By Girma Hadas
The title of the article might suggest to you that the writer is a victim of petty thinking and parochial politics because he focused to write about a certain region (Gondar) rather than talking about the bigger Ethiopian socio-geographical area. I do not blame you. Nevertheless, I want you all to read the entirety of the note and the underlying reasons why it is presented in such a way. Since the attributes of petty thinking and parochial politics are the virus that contracted TPLF/EPRDF I am always reminded that I should refrain from being a victim. As a matter of fact my decision to defect from the Ethiopian government diplomatic service a couple of years ago and live in exile was a direct result of my refusal to be defined by petty ideas and parochial politics that TPLF/EPRDF has propagated for decades and never sleeps until it is way of life in the Ethiopian socio-political system. So, I assure you that I am not defined in linguistic, religious, regional or any superficial based categories other than being and continue to be an Ethiopian.
Currently meaningful opposition to the Ethiopian government is not coming from those worthless opposing political parties in Ethiopia. The biggest and most formidable force that sends a chill in the TPLF/EPRDF camp is the true words and critical writings of some brave hearted individuals who have no allegiance to no party or organized group. These Ethiopians conviction for the realization of freedom, equality and justice in Ethiopia by standing against TPLF/EPRDF killing machine is commendable beyond words can express. Their effort and sense of invincibility to tyranny is a great conviction we all should emulate to regain our God given rights and be treated as equal to those Meles zenawi proudly called ‘golden’ people. Because of coincidence or other reasons those individuals who are engaged in peaceful opposition against the government and are paying dearly for standing to justice, freedom and equality in Ethiopia today are born and raised in a single region of Ethiopia, the historic city of Gondar!
Tyranny is not only defeated by bullets. It can also be removed by creating public awareness and an informed generation that looks at things not based on race and religion but based on realistic and rational understanding of things. When that is the case, the leader or government will not dare to lie to the people as a tactic of covering human rights violation and unjust practices. The only reason governments lie to their people and attempt deception to perpetuate tyranny and oppression is because they believe the people are ignorant and illiterate. Therefore, it feeds the people all the garbage they think works using the media outlets it monopolizes to serve this very purpose. So, creating a generation that question things and look behind the face value of things presented by the TPLF/EPRDF regime is critical in the fight against misinformation and deception that the Ethiopian government is master of through its shameless Information Minister Bereket Simon. It is speculated that Bereket is from Gondar, as the rest of the people I raised in this topic are. But the fact of the matter is to be Gondare is to put your heart and soul in it than to look away to Eritrea or Tigray where your mother and father came from.
Here below I state the people who never put themselves in the back burner but stood out defending what is right rather than passing things by as if that is not business of their own as many people did. The Anghereb boys stood strong to promoting justice and freedom in Ethiopia against the ever-increasing TPLF/EPRDF oppressive and brutal system of control. The following people exemplify the point I raised.
He and his family have paid so much for expressing his opinion and the reality on the ground on the state of Ethiopian politics. His wife Serkalem has been imprisoned for years and she has even given birth to a child in her prison cell because of her opinions and reports on the Ethiopian political situation. Because TPLF is so determined to silence any media that exposes its ill-conceived ideas and misguided policies it has imprisoned Eskinder since last year based on a phony terrorism charges. The only place in the world where journalists end up in jail charged as terrorists for expressing their views is Ethiopia. So, the unfortunate Ethiopian journalists are been haunted by this baseless charge that is intended to create fear among free journalists so as to weaken their ability from reporting on the flaws and undemocratic deeds of TPLF/EPRDF. The Ethiopian kangaroo court has convicted Eskinder for 18 years on the basis of this phony charge that is mean to intimidate free press in the country.
True words, like bullets, cause same level of damage if directed at the right person and in the right time. One Ethiopian with words as fatal as bullet is activist and journalist Abebe Gellaw. Abebe’s open protest against Meles Zenawi in Washington D.C. in 2012 in the middle of an international meeting was remarkable. It has put Meles in shame on the stage he thought he could get appreciation and respect. Although the United States administration has appeased the plight of Ethiopians in terms of justice and freedom, Abebe has been a mouthpiece of millions of Ethiopians who are thrown in prison cells and found in very precarious situations. Among others, the messages of Abebe on the occasion that includes ‘you (Meles) have committed crimes against humanity’ and ‘Meles Zenawi is a dictator’ and the passion he used had caused Meles to panic visibly. One face book friend said ‘Yebandan lij ye arbegna lij sisedbew yimotal’ it means ‘the words of the son of a hero have a killing effect on the son of a traitor.
Among current opposing party members, the most passionate and eloquent is Andualem Arage. His undying spirit for the cause of justice and equality is beyond measure. His youth might have contributed for that. I knew him when he came from Gondar and joined our elementary school, Meskerem Hulet or Beata, as it is informally known, in 1982 or 1983 Ethiopian calendar. At the time, since he was a new comer and a good performer we noticed him immediately. He went on to join Addis Ababa University and we graduated around the same time. He studied history and I studied Political Science. I used to admire his views and political stances during debates and in his well-written articles. I hope his hands will soon be unchained and he shall make a difference in the lives of Ethiopians and the political system
The other fruit of Gondar who was a victim to TPLF/EPRDF intolerant hand of coercion is journalist Temesgen Desalegn of Fitih newspaper. The crime he is alleged to have committed is writing articles that the government interpreted as “outrages against the Constitution or the Constitutional Order” (Article 238), “defamation and calumny” (Article 613), and “inciting the public through false rumors” (Article 486). The death penalty and life imprisonment are available sentences under Article 238 alone. Temesgen knows the consequence of his open criticism of the government. But, he did not allow his passion for the cause of freedom and justice be subservient to the fear of government retaliation.
As if Ethiopia is his own home, he has defended it whether others stood with him or not. In the range of two decades, hanging on to one principle and undying purpose is a quality only a few people are endowed with. In the twenty years period when his compatriots fell on the road and gave in to the gifts and benefits offered by TPLF/EPRDF, he stood firm. Solomon Tekalign and Neway Debebe could be mentioned in the category of people with interests rather than people with purpose. In the lows and highs of the political temperature in Ethiopia, he has always expressed his conviction for the creation of a democratic Ethiopia free of one party, one ethnic group and twisted policies of TPLF-led EPRDF buffoon’s game. It is wisdom of higher order to stand for the truth even if you are standing alone. Tamagn, as the others in this list do, belongs in this category.
abebe belewArtist and journalist Abebe Belew shares not only the respect of being part of the struggle for democracy and justice in Ethiopia, he is also part of the river of rebels that flows from the hills of Gondar. His enlightening radio in the DC is an avenue for the discussion and expression of ideas that is best to Ethiopia and its citizens. He has his conscience clean by advocating truth and condemning injustice.
Shambel Belayneh and Elias Tebabal
When the artists we knew who were with us shift the camp and join the TPLF camp I felt frustrated with the low level of conviction these people exhibit. But, what makes my feeling wrong and spirit strong on the artists is people like Shambel and Elias.
As a final note,
I hope you won’t put us in shame by abandoning the true meaning of being a human, to stand for the right and to say no to injustice. Be confident that your sacrifice today as the torchbearers of Ethiopian socio-political renaissance shall create millions like you in every corner of the nation. Ethiopians who are as brave and passionate as you are will reinforce your effort of changing Ethiopian to a place where all of us have a say without being expected or suspected to act in a certain way simply because we spoke a certain language. At last, I beg your forgiveness if I miss out anybody who deserves to be here.
God bless you all and Ethiopia