By Wondimu Mekonnen (6 July 2009) Woyyane [The TPLF regime] might have declared early victory against the Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA) but early declaration of victory has proved to be premature yet again. As part and parcel of the Ethiopian popular movement for democracy, rule of law and human rights, the teachers are battling on through their committed representatives though battered and bruised. The fight for the teachers’ right continues and they deserve applaud and support.
It is to be recalled that Woyyanes have finally stolen the name “The Ethiopian Teachers Association” from the legitimate representatives of the teachers and bestowed it on its cloned and fake stooges it created in its ethnic laboratory. They have looted the properties of the organisation and passed it over to the loyal servants. They believed they have denied the legitimate leaders of the teachers the means to fight on.
In the past, the Woyyanes had no chance of sending those fake and cloned organisations delegates to any international trade union conferences as the world was well aware of the monster that the ETA had been fighting against. The Woyyane had no chance of setting its dirty foot within the gates of such respected bodies like The International Labour Organization (ILO), Education International and International Confederation of Free Trade Union (ICEFTU). DLA Piper might have taken Woyyane through the gates of White House for US$50,000 a month, but no lobbyists are able to break open the doors of true trade unionists to turn their back on the legitimate ETA.
The Woyyane has boldly done what any decent government would never have been expected to do. It instructed its Kangaroo court finally to outlaw the legitimate but legitimise the fake as the representatives of the teachers and declared victory.
In the past, the Woyyane had suffered humiliation after humiliation at ILO conferences. The ILO is a tripartite UN agency that brings together governments, employers and workers of its member states in common action to promote decent work throughout the world. The ILO rejected Woyyane in the past and did not allow its attempt to come wearing three masks: as a government, employer and workers representative. This time, however, after shutting all “legal doors” on the legitimate ETA and denying the legal existence of the organisation, it dared to do the unthinkable.
The ILO 98th Session had its conference during the early three weeks of June this year at its headquarters in Geneva. It was, of course as it should be: a tripartite by nature, i.e., composed of representatives of three parties: government, employers and workers’ representatives from member states. So, Woyyane decided to show up its ugly face, wearing all the three hats.
The delegation of Ethiopian “government” of this year had 8 officials headed by Mr Hassen Abdela, Minister of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The other senior diplomat among the delegates was Mr Fiseha Yemere who has been acting as permanent government representative in Geneva not only now but during the Dergue regime as well. From Ethiopian Employers’ Federation four people and from CETU two individuals were present. Let us leave the identities of the later two groups to the imagination of the readers.
While Woyyane hand-picked delegates were relaxing drunk from the “victory” they declared over the ETA, the unexpected waited for them in Geneva. Education International sent 8 delegates to the ILO. Guess who one of the delegates was!!! The legitimate ETA being a member of EI, one of the delegates happened to be the nightmare of Woyyane, General Secretary Gemoraw Kassa! A shock nearly chocked the Woyyane stooges in Geneva. They tried to ignore Gemoraw Kassa’s presence but they soon realised that they were into something terrible they could not handle by pretending not to see the obvious. The moment they realised the General Secretary of the legitimate ETA, Gemoraw Kassaw was going to make a speech, they were devastated and became extremely agitated. They openly and unashamedly pleaded with all concerned to convince them to deny the legitimate ETA General Secretary the right to address the conference but without success. They bitterly expressed their disappointment and leaked a boycotting threat (not to attend the conference unless his speech was to be cancelled) but received derisory feedbacks. Who cares, for heaven’s sake if dictatorial stooges disguised in three forms would leave the floor anyway!!! The conference went ahead as programmed ignoring Woyyane’s cry.
According to Gemoraw Kassa, this year there were 26 countries on the list to be discussed for failing to meet their international obligations. Surprise! Surprise! Ethiopia was one of them. Anyway, Ethiopia has been discussed 10 times within the last 15 years and during one such discussions it was placed under a special paragraph.
On the 11 June 2009, Ethiopia was the topic to be discussed from 9:15pm to 10:30pm in the evening. In line with the traditional procedure of the Commission meetings, the floor was given first to the government representative. Mr Hassen Abdela, the minister of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, head of the delegation, was supposed to present his government’s observation, However, he was nowhere to be traced in the hall though he was in Geneva as of 8 June. In fact it is customary for Woyanne officials to go to bars and shopping in the middle of conferences. Mr Fiseha Yemer read a letter from the government in response to the ETA/NTA/EI complaints successively submitted to the Standard Application Committee of the ILO. Mr Yemer also left the hall as soon as he finished reading.
The so-called The Workers Group spokesman was the second speaker. Then Ato Gemoraw was the third speaker but was interrupted by the point of order plea of Mr Minilik Alemu from Ethiopian Foreign Office. He said:
“We, Ethiopian government representatives, are forced to listen to this individual for not having any other better option. Hence we request the audience not to have understood us as if we have given him recognition. We ask the chairman to register our grievance.”
Notifying the procedure, the chairman allowed Ato Gemoraw to continue his speech. To the embarrassment Ethiopian government representatives, the General Secretary of the legitimate ETA received quite loud and long applause from the audience.
During the discussions, speakers after speakers took floor and dissected the true nature of TPLF disguised as EPRDF or the government of Ethiopia, the regime that violated ILO convention No. 87 (Freedom of Association) which responsible past government of the country ratified in 1963. The legitimate ETA, that was denied existence by Woyyane won the hearts and minds of the rest of the delegates and earned the support of the audience.
Readers can find the whole discussions and humiliation of the imposters at the ILO’s website.
Delighted General Secretary, Gemoraw Kassa said afterwards:
I attribute this exemplary international solidarity and remarkable success to the hard work of colleagues at Education International. I remain grateful.
The ETA might have been bullied to submission by Woyyane thugs. However, as you can see, they have not yet quite finished. They are still defying the odds. They are fighting on while Woyene’s hirelings have continued to bark.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org