Is violent change inevitable in Ethiopia? By Graham Peebles

As the Ethiopian government intensifies its violent suppression of the populace in the lead up to the illusion of national elections in May, there are many within the country and the diaspora who believe a popular armed uprising is the only way to bring about change in the country. The people’s frustration and anger towards the government is understandable as is their bewilderment at the neglect and complicity of Ethiopia’s major donors. America, the European Union and Britain collectively give almost half of Ethiopia’s federal budget in various aid packages, are well aware of the regime’s brutal form of governance and shamefully do and say nothing.

The ruling regime, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) came to power in 1992 when they overthrew the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (PDRE). The ideologically driven group of freedom fighters led by Meles Zenawi ousted the Derg dictatorship and drew up a new liberal constitution based on democratic principles of freedom and human rights. Once enthroned in Addis Ababa, however, they swiftly followed in their predecessor’s repressive footsteps and all democratic ideals where neatly filed away to be forgotten about.

The government has imprisoned almost all major opposition leaders, as well as large numbers of troublesome journalists. An array of repressive laws has been passed to suffocate dissent and virtually criminalise freedom of expression and assembly – all contrary to their own constitution and in violation of a plethora of international conventions which they have dutifully signed up to.

With the major opposition party leaders behind bars and the regime maintaining total control of the electoral process the result of the forthcoming May election is a forgone conclusion. It is a hollow piece of democratic theatre, which the European Union has refused to legitimise with a team of observers, a mistake in my view, but understandable given the distorted result of the past two elections which the EU observed but did not validate.

Unite and act

Given the repressive picture in the country and the regime’s total intransigence, the frustration of huge numbers of people inside and outside the country is unsurprising. But is an armed uprising the way forward, would it be successful in ousting the ruling regime, or would there be a tightening of repressive legislation – the ‘rebel group’ branded as terrorists, large numbers of deaths and arrests and perhaps a long drawn out civil war igniting conflicts between one ethnic group and another?

Is violence and hate ever the way to counter violence and hate? Not according to Martin Luther King, who presided over a largely peaceful civil rights movement in America, against an extremely violent, not to say ignorant adversary; “darkness”, he said “cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

That other giant of non-violence, Mohandas Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement undermined the British, united the population and was crucial in bringing about independence in India. His legacy is vital, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has said, “in today’s world where the rights of too many people are still violated,” so is his means of achieving his goal.

Like all repressive regimes the EPRDF follows a systematic methodology of divide and rule; the answer to such crude means of control is unity.

We are living in unprecedented times, times of tremendous opportunity and potential change; out of step with the times the days are numbered for regimes like the EPRDF – it is a question of when they collapse – not if.

The people of Ethiopia, and those who make up the diaspora in Europe, America and elsewhere need to come together, and overcome their apathy and fear, organize themselves and take responsibility for their own destiny, be creative, be heartened and learn from movements in Tunisia, Hong Kong, Egypt, Turkey, Brazil and elsewhere.

They need to be inspired by the strategic actions successfully employed in the non-violent struggle led by Gandhi, and find the courage to act peacefully, to unite against what is a brutal group of men who are despised by the people and have no legitimacy to govern Ethiopia, and act with love not hate, to bring lasting change to their country.


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Posted by on March 20, 2015. Filed under COMMENTARY,NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

5 Responses to Is violent change inevitable in Ethiopia? By Graham Peebles

  1. Melak

    March 20, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    Thank you Mr. Graham. Yes, Lack of unity is the vital ingredient we Ethiopians lack today. If we were united the woyane regime was now overthrown and forgotten. Ethiopians!!! can we heed to the advice of Mr. Graham! Only true friends like Mr. Graham which are hard to come by in todays complicated world politics shows us the correct path to victory.

    If we are united the method of the struggle be it violent or non-violent is immaterial. As you said the sole strength that kept woyane in power is divide and rule. Unity and woyane is like fish out of water.


  2. shenkute

    March 20, 2015 at 8:36 PM

    war is man made desaster and i donot belive in war . I belive in winwin mangemet system Today they are about 80 defferent poletical parties in ethiopia . If civel war begin who willbe the winner? ethiopia has alot of enemies due to nile river international tererism and its strategical possition .beside those there are multiethonice society who have different interest . So all leaders haveto follow the princple of nilsen mandela and hendra gandi if they realy love there people and there country!!!

  3. shenkute

    March 20, 2015 at 9:37 PM

    since there is contradection brutuality ; suppresstion and partiality among society violent change is invitable.but my central quetion is who can lead this change in the right direction befor it expand in a wronge way .

  4. Amare Getachew

    March 27, 2015 at 7:14 AM

    Ethiopia’s hidden enemies writing articles just like this one, and wishing evil on Ethiopia and Ethiopians in the name of politics.

  5. cush

    April 22, 2015 at 3:36 AM

    I believe, Weyane is the best option considering that they can make changes in their governance. No one wants to see what we saw in the Arab countries which is a mess, no rule of law. Look at Lybia,Egypt. …. I think Ethiopia is better off with Weyane. We don’t want Ethiopia to be a breeding ground for the likes of Alshabab who are next door. Don’t be fooled, America and the UK don’t want this to happen? !!!!