Dear readers, This is part one of about ten pages. This article was written in early September 2006, when both the actual climate in the western world and the political temperature within the Ethiopian Diaspora community were too hot, either to engage in the much desired work discussed in the article or to interact positively and freely with our politically active Diaspora compatriots. Consequently, even though the issues discussed include a good amount of historically and politically significant material and are highly relevant to help redress the unfortunate errors of the past, the article was not widely published when it was originally written and did not receive the attention these issues deserve. Now, as more opportunities seem to have been created, I feel fortunate to be able to present the first part to my readers. The remaining parts two and three will be available within the coming two or three weeks.
Holding Back Sobbing Children at their Mother’s Untimely Death
As in any society, a good number of Ethiopians residing throughout the international community feel we are carrying a heavy load of responsibilities on our heads concerning the well being of our country – Ethiopia – and its people. This is true even though we work and live far from the land of our birth and from the majority of the people from whom we are an inseparable part. Because of these undeniable facts of belonging and of responsibility, the Ethiopian Diaspora has always been actively involved, engaged with the politics of Ethiopia and with the many other complex issues and problems that have faced our people for many decades now. Regrettably, however, even though many of us are entirely convinced about the indispensability of professional coordination and an effectively operating organization, whether political or non political, and despite having the required knowledge, skills and money, we have not been so lucky as to come up with the desired organizations – organizations that would represent and coordinate our collective needs, voices and contributions to peace, development and the possible process of democratization of our country. This is partly because we quite often choose to disagree with each other, and often prefer to be confrontational towards each other rather than collectively going in search of ways to operate that will be conducive to strengthening the common factors and grounds that are in our hands, and which can serve as sources of harmony and unity – and which could undeniably be helpful in furthering our common goals and desires.
It would not be wrong to argue that it is the absence of such coordinating professional organizations, with unfailing leaders – together with our persistent internal disagreements and conflicts – that have made our own activities ineffective, so that we have continued to be entirely dependent upon the initiatives and actions of other actors, on events and crisis taking place within our country or elsewhere in the region. We often seem unwilling to listen to each other, tending to choose the path of “go it alone.” As the experience of the past two or more decades plainly illustrates, the Ethiopian Diaspora often appears to be willing to come together or at least to show signs of temporary togetherness and unity only when one or more enemy guerrilla or rebel groups are approaching to invade our villages or our cities, or when we feel that members of our own family are at risk. Or when the unelected TPLF leadership ruthlessly murders our Ethiopian compatriots, the youth, women and children, in the clear light of day. In other words, we have been and still are exclusively dependent upon our emotions, which in turn depend on being awakened by the initiatives and actions undertaken by our enemies back home. The May 2005 general election is a case in point.
So far as I can recall, we did not have a single organization in any western major city either before the election or immediately thereafter. It is also undeniably true that a disproportionately high number of us in the Ethiopian Diaspora did not even know that an election was to be held in Ethiopia on 15 May 2005 – a day that has now been registered in books of world history as an historical event. And since we were not organized and didn’t have a professional organization of our own, the practical and meaningful contributions on the part of the Ethiopian Diaspora community were uncoordinated, individualistic in character and quite limited, to the extent that anything at all happened. Subsequently, the Ethiopian Diaspora community has become paralyzed, unable neither to create a professionally organized platform of its own, with a collective voice – an organization capable of directly or indirectly challenging and confronting the criminal activities of the tyrant regime of the TPLF leadership both diplomatically and legally – nor to actively and effectively channel the required and most essential material and non-material support to the opposition political parties at home. It is further true that well meant, serious and wisely fashioned suggestions and recommendations provided by concerned Ethiopians to political leaders and to those with a close links and connections to them to organize the Diaspora community as an essential organ of the opposition parties and as a single and coordinated voice in timely fashion, have been put aside as irrelevant, without a response to those worried, concerned Ethiopians.
Looking in retrospect at the events and developments both before and after the 15 May 2005 parliamentary election, one could argue convincingly that the lack of understanding and underestimation of the strong determination and desire of Ethiopians to rid the land of Ethiopia of the TPLF regime, the increasing desire on the part of the TPLF leadership to improve its image internationally, the growing need of this leadership for improved relations and more economic and military assistance from industrialized nations – alongside the falsity of TPLF’s stated intention to fulfill the formal conditions and demands of donor nations for relatively free election and democratization – a narrow window of opportunity to further cultivate the process of peace, freedom and bring to an end the repressive tyranny of the TPLF leadership was opened. Regrettably, however, for the reasons stated in earlier paragraphs, including our failure to have internationally organized political and diplomatic networks in place long before the election, the lack of nationally and internationally functioning support and work groups prior to the election and the absence of written arrangements, clarity and openness among the political parties that shaped and formed Kinijit, and no doubt for other many reasons that are beyond my capacity to explain, these opportunities, though slim, slipped from the hands of the entire Ethiopian people. And the TPLF leadership, whose power structures were shaking, has managed to somehow revive and reconsider or review its position both in the land of Ethiopia and on the world political stage, at least for the time being; and has succeeded in jailing the most important, well known and highly respected Kinijit leaders, using creatively invented charges – charges that were to gradually, gravely force them to choose between relinquishing their political roles as leaders or following in the footsteps of Professor Asrat Woldeyes – to die slowly in TPLF’s most cruel and most primitive confinement.
Assessing the Outcome of Long Periods of Silence from Kinijit’s Diaspora Leadership
As can be heard and observed in every town and city where we work and live, anger, confusion and frustration about what precisely has gone wrong with Ethiopian opposition political parties, and especially with the dying mother – Kinijit, which most of us had considered as our symbol of resistance and hope of freedom – have in recent times become a source of a new Cold War and battlefield among Kinijit members and supporters themselves, thereby inflicting irreparable damages on Kinijit and tearing it into untold pieces. The unwillingness and/or incapability of the Kinijit International Political Leadership Committee (KIL), to which I will refer as the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, to effectively explain what precisely has gone wrong with Kinijit worldwide have been adding undesired fuel to the increasing number of Paltalk rooms whose participants are against, or are radical militants of the newly founded “Alliance for Freedom and Democracy” (AFD), whose objectives seem to be exclusively focused on outsmarting and annihilating each other, as well as assailing the personal reputations of the so called “Admins” or dominant figures in each Paltalk room, as well as their family members and colleagues. Anyone who disagrees with the generally held views in a Paltalk room and raises rational questions is automatically declared a potential enemy of that room, and will be “bounced” or kicked out of the room for 24 or 48 hours, or perhaps for an unspecified period of time. Also, individuals who disagree with the formation of the AFD and have differing views from AFD founders and supporters but are willing to be interviewed by one of those rooms, will be automatically castigated and associated with the unelected TPLF leadership, and will be called “Woyane.” Others who are reserved or unwilling to criticize the AFD are accused of being a “puppet of OLF and Shabiya.” What a world of differences!
One thing we should all be glad about is that we are not living in Ethiopia, and that such radical militants, engaged day and night in waging their war of words against each other and against many other innocent Ethiopians, have empty hands – no guns and no bombs, nor any other tools to harm any of us directly. What is undeniably true, however, is that the sounds of this war of words – waged by those radical militants who consider themselves indispensable Kinijit Core Groups – apart from being a factor in damaging Kinijit itself, scaring and driving away a substantial number of Kinijit mainstream and moderate supporters and potential contributors, have become important reminders to most of us of the guardians of the painful period of the early years of the Ethiopian revolution.
Above all else, however, the question is: how did we so suddenly and so unexpectedly come to the situation where we are today? What went wrong with us – with the Ethiopian Diaspora community; and what precisely went wrong with our mother – Kinijit – who is presently dying? What are the sources and processes that brought our dying mother to the point where the Diaspora Kinijit is today? Why is the Kinijit Diaspora leadership so reluctant and unwilling to effectively explain to us of what went wrong with Kinijit and its leadership both before and after the jailing of our leaders? Why is it that while we – the children of Kinijit – are waiting so desperately and helplessly, day and night, for the Kinijit Diaspora leadership to go all over the world and help to clear up the confusion and the disturbing dark clouds, they remain unwilling to stand in front of us?
Indeed, since the winds of division, confusion and frustration have managed to penetrate deep inside the Kinijit Diaspora community, and especially since the formation of AFD, both moderate and radical Kinijit militants have been waiting for a very long time. And we are still waiting, in hopes that the Kinijit Diaspora leadership will come out of its bed to actively engage in cleaning and clearing up the heavy, dark clouds surrounding the entire body of Kinijit itself, and help explain what went wrong with the Diaspora Kinijit leadership, pointing up the essential points, if there are any, and the future fruits to be expected from the agreements recently reached and signed with the OLF and other rebel groups. Regrettably, however, no one among the Kinijit Diaspora leadership seems to be bold enough to face the challenging questions and concerns currently smoldering in the hearts and minds of the entire body of Kinijit Diaspora Support Groups (which I will also refer in this paper as Chapter or Chapters), the members and sympathizers.
It is because of these lengthy periods of silence and the persistent unwillingness of the Diaspora leadership to come out from its fortresses and share with us the good, the bad and the ugly, including the increasing uncertainties involving the future face of Kinijit, our beloved dying mother, that I thought an attempt to chronologically record what seem to me the cardinal sources responsible for the divisions that currently exist among us, based purely on my own personal involvements, observations and experiences, might be some help to those concerned and worried compatriots and others involved with the issues of our country.
Looking retrospectively at the dying mother and what has led to her illness
Despite many early warnings given by many concerned Ethiopians, including myself, about the future direction of the Kinijit Diaspora, remarkable mistakes have been made; these have now become difficult if not impossible to reverse or repair. Although not as remarkable as the irresponsible, reckless errors that have occurred between the beginning of January 2006 and the present day, sounds of complaint and resentment were to be heard among deeply and enthusiastically involved Kinijit supporters even as early as June and July of 2005.
Readers who wish to contact the author, Maru Gubena can reach him at email@example.com