Following a public rally in the capital last month by the young opposition Semayawi Party that was the largest demonstration by a political party since the 2005 rigged election, UDJ (the Union for Democracy and Justice) party held its biggest public protests in Northern Ethiopian towns of Gondar and Dessie last Sunday ( July, 14) under the theme Millions of Voices for Freedom. BTW, UDJ is the onlyopposition party which has one member in the Ethiopia's 547 parliament. Tens of thousands peaceful supporters of UDJ went to the streets of both towns holding hand in hand to demand TPLF's regime to scrape the "anti-terror" law which they claimed it is using to silence dissent voices across the country. They were praising UDJ for letting them out their over-due frustrations against their local and federal officials who are corrupt, inept and abuse the power given to them by the electorates. They demand also the regime to release all journalists, prisoners of conscience, opposition party leaders and members who are being incarcerated in various notorious prisons of the country. The protesters were from all sectors of the society, especially disenfranchised/frustrated young men and women in their 20s. Despite bad weather and intimidation by security forces, the rallies at two towns concluded peacefully.
Tolerance or just another PR stunt?
Many observers (knowingly or unknowingly) assume that such recent public rallies were permitted because the new "Prime Minister" is much more "open-minded" than his predecessor, oh really? One of them is a western diplomat who finished his tenure in Addis whom I met a couple of weeks ago here in Sweden. He believes it is a sign of tolerance adding that he was impressed how nice the new "Premier" was during their meeting; wasn't that what the late dictator was good at during his two decades of 'statesmanship' - charming westerners with unconditional niceties while treating his own "citizens" with contempt and crude cruelty? I told him the new guy at Menelik's palace allowed Semayai party's rally to use it as public relations but has nothing to do with tolerating dissent. A Swedish journalist and an ardent Ethiopian current affairs' follower asked me about the Ethiopian government's reaction following last Sunday's protests of the two towns; I told him even though the regime kept low so far it is better to wait and see. Well, the "tolerant" government showed its true colors on Monday by arresting 40 members of UDJ who were distributing leaflets calling for the anti-terror "law" to be repealed which they say has been used as a disguise to imprison thousands of Ethiopian dissidents including journalists. Government's spokespersons switched off their cellphones when called to give their comments about this latest "tolerant" incident. The detainees were released on "bail" the following day and we shall see what this "bail" means in TPLF's dictionary.
30+ years & still in the Business
Delegation of European Union parliament visiting Ethiopia made an "urge" ( I guess, this word lost its meaning now a days) yesterday to the regime in Addis to release journalists and activist detained who did nothing wrong but exercised their constitutional and birthrights. Getachew Reda, government's spokesperson told reporters that there are NO political prisoners in the country; Guess what! I'm shocked, NOT. TPLF & Co know the mindset of their benefactors, as they've been in this business for three decades and they mastered how to manipulate, use and coarse their donors in their favors. They will play "Terrorism card" as long as it suits them and nobody makes them change their heinous crimes and gross human rights abuses against Ethiopian people. USAid and DfID will continue to pretend and misinform the rest of the world how fine things are in Ethiopia. The only hope which can and will free Ethiopians from 22 years of Ethno-fascist regime, is those young men and women who went to the streets last Sunday and in June; the rest is there to safeguard their respective countries' national interests and six digits salaries for carrying out various "donor" funded projects in Ethiopia.