By Yilma Bekele (24 Jan. 09) –‘To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.’ President Obama
The American president was speaking about the TPLF regime in Ethiopia. So it seems. All indications are that the American Ethiopian and the Ethiopian community’s involvement in his election was a well-recognized contribution towards his victory.
Ethiopians contributed money, worked in voter registration, stuffed fliers in mailboxes, went out on support marches and generally talked the ears of their family, friends and co-workers on behalf of Mr. Obama. Ethiopians all over the US worked and supported Obama because they were convinced that he would be a positive force for change. Mankind in general and our home land in particular are better off due to his election as the president of the most powerful and rich nation in the world.
We acted on our belief and worked hard to make it come true. That we acted for our own selfish reasons is true. But this selfish act was not for personal gain rather for the sake of mother Ethiopia. It is true that Mr. Obama will not fight our battle to liberate our country. On the other hand his sympathy and understanding will go a long way towards nudging those traveling in the wrong path to join the road of democracy.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his “I have a dream speech” in August of ’93 said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Now it is our turn. Today we say Barack Obama’s election will help usher a day where the sons and daughters of Ethiopia will be judged by the content of their character rather than their tribal allegiance or party affiliation.
January 20th 2009 is a very special day. It is a day where the most oppressed and the most abused were given a chair in the dining room table. Not just a chair, the head chair. It is a day where the whole world celebrated in unison the dawn of a new era. Millions watched the inauguration ceremony. Millions cried tears of joy. Billions were filled with hope. On this particular Tuesday at exactly 12:00 Noon the earth stood still.
Aretha sang ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’, Lincoln smiled and MLK rejoiced, happy in the knowledge that the seed they planted is taking roots.
Hold on a minute, we got a little problem here. It looks like someone is trying to rain on our parade. It is none other than his Excellency Ato Bereket Simone, Member of Parliament from Wollo, first advisor to the Prime Minister and newly appointed head of miscommunication bureau.
Ato Bereket speaking on behalf of his partners in crime in the TPLF politburo was dispensing his usual muddled, incoherent and irrational theory regarding ‘sovereignty’. As usual our peasant bush fighters upgraded to leaders of a nation are in a state of complete disarray due to their impulsive action of jailing Judge Bertukan Mideksa, Mrs. Liberty herself. The adage ‘think before you act’ is a shortcoming of all bullies, retards and mentally unstable individuals.
This is what Ato Bereket said regarding the opposition by Ethiopians, Donor nations and Human Rights Organization regarding the enactment of the NGO bill by the PM’s rubber stamp Parliament: “If anyone is breaking the law, it’s their problem and not our problem. Ethiopian government believes government has a mandate and an obligation to ensure the rule of law in Ethiopia. So it’s an unwarranted accusation and criticism…. No matter what the times might be, these Congressmen are telling us not to enact laws that are useful to Ethiopia. They are going to put pressure on us because we enacted our own laws. This is Ethiopia; it’s a sovereign state. I don’t think any Congressman can tell us what to do,”
See what I mean. Never mind his fantasy regarding being given a mandate, I will let it go since by sheer force and terror TPLF has managed to declare itself a winner. I am more focused on his assertion regarding ‘sovereignty’. When Ato Bereket claims ‘Ethiopia is a sovereign state’ is that a true statement?
I beg to differ. A simple example from my town can shed light on this dilemma faced by the politburo. Here in Oakland our town has what is called “Housing Authority’ run by the City. They build and manage apartments for low-income people that are unable to pay market rate rent. Housing authority is responsible for screening prospective tenants and determines eligibility based on income, family size and criminal records among other requirements.
For accepting such generous subsidies to reside in city housing projects, the tenants agree to certain rules and conditions. The tenant agrees not to get involved in drug dealing or consumption, not to allow non-registered individuals to co-habit, refrain from any criminal activity and allow the housing authority to have access to investigate any suspicious behavior by a tenant. In return for accepting aid from the taxpayer the individuals trades off a certain amount of their civil liberties.
This brings us back to our dear and beloved Ethiopia. The assertion that we are a ‘sovereign’ state under the TPLF runs into a brick wall when in fact certain subsides are offered and accepted like our section-8 tenant. Where our economy is under life support and more than 40% is dependant on Donor’s good will is such an empty bravado called for? The NGO’s are in our country because we needed all the help they can offer. They are doing the job the government is supposed and expected to do. While the regime is squandering the little amount we raise by selling our raw products like coffee and flowers, on across border wars, payments to internal police and security and good old corruption, the NGO’s are taking care of business. Accepting handouts and subsidies has a price. One of them is losing your independence and sovereignty.
My question to Ato Bereket and company is when you are trying to assert ‘sovereignty’ by telling your benefactors to go to hell, have you thought of how you are going to replace the needed service they were fulfilling? Has bullying unarmed civilians, war weary citizens, populations numbed by over thirty years of conflict and abuse given you such a hot head and hot temper that you dare insult US Senators and Peoples representatives as ignorant and not informed individuals? Isn’t it one of the requirements of a Communication Czar to use his language carefully, weigh all consequences before uttering such a response to representatives of other nations?
On the other hand if the TPLF regime was a true representative of the people supported and coddled by the citizen and able to grow the economy, satisfy the material and spiritual needs of the nation Ato Bereket can shout and scream at the ferenjis to leave us alone. But we know better. The cadres cannot even leave the palace with out armored vehicles, Federal Police protection and citizens not allowed to venture out until they pass. The regime is afraid of its own citizen. The regime is terrified that the people will do it what it did to them.
First Samuel 17 in the Holy Bible is the story of David and Goliath. The Philistine and Israeli army were facing each other for battle. Goliath a giant of a man dressed in full armor mocked and challenged the Israelis to fight him. King Saul and his army were terrified. Little David volunteered to fight the giant. Dressed in his simple shepherd garb and carrying his slingshot and a pouch full of pebbles, David went to battle. Goliath hurled insults and approached to tear David apart, but little David reached into his bag and slung one of the stones that sank into the giant’s forehead. He fell face down.
We all identify with David because he was the underdog. Goliath was a bully with all his faith in his armor cloth and mighty sword. David was sustained by his strong belief in his god.
Thus when President Obama says ‘To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds’ and our communication director replies ‘no thank you’ aren’t we reversing David and goliath. Big powerful US is offering a helping hand and little poor Ethiopia is responds by insulting those who are concerned for our welfare.
The one and only, the mighty sovereign TPLF regime has asked the IMF for US $50million grant to prop up a failing economy. We Ethiopians should write, phone and encourage the opposition to unite and demand the IMF and World Bank to refrain from supporting such undemocratic and sick regime. A government composed of a few individuals and not representing the interest of 80 million people is a drain on the resources of the bank and a disservice to humanity. How could the Ethiopian people rise up and confront a few when they are given millions to subsidize their coercive machinery?
Once again we ask the minority regime to listen to President Obama when he said “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.” This should be our sentiment. The Ethiopian people are longing for peace and are willing to leave our tumultuous history in the past and move forward united and ready to salvage what is left of our old nation.
It is up to the cadres to choose the road of peace and prosperity or the inevitable outcome of their defeat and humiliation. Our salvation might be next month or next year but we are certain that good will triumph over evil. We are willing to wait. We are willing to sacrifice. As I write this Judge Bertukan Mideksa has been in prison for 25 days 2 hrs 6 minutes and our dear son Teddy Afro has been languishing for 281 days 23hrs and 37 minutes for a crime he did not commit. It is up to each one of us to get involved and fight injustice. If you want to get involved please follow the links at the end and do your share. Unity of all against the few is the only way out of this nightmare. Please do something. If not you then who?