05 April 2014 – Medrek has successfully held a public meeting in Hawassa on March 29 (Megabit 20, 2006 EC), which was organized with the objective of public discussion of its “Political Manifesto” issued last year. This meeting was held by overcoming severe obstacles imposed by the ruling party/EPRDF Cadres and its government officials. The obstacles included: preventing/forbidding announcement of the meeting through public mass media; posting posters and distributing fliers about the meeting; announcing the date, time and place of the meeting using loudspeakers, etc. As a means of intimidation, they also detained 7 Medrek members, including Ato Tilahun Endeshaw, the Vice Chairman of Ethiopian Social Democracy-Southern Coalition Unity Party, in Hawassa and Ato Bekele Gabiso in Bansa District in Sidama. Ato Bekele Gabiso who was arrested and put in jail since March 27, 2014 in Banssa District has not been released to date. This flagrant violation of the rights of our political organization and its members was committed by EPRDF in spite of the fact that Medrek had obtained “permission” to hold the public meeting in Hawassa by overcoming the daunting delaying tactics of EPRDF officials, as a result of a relentless follow up of the matter for 16 days.
Furthermore, EPRDF cadres have also tried to forcefully prevent people from different Districts coming to Hawassa and participate in the meeting- they have detained all suspected meeting participants; they have impounded transport vehicles which the participants were using to come to the meeting, up until the meeting was over. They also have forced civil servants and university students by calling unplanned spontaneous compulsory meetings and examinations on the day and time of Medrek’s public meeting.
In spite of all the machinations to frustrate Medrek’s efforts to conduct discussion with the public, more than 2,500 residents of Hawassa and its surroundings participated in the meeting. Most importantly, the meeting participants expressed a very strong commitment to continuing the struggle for democracy, the rule of law and guarantee for the rights of all nations, nationalities and peoples in a prosperous Ethiopia. To this effect, Medrek was urged by the participants to redouble its political activities against the dictatorial EPRDF regime.
The Executive committee members of Medrek briefed the meeting on the Political, Economic and Social aspects of Medrek’s manifesto.
The Hawassa public meeting was the continuation of the meeting that Medrek held in Mekele, Adama and Addis Abeba last year. It is pertinent to note that in all these public meetings, our peoples have shown a strong resolve to stand by the side of Medrek as it launches the decisive struggle to bring about a democratic transition in Ethiopia. The events also attest to the capability of Medrek to provide a viable alternative to the dictatorial rule of EPRDF and the unrealistic agendas of some political groupings that swear in the name of our beloved country. The inalienable linkage Medrek has to the wishes and desires of our peoples, as expressed in all these meetings, should send a clear message to all who may be trying to undermine and question Medrek’s capacity to lead Ethiopia into democracy.
One blimp that needs mention was the failure of both Ethiopia-focused International and local Journalists to publicize the situation around Hawassa public meeting. This was unfortunate because the Journalists were provided with all timely information about the Hawassa meeting and the difficulties Medrek has been facing. We only hope that they will be professionally bound to serve the public in subsequent events that Medrek would organize.
Finally, Medrek would like to thank all those who extended their cooperation for the success of the meeting and would also like to call upon Democratic Ethiopians in the country and abroad to provide an all rounded support which is a very necessary input for the continuation of similar meetings and the struggle for democracy, in general.
Note: This report was sent out by Ato Tilahun Endeshaw (Member, Executive Committee and Public Relation Committee of Medrek) and edited to improve readability by Beyene Petros (Chair, ESD-SCUP).