Tuesday, August 28, 2007


By Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES)

I. Inspiration:
“As long as boundaries inherited... drawn arbitrarily with no heed to the ethnic, economic and social realities of Africa (continue), so long shall we be plagued by the political refugee problem… (Thus) the fault is in ours, not in our stars!” K. Nkrumah, October, 1965, Accra

“Where there has been racial hatred, it must be ended. Where there has been tribal animosity, it will be finished. Let us not dwell upon the bitterness of the past. I would rather look to the future, to the good new Kenya, not to the bad old days. If we can create this sense of national direction and identity, we shall have gone a long way toward solving our economic problems.”
Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s founding President

“This is my plea to the new generation of African leaders and African peoples: work for unity with firm conviction that without unity there is no future for Africa…I reject the glorification of the nation-state, which we have inherited from colonialism, and the artificial nations we are trying to forge from that inheritance. We are all Africans trying to be Ghanaians or Tanzanians. Fortunately for Africa we have not been completely successful…Unity will not make us rich, but it can make it difficult for Africa and the African peoples to be disregarded and humiliated. And it will therefore increase the effectiveness of the decisions we make and try to implement for our development. My generation led Africa to political freedom. The current generation of leaders and peoples of Africa must pick up the flickering torch of African freedom, refuel it with their enthusiasm and determination, and carry it forward.”

Julius Nyerere, First president of Tanzania

“Deal with the enemy of today without ever forgetting that he could become the friend of tomorrow” Habib Bourguiba, First president of Tunisia

“...Constructing a nation from scratch: We know we don’t have the knowledge. We know we do not have the resources. We know we do not have the experience. Our conclusion is: let’s face it.”

Isaias Afewerki, current president of Eritrea (quoted from National Geographic, June 1996, p.87)

2. Introduction

The Horn of Africa Conference was held for the fifth time in Lund University, Sweden between 23 August and 26 August, 2007. It is guided by a wonderful concept of generating constructive dialogue amongst civil society groups, scholars, political leaders and business communities from the Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti

The theme of the conference was on post-conflict peace-building with the objective of identifying key characteristics and contentious issues with a view to facilitate a communicative rationality to encourage consensus by enabling networking and possible undertaking of future activities by the stakeholders drawn across the regions. Indeed such a venture to bring the relevant and significant actors from the region to learn to cooperate and not continue to fight and hate is commendable. In this conference attendance was full, the arguments were lively and at times heated and the issues urgent and very compelling. Not only were all the ambassadors from the region represented and participated, (except Eritrea represented by a Counsellor serving as the ambassador), but also scholars from the region as well as from Scandinavia participated. There was a lot of information and opportunities for networking in the conference. The conference was to come up with recommendations to facilitate a past conflict era in the wider region from the Red sea to the Indian Ocean. The question we ask is the following: will such a useful forum helpful in advancing the cause of building trust and moving into a higher level of unity amongst the relevant forces in the region? Can it be useful to create dialogue and communication by refocusing thought and action to solve the real problems of real people? Can it bring the communities, intellectuals, civil societies, the state and society together? If nothing else this conference concentrates our thoughts to ask many pertinent questions.

3. Special Relationship

The people residing from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean have a special relationship. The Ethiopian ambassador made this point very clearly and in several occasions in the two days I attended on the 25th and 26th.The people and the region can either move forward by acting together “like a great body that refuses mutilation” (Fanon) and works for enduring composition or they can also remain trapped in fighting, spreading hate and confusion by trying to pursue misguided missions to form nations without knowledge, resources and experience as Isias boasts. In Africa the post- colonial states have not been successful to bring about a tolerable and acceptable level of well being of the people nor bring fully yet the dignity and respect of Africa from marginalisation and constant state of conflict and warfare. The countries of the Horn of Africa by now should have learned the bitter lesson from the way they mutilated each other by joining the cold war and dying for an agenda which has nothing to do with their own welfare. Having failed to learn from the Cold War debacle, they seem to fall in once again for being victims of global agendas and global politics they have absolutely no part in manufacturing. Some of them fight on the side of one set of global actors that fight another set of global actors. As long as they continue to do so and behave with such subservience to other powers greater than them, they may have a geographical proximity, but may not be able to realise and cement their special relationship to construct a shared present and future free from war and misery. A special relationship means a unity of purpose and approach to develop a shared goal, direction and strategy on how to deal with the external forces and internal challenges in the region itself. How can” one Africa that fights against colonialism and another that attempts to make arrangements with it” (Fanon) ever unite to pursue shared goals either as good neighbours or as entities that need to share a common approach in relation to outside forces that come with their own exclusive agenda and/or internal challenges that can be overcome by deploying unity borne of the special historical, cultural and spatial connections of the region and the people in it?

4. Myth of Origin

Looking back far ahead at the possible birthdates of the names Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia, one finds a remarkable history that they more or less originated in the same area and the forces that shaped each one has shaped the other. If we look back thus to the myth of origin of these entities, we find that it argues for their unity and composition rather than their division and fragmentation.

If we take the Pre-Judaic, Pre- Christian and pre-Islamic phases of historical evolution, again the same thing transpires: the same forces that shaped each have shaped the others.

If we take the Judaic, Christian and Islamic periods respectively, we see a history of interaction, communication, migrations, wars, and a shared civilisation and extensive contact through trade with the outside world of Europe, India and China. We see not only did these entities from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean communicate through mutual subjugation and the brutalities, injustices and oppressions recorded in history from the outside medieval and ancient worlds, but also through the migration of their own civilisations through the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, even the Atlantic and other outlets. (Shihan de S Jayasuriya & R. Pankhurst (eds.) The African Diaspora in The Indian Ocean, 2003)

The division of these entities into the states as we know them as they are arranged now came during the notorious period of the European Scramble for Africa. During this period in the 19th century the people of this region were divided or mutilated and their determined resistance against the colonial encounter was largely and on the whole though heroic was unsuccessful. Even the Ethiopian kings that appeared to have been able to snatch and retain a territorially carved Ethiopian state formation that waxed and waned territorially over time from the jaws of the European scramble only were able to maintain and retain on the whole a tenuous grip. There states have been constantly threatened by perfidious imperial humiliations through unequal treaties and unrealistic and unfair border demarcations that imbedded the seeds of all sorts of conflicts and antagonisms that have undermined state and unification in Ethiopia. The imperial- colonial pressure was victimising rather than building. Ethiopia emerged scathed with the scars and threats of the imperial agenda of the time falling prey to it once more by those it defeated, for example, at Adwa in 1896 and falling under fascist occupation between 1936 and 1941 under the Italians colonial adventures.

Whilst it is very clear to any sober person that Ethiopia suffered as an oppressed country, and whatever it managed to recover from the imperialist onslaught is gained through huge sacrifice and resistance, a particularly sinister reading and twist was given to its role during the Scramble for Africa, as if it was part and parcel of the Great Powers, and indeed a great power itself!! Nothing can be furthest from the truth than this preposterous claim that Ethiopia was part and parcel of the imperial and colonial system. Ethiopia was a victim of the colonial-imperial order and cannot be considered as part and parcel of the imperial system even if it were to have allied with one sort or group of imperial powers locked in rivalries with each other to retain a partially carved state from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea.

In the Conference in Lund some delegates who should know better tried to spread some unusual tales claiming that the current Somali invasion by the Ethiopian Government was a continuation of the imperial colonial project of the Scramble for Africa where they alleged Ethiopia participated by sending a delegation to the Berlin 1885 infamous meeting. Even if Ethiopia sent an observer, it is a far cry from exaggerating such a presence into a role that Ethiopia was part of the forces that carved the African continent.

Conceptually such a claim is outrageous and bankrupt. The Ethiopian emperor was clear that the people from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean are historically and culturally connected. But he lamented the fact that the imperial project disrupted their unity and appealed to God to restore their unity at some possible time in the future. That prescient insight by emperor Menelik has nothing to do with a colonial project. It has everything to do with redressing great power imperial and colonial injustice visited upon not only on the people from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, but also Africa from the Mediterranean to the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

In Ethiopia those who have legitimate demands to decentralise the states of the region particularly in Ethiopia by localising authority at the grassroots by devolving power and empowering ordinary citizens went overboard and created false ideologies of Ethiopia as a’ colonial’ power. This thesis has been loosely spread by books such as Addis Hiwot’s From Autocracy to Revolution, London, published by the Review of African Political Economy group, 1975, Bereket Habte Selassie, Conflict and Intervention in the Horn of Africa, MRP, New York, 1980, A. Jalata, Oromia and Ethiopia: State Formation and Ethnonational Conflict 1868-1992, Lynne Reinner, 1992, Sisay Ibsa et al The Invention of Ethiopia, Trenton, Red Sea press 1991. There are many articles and pamphleteering from the various fronts from the TPLF to OLF, ONLF, Sidama Liberation Front and others that spread loosely the false conception of Ethiopia’s relations with the various communities both inside and outside the region as a colonial relation. This sinister anti- intellectual and devious misconstruction must be rejected and the precise concept that truly characterises relations of oppressions involving the peoples of the region re- formulated by mounting an unsparing criticism of so much of the propaganda masquerading as science. Ethiopia’s relations with Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti or Sudan has never been colonial and is not colonial in the sense of a relationship that Britain, Italy or France had with these various states including Ethiopia.

5. Build the Unity of the People from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean

The people of the region must enter into an overriding project to unite and reject colonial boundaries. It is a scandal that in 1998-2000 nearly 100, 000 people died to defend borders drawn by others for their own reasons against the interest of the grassroots population by the elites that chose to split Eritrea from Ethiopia and bring both regions to the brink. This is indeed a historic wrong that continues to amaze all justice and humane people throughout the world. Not only has a war being fought, but to this day a no war and no peace state prevails affecting negatively the people who live on both sides of the Mereb River.

The elites have created refugees from each side and it looks the refugees have turned into a breeding ground to destabilise each regime. In recent weeks a new rhetoric has been launched by both the rulers in Ethiopia and those in Eritrea. Isias has given an interview in a glossy magazine in three languages about his undying and unchanging commitment to a ‘one Ethiopia—andit or hanti Ethiopia’!!! He declared in the front cover: “It’s our persistent stance to strive for a united Ethiopia.” Isias utters such a statement, according to the Ethiopian ambassador in Stockholm, whilst hosting forces that have an explicit agenda to break away and create splinter states from Ethiopia in Asmara!

It is also the case that Isias has been instrumental in the support given to the TPLF during its early formation. It is no exaggeration that the formulation of Eritrea’s relation with Ethiopia as a relation between colonized Eritrea and colonizer Ethiopia has given impetus to the tactics and strategy of using and exacerbating ethnic division in order to facilitate Ethiopia’s separation from Ethiopia. This strategy has been used by the EPLF and now it looks rhetorically Isias wishes to join the forces of unity rather than the forces of fragmentation. Curiously in the back cover of this glossy magazine which was distributed at the Lund conference, it has a picture of engineer Hailu Shawl of CUD and Siye Abraha of the TPLF!! Siye has been credited for refusing to be bullied by Isias and urging to re-arrange fair settlement of the Eritrea and Ethiopian problem.

To his credit Isias now seems to oppose ethnic inequalities under the guise of equalising ethnic communities in his concept of ‘hanti Ethiopia’: He said:” The people of Tigray have suffered and have become victims of the hostility created by the TPLF regime’s apparent favour towards the people of Tigray over other ethnic groups.” (p.56) what prompted this commentary in a glossy magazine projecting an austere and modest Isias? If indeed there is a profound change in the way Isias understands Ethiopia, his call for ‘hanti Ethiopia’ can be welcomed. The real problem is what does Isias understand by it and even more does his word and deed match or go in opposite directions as the Ethiopian ambassador to Stockholm pointed out at the conference? The true reasons for this latest posturing by both sides, i.e., Isias swearing for Ethiopian unity on the one hand, and Meles and Sebhat swearing to preserve Eritrean sovereignty on the other, may be revealed when something in terms of actions ensue.

The only way that the recent rhetoric from Isias can be taken seriously is if it stops him from reacting with knee jerk logic and continues to support forces that keep mis-formulating relations between Ethiopia and others in the region with concepts of colonialism and such like. Any colonial formulation is not aimed at a fight against the regime in Ethiopia now. It becomes a fight against Ethiopia’s existence: it is thus, above all, a fighting of the very survival and ontology of Ethiopia as an entity and country itself.

The TPLF leaders now in power too believe in such loose concepts as Ethiopia being a ‘colonial power in Eritrea’ and they too are putting at risk the very survival of Ethiopia both by the clumsiness of ethnicsing the country’s politics and by insisting Ethiopia has been a ‘colonial’ power over Eritrea until they took over the helm of state and found they have to deal with their own idiotic games on Ethiopia’s future. Such self-serving formulation has deeply hurt Ethiopia’s prospects and future. The worry that Ethiopia may be harmed by them is shared by all those who understand Ethiopians having a project of unification of the people who share a long history and fate from the Red sea to the Indian Ocean.

6. Searching for a Constuitive Foundation to unite the people in the Region

Looking back to the long duree, one sees the origin of each of the states we now call Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan is shared and similar. And if we, for example, take the origin of Ethiopia we see two myths of origin: one is Atiopik, grandson of Noah who created the Ethiopian nation and his son Aksumai who formed the Axumite civilisation. In this sense Ethiopia which included not only the states of Eritrea, Djibouti and Somali and Sudan, but also southern Egypt, Yemen east of Aden, Southern Saudi Arabia can be seen like what Scandinavia is to Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden today. The other version is Ethiopia as in the Greek term for sun- burnt faces, in this latter sense-making, Ethiopia can mean ´the whole of Africa’ today.

If we take each of the states and play back history we see the organic connections that existed amongst them throughout history until the 19th century Scramble for Africa. This brings us to an important theorem. How have we tried to understand the past? How should we understand it now? Should we derive positive possibilities from our past or condemn it? Should we dialogue with the past or reject it? Can we back-cast to look far ahead in the future and shape the future together with rules and procedures for full rights of all the grassroots whilst finding workable arrangements for living together peacefully and with security and stability? What constitutive foundation will bring the people from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean to live together in peace, stability, security and unity by doing away with the hurts, hatreds, fights and various unhealthy interventions by outsiders owing to the chronic mistrust, fragmentation and divisions amongst the people that has made it possible for such negative and destructive interventions to occur so frequently and so unnecessarily? How can we heal the divisions and create trust to go beyond the innumerable tragedies, hatreds and fights that have accumulated over years and years of wrongs and internal oppressions backed by external divisive interests?

Moreover should we look back to our past to learn from it or justify the current fragmentation? Should we look at the past to justify division rather than overcome it? Should we look at the past to set new standards rather than accept the ineffective post- colonial states that have earned the ignominy of fragile, collapsed and failed states varied status? How can we derive positive and constructive spirit and energy from the past to create a positive and constructive spirit and energy capable of generating a national direction for transforming the individual, society, and economy, polity rule of law, human rights and governance in the region as a whole?

The 19th century division mutilated the body of our region as indeed it did mutilate the whole of Africa to use Fanon’s words. As the distinguished thinker Prof. Kwesi Prah put it: “We had nothing to do with the creation of these states (say from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean in our case).They were created for us, not with the intent of serving our interests, but rather with the object of benefiting the European powers, which carried out this carve-up, so painfully, and with ruthless determination. Ironically, while we often bemoan colonialism and the legacies of the colonialists, we appear to want to defend, most tenaciously, the most detrimental legacy of colonialism, the colonial borders.”(The Africa Nation: the State of the Nation, CASAS, Cape Town, 2006, pp.289-290). Wars have been fought between Ethiopia and Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea to defend colonial borders drawn by others for their own purposes. People have died in hundreds and thousands for something that must be rejected and not defended. Eritrea and Ethiopian ruling elites tell us they are in a ‘no war and no peace’ state situation because they are fighting over the issue of making sure one of the borders drawn by Italy that divides families and parishes must be honoured. Such is the utter bankruptcy, myopia, lack of self-respect, and criminality of the elites that rule over with crude power and putting at risk our region and not having any positive hope to offer a way out.

9. Concluding Remark: The Only Way out is Unity not fighting and spreading hate and lies!

This commentary was prompted by the Conference on the Horn of Africa in Lund. I found the emotional temperature of this conference very high. It was difficult sometimes to see a constructive way out when people who should behave as organic intellectuals and see deeper and with greater vision feel hurt and communicate that hurt. I write this to urge us to go beyond the hurt and find a resourceful way to deal with the many problems and conflicts that complicate the emergence of a bright future for our region.

I think we can only ignore or side step the variegated history of communication of the peoples through migration, civilisation, wars and injustices at our peril. The past must be dealt with moral intelligence and we must be prepare to deploy and construct the present and shape the future. The 19th century burden must be lifted from the backs of our region by only rejecting it and not defending it. Unity of the region must be a priority of priorities. The people must be allowed to come together. The elites must stop using various stratagems to obstruct the crystallisation of people’s unity in the region. The people’s transactions must be increased systematically and not discouraged. The architecture of peace and stability must be built not partially but regionally. There must be legitimate and agreed rules and procedures to bring us together. Without building a common perspective of the region in relation to external and internal challenges, it would be difficult to create enduring institutions that can valorise the power, rights and freedoms of the people of the region by constructive a flexible , sustainable and workable democratic arrangements.

The current destructive expressions of elite nationalisms would not bring the region together too. Religion would not bring us together either. Only sustained commitment to democratisation and liberty to realise and consolidate the unity of the region and the people from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean will bring us to the promise land of unity and development in freedom. And once we unite, we can create the model for the next important project: the unification of Africa starting from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and culminating with from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. When we become more Africans, we become even stronger Ethiopians, Somalis and Sudanese by embedding our security, stability, peace, freedom, democracy, rule of law, freedoms of association and speech and governance in our region on a sustainable pedigree.


1. Kwesi Prah, State of The African Nation : the state of the Nation, Casas, Cape Town, 2006
2. Shihan de s Jayasuriya & Richard Pankhurst (Eds.) The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean, Africa World Press, Trenton NJ and Asmara, 2003
3. Isias Afeworki, (Interview) One Ethiopia, Andit or Hanti Ethiopia, Ministry of Information, Eritrean Government, August,2007:
4. A. Osman, Mammo Muchie & Joakim Gundel(eds.), Somalia: Diaspora and State Reconstitution in the Horn of Africa, Adonis-Abbey Publishers, London, 2007-08-28
5. Milkias & Metaferia et al, The battle of Adwa, Algora Publishing, New York, 20
6. SIRC, Horn of Africa Conference VI: Post- Conflict Peace- Building in the Horn of Africa, Lund University, Sweden

By Mammo Muchie, Chair, on behalf of Network of Ethiopian Scholars, Scandinavian

ChapterMammo Muchie, DPhilProfessorDirector of DIRResearch Centre on Development&IRAalborg UniversityFibigertraede 29220-Aalborg EastAalborg, DenmarkTel.no. 00-45 9635 9813fax.no. 00 45-98153298http://www.ihis.aau.dk/development/http://www.ihis.aau.dk/ccis/

Saturday, August 4, 2007


(Ethiopia Yegna's diary)
The best news so far from Ethiopia in 2007 has been the partial release of political prisoners, mostly of the leadership of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD). These leaders have been victims of a cunningly vicious dictator, causalities of chains of stormy events and the helpless saviors of a people under bondage.
However, the regime that thought it would interrupt their momentum and support found that their imprisonment had a solidifying effect on the opposition it faced and a justification for its immorality. Their release was as imminent as the light of day as the regime found it unsustainable in the face of the domestic isolation it faced and the growing contempt from the international community.
Now that part of the leadership of the CUD has been released, what would be their next step. That questions seems to linger in the minds of all Ethiopians. Considering the ice-cold brutality of the Meles regime (why does Meles has a softer image than Mengistu – because of his light-skin or because of his expensive suits?), it would not be hard to imagine the difficulty that these leaders are in.
But what is that the people expect from these leaders? In short, it is nothing more than what people desire and expect from any government on earth. We expect these leaders to bring the administrative apparatus in Ethiopia to a state where the people would be the decision makers and the government is the tool through which the will of the people would be enforced. To elaborate on this, I am afraid we have to return to the basics.
What is Government?
Government, for a starter, is the apparatus through which the people exercise authority in a microcosm. So how did it start? Initially, peoples of the world were living in a fluid state of existence where no one wielded authority and no one was above or below anybody. But with the diversification of communities and the growing complexity of their relations, there arose the need to have a solid structure where a group of people should oversee and enforce authority to bring about order, predictability and direction for communities.
In a fairytale kind of way, it was when Adam and Eve and their descendants sought that the various communities needed a structure where their social, communal and collective needs and desires shall be met that they came to devise ways of implementing such. Hence, as people came to see that they needed to institute an apparatus responsible for the welfare of citizens through programs in public health and public housing and pensions and unemployment compensation and to counter any attacks against their safety from criminals and foreign incursions. Thus, people from different constituencies gathered and agreed to hire a group of people among them to be their servants to provide public services and to uphold law and order. In the west, they call this group of people as public servants or civil servants (“Ye’hizb geredoch”).
To complete the full circle, the citizens agreed to pay the expenses for these public servants by paying the public servants in the form of taxes. This tax money is to be strictly used by public servants to build schools, clinics, roads and to purchase guns to protect citizens from criminals and outside forces. But what is the taxpayer’s money used for in Ethiopia? Are not the guns bought by citizens used to mow down the citizen himself?
When citizens gathered from different constituencies to establish government, they were concerned that the public servants for whom they are to give authority and tax money would abuse the trust they bestow upon them. Hence, they thought to write a form of social contract where they would limit the powers of the public servants. So when citizens hired these servants, they made clear that there are territories where the public servants cannot cross. Thus they signed this contract in the form of a Constitution where they said that the servants could not abuse the right of the citizen to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In most constitutions, the citizens stated that the servant called government cannot arrest, detain kill or harm a citizen without cause; the servant called government cannot stop people from speaking or writing their opinion; that the servant called government cannot prohibit citizens from forming organization; the servant called government cannot stop people from exercising their right to change their servants…. Thus in the Constitution, it is the citizens who write what the servant called government can and cannot do, and not the other way around. Additionally, citizens stated how the servant named government comes and goes in elections and how elected representatives are keeping the interest of citizens. Thus, it is understood that people who pay taxes shall have their elected representatives (“enderasiewoch”) who would make sure the servant is doing its job and using the tax money properly. The Constitution is a respectful document where citizens list the instructions to their servant named government. It is not the other way around. So, when regimes act like they received the Constitution from above like Moses received the 10 Commandments to intimidate their subjects, it means there is something wrong.

Taxation Without Representation
That is why it is stated that citizens whose elected representatives are not working for them have the right not to pay taxes. Thus follows the maxim that “Taxation Without Representation is Illegal!” That means, it is illegal to force people to pat taxes if they do not have elected representatives or enderasiewoch. That is what is meant by democracy roughly defined as the “rule of the people.”

So What do Leaders Do?
So it is under this context that political leaders come to the scene. Political Leaders are the vehicles through whom the government is ensures its true meaning – that of being the servant of the people. What grand cause than bringing governments to their natural and proper place?
In Ethiopia, the CUD leaders, by choice or by chance, are called upon by the people to redefine the meaning of “Seyoume Egziabher”, “Mengiste”, “Balesiltan” and the likes, which put the Servant named Government above the Lord named the Citizen. However difficult the path to power could be for a given group, the institution of government is not an inheritance of blood, iron or virtue. It is the property of the people and any blood, iron or virtue does not warrant the ownership of the institution to a group but to the rightful owners – citizens. The people of Ethiopia shall be the owners of their destinies. They shall fight to ensure that the both hold their natural places – the Government to be the Servant, and the Citizen to be the Lord.
CUD and the Fight for Democracy
The struggle to redefine the role of government is the fight of all citizens, inside and outside the folds of the government. That is the only way through which permanent security and freedom for all could be ensured.
In Ethiopia, the human and democratic rights of citizens are being mutilated by the EPRDF government. We are being killed, maimed and abused with the Kalashnikovs we bought for our protection. Our tax money is funding the killers and abusers of our rights. Our elected representatives are arrested and released at whim. The institutions of courts, Parliament, ministries, commissions… are being used wrongly or improperly. What more is there than to be a leader of such subjugated people?
In Ethiopia, the government of the EPRDF, which was naturally meant to be a tax-collector for the benefit of the people is submerged in a systemic sickness of corruption by being a business entity itself. In the Constitution, citizens warranted their servants named government to collect tax and work for them. To the contrary, EPRDF is engrossed in money making businesses while it itself is a tax paying entity while at the same time being a tax collecting entity. Here comes the systemic fallacy of this government – swimming in a conflict of interest. Have you ever seen a football referee who is playing for one of the teams? That is the EPRDF which is involved in business whereas it is supposed to be a regulator of the economy.
Hence, this is the basic desire of a citizen under siege? Leaders are catalysts to the struggle of the people. Leaders are meant to take sacrifices and ponder and implement practical strategies. It could take time but, in the end, the people are the winners. We call upon our peoples inside and outside the country to spearhead the struggle of the people for the respect of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Ethiopia Yegna

Friday, July 20, 2007

Release with Honour


Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES)
July 20, 2007

It must be Release with Honour and not Humilation: No Release of the Political Prisoners without Their Full Rights, No Millennium Celebration.:

1. Inspiring quotes

“Man perfected by society is the best of all animals; he is the most terrible of all when he lives without law and without justice” Aristotle, Greek Philosopher

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our vision.” Nelson Mandela, Africa’s eminent freedom fighter

“No longer shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look” Bob Marley, Most Distinguished Reggie Star born in Jamaica from the Caribbean

“These are our mantra. In or out, they (the eight principles) are the guiding principles of our struggle.”(One of the prisoners of conscience quoted in Ethio-zagol, 19 July)


The next few days or weeks are decisive. Either the prisoners will be free without any limitation to their freedom, and we all celebrate the millennium together, or they will remain in jail, in which case Ethiopians would have no alternative but to turn the millennium into a moment for defiance and resistance by calling on all their honest and outraged citizens and friends of Ethiopia throughout the world to unite and use any means necessary to get the prisoners of conscience released.

If the game plan by the regime is to release them by denying them from exercising the right and responsibilities entrusted in them from the reality of their having been elected by the people, that too is again a form of imprisonment no different from being in kalti prison or in exile. Getting out of kalit prison with a gagging order not to participate in public life is the worst form of humiliation, amounting indeed to not releasing them at all!

This regime attempt to humiliate will be rebuffed. It is nothing but once more part of a pattern of arrogance that infuriates egging on any justice loving people to engage even in stiffer and prolonged resistance. There is no way of envisioning a return to normal political co-existence between the current rulers and the opposition with such a blatant campaign against the integrity of the prisoners of conscience by creating the fiction of their own self-betrayal in order to facilitate their imprisonment and the denial of their freedom.

The eight points of principle that the CUD leaders presented for negotiation with the regime before they were thrown into jail have to be respected. The most fair and just mediation is one that secures their release with their full rights. Anything else is to create more thorns on the road to bring about a political environment conducive to reconciliation and conversation.

Real mediation that results in the creation of a new and better political environment is one that makes the regime to tolerate democratic opposition and the prisoners of conscience to take up their public service as the elected representatives of the people. Nothing short of a settlement that recognises the full rights and responsibilities of the prisoners of conscience to serve the public that elected them after Kaliti prison is acceptable.

2. Guilty Verdict, Death Penalty threat, Life Sentence on to Pardon Talk through Mediation Now!

First they came with the guilty verdict. Second they came with the death penalty threat. Then they came with the life sentencing. Now in full gear is the pardon talk. Regime spokespersons and their media are busy mounting an unprecedented disinformation campaign that the prisoners of conscience have fully surrendered and are begging or even grovelling fo ‘forgiveness or pardon’ for committing ’outrage against the constitution’, violating the ’rule of law’ and ‘taking full responsibility’ for the subsequent killings and mass arrests. Such outrageous and mendacious fabrications have hit the air waves and the print media. Top regime officials like Bereket have even said the prisoners of conscience have accepted ‘full responsibility’ for what happened. This is a highly disingenuous claim by the regime to try to sow distrust and confusion amongst the opposition camp. All in the opposition are firmly united in the belief that the prisoners of conscience have been subjected to harrowing blackmail by the regime and condemn its attempt to sow discord and hatred between the prisoners of conscience and their supporters both inside and outside Ethiopia.

We all express our profound belief that the prisoners of conscience understand the regime better than any one who supports their cause. We know all these outrageous allegations are made by a regime, which about a week ago, denied flatly that it has been engaged in mediation only to let the world know after it did its court thing against them, that after all it has been engaged with a mediation process for a long time with them! The regime suffers from a gross credibility gap. Adding fabrications to fabrications only adds to the hazard of its diminished reliability for any serious bargaining.

3. The question is not their release but the terms of the release?

Whatever the prisoners of conscience do, they do it for and in the larger good of the people, country and nation. We know and believe that their commitment to human rights, democratic freedoms and governance, the rule of law, democratic transition, non-violent rule of the game for the construction of a vibrant public sphere comes above all else.

It seems that the mediation process went parallel with the court process. The prisoners of conscience stuck to their principle that the case against them is political and not legal. The regime has entered mediation with them despite claiming the case against them is legal.

The rules and norms of the game for mediation are different from legal discourses and ideas dervided from the European culture. It appears that those who acted as mediators are using traditional norms of Ethiopian justice where either court or politics are not major factors for generating sanctions or censure. It is an Ethiopian traditional mechanism to unhinge the deadlock given that the prisoners of conscience rightly felt persecuted for their politics and the regime desperately wished to scapegoat them for the security blunder it committed against the irate citizens who felt cheated by what they believed was a rigged election.

Thus the traditional mediation is different from political struggle, election or court procedures used to win or lose, punish or set free. The mediation process has thus different rules of engagement from the legal and political ways of settling disputes dervided from the European legal norms and procedures.

One wonders what possibly could have given reason for the regime possibly to misuse and abuse the mediation process, and come out as it did, after its courts passed a life imprisonment sentence against them, with fresh allegations that the prisoners of conscience are grovelling under its feet? If this is indeed a misuse of the mediation process, those involved in it must come out openly and clarify the situation. If indeed as we suspect that the regime may have used the mediation dialogue for its court cases, it provides a big warning that this regime is impossible to anyone including the mediators that wish to assist it to help solve the problems it is chiefly responsible for manufacturing in the first place to extend its tenure of office.

The signs are not good even if the prisoners are released the regime may not renege on its agreements. There is no guarantee that any agreement would deter the regime from breaking it. There is thus even a bigger warning that the regime can always go back on its words and use any pretext to re-arrest the prisoners of conscience. What is there to prevent it? How can anyone agree to terms of release fraught with the danger of re-arrest, let alone such respected public figures to allow the regime to take away their inalienable rights to speak, think, write and express by taking their rightful public role in the interest of public service? What makes this regime so smug as to believe anyone supporter of the prisoners of conscience would buy this fiction of abetting their humiliation as has been expected by those in the media such unbelievable story?

One would reasonably expect the mediators to have created initial minimum base for trust for the parties to enter into the process. If indeed such a conceptual framework was established first to get the mediation going, the regime’s outrageous behaviour demonstrates that this trust has been horrifically misspent and broken.

There is no doubt that the regime is using cynically for propaganda purposes the mediation by abusing its power to undermine the prisoners of conscience. This behaviour constitutes massive harassment of the prisoners themselves and all people of good will everywhere in the world who have stood consistently to support their immediate and unconditional release. Why is it that the regime alone is speaking? Why are the mediators silent? What was the rule of engagement of the mediation? Who is breaking this? Why does the regime behave above law, norm and the acceptable rules and decorum of the natural justice from its apparent submission to traditional Ethiopian mediation? All these are simply inexplicable.

All we can conclude is that that neither mediation nor fair dealing is possible with this regime. This is thus, more than ever a time, to remain even more vigilant than before.
It is not simply a matter of getting the prisoners released, but the terms under which they are released is even more important to make sure that they are never sent to prison again and denied their right to serve the public.

4. What Does the Regime Want to Gain from Abusing the Prisoners of Conscience?
It looks the Meles regime has two objectives. First the regime wants to misuse the prisoners of conscience by exonerating itself from any form of culpability or responsibility to carrying out the brutal and knee-jerk murder its security forces committed by using excessive force. This has been verified already by the now exiled investigating judges that reported their honest findings on the November and June massacres and mass arrests. Ato W/Michael, Ato Frehiwot, Ato Alemayehu Zemedikun have testified that the security forces have used excessive force making it rather strange for the regime to make the prisoners of conscience who do not control the security forces that ordered the killing to take ”full responsibility.”

The regime also would like to deal a death blow to the huge moral and political authority that the prisoners of conscience have built up not only before they were imprisoned and even more so after their imprisonment. Nothing threatens the regime more than their growing national and international moral authority. Over the last two years, despite the divisive nature of opposition politics and regime interference, the opposition has managed to put forward Prof. Mesfin’s name for consideration for Nobel Prize for Peace and other prestigious prizes. Many prominent scientists from the rest of Africa like Codesria, from India to the rest of the world have supported Dr. Berhanu, Dr. Yakob, Dr. Araya, Dr. Befekadu and many more. Civil society has rooted for the civil society activists; journalists’ societies for the journalists. Women associations have promoted the cause of the indomitable judge Birtukan and so on.

What the regime did not get for the last two years is to break the prisoners’ will power. It is now trying desperately to use foreign and local mediators and the mediation process itself to divide the prisoners and their support base. Its objective is to declare that it has not only won the election, but it can also win the case against the prisoners of conscience through mediation and threats to death penalty and life sentencing of these most worthy citizens of Ethiopia.

No matter what this regime does to exonerate it from crimes, the facts are out there that both the decision and the killing were done by the regime and not the prisoners of conscience. None of the prisoners of conscience have anything to do with the way the security forces turned peaceful protest into a blood bath. If this regime had any dignity and honour, it would not shift the blame to others. It should have been courageous enough to take unequivocal and full responsibility. Any ascription of blame on those who neither made the decision nor pulled the trigger is simply a shameless ploy by the regime to frame and incriminate the innocent.

5. The Regime is setting a new precedent by blaming the victim as the perpetrator

As noted before, the decision to shoot was made by the Government and its security branch. It is the Government side that did both the decision and the killing. The Government spokespersons like Bereket insist that ‘full responsibility’ for what happened is admitted by the prisoners of conscience. Since the latter have not decided to neither kill nor shoot anyone of those killed in November and June, we presume they are accused for the effect they had in inducing the regime to behave in murderous ways. By this logic it means anyone who is suspected by a regime for having the effect of making the authorities decide to kill is subject to account or answer to a criminal case. By this logic in our country there will be many people who must be not only threatened with death penalty but also life imprisonment as well.

These are people who waged war to implement their political opinin such as ethnic politics for example, forcing the regimes in power to murder thousands and thousands of youth fighting their opinion pushed by armed form and not even debate. By this logic Mr. Meles Zenawi, Mr-Afeworki and all others who have given cause for the regime to murder the young people of my generation must answer to justice and be sent to jail, threatened with death penalty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The way the prisoners of conscience have been treated by life imprisonment sets a precedent for Ethiopians to initiate a legal case against Mr. Meles and all others that have actually and were involved in armed killing and by so doing gave cause for the Government in power of the time to kill also.

6. But this is the Road not to be Recommended!
What our country desperately needs however is not this road. It is not such retributive justice but rehabilitative justice that is appropriate for and to our context. That is why solutions derived by relying on the mediation and other traditional socially based justice services are preferable. Mediation prepares the ground for reconciliation much better than courts and other political and legal diktats. What is needed is mounting and sustainining a broader national reconciliation strategy to heal our society and people from the innumerable wrongs it has suffered for so long. So while the logic of sentencing the innocent comes with the precedent that all those who killed and induced Government to kill must come to book, commonsense and the urgency and the demand to heal society requires that Ethiopia genuinely enters into a rule of the game that through argument, debate and conversation of the issues that matter to people, country and nation, progress must, can and will forged ever forward.

6. Concluding Remark:
The case against the prisoners of conscience is flawed. The logic of keeping them for so long in jail without a right to bail is absurd. The death penalty threat is senseless. The sentencing to life imprisonment is unfair and unjust. The attempt to trade their humiliation with a pardon is outrageous. releaseing them without full right is unsettling. Their release must be unconditional and without denial of their public role now or in the future.

The regime must examine its motives and must stop turning everything into a game to win and its oppenents and even the mediators to lose.The release of prisoners of conscience must be genuine. It must not be a short-term response to the entire international outcry for their release. It must be enduring. It must not come with the threat of reversal back to prison. Their release must be final.

In the past foreign mediators have compromised and undermined the opposition and connived with the regime to disrupt opposition unity. We hope the mediation this time round is predicated by the desire above all to see justice done. Any betrayal of the victim and connivance with the regime under the name of mediation would be a fatal historic wrong. NES hopes the mediation was genuine based on the principle of redressing justice and bringing a national political climate for democratic toleration upholding the scared rights to think, speak debate and participate in public life with principled dedication and committment.

One of the most revealing consequences by the regime’s various attempts to humiliate the prisoners of conscience is that it has not managed to divide and break their staunch unity as far as we can observe from afar. Even when the regime publishes letters alleging that they have pleaded for pardon, the list of signatories showed that all are together. This is indeed an achievement and a credit to the prisoners of conscience. That they have managed to remain united means that whatever decision they arrived through the mediation is not what the regime has been presenting.

The opposition is engaged in a double movement. The civil society side is growing more effective and assertive with HR 2003 getting through many hurdles in Congress and the regime lobby and the Millennium preparations in the USA and Europe, the renewed demonstrations to get the prisoners released. The political parties can do better by stopping feuding with each other, stop using the prisoners of conscience to serve their infighting and learning to do the effective work civil society groups seem to do better than them. The sooner they come out of their petty quarrels; the better would be to advance the struggle forward.

The international community should not engage in relatavising the sentencing from death penalty to life imprisonment against the prisoners of conscience. It should stop engaging in double standard and commit itself to principles and call with action for the unconditional release of all political prisoners that would not put them back once more in jail by the denioal of their freedoms and rights.

Finally the time Ethiopia is going through is indeed special. It is good bye to 1000 years, and welcome to another 1000 years. Ideally we all must enter into the next millennium united and not divided and fighting. Nont only the prisoners of concience NES calss for all political prisoners must be freed. NES calls for the legalisation of all the current opposition that is not accomodated within the political environment.All political groups from the OLF, EPRP, ONLF and all others must enter the era of democratic conversation and must not remain outside and fight their way to express their political positions and opinion.

If the regime prefers to go it alone and continues to fear political opposition and plays cheap games on the lives and reputation of prisoners of conscience and future generations, then it is time to use the millennium to organise and mount a strong resistance against injustice. Then there is no alternative other than the millennium celebrations becoming for the victim a moment to express courage to resist and not submit.

NES calls for freedom for all political prisoners without any threat and pre-condition to re-arrest! Resist this latest outrage to humiliate all victims of injustice!

Mammo Muchie, Chair, on Behalf of o NES

Mammo Muchie, DPhilProfessorDirector of DIRResearch Centre on Development&IRAalborg UniversityFibigertraede 29220-Aalborg EastAalborg, DenmarkTel.no. 00-45 9635 9813fax.no. 00 45-98153298http://www.ihis.aau.dk/development/http://www.ihis.aau.dk/ccis/

Free at Last

Free at last, free at last, Oh Almighty God they are free at last and now the real hard work begins. Kinijit as a party needs to be rebuilt, not necessarily from the grounds up since it has been in our hearts and in our minds. Most of us breathed it and dreamt about it. Kinijit helped us focus our hope, our dream and our ever hungry spirits for a free, democratic and prosperous Ethiopia in a single crucible filled with vision of a free, democratic and self-empowered Ethiopia. Kinijit helped us see, we who were once proud people with proud history could be that and more once again. so rebuilding it should not take us much time. For the first time in a long time our country got selfless leaders who are willing to pay the ultimate for the common good. For the first time we saw it is within the bounds of reality we can and should be able to change our leaders with our voice and not our blood. But our real leaders said if there should be blood to guarantee such a transformation of people and country then let it be our blood. These generous men and women empowered us with a vision so powerful we just cannot go back to the days of old. Yes, there is more work now, Kinijit supporters around the world need to come together under one umbrella. Let it be told, let the drums roll and the people shout that a new day has downed in Ethiopia for the first time in a long time. Let the torch be passed to those who can lead and not kill, let the helm of leadership be passed to those with vision of a free Ethiopia and not to those with selfish and divisive evil ideas. Above all, let us make sure this time we will not miss this golden opportunity. We deserve it, our children deserve it, this blessed mother of ours called Ethiopia deserves it.

Best Regards to all

Friday, April 27, 2007

The diary of Agazi soldier

(By an Agazi Soldier in Humera Shaleka)
Translated by Meqdela
It was one hazy dawn in the month of March. It had been more than three weeks since we got back to Ethiopia after completing our mission in Somalia. I am a member of the Humera Regiment of the Agazi Division which was at the forefront of the war in Somalia.

After completing our mission in Somalia in December and January, we were withdrawn from Mogadisu and put in Moyale. Our commanders had promised us all Ethiopian soldiers would be withdrawn from Somalia soon. We believed we were never going to return to Somalia.

That day, however, we were ordered to be ready to go back. Mogadisu had returned to disaster and a surge of Ethiopian troops was needed. Many of the soldiers in the Army didn’t want to go back; but as soldiers we had no option but to obey the orders of our commanders.

The following day we heard 120 soldiers amongst us escaped from the camp. We knew they would be captured soon. The Wogagen Regiment of the Agazi Division was dispatched immediately. The road leading to Addis Ababa and the major towns in the way were sealed, all buses and trucks searched. We heard that even farm lands were inspected. Sixty one were caught within two days.

A week after we were ordered to be ready, our regiment was dispatched to Mogadishu. Mogadishu was completely changed within two months. Even in the North, people were hostile to us. These were the same people who greeted us warmly when we arrived in Mogadishu first time. It is a torture. We were shelled incessantly. As we didn’t know when the mortar fires were coming, we had to stay day and night awake. We stopped smoking cigarettes because it was too dangerous to buy cigarettes from shops in Mogadishu. Some soldiers were attacked with knives when they try to light their cigarettes in shops. Women, children, all were hostile. We didn’t know who our enemies were.

In Mogadishu, if you see a weak-looking man with no teeth, having lost them chewing Chat, and you think that he is harmless, you are dead. Attacks can come from anywhere. If you stop to pee on the street, people will fire at you. When you follow them, they will get in houses and most of the time what you find in those houses are women and children. Mogadishu is hell.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Siye matters

(Tis Abay)
No man’s fate, not even what has happened any of the CUD leaders, reveal EPRDF’s excesses and the hypocrisy of the West than Siye Abraha’s . Pre and post election violence, the west has, at least, given lip service to human rights abuses, condemned political detention and gently nudged their darling African leaders, Meles Zenawi, to change. Amid all that, Siye’s name has barely got a mention.

Some Ethiopians think Siye Abraha has been victim of a system to which he was a willing accomplice during his days as one of the most powerful politicians in Ethiopia. Others blame him for having his finger prints all over the current ills of Ethiopia, ethnicization and lack of democratic institutions just like his ex-comrades within EPRDF. For that and other reasons, a lot of Ethiopians who say they are genuinely committed to democracy and freedom in Ethiopia are apathetic about the gross injustice being committed against him by the Meles regime.

I take issues with such attitudes. First, genuine defenders of rights don’t let their political judgment cloud their opinion in the face of injustice. Second, the ethinicization of Ethiopian politics is a generational issue. As Messay Kebede argued it is “both an aspect and a consequence of the radicalization of Ethiopian students and intellectuals in the 60s and early 70s.” A member of that generation, Siye Abraha shares his own blame for that if, indeed, we argue that there were better alternatives to analyzing and solving Ethiopia’s problems. Third, it is unfair to apportion disproportionate blame on a politician who had spent most of his time in power away from the federal government for the lack of democratic institutions in the country.

Siye isn’t an angel. He has made mistakes. We can site tons of them. But he went to prison for a big cause, a cause the democratic movement in Ethiopia holds dear: the sovereignty of Ethiopia. He showed courage to face Meles Zenawi when he realized EPRDF hadn’t taken its job of protecting Ethiopia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity seriously. In that sense, he is a unique figure. He is EPRDF through and through; but he has the same passions for our country as we have. He is EPRDF; but he has suffered the humiliation and abuse of the system like the opponents of EPRDF. He is EPRDF; but he has taken Meles to task. He is EPRDF; but he is not corrupt (as the evidences provided by the prosecutor in his trial couldn’t show that).

Siye, for me, is more of a unifying figure than a polarizing politician. Let’s embrace him and stand up against the abuses he is facing.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


By Girma Kassa (Chicago)

“Enkuwan Le Berhane Tensayewu Adderesachu!” (Happy Easter)

How the word “Easter” came into being has its own history. Eastern is also known as “Passover” (Fassika in Amharic).

Fassika is a holiday that commemorates the day the Israelites were freed from the bondage of Egypt. For more than 400 years they were oppressed and afflicted by Egyptians. It is with the leadership of Moses and the Power of the Almighty God that they got their freedom.

Ten plagues were sent by God on Pharaoh and the Egyptians. In the last plague the angel of death came into the land of Egypt and killed the entire first born of each household except those who put a stain of blood on their door. Those with blood on their door were passed over. Hence the word “Passover” or “Fassika”.

Since then, for generations, the Israelites kept celebrating “Fassika” every year. It was during such celebration, two thousand years ago, that our Lord Jesus Christ laid down his life on the cross. Therefore we are celebrating two precious holidays at one time: The freedom of the people of God from bondage of Egypt and the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over death. (His resurrection)

This I say to all of my readers:

“May you have a happy Fassika and a happy Tensae!”

As we celebrate Fassika and Tensae let not the holidays be only rituals. Let us explore the meaning of “fassika” and “Tensae” in our life.


Fassika is a historic illustration of the wrath of God against injustice. For Fassika to happen Moses, Joshua, Miriam, Aaron and many more brave and god fearing Israelites were needed. God does not want to give freedom without the involvement of men. One of the attributes of the Almighty God is that he works in us and with us.

I believe Ethiopia has new Moses’, and Joshuas. They are currently and unjustly incarcerated in Kaliti Prison. They are guided by spiritual values and believe Ethiopia’s problems are spiritual ones (hate, racism, selfishness, bitterness, despair.) that can be solved only by spiritual solutions. (Love, unity, peace, tolerance, dialogue.). They believe in Peaceful struggles and are showing us the way by sacrificing their life.

We need to be proud of these leaders of ours. We need to thank God for He has given us such outstanding and visionary leaders. I believe God has already started the journey of freedom in Ethiopia. The fact we have these leaders is by itself a sign of God’s touch.

When we celebrate Fassika let us remember that the freedom we need to get is not necessarily from the dictatorial and ethnocentric policies of the EPRDF. What we need is to be free from ourselves for we are our own enemy. If we clean up our mess and come together as one force and if we take off the clothes of fear, forcing the current regime of Meles Zenawi to respect the will of the people would have been a cakewalk. We were not able to guarantee the rule of law and the respect of human right, and a establish a democractic system not because Meles Zenawi and his cadres are strong. It is because we are divided and imprisoned by FEAR.

It is time to get our deliverance from our own bondage. Making fun of Meles Zenawi and cursing him day and night is not solution. It is time to declare “FASSIKA” in our life, in our thinking and in our strategies. It is time to be free from FEAR.


As we celebrate Tensae let us also remember what happened to our Lord Jesus Christ at the Calgary. He understands pain and suffering for he has seen it himself. There used to be thousands following him when he was doing miracles. However, on that Friday of Seqlet (crucifiction) no one was by him. He understands the feeling of being betrayed and being accused with false and fabricated charges. He preached the message of love and peace. He preached the good news that leads people to eternal life. However, he was accused of “treason” and “Inciting violence” against Cesar. Aren’t these accusations familiar, these days in Ethiopia ? Aren’t there good peoples being accused with inciting violence for launching a peaceful an non-violent struggle ? Aren’t there true Ethiopians jailed being accused for treason for asking all ethiopians to come together and build a United, prosperous and democractic Ethiopia ?

There is a word that Our Lord Jesus has said on the cross that, I believe is key to opening up the door of blessing and healing in Ethiopia. On the cross Jesus said: ” Father forgives them for they know not what they are doing.” He forgave those who crucified him. He gave us an example that is unique and different. He showed us a new way of solving crisis. The way of the Lord is Love, Mercy and forgiveness. Mercy is more powerful that Revenge. Peace is more powerful than War. Dialogue is more powerful that Recriminations. Tolerance is more powerful than Quick Judgment.

Yes, there was a Friday. On Friday there were storms and heavy rains. There were thunders and everybody was crying. All followers of our Lord Jesus were desperate and scattered all over the places. They were all frightened. They thought our Lord Jesus, with all his power, would deliver them from the Romans. They were expecting big phenomena. Unfortunately, to their surprises, the Lord Jesus was taken away from them. He was crucified on the cross. He died.

Similarly, we thought On May 1997 peace and democracy would be established in Ethiopia for always. We tought we would have a new beginning. We thought we would stop our country from draining downward towards to self destruction. We tought blood would no longer be shed like sacrificial lamb. We thought the law would rule and citizens’ right would be respected.

Unfortunately the election was stolen. Our leaders were incarcerated. Our mothers, fathers’, sisters and brothers were killed. Thousands were brutally held in detention camps. Many were regularly beaten up (Some of them to death). We had hoped the Bristish and the Americans would stand up by the people for democracy. Instead Ethiopians were betrayed. The demon of bloodshed that originates from Arat Kilo is now engulfing Somalia. It is also making preparation to sacrifice more and more innocent civilians along the Mereb river.

Yes today it is Friday for Ethiopia. Today we are not seeing the light. Today we only hear thunders and bad news. We only see storms and images of our dead brothers and sisters. Yes, today it is Friday.

My fellow Ethiopians, I have a good news. As our Lord Jesus has risen from the dead, there will be resurrection for Ethiopia. There will be Tensae for Ethiopia. All the discouraging events we see now are temporary. God has remembered Ethiopia. Our leaders will be released. Sunday, the day of our freedom, happiness and a new beginning will come.

Let us not give room to despair. Let us not be misled by propaganda of the forces of evil who are roaring their tanks and humvees in our cities. Let us be hopeful and focus on the struggle in a united front. Let us also be in our own term the second and third Hailu Shewals, Birtukans, Mesfins, Yacobs ….If we all do our part with all diligence and courage Sunday will come very soon.

Ato Meles Zenawi have been repeatedly asked to come to his sense and do the right thing. He has been asked to open the door for peace and reconciliation. Unfortunately, so far he has chosen to rule with arrogance and empty pride. Let us send a clear message to the dictator of Arat Kilo and his cadres that there are millions of Hailu Shewals, millions of Birtukans, millions of Dr Berhanu, millions of Prof. Mesfins …..Let the world hear that Ethiopians will not let their destinity of their country be determined by none other than themselves.

Are you ready? Would you want to be one of the millions? Please come forth and say:” NO” to silence.

May you have a Happy Tensae!
May The Lord bless our beloved Ethiopia!

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