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After completing our mission in Somalia in December and January, we were withdrawn from Mogadisu and put in Moyale. Our commanders had promised us all Ethiopian soldiers would be withdrawn from Somalia soon.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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