By Alem | Alem6711@gmail.com
More than 100 people were killed on May 6 alone. Sources say the number is growing every day as those admitted to various hospitals succumb to their injuries.
For any keen observer of politics in Ethiopia over the last twenty-five years the current crisis. The political, economic and social architecture, which exclusively benefits a small minority that claims to represent less than 6% of the 100,000,000 population, is at the centre of the wider national discontent. This marginalization of the majority by a small minority reached an intolerable level on May 6, 2016 spilling over on the streets of cities, towns and villages across the four corners of the country. Demonstrations were exclusively peaceful and orderly, simply demanding political and economic rights. The response from the Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF) that has ruled the country over the last twenty-five years was a total massacre.
The May 6th massacre that included children as young as 10 years old was conducted with meticulous planning of the government’s security and military apparatus, including the positioning of sharp shooters on rooftops and high grounds surrounding peaceful demonstrations. Hospital sources in the north western city of Bahir Dar describe several victim’s injuries as a ‘single bullet head injury’. In preparation for this well-planned and executed mass murder, the regime cut off internet, telephone and electricity services in most cities including the capital Addis Ababa. Some cities still do not have service restored as the state massacre continues.
The scope and magnitude of this massacre truly is horrifying. A mother of two who participated in the Bahir Dar peaceful demonstration describes the situation as a ‘blood bath’. When I spoke with her over the phone she could hardly contain herself. Our conversation was interrupted several times as she struggled with her grief. “They shot my son in front of my eyes. I couldn’t protect him, I just held him close as he took his last breath. I couldn’t save him. Can you imagine?” she asked. “I will save the bloodied scarf I held my son, I will save it.” Posing a question to me, she asked, “What would you do if you were me? What would you do?” she repeated.
The stories of horror and utter brutality all across the country are chilling. In the small eastern city of Awodie the indiscriminate killing was conducted door-to- door. I spoke with an elderly man as he returned from a funeral of murdered young men. “We buried nine members of our community, most of them young boys,” he said. “I will be going to more burials tomorrow,” he said, his voice cracking. “We are under state terror. We thought if we advise our children to stay home, they would be safe. We were wrong. We are not safe anywhere in our country. No safe place for us,” he said.
As the regime escalates nation-wide massacres many across the country are discussing establishing ‘self defense’ units and in some parts of the country people are already forming localized groups to respond to the regime’s ongoing violence perpetrated against peaceful demonstrators.
There are some indicators that citizens are arming themselves and the flow of arms in these areas have increased dramatically.
The situation in Ethiopia has reached to a point of no return. The status quo is not only unsustainable, but also it is at it’s last breath. This critical and important reality should be crystal clear to the western powers who have provided wide ranging support to the regime over the last twenty-five years. Ethiopia must transition toward true democracy. It is the one and only way to avert a major crisis in the country and that is what the people have been demanding for the last twenty-five years. Any attempt to short-circuit these demands by western powers in order to facilitate a soft landing to the TPLF and exclude any political actors who have a stake in the future of the country is unacceptable and most importantly foments another crisis in the country. It is this exact process facilitated by the U.S. State Department in 1991 that brought the country to this point. To repeat the same mistake is not only a failure to learn from history, but also it is a crime against the people of Ethiopia.
There is a very short window of opportunity to save Ethiopia and its people from a full blown crisis that could engulf the region. The tone, psychology and dynamic of the situation is changing rapidly. The masses are losing patience with the political, economic and social domination by a small minority. Hence, the country urgently needs a new political, economic and social order which facilitates the equal participation of all citizens. Ethiopia must move toward a system where no group or an individual is dominated by another. The country’s future is inextricably tied to a political system that fosters democratic citizenship, equality, freedom and justice. The failure by western powers to stand with and support the people of Ethiopia in this endeavour is nothing less than orchestrating a crisis with a magnitude of Iraq, Syria and Libya combined with a major catastrophic implication on regional and global peace and security.