By Alem Mamo
“They killed my son, and they forced me to sit on his dead body while they were beating me.”
If there is any doubt in one’s mind that the regime in Addis Ababa would come to its senses and respect the dignity and sanctity of human life, what happened this week in a western town of Dembi Dolo should put that doubt to rest. An act so cruel, so abhorrent, not just humans, it makes the rocks weep. A mother finds her sixteen-year-old son’s lifeless body covered with blood in the middle of the street, shot by forces loyal to the regime. Arriving at the scene, a mother, as all mothers do, began wailing while holding her son’s body. What followed next was hard to describe and painful to comprehend to any one with a minimum degree of decency. The same forces loyal to the regime ordered the mother to sit on her sixteen-year old son’s dead body as they mercilessly hit her.
It is an act so savage, so devoid of any norms and values cultural or otherwise, it reflects the psychopathic behavior of forces that do the killings in Ethiopia. Ephrem Hailu, the sixteen- year old boy, was simply in his daily routine like any other sixteen-year-old, playing and doing what sixteen-year-olds do. His life was cut short for no apparent reason except the psychopathic killing machines called Agazi have to kill someone to satisfy their addiction of killing.
The regime in Addis Ababa is at war with the Ethiopian people, young and old, men and women are being terrorized and murdered in broad daylight for simply demanding freedom of expression, assembly and respect to the rule of law.
“I was in my house knowing that my son was out playing with his friends,” said Ephrem’s mother. “Upon hearing gunshots downtown the boys, including my son, began running and that is when they shot and killed my son.” She said sobbing “He wasn’t just my son; he was looking after me like a father; he did manual labour work to support me. He was my only hope, my only lifeline. I didn’t have money for his funeral; my neighbors raised money for the funeral. I sat holding his body with my little girl by my side worried they might shoot my little girl, too.”
This is the dark and horrifying reality in the four corners of Ethiopia. Mothers are terrified to send their children to school because they have no guarantee they would return home safe. If they escape from the bullets they might not avoid the concentration camps where they are tortured and exposed to malaria infection without any proper medical service. The suffering of the Ethiopian people, particularly the young has reached an intolerable climax. While all peace and freedom loving people in Ethiopia and around the world mourn with Ephrem Hailu’s mother, it is also a reminder that the only way to have safety and security is by ridding the country from a brutal authoritarian rule once and for all.
Recently, I posted a piece titled “Refusing to be adversaries.” In this piece I was given a short poem which was written by a young man who lost his best friend to forces loyal to regime. I was moved by the poem because it describes the sorrow and pain of a mother whose child was gunned down. I have re-posted the same poem (below). It was originally written in Amharic. I translated it to English.
Tears of the moon
Gripped with an overwhelming sorrow
A mother says “I have no tears left
I have cried until I no longer see
I have wailed until I have no voice left
What is sight for, if I cannot see my child?
What is a voice for, if he cannot come to me when I call his name?
Here we have run out of tears.
Instead, our rocks, trees and fields are crying for us,
Here the birds no longer sing,
As they are mourning with us in silence.
The sun, too, weeps as we languish in the burning shadows of oppression,
And the moon sheds tears with us at night, as we hide in our blood stained forest.
When will this end?”
“When will we relearn to laugh again?
When will peace reign?
When will the true spirit of humanity return to this land of our ancestors again?
We are collectively tired of oppressionWe are people of an exhausted nation.”