Gossip in the name of the people
I have not been actively involved in Ethiopian politics as a member of any political party for a long time, however, recently I have been actively surfing Ethiopian websites in order to read information about Ethiopian politics in particular and to understand the current situations in general. More than that, before I left Las Vegas for a while, I have actively participated in every Ethiopian political meeting that addresses Ethiopian current political and economical affairs. Recently, after I have witnessed first hand the devastation of Iraq by its own people, and the escalation of hatred among different religious groups and the fear they created to children, women and ordinary people, I felt obliged to scribble my thoughts about the current senseless political drama in and outside of Ethiopia.
Most Ethiopians, including myself, often wonder about the place where this political drama occurs and the participants who are actively involved in this drama and vehemently attempt to decide the political fate of individuals as well as political organizations and, of course, the political process of the country. Most Ethiopians know that political struggle or strike against government or institution will occur due to politico-economic oppression and suppression including lack of basic human rights, as well as, deficiency in economic and social freedom. Without these major politico-economic imbalances and contradictions, there is no major struggle, and even if there is, it will not be successful. Having said this, the primary people who have faced the aforementioned political, economic and social discrimination and injustice are the ones who live in Ethiopia. These people are the back bone of the struggle to determine their destiny, and to bring political democracy, economical prosperity and social harmony in their country.
The 2005 national election in which CUD and UEDF were involved was a good example for the above statement. These organizations, particularly CUD, successfully organized the people at the grassroots level and brought them to execute their right by electing their own leaders. If it were not for weyane’s brutal suppression of the will of the people, the first democratic institutions could have been established in the country. The outcome of the election has showed us that ultimate power rests with the Ethiopian people. The Diaspora have no more function than playing a supporting role to the struggle that actively occurs in Ethiopia. We can be very effective in supporting the struggle economically and politically. We can raise a lot of money for the political organizations of our choice; we can also lobby foreign governments, political institutions on behalf of particular political organization or even on behalf of Ethiopia. HR-2003 which was, initiated, organized and executed by the few determined people ( Prof.Al Mariam and others) is a good example. Other than that, we have no right to decide on behalf of the people, who suffer in Ethiopia, who should be the leader of particular organization or who should be knocked out from certain organizations. We do not have the moral authority until we decide to go and live again in Ethiopia and share the burden of those unfortunate people.
Of course, we have the moral obligation to provide constructive criticisms to political organizations or individuals as long as it can help them to correct or amend their policies or programs for the good of the people. But, when it goes beyond that and becomes destructive and demeaning, then it loses its objective. That is what has happened in the last few months in Washington DC in particular and in the Western hemisphere in general. Instead of trying to understand the fundamental problems or contradictions between political organizations or between individuals within political organization and help to find out a workable solution, certain individuals or group of individuals are fanning the flame by supporting one individual/group and insulting or defaming the reputation of the other individual/group.
For instance, I have read an irrelevant, childish but well calculated article in the name of the Ethiopian people to defame the reputation of Hailu Shawel. The writer attempted to explore everything from the death of Prof. Asrat to the personal family matters to destroy the good name of Mr. Shawel. Among other things the one that saddened me the most was the part he wrote, “The main reason Mr. Shawel returned from US to Ethiopia during the crisis was to prevent Dr. Nega’s election as Mayor of Addis Ababa”. Is this how we are going to pay back the person who organized the Ethiopian people day and night by using his elderly labor, by spending his personal wealth, and by putting his feeble health at risk, and brought an effective opponent political organization in Ethiopian history? Contrary to the senseless accusation, the reason Mr. Shawel went back to Ethiopia was to be with his colleagues during the crisis and to fulfill his leadership duty although he understood well incarceration was waiting for him. He should be admired for his heroic action and determination instead of being insulted by those pathological and delusional pseudo-intellectuals. Mr. Shawel I salute you for your courage and political work for that unfortunate country. On the other hand, those name callers (misnomers) tormented one of the highly respected economists who could live in any part of the world and raise his children without any problems as a weyane’s accomplice. How can you accuse a distinguished Professor of being a government operative when he left his job in the United States, went to Ethiopia to help his country and then openly opposed the government’s undemocratic rule, participated actively in the opposition party and because of that went to prison not only once but twice? The Diaspora‘s bizarre behavior did not even stop from accusing Judge Birtukan who left her young child and went to Kaliti for the sake of her people.
Let me ask you questions you gossip-mongers --- how many Ethiopian women have you seen in each political meeting that is organized in or outside of Ethiopia? How many Ethiopian women are actively involved in Ethiopian politics recently let alone in leadership position? I leave the answer to the Ethiopian people.
The other irresponsible parties who are actively pouring salts, with or without knowing, to the wound of the Ethiopian people are the so-called Ethiopian news websites (gossip-sites). In the first place, I am not sure the editors of these websites are professional journalists. If they are, then, they are degrading the profession itself and the excellent name of those Ethiopian journalists who have sacrificed their time, energy, and life for the betterment of their country by exposing the evil and undemocratic nature of the government. In addition of not having the moral and ethical standard which is the litmus test of a good journalist, some of these editors’ minds are blinded by vengeance and taking sides. Conversely, other than providing unaltered news to its audiences, the exemplary and even minded journalist’s main duty is to give a balanced stage to its participants in order to entertain different ideas. This way the people will get the chance to listen to both sides and make their own decisions. Through process they will eventually develop mature democratic culture. Instead of performing this kind of noble job, the good so-called websites turn themselves into gossip sites by picking the person they don’t like and trashing his reputation. For example, one of the sites has been attacking the undisputed name of Dr. Taye by creating false but sensational stories. This unwavering political scientist have proved himself and gained international respect by fighting a one man battle with weyane to keep the freedom of the Ethiopian Teacher’s Association. regardless of 6 years of incarceration. Taye may differ with others with ideas and policies but his integrity is not to be questioned. He has earned respect not only from his friends, but also, from his enemies. What about Mersha, Eyasu, Asefa and others who have been in the struggle since their young age for the cause they believe without forming a family or having a house to shelter. Who are we to disrespect the good name of these heroes? Why don’t we leave the judgment to the Ethiopian people? Are we better than the vast majority of Ethiopians who reside in Ethiopia because we live in the West and have access to a computer? We are preaching about democracy, multi parties system, and basic human rights but simultaneously we can not tolerate different ideas. How do we, then, differ from weyane? Besides that what is the advantage of the disintegration of CUD or EPRP to other political organizations except rolling back the democratization process of the country? Do we really understand the negative impact of the crumbling of multiethnic political organization to the good relationship of different ethnic groups and to the stability of the country as a whole? We will never see the full democratic process of the country in the future unless we solve these political crises wisely.
In conclusion, I believe Ethiopia’s destiny is at a crossroads. I believe Ethiopia is like an intubated patient who is admitted to intensive care unit with multi-organ failure. In order to survive, this kind of patient needs multi-specialty physicians who are expert in their fields. To save this patient successfully, not only expertise in their field is required, but they also need to create good communication skills to exchange ideas freely among themselves and to have a healthy working environment. Otherwise, the chance of this patient succumbing to his/ her disease is more than fifty percent. That is why it is vital to leave personal/ group egos or vendettas to the side and work in harmony for the sake of Ethiopia’s existence.
A country with inexhaustable source of heroes/heroines does not cry when these children sacrifice their life for her integrity or survival. Instead of crying she would be proud of them. However, a country cries and becomes miserable when she needs a hero/heroine badly for her existence and could not find one. At one historical juncture Ethiopia had heroic children who fought Italian aggression and saved her from colonialism. Today Ethiopia is crying because it lacks heroes/heroines who can fight selflessly against narrow nationalism and dictatorship with good vision and bring her children together for a common cause. I hope more Hailus, Berhanus, Bertukans, Mershas, Tayes, and Eyasus will flourish to fight for their country.
God bless Ethiopia!
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