By Mahidere-Andinet — Atlanta (August 11, 2008) There was a complete silence from corner to corner that one could hear a pin drop. Everyone was on his feet with heads bending down and staring at the colorful carpet of the Holiday Inn hotel in Decatur, Georgia.
Some have in fact closed their eyes with deep praying mood while others kept their eyes open but with a profound sense of meditation. Soon, a strong and low pitch voice broke the silence by saying–: “Let us pray!!” That soft and melancholy voice was no other than that of Human Rights watch hero, Professor Mesfin W/ Mariama’s.
The short and strong wordings of prayers by the visiting veteran of Human Rights watch were the followings: —
“Ethiopia is in a deep serious problem, the Ethiopian people are in a deep serious problem. We, the people are unable to agree, unable to cooperate and cannot create harmony among ourselves. Consequently, we are in a position where we can no more assist or help our people and country. Please (referring to the Almighty) open our minds to the truth, our hearts to love, and our spirits to harmony so as to make us save Ethiopia from disaster.”
During those moments of prayers some were overheard struggling to hold their tears and yet others were trying to reach to their pockets looking for handkerchief.
Such was the opening scene when the renowned human rights advocate Professor Mesfin Woldemariam along with the Ato Asrat Tasse, secretary of the new Unity for Democracy and Justice Party, addressed Ethiopians living in metro Atlanta and its environs last Sunday afternoon.
None of the participants were surprised when 78 year-old veterans called for a prayer. Because, a former employee of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council Ato Theodors Haile, currently editor of the most popular entertainment and promotional magazine, Dinq, published in Atlanta, told the assembly earlier that Professor Mesfin is one of the most devoted Christians with deep rooted and strong Christian beliefs and values.
Theodros further said that the Professor used to keep himself incommunicado, cutting all kinds of outside communications, during the Ethiopian lent seasons as prescribed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and remained behind doors in his own private house. The focal point of the professor’s address was “change”, a change that every individual, irrespective of who is who should undergo in order to accomplish the noble cause– building of the new democratic Ethiopia, where justice, equality and genuine freedom prevail. According to the Professor, even members of the ruling party, Woyane should be able to change themselves which some participants argued that it was the Woyane group not the Ethiopian people that is adamant to change.
“It is only when we stand for worthy principles that we can change ourselves”, he told the gathering, calling for every Ethiopian “to do away with rage and desperation.” He repeatedly questioned “how can one be desperate over his helpless country? How can one feel hopelessness over his own people who are in mere destitution? “To run away from the struggle arena”, he said” is either foolishness or to completely overlook the basic principle in which the struggle stands for.”
The icon of human rights watch, professor Mesfin, called on all Ethiopians to contribute and place their inputs towards the success of the struggle. He emphasized the necessity to build the financial capacity of Andinet Party in order to create a strong and civilized society which subsequently would be able to establish a democratic government in Ethiopia.
The secretary general of Andinet Party, Ato Asrat Tasse eloquently addressed the need for non-violent form of struggle in Ethiopia. He said that given adequate financial support, his party strongly believes that peaceful means of struggle will undoubtedly bear fruits in Ethiopia.
He further noted that Andinet doesn’t believe that Andinet Party alone by itself would bring the necessary change in Ethiopia, but with the collaboration and full participation of all parties concerned. To this end, Andinet urges convening of a national reconciliation conference. He also warned the ruling Woyne party that it would be absolutely naïve to think that the Ethiopian people would abandon the struggle in fear of harassment, persecution or loss of lives.
Speaking of the financial need, the general secretary outlined that the party needs a total of $ 912,000 in order to smoothly run its 11 permanent committees and to carry out the party’s urgent tasks for a year.
Towards the end of the meeting, the Atlanta branch of Andinet Support Group in North America, organizer of the meeting, presented a crystallized plaque to both members of the delegation as a token of appreciation for their relentless sacrifices they have paid and most importantly as a reminder of the responsibilities they shoulder to safeguard the well-being of Ethiopia.
Ato Girmaye Gizachew, Chairman of the Atlanta Support Group said on the occasion that “every time you see this plaque and every time you read the wordings inscribed on it, we want you to remember your stay in Atlanta, and most of all the high responsibility entrusted upon you in protecting and safeguarding the Motherland.”
Ato Cheru-Terefe, a local veteran fighter was also awarded similar plaque for his unflinching struggle he made since late 60s for the well being of the Ethiopian people and establishment of a democratic government in Ethiopia.
The more than 3 hour long meeting was eloquently and professionally conducted by the secretary of the Atlanta branch support group, Ato Eyob Kidan-Mariam.