Sunday, June 2, 2013

Is Ethiopian Spring in the making?

Oh DAMN (sorry for my French)! I missed one of Ethiopia's historic moment for the second time; tens of thousands of fellow compatriots hold the first ever huge and colorful peaceful demonstration in the capital Addis Abeba, since over a million supporters of the now defunct Ethiopian opposition party- CUD (Coalition for Unity and Democracy) took to the streets in 2005. I wish I were a bird to witness or participate in this
struggle to bring social justice, democracy, freedom equality and end over two decades of Ethno-Fascism by the ruling party aka TPLF (Tigrai People's Liberation Front). If it wasn't for social medias, internet, smartphones which are the worst nightmares invented against dictators and oppressors, I would not be able to attend live coverage of this event by my techno savvy compatriots from the capital. 
NewKids on the Block
This peaceful protest was organized by a very young party called Semayawi which means Blue in Ethiopia's official language Amharic which symbolizes peace, hope and progress. Its leaders are young to the scene but have the charisma and potential to mobilize different disgruntled and disenfranchised sectors of the society who lost the trust on both groups i.e. the Ethiopian ruling and the opposition parties respectively. The old-guard opposition party leaders who stayed in politics for over four decades could neither bring meaningful changes nor resolve new and old social vices which are affecting millions of Ethiopian electorates across the country on the daily basis; they are instead bickering with each other over menial issues, discourses, syntax, narratives etc. Semayawi party actually was trying to hold the rally last week on May
26, 2013 but it was forced to postpone it to today because the city administration (after a series of refusal to permit the rally) claimed that it didn't have enough security forces to man the rally as its workforce was fully engaged to successfully secure the celebration of African Union's Golden jubilee. It was TPLF's lame excuse to cover up its gross human-rights abuses from the spot-light. 
In today's rally, the protesters were just demanding their birth and constitutional rights- FREEDOM, JUSTICE, DEMOCRACY, EQUALITY; it was began around 9 o'clock local time at the party's Head office located in Ginffele and ended peacefully with ten thousand protesters at Ethio-Cuba square. Speeches were made by high profile figures like Dr. Yacob Woldemariam - Smayawai Party's advisor who had been imprisoned following the 2005 Ethiopia's rigged election; father of jailed Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu and of course chairperson of the party Engineer Yelkal Getent. Woldemariam in his speech urged the old-guards to handover the torch to Ethiopian youth so as to bring meaningful change. Reeyot's Father, Alemu Gobebo urged the public to pressure the government peacefully and legally to reform and bring change. Chairperson of the Semayawi party on his part gave three months ultimatum to the government to meet his party's four demands otherwise it will maintain the peaceful struggle until the government acts to resolve these issues. 
  1.  To release all prisoners of conscience (journalists, leaders and supporters of political parties) unconditionally and immediately,
  2. To stop displacing citizens from different parts of the country be it for speaking different language than the area where they live or with the excuse of investment
  3. To stop meddling in the religious affairs of the citizens,
  4.  To tackle swiftly on widespread social injustice, sky-rocketing cost of living and corruption. 

The protesters who were from all age groups; different religious and political backgrounds were demanding in unison the government to respect its constitution, release all prisoners of conscience, bring all corrupt officials/businesspersons to justice and solve problems associated to the rise of cost of living.     
Any recipes for Arab-spring style uprising in Ethiopia?
Ethiopians were not allowed to exercise their birth rights enshrined in article 39 the country's Constitution which clearly and explicitly says citizens have the right to peacefully assemble and make protest which was hijacked and forbidden by Ethiopia's late tyrant following the 2005 rigged election where his security forces killed at gun-point 193 peaceful protesters who demanded their votes respected. Last year, the Ethiopian Muslim communities begun peaceful protest against the interference of the government in their religious affairs in which some their leaders and members charged with terrorism ended up in numerous jails across the nation; this doesn't include tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience who been held without fair trial or charges since TPLF came to power two decades ago. So, with sudden U turn, the government "allowed" today's demonstration, why is that? Hmm, let me guess, maybe the new Primer is from the northern part of the country nor follower of the Orthodox Church (just pun intended). My wildest guess is that 
  1. It is playing low-profile until this AU golden jubilee mambo-jumbo settles down
  2. It is trying to dispel/downplay current reports by rights groups such Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch about its gross human-rights abuses
  3. It is waiting for the right time to unleash its brutality like it did before.
One way or another, there are good number of recipes such as huge unemployed/alienated youth, high cost of living, thousands of displaced citizens under the guise of investment or  "illegal settlement", thousands of political prisoners, endemic corruption, lack of the rule law and  resentful Muslim community to mention but the few for Ethiopians to revolt, for Ethiopians to revolt/up-rise. The regime in power is burying its head in the sand pretending these problems don't exist; soon or later these ticking time bombs will explode like they did during Ethiopia's 1974 land for tiller revolution or elsewhere in the middle-eastern countries. It seems time is against this government to resolve all these issues which have been nightmares for millions of Ethiopians for the last two decades.    

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