Joe Michael (24 December 2008) Is peaceful struggle possible in Ethiopia? It is a very difficult question to answer given the fact that the ruling party it self is against peace. May be the meaning of peaceful political struggle is misunderstood by the majority of Ethiopians as they are getting arrested and jailed for something they didn’t do. Or may be there is a limit for a peaceful struggling that is only known by EPRDF. There must be a secret do’s and don’ts of peaceful political activity that is kept in the EPRDF hand. Every time opposition parties appeared to be strong and united, they are beyond their limit.
After difficult transition and unspeakable anguish, the former CUD leaders were able to establish the UDJ party. The next thing we heard was about the increase in the intimidation and persecution of UDJ members. Then we heard that UDJ hold its first meeting successfully with thousands of people attending it. Before even we finished reading the minuets of the meeting we heard about the re-arrest and release of the UDJ leader. We also heard that she has been giving ultimatum to apologize to the government or face consequences. One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what is going on. Once again, EPRDF is failing to practice what it preached about democracy and peaceful opposition. In fact, EPRDF is yet afraid of a strong opposition.
Actually, if there should be someone who has to apologize to the Ethiopian people, he should be the one who gave order to the armed forces to kill hundreds of unarmed citizens in 2005. If there should be someone who has to apologize to the Ethiopian people, he should be Meles Zenawi himself for unlawfully arresting thousands of opposition supporters. If there should be someone who has to apologize to the Ethiopian people, it should be EPRDF for dividing the country.
Whether it is through CUD or UDJ, Ethiopians have already clearly sent out there message. They need change. A change that can unite the people and develop the country. A change that is against ethnic division and segregation. A change that honor peace and compromises different political views.
Unless opposition leaders are allowed to freely speak and write, the assurance of peaceful political activity in Ethiopia remains problematic. The mystery of do’s and don’ts of peaceful political struggle should be unfolded and opposition parties must be given equal rights. If not, opposition parties cannot accomplish anything rather than decorating EPRDF.