritrea was and is part of Ethiopia is not supported by historical facts….Eritrea was an Italian colony and has evolved as a distinct country in the process...Based on historical assessment, Ethiopia and Eritrea are distinct and separate countries. Consequently, the attempt by either country to subjugate the other is a colonial issue.” The TPLF meant that Ethiopia’s occupation of Eritrea is imperialistic and therefore illegitimate. In effect, the hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians who fought and died for Ethiopia’s territorial integrity, national security including access to the sea did it in vain.

This prologue established the ground work to facilitate Eritrea’s secession once the TPLF took power in 1991. The TPLF offered the EPLF carte blanche endorsement to go ahead and establish an independent Eritrea. It then justified it to the UN. Forget the façade of referendum on behalf of the oppressed people of Eritrea. Instead, focus on the instant historian Meles Zenawi and his letter of December 13, 1991 to the then Secretary General of the UN H.E. Javier Perez de Cuellar. “It is to be recalled that the Conference on Peace and Democracy in Ethiopia, held in Addis Ababa from 1-5 July 1991 adopted a Charter affirming freedom, equal rights and self-determination of all peoples are the cardinal principles governing state affairs in the new Ethiopia….the Conference formally recognized that the people of Eritrea have the right to determine their own future by themselves…that the future status of Eritrea should be decided by the Eritrean people in a referendum to be conducted in the presence international observers.” With this formal letter, Meles took the unprecedented and unilateral position by a leaders of fragmenting Ethiopia and making it land-locked. No pro-Ethiopian group would ever do this. This fundamental thesis is the one that led to the ethnic federal system and Article 39. By definition, what applied to Eritrea applies to any ethnic group with a defined territory.

The TPLF then followed this betrayal by pushing and imposing ethnic-federalism without public debate. Ethnic-federalism has not resolved the national question on which the TPLF narrative is based. Instead ethnic elite politics is driving one of the most important countries in Africa and the world to the bottom by spreading and deepening hatred and division among ethnic and religious groups. In each case, not only the TPLF but each of us who acquiesced with the narrative will be judged harshly by history. We were and still are silent because we have a vested interest greater than serving the common good; or we have become privy to narrow ethnic politics and the ethos of fragmentation and Balkanization. It is political correctness and not fundamental principle in strengthening a country that rules the day. Eritrea never became Singapore. It is in fact a basket case. Its ports are being traded like a commodity to the highest bidder. Ethiopia’s nations, nationalities and peoples are far from achieving freedom, equal rights and self-determination. The beneficiaries of the model are ethnic elites who thrive on people’ miseries. The country faces more socioeconomic, political and religious problems as never before.

The purpose of this commentary is to identify the major hurdles and challenges.

The political reality on the ground suggests three intricate and interrelated problems Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people face:

a) Narrow ethnic politics of ethnic elite supremacy, marginalization, exclusion, favoritism, profiteering and rent-seeking, organized plunder and silent “extermination of specific groups of people” in the name of institutionalizing ethnic-federalism. In short, de-Ethiopianization.

Well-documented ethnic cleansing and marginalization of hundreds of thousands of infants, children, women and men, notably since the early 1990s that continue unabated, attest to well-documented episodes of genocide. These episodes constitute crimes against humanity. This is also an area no one wishes to touch because of political correctness.

b) Encirclement and strangulation of the country by its traditional enemies whose strategy is to fragment, weaken Ethiopia and deter it from achieving sustainable and equitable development for its 101 million people. This process is being broadened and deepened through proxy arrangements using ethnic and religious political elites; and

c) The deliberate and systematic promotion of Wahhabism by Saudi Arabia is now a clear and imminent threat to Ethiopia’s national security and the peaceful coexistence of Christians and Muslims.

Very little attention is given to this threat because of political correctness again. As Alem Zelalem put it in an excellent piece, Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabism and the threat to Ethiopia’s national security, 2003, “Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have had deep historical roots in Ethiopia. Ethiopian Christians have a long history of welcoming and living with Muslims side by side. Intermarriages among the two groups are as common as intermarriages among various ethnic groups. Until the current ruling party took power and diminished it, Ethiopians are renowned for being the least tribal people in Africa and the Middle East. They are also the most tolerant of different faiths. Ethiopia offered refugee to early Muslims. “The much needed protection that the Ethiopians provided to the early followers of the Prophet Muhammed, and their refusal to hand them over to their enemies, as well as the logistical support they made available to the Prophet, occupy a special place in the history of Islam. Umm Ayman, the Prophet Muhammad’s nurse, Bilal ibn Rabah, the first Muezzin who called Muslims to prayer, Caliph Omar al-Khattab’s mother, as well as Amir ibn al-As, who conquered Egypt in 640 A.D., and Abu Bakra, who led the siege on Taif, and many others, were all Ethiopians….The great majority of Ethiopian Muslims are followers of Sunni Islam.

The lesson I draw from this extraordinary history of mutual understanding and tolerance among Ethiopia’s rich faiths is that the country has managed to deter religious bigotry and wars that characterize many African countries and the Arab world. Mutual tolerance and intermarriages are a win-win. Millions of Ethiopians do not belong to any ethnic group and live in all parts of the country. This situation has changed abruptly and dramatically for two primary reasons.

First and foremost, Arab countries including Saudi Arabia were among the greatest supporters of the EPLF and the TPLF. No one really knows how much funding, arms, training, intelligence and diplomatic support Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other traditional rivals to Ethiopia offered these two groups and others that still operate in the Horn of Africa. What is undeniable is that their support proved decisive. Since then, Saudi Arabia has been accused of financing terrorism in numerous parts of the world. It spends billions to spread Wahhabism, especially in the Africa region.

Historically, the Saudis did not find a willing Ethiopian government in their effort to export their culture and religion or to take over Ethiopian lands and waters through surrogates. Previous governments knew that the Saudis and other Arab countries were providing financial, diplomatic, intelligence, logistics and other critical support to the EPLF so that Eritrea would secede. As Saddam Hussein had boasted when he was in power in Iraq, Ethiopia became land locked and the Red Sea is now practically an “Arab lake.” The Port of Berbera will soon be owned by GCC member. This development poses an existential risk for Ethiopia. The TPLF core leadership and allies bear full responsibility for this existential threat.

Having facilitated the secession of Eritrea, the TPLF invited the Saudis to Ethiopia and offered them a blank slate to own lands and to promote their culture and their version of Islam. Whether deliberate or not, the new ruling party failed to recognize the distinction between short term financial and diplomatic gains that accrued to it; and the long-term strategic losses Ethiopia would incur. Ultimately, the TPLF will lose if Ethiopia loses and disintegrates. Whether intended or unintended, the fact remains that the TPLF made the disastrous and inexcusable mistake of abandoning Eritrea and followed this historical and inexcusable blunder by allowing the Saudis and others to penetrate Ethiopian society. In the words of Alem Zelalem “Today (unlike previous regimes, he meant), Ethiopia is ruled by a sinister, treacherous and cynical clique that has no obligation to the maintenance of the unity and territorial integrity of the country, and still less, to the defense and security of the Ethiopian state.”

Remember the TPLF went to war against its former ally the EPLF and won the battle at a loss of tens of thousands of Ethiopian and Eritrean lives and at a cost of billions of Birr. What did it achieve and do at the end? It failed to restore at least Assab to its legitimate claimant, Ethiopia. In effect the TPLF lost the meaningless and costly war. It also created animosity among the brotherly and sisterly peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea who would be better off without dictatorial regimes.

Who is accountable for Saudi’s Arabia’s penetration? 

There is ample evidence showing that it is the TPLF government led by the late Prime Minster Meles who invited the Saudis and then begun to worry about potential risks once the roots of the damage were implanted into the society. “Who opened the doors of Ethiopia to Wahhabism? Who authorized  Saudi Arabia to do what it is doing today in Addis Ababa and in the provinces of Shoa, Wollo, Gondar, Arusi, Wollega, Jimma, Harar, Sidamo, and indeed in the entire south?” The Saudis are wellknown for using their petroleum dollars to bribe anyone or any group to achieve their strategic objectives. “How much bribe did the Saudis have to pay to the corrupt and criminal authorities, who were brought to power with Saudi finance? What is even more surprising is that they wanted to build a mosque in Axum – a city where hardly any Muslims live. By opening Ethiopia’s doors to Wahhabis, the ruling clique in Ethiopia has been collaborating with international terrorists.”


AT PRESENT THE GFDRE FACES LITTLE INTERNAL THREAT FROM ISLAMIC EXTREMIST GROUPS, BUT SPORADIC VIOLENCE BETWEEN GOVERNMENT FORCES AND ISLAMIC MILITANTS HAS TAKEN PLACE ALONG THE BORDER WITH SOMALIA, AND ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS ARE BELIEVED RESPONSIBLE FOR A SERIES OF RECENT HOTEL BOMBINGS AND AN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON AN ETHNIC SOMALI MINISTER.” How can one be certain that there are no “sleeping cells” of fundamentalism and terrorism in Ethiopia waiting for the country’s ethnic-political system to unravel? The late Prime Minister was right to worry about something that his own party created. But why did his team invite the Saudi’s and Wahhabism in the first place? To what end did the current regime politicize religion?

What specifically did the Saudis do?

I recall traveling to Nairobi, Kenya for the World Bank and running into numerous young white robbed persons on flights from London, Frankfurt and Cairo. Their destination was Adds Ababa. When asked why Addis, the typical answer was “mission.” This reminded me of the old colonialists who sent missionaries with their Bibles to convert Africans. These twenty-first century travelers were not tourists and had in their possession huge amounts of money to bribe, build and preach. I learned then that Nairobi was a hub for these new missionaries primarily from Saudi Arabia in route to Ethiopia. WikiLeaks has confirmed this. “SOME MONEY IS ARRIVING FROM ABROAD. THE NUMBER OF MOSQUES IN ETHIOPIA DOUBLED OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS. FUNDED IN LARGE PART BY PRIVATE MONEY FROM SAUDI ARABIA. PRIVATE SAUDI BUSINESSMAN MOHAMMED AL-AMOUDI HAS BUILT SEVERAL MOSQUES AND KORANIC SCHOOLS, INCLUDING A NEW COMPLEX IN THE AFAR REGIONAL STATE. WHEN the American AMBASSADOR ASKED LOCAL RESIDENTS IN HOSAINA, A ZONAL CAPITAL IN THE SOUTHERN PEOPLE'S REGION, WHO WAS FINANCING CONSTRUCTION OF A HUGE, NEW MOSQUE, THE LOCALS PROFESSED NOT TO KNOW.”

When you are in a position to build Mosques and Koranic schools in places such as Aksum where there are no Muslims, your ultimate objective is conversion. For this to happen, you must persuade and buy local official support and endorsement. Fortunately for the Saudis and others, there are numerous profiteers in Ethiopia.

I remember at the time that funding sources included Libya, Iran, the Gulf Cooperative Council Countries (GCC), Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt and Sudan. The target population in Ethiopia were primarily poor and destitute communities in need of goods such as foods and services such as health and education. It is in this environment of social vacuum where fundamentalism and terrorism thrive and take institutional roots. As mentioned above, the late Prime Minster Meles acknowledged at the time that one group “AL-ITTIHAD DRAWS SUPPORT FROM LOCAL COMMUNITIES BECAUSE IT IS THE ONLY ORGANIZED GROUP IN a POSITION TO PROVIDE NEEDED” material support and urgent services to the population. “THE EXTREMISTS RECEIVE FINANCIAL AND OTHER SUPPORT FROM IRAN, IRAQ, SUDAN, LIBYA, AND PRIVATE DONORS IN SEVERAL GULF STATES.” So, the problem was known more than ten years ago.

Incidentally, there is also a direct correlation between religious and cultural promotion and foreign investments from these countries that now includes Turkey. What I can surmise is this. The situation may be contained and subdued for now. However, in the long-term this penetration poses an enormous threat to Ethiopia’s national security and the peaceful coexistence of its Christian and Muslim peoples. Reliable sources indicate the existence of “sleeper cells” in Ethiopia. These cells are seemingly peaceful and law abiding. Persons affiliated to these cells are highly and systematically organized. Many consist of armed groups waiting for the right opportunity to act. Some experts suggest that one such “window of opportunity is civilian unrest.” This may be debatable for sure but cannot be dismissed outright. Another is foreign provocation or aggression. This is not debatable. Read Egyptian newspapers!

Who is in charge of government and state when all of this is happening? 

Without doubt, it is the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The TPLF commands overwhelming and singular policy and decision-making power and authority over the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front’s government. It continues to commandeer intelligence, security and defense; and the country’s budgetary and human capital resources. It enriches its cohort of supporters (both domestic and foreign); and suppresses the hopes and aspirations of the vast majority of the population. It determines “war and peace.” It invites in anyone who has money and global or regional influence. It has a low regard for Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and the peaceful coexistence of the country’s mosaic of nations and religions. Given its proclivity to dominate at any cost, the TPLF has literally undermined Ethiopian nationalism and diminished the social, cultural, spiritual, economic and political bonds and cohesion of Ethiopia’s diverse population. The TPLF dismantled Ethiopia’s highly integrated national security and defense infrastructure and institutions and created a TPLF dominated intelligence, security, defense and foreign relations architecture totally dedicated to the party.

Potential conflicts between Christians and Muslims operate within this repressive and oppressive environment. The TPLF has politicized faith as much as it has politicized ethnicity and defense. Some say this politicization has provided fuel to those determined to divide the population as never before. Witness the burning of churches, homes and properties reinforcing fear, and mistrust and unnecessary division. The politicization of ethnicity and religion are both corrosive and dangerous. What is needed a unity of purpose and a collaborative effort among Ethiopia’s elites to promote, nurture and institutionalize genuine equality among ethnic and religious groups as well as to create a solid foundation for the formation of a multinational and multi-religious democratic Ethiopian state and government that includes everyone and excludes no one. This challenge cannot be left to chance. Why genuine democracy now?

Democracy reinforces mutual tolerance 

 The only road-map in averting the three critical problems identified above is political pluralism that mirrors Ethiopia’s diversity. Over the past quarter century, one observes a continuum of repression and exclusion unprecedented in the 21st century. Among other things, TPLF’s anti-democratic and anti-people and anti-Ethiopian initiatives is the art of perfecting an anti-democratic political tradition of conspiracy and mistrust. This diminishes productive economic and social capital immeasurably. Because the TPLF did not trust Ethiopian faith institutions—both Christian and Muslim that operated and coexist side by side-- it opened-up the country’s womb for penetration by the Saudis and others. Because of its fear of conspiracy from within, it underestimated the shadow of conspiracy from without. By conspiracy I mean that this or that group or this or that ethnic group is waiting for the opportunity to carryout revenge against the TPLF and the nationality it purports to represent. This narrative dominates the mental model of those who govern through force rather than public participation and consent. What is generally true on the faith side of the divide and rule cycle is equally true on the ethnic and defense sides. For example, the TPLF extends the mischievous and dubious assertion that, if they take power, the Oromo are ready to exterminate Amhara and vice versa. I do not buy this. Sadly, some ethnic zealots fall into this trap and burn Amhara businesses, kill innocent Amhara nationals and evict thousands who are not murdered. In Gambella, ethnic groups who have cohabited the land for generations take arms against one another. In the Gondar region, citizens have been forced to assume new identities and to fight one another. Security and defense forces watch Ethiopians kill one another. This artificial system-driven division creates a social and political vacuum for land annexation and marginalization. So, who benefits from this mutual destruction? Ultimately, no one except those in power.

Why spread pessimism? 

If you are only accountable to yourself and to your party, you can afford to spread mistrust and pessimism. Sadly, the TPLF is brilliant at creating and promoting mistrust among victims. Mistrust that if this or that political group—whether multiethnic or ethnic or a blend---takes political power the country won’t survive and the growth work that the current ruling party has initiated will dissipate. This deliberate and strategic narrative reinforces and exploits the pessimism and fear that characterizes Ethiopian society irrespective of ethnic or religious or class or gender or demographic affiliation. Everyone is mistrustful of everyone else. This is why the spy network of 5 to 1, that is, one person monitoring and spying on five people works well. This is true whether we are referring to Tigray or Gambella or Amara or Oromia etc. In today’s Ethiopia, fear and mistrust do not have boundaries. They do not have boundaries in the Diaspora either. The masters of deceit have exploited the psychology of pessimism, conspiracy, mistrust and fear in order to rule without challenge. The saddest thing is that the rest of us fall victim to this sinister trap. We are driven by TPLF’s agenda at our own peril. We lived in an environment of fear under the Socialist Dictatorship for 17 years. We continued this fear culture under the TPLF/EPRDF for a quarter of a century—a total of 42 years.

In the process of this fear and mistrustful political and social culture, those of us who defend genuine equality through inclusion, a level playing field for every Ethiopian, the rule of law and political pluralism for a multiethnic suited for a multiethnic country are becoming quite irrelevant relative to the challenges Ethiopia faces. Why? Among other things, we have incapacitated ourselves by focusing on the wrong problem, namely mutual mistrust and fear. Because we have failed, we mistrust and demonize one another and refuse to talk to one another. How can we resolve problems without the courage to meet and talk to one another? Independent observers agree that those who oppose the ruling party and entertain a better alternative for the country guide conversations, relationships, alliances and activities by embracing and reacting to the TPLF agenda of hate, division, mistrust and conspiracy.

If we are unwilling to learn from one another, at least we can heed to Albert Einstein’s wisdom in solving problems. "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." Or paradigm of thinking must change in fundamental ways.

The TLPF agenda of ethnic divide and rule, demean and perpetuate hate, intimidate and crush, forcibly evict and or make people disappear, buy and bribe, endear and entertain the foreign community at public expense etc. served well for over 25 years. The struggle in Oromia, Northern Gondar, Gambella, the Ogaden and other places has changed the reality on the ground. The government has abandoned its responsibilities to the public. Most visitors repeat the same story. “There is hardly a credible government that functions,” they say. In private, some Ethiopian experts say that there are in fact two governments in Ethiopia today.

One government for the outside world, especially the West and the UN system to see and engage. This government receives bundles of monies, weapons, intelligence and diplomatic recognition. Why? Because it serves as a policeman in the Horn of Africa, sending troops to fight and die in Somalia and South Sudan. They say that the country is more stable than other neighboring countries such as Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan. Notable is the fact that the Ethiopian government service in the spirit of “collective security” is highly prized by the government of the United States and the UN system. Ethiopia’s long standing relations with the United States has also been strengthened and prolonged because of the fight against terrorism in the Horn. Ethiopia is essentially a “buffer state” against the wave of extremism and terrorism. In my estimation, all this is being done at an enormous cost to the Ethiopian people, especially to the millions who continue to starve; and the millions whose human rights and freedoms are suppressed. The answer to this dilemma is not ethnicity and ethnic division, but collaboration and unity to save the country from collapse and its 101 million Ethiopians from continued misery.

It goes without saying that this (serve the US and the UN) external façade of strength and stability understates horrific and relentless internal repression and suppression. Subduing the population by force, does not, however, mask the reality with regard to the second type of Orwellian state and government in Ethiopia. This state and government that is buffeted by foreign military, intelligence and financial assistance has the capacity to deploy a massive intelligence, security, special police and defense network to crush and contain all forms of dissent anywhere in the country. My point here is that Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and national security and the security of vast numbers of people have become secondary compared to the primacy of domestic peace, stability and regime continuity.

Whether internal or external the government’s primary function is to maintain law and order, peace and stability all done in the name of national security as well as sustainable and equitable growth. Incredible as it may seem, paid for by the Ethiopian people, the country-wide network of repression operates exclusively on behalf of the TPLF pyramid and its political as well as its massive economic, financial and natural resources, investments and long-term interests. Ensuring the safety of party and private property is central to the security concerns the ruling party has in mind.

It is natural that the interests of foreign investors are also served in the process. One does not operate without the other. It is generally true that, under normal circumstances, all governments, whether democratic or dictatorial, have responsibility to safeguard private and investment properties. The TPLF/EPRDF and its foreign and domestic supporters say that protecting personal, private and investment property during crisis is performing an essential public service considered to be the norm in most law abiding nations. The current state of Ethiopia run by the TPLF/EPRDF is far from being law abiding and civilized. It is not the rule of law that governs. It is sheer force and the application of force that rules the day. If we ask the question “Whose property and for what social purpose is the ruling party protecting?” protecting, we will gain insight into the dilemma Ethiopians face. If we ask the question “Does the same regime protect the lives and properties of Ethiopians in Gambella, the Omo Valley or specific groups of people such as the Amhara when they are forcibly evicted from their lands, homes and other properties?, we will discern the contradictions and the self-serving nature of protecting investment property. I believe a rule-abiding government must protect all personal, private and investment property without discrimination and exclusion. A regime that breaks its own laws does not have the moral authority to defend anything.

While the TPLF/EPRDF is efficient in responding to internal crisis by protecting its own and foreign investment properties and persons, its actions are consistently opportunistic, political and differentiated.

For example, the federal government has failed to protect the people of Gambella from external assaults, the snatching of children and cattle, massive displacements and dislocation and internal blood-letting. It has equally failed miserably from protecting Amhara from personal attacks, destruction of property and decimation of churches. In many instances, these incidents take place in broad day light in the presence of security and defense officers. This is the reason why the regime is not trusted by the vast majority of the population.

Fragility is real 

Recurring and rapid deployment of massive force whenever and wherever popular dissent arises, most recently in Oromia, reveals unreported and underreported public suffering, human killings, dislocation and massive property damages that entail fragility. These have become the norm in Ethiopia. Donors and friendly governments such as the United States continue to defend and finance stability and continued skewed growth in a country where millions are suffering each day.

I have argued repeatedly that, a key measurement of growth is the socioeconomic and political wellbeing of ordinary citizens, job security, food, shelter, personal safety and the like. Sadly, Ethiopia does not score high in this area. I will illustrate this point using one example.

According to Becky Carter’s and Brigitte Rohwerder’s February 2016 report “Rapid Fragility and Migration Assessment for Ethiopia,” Ethiopia continues to bleed from human capital flight or exodus at a level never seen in the country’s long history. Do people abandon their commitment to Ethiopia’s longevity and durability when they leave in droves because of repression, dislocation or lack of job opportunities? NO! They carry this tradition and value with them.

The challenge and or gap is in translating this commitment to Ethiopia through unified and collective action.