Editor’s note: This article is a google translation of an interview by John Reindal and Girma Mulat. It appears on the Norwegian Dagen Magazine.
Berhanu Nega do not understand how the Western elected politicians can cooperate with dictators.
– Ethiopian dictatorships is sustained by support from the West. The country receives 2.8 billion U.S. dollars in support each year. Norway says it gives money to education and development, but we must ask ourselves whether this money has sopent, and had any effect. Is the situation in the country better? No, “said Berhanu Nega answering to own question.
– The West must deal with other leaders who share the same principle that they themselves have become leaders. They represent the people, and one can not give support to leaders who do not share that principle. It is a simple and effective principle.
This week Nega was on a quick visit to Norway to talk with opposition, friends, supporters and Foreign Affairs.
In 2005, Berhanu Nega dragged into politics in Ethiopia. He entered to politics from his position as professor at the capital’s university togather with like-minded, to fight for the promises of a democratic election. His party won a majority vote and he was elected mayor of Addis Ababa. But allegations of electoral fraud and cheating made the opposition refused to take part in the parliament. The demonstrations that followed the government struck down with a heavy hand. Demonstrators of some 30,000 Negas followers were imprisoned, including the leadership of the opposition. Even Nega got two and a half years in prison before being released. It happened after he was forced to sign that he should not engage in oppositional activities. That promise has not kept says Nega.
Nega is among the best known opposition figures in Ethiopia and one of the country’s leading intellectuals. He has had the ear of the diplomatic corps and embassies, but through its very critical line to the authorities in Addis Ababa, he has also experienced being pushed out in the cold by Western supporters. He is currently a professor at Bucknell University in the United States and leader of the opposition network Ginbot 7.
Nega welcomes days Magazinet in his room at Oslo Plaza. The hectic journey has made him cold and tired. It adds no apparent damper on engasjemnetet.
– The regime in Ethiopia governs with terror and fear. The situation unfolding now in North Africa and the Middle East shows that such a regime will not last long. Like any dictatorship, they are nervous, they increase arrests and sets started propaganda against the protesters and against the West. They play that they are the only system to keep the extremists and chaos. Westerners believe in this. But when people get the freedom they do not resort to civil war. They do their best to be responsible, “he said.
– The revolt will come to Ethiopia. Without a doubt.
What gives Nega hope is that the opposition is more united today. There are conversations going on about finding a common platform. Not political, but how elections and democracy will be assured.
– Meles Zenawi (Prime Minister of Ethiopia, editor’s note) will be the last dictator in Ethiopia. The future must be based on respect for human rights, “he said.
On his visit to Norway had Nega conversation with the Foreign Ministry. He does not know if there is something concrete out of the meeting, but he gave them at least his views on the situation.
– The Westerners often believe on the idea that democracy is not suitable for Arabs and certainly not for Africans. They highlight that there’s growth and development, but downplays that this happens in dictatorships. Such an argument is a double morality, and that the West must clean up in. The whole world must benefit from democracy and popular government, “he said.
Among scientists there is general agreement that the situation of human rights and democracy in Ethiopia has deteriorated significantly after 2005. It’s not all politicians like to admit.
– A few months ago we have found in Norway that asylum seekers have been in church asylum as a result of cutbacks in politics here at home. How safe is it to be returned to Ethiopia?
– It’s not safe to return. The regime would like to make an example of people being sent back. They will send a signal to the rest of the Diaspora that they follow anywhere. I do not know the individual cases of this situation in Norway, but is it that these were politically active when they get full protection. Best Western countries who want to sharpen their immigration policy can make is to help democracy in countries of asylum seekers and refugees come from. Now is the Western countries that support these dictatorships, so when it is to protect its victims at least Western countries can do.
According to Barnabas Fund, more than 50 churches being burned in Ethiopia. Thousands of Christians will be fleeing from Muslim extremists. Nega says the government is indirectly responsible for this.
– They have used ethnicity, religion and culture as a deliberate weapon to divide the population. Although there is only one reason for what happened, I mean the authorities have played a role through this tactic. More pictures I’ve seen from the church fires shows police officers just sitting and watching. Around election in 2005 was a remarkable episode that resembled the one we now hear about. The authorities used it to highlight themselves as guardians of stability’s, “he said.
Nega think it will soon be changes in Ethiopia. He has faith in the opposition talks now complete.
– The goal is not who you vote for, but how. It is prosessenen that must lie at the bottom. Ethiopia will be a real democracy, “he says with a smile.
Source – Dagen Magazine