የአስቸኳይ ግዜ አዋጁ መነሳቱን አስመልክቶ ከህብር ራድዮ አዘጋጅ ሀብታሙ አሰፋ ጋር ያደረኩትን ቃለ-ምልልስ ቀጥሎ ያለውን ማያያዣ በመጫን ማዳመጥ ትችላላችሁ፡፡ “የታፈነ ህዝብ ያምፃል”
“የእንካ ግን አትንካ ፖለቲካ” በሚለው ፅሁፍ የኢህአዴግ መንግስት ጋዜጠኞችን፥ ጦማሪያን፣ ፀኃፊዎችን፣ የመብት ተሟጋቾችንና ተቃዋሚ የፖለቲካ መሪዎችን በፀረ-ሽብርተኝነት አዋጁ አማካኝነት ለእስራትና ስደት እንደሚዳርጋቸው ተመልክተናል። በተመሳሳይ፣ በሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ተቃውሞና አቤቱታቸውን ለመግለፅ አደባባይ በወጡ ዜጎች ላይ ያልተመጣጠነ የኃይል እርምጃ በመውሰድ ብዙዎችን ለሞት፣ የአካል ጉዳትና እስራት ዳርጓል። ነገር ግን፣ የኢህአዴግ መንግስት በፖለቲካው ውስጥ ንቁ ተሳትፎ የሚያደርጉ ዜጎችን ለሞት፥ እስራትና ስደት የሚዳርግበት መሰረታዊ ምክንያት ምንድነው? በተለይ ደግሞ ለአመፅና ተቃውሞ በወጡ ዜጎች ከመጠን ያለፈ የኃይል እርምጃ የሚወስደው ጨካኝ ወይስ ጨቋኝ ስለሆነ ነው? በመሰረቱ፣ አንድን መንግስት ጨካኝ ወይም ጨቋኝ ብሎ ለመፈረጅ በቅድሚያ የመንግስታዊ ስርዓቱን መሰረታዊ ባህሪ ማወቅ ያስፈልጋል።
የዴሞክራሲያዊ መንግስት ተግባራዊ አንቅስቃሴ የሚመራው በእኩልነት መርህ ነው። የአምባገነን መንግስት ሥራና ተግባር የሚመራው ደግሞ በፍርሃት ነው። አምባገነኖች ሀገርና ሕዝብ የሚመሩት በፍርሃትና በማስፈራራት ነው። በመሆኑም አምባገነን መሪዎች ያለ ፍርሃት ሀገርና ሕዝብን ማስተዳደር አይችሉም። “ለምን?” የሚለውን ጥያቄ ለመመለስ በቅድሚያ ስለ መንግስት አፈጣጠርና ዓላማ የተወሰኑ ነጥቦችን እንመለክት።
በተወሰነ አከባቢ የሚኖሩ ሰዎች (ሕዝቦች) የራሳቸውን መንግስት የሚመሰርቱበት መሰረታዊ ምክንያት ማህበራዊ እና ኢኮኖሚያዊ እንቅስቃሴያቸው በሕግና ስርዓት እንዲመራ ለማድረግ፣ በዚህም የሁሉም ዜጎች መብት፥ ነፃነትና ተጠቃሚነት የተረጋገጠበት የጋርዮሽ ስርዓት እንዲኖር ለማስቻል ነው። በዚህ መሰረት፣ የመንግስት ድርሻና ኃላፊነት የሁሉንም ዜጎች መብት፥ ነፃነትና ተጠቃሚነት ለማክበርና ማስከበር የሚያስችል አስተዳደራዊ ስርዓት መዘርጋት ነው። ለዚህ ደግሞ አስፈላጊ የሆኑ አዋጆችን፥ ደንቦችንና መመሪያዎችን ማዘጋጀት፣ የሁሉንም ዜጎች መብትና ተጠቃሚነት ለማረጋገጥ የሚያስችል ስራና አሰራር መዘርጋት፣ የአፈፃፀም ሂደቱን መከታተልና ማሻሻል አለበት።
ከላይ በተጠቀሰው መሰረት፣ የአንድ መንግስት መሰረታዊ ዓላማ የሁሉም ዜጎች መብት፥ ነፃነትና ተጠቃሚነት የተረጋገጠበት ፖለቲካዊ ስርዓት መዘርጋት ነው። ስለዚህ፣ የመንግስት ስራና አሰራር በእኩልነት መርህ ላይ የተመሰረተ መሆን አለበት። ከዚህ አንፃር፣ ዴሞክራሲያዊ ስርዓት ከመንግስት መሰረታዊ ዓላማ ጋር በቀጥታ የተቆራኘ ስለመሆኑ መገንዘብ ይቻላል። ከዴሞክራሲያዊ ስርዓት በተለየ አምባገነናዊ ስርዓት የተወሰነ የሕብረተሰብ ክፍልን የበላይነትና ተጠቃሚነት በማረጋገጥ ላይ የተመሰረተ ነው። በመሆኑም፣ የአምባገነናዊ መንግስት ከእኩልነት ይልቅ በፍርሃት የሚመራው ነው።
የአምባገነን መንግስት ስራና አሰራር የተወሰነ የሕብረተሰብ ክፍልን መብትና ነፃነት የሚያረጋግጥና የተሻለ ጥቅምና ተጠቃሚነት እንዲኖረው የሚያስችል ነው። ይሁን እንጂ፣ እያንዳንዱ ሰው በተፈጥሮ ከሌሎች ሰዎች እኩል የመሆን፥ በእኩል አይን የመታየት ፍላጎት አለው። ስለዚህ፣ የተወሰኑ ሰዎችን፥ ቡድኖችን ወይም ማህብረሰብን ከሌሎች የበለጠ ወይም ያነሰ ተጠቃሚ የሚያደርግ ፖለቲካዊ ስርዓት ከሰው ልጅ ተፈጥሯዊ ባህሪ ጋር ይቃረናል። ስለዚህ፣ ዜጎች የአንድን ወገን የበላይነትና ተጠቃሚነት በማረጋገጥ ላይ ከተመሰረተው ፖለቲካዊ ስርዓት ጋር መሰረታዊ ቅራኔ አላቸው። በመሆኑም፣ በአምባገነናዊ መንግስት የምትመራ ሀገር ዜጎች በተለያየ ግዜና አጋጣሚ ለአመፅና ተቃውሞ አደባባይ ይወጣሉ።
ሕዝባዊ አመፅና ተቃውሞ የሚቀሰቀሰው “ከሌሎች “እኩል” መብትና ነፃነታችን ይከበር፣ ፍትሃዊ የሀብት ክፍፍል ይኑር” በሚል እሳቤ ነው። በዚህ መሰረት፣ የአመፅና ተቃውሞ ዓላማ የእኩልነት ጥያቄ ነው። በእኩልነት መርህ ላይ የተመሰረተ ዴሞክራሲያዊ ስርዓት በአመፅና ተቃውሞ ለሚነሳ ጥያቄ ተገቢ ምላሽ ለመስጠት የሚያስችል አቅምና አሰራር ይኖረዋል። የተወሰነ የሕብረተሰብ ክፍልን የበላይነትና ተጠቃሚነት በማረጋገጥ ላይ የተመሰረተ አምባገነናዊ ስርዓት ግን የእኩልነት ጥያቄን ለመቀበልም ሆነ ለማስተናገድ የሚያስችል አቅም አይኖረውም።
በመሰረቱ፣ በአመፅና ተቃውሞ አማካኝነት የሚነሳው የእኩልነት ጥያቄ የአንድ ወገን የበላይነትና ተጠቃሚነትን ለማስቀረት ዓላማ ያደረገ ነው። ነገር ግን፣ በአምባገነናዊ ስርዓት ውስጥ በዚህ መልኩ የሚነሳ የእኩልነት ጥያቄን ማስቀረትም ሆነ ማስተናገድ አይቻልም። የእኩልነት ጥያቄ ከሰው ልጅ ተፈጥሯዊ ባህሪ ጋር የተቆራኘ እንደመሆኑ ሕዝባዊ አመፅና ተቃውሞን ማስቀረት አይቻልም። በተመሣሣይ፣ የአምባገነናዊ መንግስት መሰረታዊ ዓላማ የአንድን ወገን የበላይነትና ተጠቃሚነት ማረጋገጥ እንደመሆኑ የእኩልነት ጥያቄን ተቀብሎ ማስተናገድ አይችልም። ስለዚህ፣ ሕዝባዊ አመፅና ተቃውሞ በሰው ልጅ እና የአምባገነናዊ መንግስት ተፈጥሯዊ ወይም መሰረታዊ ባህራያት መካከል የተፈጠረ ግጭት ማለት ነው።
በአመፅና ተቃውሞ አማካኝነት በሚፈጠረው ግጭት ከዜጎች እና ከአምባገነን መንግስት አንዱ ወገን ተፈጥሯዊ ባህሪውን ያጣል። ተፈጥሯዊ ባህሪውን ያጣ ማንኛውም ነገር ሕልውናው ያከትማል። ስለዚህ፣ በአመፅና ተቃውሞ ምክንያት ወይ ዜጎች የሕይወትና አካል ጉዳት ይደርስባቸዋል፣ ወይም አምባገነኑ መንግስት በግድ ተቀይሮ ዴሞክራሲያዊ ይሆናል ወይም ይወድቃል። በዚህ መሰረት፣ ለአመፅና ተቃውሞ አደባባይ በወጡ ዜጎች እና በአምባገነን መንግስት መካከል የሚፈጠረው ግጭት ሕልውናን በማረጋገጥ ወይም በማጣት ውጥረት ውስጥ የሚካሄድ ነው።
ከላይ በተገለፀው መሰረት፣ አምባገነን መንግስት ለአመፅና ተቃውሞ አደባባይ በወጡ ዜጎች ላይ ከመጠን ያለፈ የኃይል እርምጃ በመውሰድ በሰላማዊ ዜጎች ሕይወት፥ አካልና ንብረት ላይ ከፍተኛ ጉዳት ያደርሳል። ለዚህ ደግሞ ሁለት መሰረታዊ ምክንያቶች አሉ። አንደኛ፡- የእኩልነት ጥያቄ ለአምባገነናዊ ስርዓት የሕልውና አደጋ እንደመሆኑ ሕዝባዊ አመፅና ተቃውሞን በጣም ይፈራል። ሁለተኛ፡- ያልተመጣጠነ የኃይል እርምጃ በመውሰድ ከፍተኛ ፍርሃትና ሽብር መፍጠር በሌላ ግዜና ቦታ ተመሳሳይ አመፅና ተቃውሞ እንዳይቀሰቀስ ያደርጋል። በአጠቃላይ፣ የእኩልነት ጥያቄ በሚያነሱ የሕብረሰብ ክፍሎች ላይ ከመጠን ያለፈ የኃይል እርምጃ የሚወስደው በፍርሃትና ለማስፈራራት ነው። ለምሳሌ ባለፈው አመት በአዲስ አበባ ከተማ የተካሄደው የተቃውሞ ሰልፍና በመንግስት የተወሰደው እርምጃ እንደማሳያ ሊጠቀስ ይችላል፦
ለአመፅና ተቃውሞ አደባባይ በወጡ ዜጎች ላይ ከመጠን ያለፈ የኃይል እርምጃ በመውሰድ በዜጎች ሕይወት፥ አካልና ንብረት ላይ ከፍጠኛ ጉዳት የሚደርሰው የኢህአዴግ መንግስት በራሱ ስለሚፈራና ሕዝብን መስፈራራት ስለሚሻ ነው። ይህ የሆነበት መሰረታዊ ምክንያት ደግሞ መንግስታዊ ስርዓቱ የተወሰነ የሕብረተሰብ ክፍልን የበላይነትና ተጠቃሚነት በማረጋገጥ ላይ የተመሰረተ በመሆኑ ነው። ስለዚህ፣ የኢህአዴግ መንግስት በዜጎች ላይ የጭካኔ እርምጃ የሚወስደው ጨቋኝ ስርዓት በመሆኑ ነው።
(ይህ ፅሁፍ በ2007 ዓ.ም የተካሄደውን ሀገራዊ ምርጫ ገዢው ፓርቲ ኢህአዴግ 100% አሸንፌያለሁ ማለቱን አስመልክቶ በፌስቡክ ገፄ ላይ ያወጣሁት ነው፡፡ ፅሁፉን ደግሜ ሳነበው የሀገራች ፖለቲካ አሁን ከገባበት “አዙሪት” ውስጥ እንዳይገባ ቅድመ ማስጠንቀቂያ የሰጠሁበት መስሎ ተሰማኝ፡፡ እስኪ እናንተም አንብቡና ሃሳባችሁን ስጡበት፡፡)
አብዛኞቻችን (አንዳንድ የኢህአዴግ ደጋፊዎችን ጨምሮ) ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲዎች ፓርላማ እንዲገቡ የምንፈልገው ለምንድነው? “በተወካዮች ምክር ቤት ከፍተኛ ድምፅ ኖሯቸው አዲስ ህግ እንዲያረቁ ነው?”…አይደለም! መንግስት ከፈለገ ማታ ህግ አርቅቆ ጠዋት በፓርላማ ሊያፀድቅ እንደሚችል በስዬ አብረሃ ህግ አሳይቶናል (በከፍተኛ የሙስና ወንጀል የተከሰሱ ግለሰቦችን የዋስትና መብት እንዳይኖራቸው የሚያትተው የህግ አንቀፅ በፓርላማ የፀደቀበት…)
…”መንግስት በሚያቀርባቸው የዉሳኔ ሃሳቦች ላይ ድጋፍ በመንፈግ ውድቅ እንዲያደርጉ ነው?” አይደለም! ልክ የምክር ቤቱ አፈ-ጉባኤ “ለረቂቅ ሰነዱ ድጋፍ…” ሲሉ ከእንቅልፋቸው የሚነቁና በደመ-ነፍስ እጃቸውን የሚያወጡ የምክር ቤት አባላት ባሉበት በተቃዋሚዎች ጩኸት የሚለወጥ የውሳኔ ሃሳብ ሊኖር አይችልም።
“የህግ አስፈፃሚውና ተርጓሚውን ተግባር እንዲቆጣጠሩልን ነው?”…አይደለም! የትኛው ሚኒስትር፣ የትኛው ዳኛ፣ የትኛው ፖሊስ…ኧረ የቱ የመንግስት መስሪያ ቤት ነው የህዝብ ተወካዮችን ከቁብ ቆጥሮ ሥራና አሰራሩን ያሻሽለው? እስኪ አፈ-ጉባኤ አባ-ዱላ ገመዳ “በከፍተኛ የትምህርት ተቋማት ውስጥ የተንሰራፋው ቅጥ-ያጣ ሙስና በአስቸኳይ እንዲወገድ” ጥብቅ ማሳሰቢያ ሲሰጡ ትንሽ ደንገጥ ያለ የዩንቨርሲቲ ፕሬዘዳንት አጋጥሟችሁ ያውቃል? የፍርድ ቤት ዳኛ ሆነ ፖሊስ የሚታዘዙት፣ የሚፈሩት… በህገ-መንግስቱ የበላይ አካል የሆኑትን የህዝብ ተወካዮች ነው ወይስ ለአንድ የኢህአዴግ ካድሬ?
“የተቃዋሚ ፓርቲ አባላት ፓርላማ እንዲገቡ አጥብቀን የምንሻው በሕገ-መንግስቱ የተጣለባቸውን ሃላፊነት በአግባቡ ይወጣሉ በማለት ነው?” አይደለም! ከዚያ ይልቅ፣ የመንግስትን ስህተትና ትክክለኝነት የሚያሳዩ “መስታዎት” ሆነው ስለሚያገለግሉ ነው።
እንደ ሀገር የህዝቡን ሃሳብ፣ ብሶትና ጥያቄ የሚስተናገዱበት ነፃ የሆነ ሚድያ የለንም፣ በቅጡ የተደራጁ የሙያና ሲቪል ማህበራት የሉንም ወይም ደግሞ ገዢው ፓርቲ በራሱ የሃሳብ ልዩነቶችን የማስተናግድ ባህል የለውም፡፡….ለዚህ ተግባር በህግ የተቋቋሙት እንደ የህዝብ እምባ-ጠባቂ፣ የኢትዮጲያ ሰብዓዊ መብት ኮሚሽን፣ የሥነ-ምግባርና ፀረ-ሙስና ኮሚሽን፣… ወዘተ ያሉትም ቢሆኑ የተደራጀ አቅም የላቸውም፡፡ ከዚህ በተጨማሪ፣ ከመንግስት አካላት ተፅዕኖ ነፃ ሆነው አገልግሎታቸውን ለህዝብ አይሰጡም።
በእንዲህ ያለ ሁኔታ የተቃዋሚ ፓርቲ አባላት ትክክለኛውን የህዝብ ስሜት ለመንግስት አካላት የሚያደርሱ ብቸኛ አካላት ናቸው። በተለይ ደግሞ ልክ እንደ አንድ ግለሰብ በስሜት ለሚነዳው የእኛ ሀገር መንግስት ብዙ ሺህ ዶላር ከሚከፈላቸው አማካሪዎች፣ ከምንትስ ዩኒቨርሲቲ በዶላር ማስተርስና ዶክትሬት ድግሪ ከሸመቱ አማካሪዎች በተሻለ ስህተትን የሚጠቁሙ ስለሆኑ ነው። ጋዜጠኞችን ለእስርና ስደት ከዳረገ በኋላ ተቃዋሚዋች በህዝብና መንግስት መካከል ያሉ ብቸኛ ድልድይ ናቸው።
በአጠቃላይ፣ የፌደራል ፖሊስና ደህንነት ፀረ-ሽብር ግብረ-ሃይል፣ የፍርድ ቤት ቀጠሮ እየጠየቀ ወንጀል ከሚፈበርክ አቃቤ-ህግ፣ በሙስና ከሚውጠው በላይ የጎረሰ የፍርድ ቤት ዳኛ፣ …በነፃነት የመኖር፣ የማሰብ እና የመናገር መብትህ በእነሱ ፍቃድ የተገኘ የሚመስላቸው የሰፈር ካድሬዎች፣….በእነዚህ የጨቋኝ ስረዓት ጡንቻዎች ሳይደቆሱ የህዝብን ጥያቄ ለመንግስት የሚያደርሱ ብቸኛ ወኪሎች የተቃዋሚ ፓርቲ አባላት ብቻ ናቸው።
አሁን “ምርጫውን 100% አሸነፍኩ…“ እያለ የሚለፍፈው ኢህአዴግ “ያያት ወንድ ሁሉ በአድናቆት ፈገግታ ታጅቦ ‘ቆንጆ…ውብ ፅጌረዳ’ እያለ ሲያቆለጳጵሳት ከቤቷ ያለውን ብቸኛ የፊት መስታዎት እንደሰበረች ቀበጥባጣ ኮረዳ አይነት ነው። ከተወሰነ ግዜ በኋላ በጠወለገ ውበቷ የለበጣ ሳቅ ሲስቅቧት እሷ ግን በደስታ የምትስቅ፣ ባገጠጠው ፈገግታዋ ሲሳለቁ፣ መልሳ የምታገጥ፣ …. በመጨረሻም ሁሉም ሲሰለቿትና ሲያገሏት አስቀያሚነቷን እንደምትረዳ አይነት ኮረዳ…….
አሁን በ100% የሚያስጨፍረው የምርጫ ውጤት ኢህአዴግ’ ስህተቱን ከውድቀቱ እንዲማር ከማድረግ ሌላ ፋይዳ የለውም።
By Jason Burke
Addis Ababa had a plan – to expand, and lead newly prosperous Ethiopia into a brave new century. But after protests led to a violent and harrowing state crackdown, what happens next could reverberate across Africa.
Drive out of Addis Ababa’s new central business district, with its five-star hotels, banks and gleaming office blocks. Head south, along the traffic-choked avenues lined with new apartment blocks, cafes, cheap hotels and, in the neighbourhood where the European Union has its offices, several excellent restaurants. Go past a vast new church, the cement skeletons of several dozen unfinished housing developments, under a new highway and swing left round the vast construction site from which the new terminal for the Ethiopian capital’s main international airport is rising.
Here, the tarmac gives way to cobbles and grit and the city loosens its hold. Goats crop a parched field beside corrugated iron and breezeblock sheds, home to a shifting population of labourers and their families. Children in spotless uniforms neatly avoid fetid open drains as they walk home from school. Long-horned cattle wander. Beyond the airport, the road splits into a series of gravel tracks that quickly become dusty paths across fields, which take you to the village of Weregenu.
There is nothing remotely exceptional about Weregenu. It is just another cluster of flimsy homes like many others around, and within, Addis Ababa. Nor is there much exceptional about the series of demolitions here over recent months. As the Ethiopian capital expands, it needs housing, rubbish dumps, space for factories. All land is theoretically owned by the government, merely leased by tenants, and when the government says go, you have to go. So Weregenu’s thousand or so inhabitants know they are living on borrowed time. All have been warned that the bulldozers will come back.
“The police came with officials a few weeks ago. We had a day’s warning,” says Haile, a 19-year-old former resident. “Old people, children, pregnant women … It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, your house was smashed to bits.”
“No one told us why they wanted the land, except it is needed for development. We’ve been living there for years and years. I grew up there. Now we have to find somewhere else, or pay rent – and we can’t afford it.”
All over the developing world, there are people with similar stories. By 2050, according to the UN, over half of Africa’s population will live in cities, a much lower proportion than elsewhere in the world but twice as high as now. Ethiopia is one of the countries where urbanisation is moving fastest, and like elsewhere the process is placing massive strain on established political, economic and social systems. One result, as elsewhere, is violence.
The unrest in Ethiopia started in late 2015 with a small demonstration at a town where locals suspected officials of planning to build on a popular football pitch and a forest reserve. They rapidly intensified, prompting a brutal reaction from security forces. This prompted more protests and, inevitably, more brutality. By early autumn last year, several hundred people were dead and the unrest had become a full-blown political crisis.
Accounts of the violence are harrowing. Security forces have shot into crowds of unarmed schoolchildren, students and farmers. Footage of such incidents shows teenagers bleeding on the ground just metres from officials. Police have gone from house to house hunting suspected protesters, combed universities for activists who are then beaten with rifle butts or worse, and picked up any politicians suspected of dissent. Many detainees simply disappear. There is evidence of extra-judicial executions, while prisoners describe being kept for weeks in solitary confinement in dark cells, subjected to successive interrogations and beatings.
“I had no idea if it was day or night,” one prisoner, a musician held for weeks in prison in Addis Ababa last year, remembers. “I was interrogated for about two weeks, and punched or slapped. Then they tied my wrists together and hung me up by my arms from a hook. They hit my hands with sticks, breaking the bones. I passed out.”
When he regained consciousness, the 31-year-old was treated for his injuries and then held for a further two months in a “big hall, deep underground” where more than 100 detainees lived on water and bread, using a bucket for a toilet. He later fled overseas, where he spoke to the Guardian.
Many of the protesters were young, so a high proportion of those killed or injured were teenagers. Security forces targeted those who provided assistance or shelter to suspected activists, too. Parents, friends and schoolmates were detained to pressure fugitive children to turn themselves in. Two teenage athletes who defected while in South Africa for a competition last summer described how friends and relatives had subsequently been roughed up and detained. “They have been rounding them up,” one said.
The protests continued throughout last year at a rate of more than one a day. Some factories were burned, a few vehicles torched and occasional stones thrown. The government described the protesters as “armed gangs”. The numbers of dead or injured demonstrators mounted.
“It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, your house was smashed to bits”
Haile, former resident
The final act came in October at Bishoftu, a city 35km from Addis Ababa, during a vast religious festival. When some among the crowd of hundreds of thousands began to raise slogans against the government, security forces moved in, firing tear gas and, some witnesses claim, live ammunition. In the stampede that followed, at least 100 died, according to western officials who watch Ethiopia. Activists claim the number was many times higher. The news prompted a new wave of protests. A state of emergency was declared, followed by mass arrests.
Ethiopia had long been held up as one of Africa’s star economic performers and an island of stability in an anarchic region. Though recent months have been calmer, the fallout from the unrest of the last two years may still dramatically change the history of one of the continent’s most important countries – and possibly the future of hundreds of millions of people across the entire continent. The questions posed by the crisis here are vital ones. Does the accelerating expansion of cities – from Algiers to Dar es Salaam, from Cairo to Kinshasa – inevitably mean violence? Will urban development heal existing tensions between communities in fragile nations or aggravate them? Could it be economic success, rather than failure, that brings revolution?
‘We are marginalised in everything’
Gataa, an activist, is slim, small, bespectacled and in his mid-40s. He is inconspicuous, sitting and sipping water in northern Addis Ababa while he talks softly of protest, death, detention and violence.
Gataa (not his real name) is an Oromo, the largest single ethnic group within Ethiopia, comprising 35-40% of the population. The Oromo have played the principal role in the recent unrest, suffered the most significant casualties and been arrested in the greatest number.
The primary grievance outlined by Gataa is that the Oromo have been oppressed for centuries by other ethnic groups in Ethiopia, first the Amhara, which comprise somewhere between 25-30% of the population, and, more recently, the Tigrayans, only 6%. Many Oromo, and others, say the current government is dominated by the Tigrayans, at least behind the scenes, who are also viewed as benefiting disproportionately from recent economic growth. Both charges are contested by officials and nuanced at least by many analysts and historians. But there is no doubt that there is a powerful Oromo identity and a strong sense of grievance.
“We are marginalised in everything,” says Gataa. “All the best jobs, the contracts, the power is with the others. It has always been this way.”
In 2014, municipal authorities in the capital had published a new strategic document outlining the future development of the city. In most places, this would be a mundane exercise attracting little attention. But for Gataa, and millions of others, “the Addis Ababa integrated zone master plan” was far from innocuous. Ethiopia is split into nine regions, each one for a different ethnicity, and two cities that run themselves. Addis Ababa is one of these, and is effectively an enclave within Oromia, the state of the Oromos. The state resembles a belt of territory straddling the country with Addis as the buckle. The “integrated zone” covered in the plan included a 1.1m hectare strip of land around the city, outside the current municipal boundaries. A glance at a map shows how the expansion of the Addis Ababa it described would have neatly bisected Oromia.
“It is a land grab, an eviction, a new invasion,” says Gataa. “This is Oromo land. Already we have been pushed to the outskirts of the city. Now they push us further so they can build and develop and construct. The farmers have to go. They get jobs on the construction sites on the land where they lived. There is no question of compensation, or any benefit. So what do you expect? Land is everything for the Oromo. It is our culture and identity. It is a matter of life and death.”
If discontent and resentment at the government cuts across all ethnic groups, the Oromo had a powerful narrative to frame their grievances – and to mobilise.
“This was a rallying cry,” says Gataa. Half a dozen activists in the influential Oromo diaspora – from the US to South Africa – echoed his words.
The masterplan of 2014 did not prompt immediate protests however. Officials say this is evidence that unrest was manufactured from overseas, a charge Oromo activists inside and outside Ethiopia deny. Either way, the protests rapidly left the original issue of the masterplan far behind, almost everyone interviewed for this article said. Many recent demonstrations have been in the Amhara region, where there are few Oromo, but similar frustrations.
“The masterplan was a trigger but not the cause,” says Gataa. “It seems calm now but under the surface much is happening. We are gathering our forces now. People are talking, meeting, organising. Now no one – not even the young people – is interested in [economic] growth. Once you have lost faith in the government, everything is dark for you.
“Am I afraid? Yes, but when those in the front line fall, others will take their place.”
That Addis Ababa is in dire need of planning is not in doubt. It was founded in 1886, by the emperor Menelik II, who is widely seen as the architect of modern Ethiopia and whose statue now towers over a busy roundabout in the capital’s scruffy, lively neighbourhood of Arada. In the 1930s, just before Italy’s short-lived occupation of Ethiopia, the British writer Evelyn Waugh described the city as being “in a rudimentary state of construction” with “half-finished buildings at every corner”. Just over 30 years later, the Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinsk told his readers of “the wooden scaffoldings scattered” about a city that resembled “a large village of a few hundred thousand, situated on hills amid eucalyptus groves”. The hills are still there, as is the wooden scaffolding, which is more practical in the heat and sun than its steel counterpart. The trees are gone.
“Land is everything for the Oromo. It is our culture and identity. It is a matter of life and death”
The growth of Addis Ababa has been extraordinary. In 1974, when Haile Selassie was deposed in a military coup after 58 years as emperor and regent, its population was estimated to be half a million at most. By 1991, when the brutal “Derg” regime was finally ousted by rebel groups, there may have been double that number, living at around 2,300m in a dusty bowl below the Entoto hills. Today there are somewhere between 3.4 and five million people living in Addis Ababa. Most are without proper sanitation or clean water, many lack steady electricity, there is limited public transport and rubbish collection is grossly inadequate. The World Bank expects the city’s population to double over the next 10 to 15 years.
“This certainly raises some major challenges, as it would for any city,” says a UN official who has worked on urban issues in the city. Some forecast a population of 35 million by the end of the century. So one would imagine that any effort to put in place a strategic plan to manage that expansion would have been welcomed.
‘A climate of fear’
Aster lost her house in the demolitions of Werengenu village. She is now living, along with her HIV positive mother and her teenage daughter, on the floor of a neighbour’s two-roomed home.
“What do you think we feel? I had a legal lease to this land,” she says, standing in the rubble of her home. “I built my house here long ago. I have friends, neighbours, relatives here. It’s a community. Where do I go know? These officials, they do not care about ordinary people. The government just work for themselves.”
When anyone is prepared to talk, and has checked over their shoulder to see who is listening, this a common charge in Addis Ababa, and partially explains the violence prompted by the 2014 planning document.
Meles Zenawi, who ruled Ethiopia from 1991 until his death in 2012, frequently said he did not believe democracy and development were linked. He pursued a political and economic model that was closer that of China the west. Along with Paul Kagame’s Rwanda, Ethiopia is often cited as the example of how a repressive and centralised government can solve economic challenges in Africa as well as, if not better than, more open but messier democratic systems. Critics argue that such development, if real, is unsustainable in the long run.
Ethiopian officials deny the accusation of authoritarianism. They point out that President Obama described Ethiopia’s government as “democratically elected” on a state visit in 2015, and that the country holds regular elections. Both are true. However Obama qualified his praise and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has won every major poll for more than 20 years and currently occupies every seat in the 537-strong parliament. Diplomats in Addis Ababa describe “a climate of fear” and point out that “almost all opposition politicians are in prison or abroad”. Ethiopia is ranked 140th out of 180 countries by press freedom campaigners. Bloggers are a particular target, with many held under anti-terrorism laws.
But the authoritarian development model depends on a sufficient number of citizens accepting reduced freedoms in return for a slice of the growing wealth that an efficient, competent and impartial administration delivers. A minority can be repressed, but you can’t fool everyone all the time. And increasingly in Ethiopia, despite the massive growth over recent decades, the government is seen as inefficient, corrupt and unresponsive.
The combination would be a devastating one for governments anywhere. In Ethiopia, it threatens the fundamentals on which the state has been based for decades.
“People will pay a bribe, reluctantly, if that’s what it takes to get services,” says one analyst in Addis Ababa. “They don’t like it but they will do it. But when they have to pay a bribe and still get treated badly, then that’s when they get angry.”
Then there is the inequality. According to the World Bank, the GDP of Ethiopia is $62bn, almost eight times more than in 2001. Tens of millions have been lifted out of poverty, primary school enrolment is approaching 100%, and if there are still millions who depend on aid to eat and an annual threat of hunger in many rural areas, it is almost impossible to envisage the appalling famines of 30 years ago recurring.
But the new wealth generated over recent decades is not being evenly distributed. In 2014 Ethiopia topped a list of African countries creating the most millionaires. “Sales are good, especially of imported champagne,” says the manager of a fine wine shop in an upscale neighbourhood in the south of Addis Ababa. Next door, a dozen luxury cars fill a dealer’s yard. The best-selling vehicle is the Toyota Prado, a vast SUV which costs $200,000. The owner says he sells between five and seven each week. At the same time, poverty levels, even in the capital, remain between 25-30%.
“Once there was nothing here – and people argued then,” says one leading businessman over a $10 sandwich in the Sheraton hotel. “So imagine what it is like now there is a great big pie, and everyone wants a slice.”
Three further elements are fuelling discontent across Ethiopia, the businessman said: the very large number of graduates in the country, a consequence of the vast expansion of the education system since 1991; social media, which has raised expectations among young people in the country to “stratospheric levels”; and ethnicity.
Officials know the problems that face the EPRDF as it completes 25 years in power. The Addis Ababa integrated development plan has been withdrawn, with any new planning based on the city remaining within its current administrative limits. There are frequent official statements expressing concern about corruption. The media – which is largely owned or controlled by the state – is full of stories reporting the huge social programmes, the aid effectively spent, the effort to build a million new homes in Addis Ababa, the billion-dollar coffee crop, and the vast new dams. Some criticism is also tolerated, though only where it poses no threat to the ruling party – in English-language academic journals published by thinktanks closely linked to the ruling party, for example, or English-language news websites with small readership.
At the same time, anyone or anything that is considered a threat is targeted by the full force of the state.
“Ethiopia is facing political, social and economic challenges. The new generation want to be informed and are not patient,” admits Negeri Lencho, the newly appointed minister of communications.
Lencho described last year’s state of emergency as justified and temporary, pointing out that Turkey and France have introduced similar measures in the last 18 months.
“When the government faces a group of people who are killing and destroying property, when there is no law and order, then that government has to do something,” he says. “But it is not a big deal. It is gradually coming to a usual situation.”
As for the crackdown on the media, this too is not the fault of the government. The problem, according to Lencho, is that Ethiopian journalists are not “professional” and that is partly why so many of them end up in jail.
“Ethiopia has its own system of government based on a system where media and journalists should give priority to the needs of the people,” the minister says. “The role of Ethiopian journalists comes from the real and actual needs of the Ethiopian people today. Those in prison have not respected fundamental journalistic ethics.”.
Such views are anathema to activists such as Gataa. Like many others, he calls for international intervention, or at least more vocal criticism of Ethiopia from other governments. So too do human rights campaigners overseas.
Yet, as analysts agree, this is unlikely as long as the US sees Ethiopia as a key regional ally. Diplomats in Addis Ababa talk of how advancing human rights will help stability in security in east Africa but the truth is that countering the increasing influence of China in Ethiopia, and fears over rising Islamic militancy in the region, make any significant pressure unlikely. The EU now see Ethiopia as a key actor in the struggle to slow migrant flows across the Mediterranean. There is little appetite in the chancelleries of Europe or Washington to risk chaos in a country of nearly 100 million in such a sensitive part of the world for the sake of a few thousand incarcerated activists and commentators.
“We want to heal Ethiopian democracy and make it vibrant,” Lencho says. Few major powers are likely to challenge the statement in the near future.
Revolution or evolution?
Analysts in Addis Ababa agree only on two things: they do not want to be quoted by name for fear of attracting the attention of the security services, and that it is very difficult to predict what happens next in Ethiopia.
Some believe the government has won. They say that the promise of reforms, a cabinet reshuffle, the withdrawal of the masterplan, a degree of “protest fatigue”, the repression and the ongoing economic growth together mean that no further unrest can be expected until the next elections, scheduled for 2020 at the earliest. Analysts point out that the political leadership retains the loyalty of the powerful intelligence services, army and federal police and even if there are many malcontents, there are also millions of people, ranging from petty officials and police officers to major business owners, who see their future welfare as dependent on the continued rule of the EPRDF. They point out that recent festival of Epiphany, which some thought might be a flashpoint for further protests in this predominantly Christian and devout country, went off without a problem and say that Ethiopia is not as fragile as some believe.
If these analysts are right, Ethiopia’s course over the coming years will encourage supporters of an authoritarian model of development across Africa and beyond.
Others, however, take an opposite view. They say the unrest has challenged the basic premises that underpin the legitimacy of the government in the country. If Ethiopians can no longer look forward to a steady evolution towards political pluralism and ethnic inclusion, coupled with a degree of material improvement, then the fundamental contract between the government and the population will break down. In this case, if there is no significant reform and particularly if there is no outlet for resentment through protest, an open media, unions or opposition parties, then the centre cannot hold for very long. As they doubt whether there exists leadership and intellectual capacity to execute the necessary changes, massive and disruptive change is inevitable. This view will encourage those who believe democracy is a prerequisite of sustainable development – though all but the most dogmatic will be concerned over the trauma such change implies.
The most likely scenario, as so often is the case, is that some kind of middle way will be found. All over Africa there is tension and friction, sometimes violence, along fracture lines that have little to do with formal frontiers between states. The “Africa rising” narrative does not fit this messy reality – but nor does its pessimistic opposite. Addis Ababa, like Ethiopia as a whole, has always charted its own path, confounding predictions and confusing pundits. This is unlikely to change now. There will doubtlessly be further waves of unrest, and detentions, repression and deaths. There will be some minor concessions from the authorities. Economic growth may slow. But it does not feel like the revolution is just around the corner.
On a Sunday, the priests’ chanting sounds out across Addis Ababa at 6am over crackling loudspeakers and the faithful file into the churches. Children join less edifying activities: street football, for the most part. By mid-morning the tourists, who never really went away despite the travel warnings (now mostly lifted), are queuing inside the national museum for a glance at the remains of Lucy, one of the earliest hominids, and middle-class families are taking selfies in its garden. Work crews in straw sun hats sweep the steps of the obelisk in Yekatit 12 square, which commemorates those who died resisting Italy’s occupation from 1936-1941.
Through the afternoon, on Churchill Street, boys sell mangoes, cheap watches, cigarettes and gums to a continuous rush of old men in crumpled suits, young women in tight dresses and older women in traditional white shawls. The packed minibuses that serve as taxis jostle and manoeuvre, watched by bored police officers.
As dusk turns to night, the fashionable lounge venues in the developed downtown neighbourhood of Bole fill with “re-pats”, who have returned from London, New York or Dubai, and there’s not a free table in the bars and restaurants of Arada, where men cluster around grilled meat and couples share bottles of beer, shouting to be heard over the music. By early evening, these bars’ multi-coloured strings of bulbs are the only ones shining in the gathering gloom. By midnight the music stops, the lights are turned off, and the remaining revellers make their way home.
Source: The Guardian
By Jason Burke in Addis Ababa
Monday 13 March 2017 07.15 GMT Last
“ቆይ ግን፣ መንግስት ለምድነው እንዲህ የሚፈራው?” ይህ ጥያቄ ትላንት ከአንድ ጓደኛዬ ጋር ከሀገር አቀፍ የ12ኛ ክፍል ፈተና በኋላ አንዳንድ የኢንተርኔት አገልግሎቶች በዚያው ተቋርጠው መቅረታቸውን አስመልክቶ ስንወያይ ያነሳሁት ነው። ከቅርብ ግዜ ወዲህ መንግስት እየወሰዳቸው ያሉት እርምጃዎች የፍርሃት ይመስላሉ፤ “በነጭ-ሽብር ዘመን እንደነበረው ዓይነት ፍርሃት…” አልኩና ለራሴ ደነገጥኩ። ጓደኛዬም “በትክክል…‘መንግስት ልክ በነጭ-ሽብር ዘመን የነበረው ዓይነት ፍርሃት ውስጥ ነው” ብሎ ሃሳቡን ሲደግመው የባሰ ደነገጥኩ። ይሄን ጉዳይ ሙሉ ትኩረቴን ሰጥቼ ማጥናት እንዳለብኝ አመኜ የተለያዩ መረጃዎችን በማሰባሰብ፣ በ1968 ዓ.ም እና በ2008 ዓ.ም መካከል ያለውን ሁኔታ ለማነፃፀር ስሞክር፣ ነገሩ ከማስደንገጥ አልፎ አስፈራኝ። ከአርባ ዓመት በኋላ የነጭ-ሽብር ጥቃት አይናችን ስር እየተካሄደ እንደሆና ቀይ-ሽብር ደግሞ ከዚህ ቀጥሎ ሊመጣ እንደሚችል ማሰቡ በራሱ በጣም ያስፈራል። እስኪ ድሮና ዘንድሮን በንፅፅር እንመልከት።
ከሕዳር ወር 2008 ዓ.ም ጀምሮ በኦሮሚያና አማራ ክልሎች በተከሰተው የአመፅና ተቃውሞ እንቅስቃሴ ምክንያት በመቶዎች የሚቆጠሩ ሰዎች ሕይወት ጠፍቷል። በተለይ በኦሮሚያ ክልል የታየው የአመፅና ተቃውሞ አንቅስቃሴ በዋናነት በተማሪዎች የተቀሰቀሰ ሲሆን በሂደት ወደ ተለያዩ የሕብረተሰብ ክፍሎች ተስፋፍቷል። በዚህም፣ የኢትዮጲያ የሰብዓዊ መብት ኮሚሽን ባወጣው ሪፖርት መሰረት፣ በክልሉ ለ173 ሰዎች ሕይወት መጥፋት እና በ261 ሰዎች ላይ ከባድ የመቁሰል አደጋ ድርሷል። እንደ ሪፖርቱ፣ ከሟቾቹ ውስጥ 14ቱ የፀጥታ አስከባሪዎች፣ 14ቱ “የመንግስት ኃላፊዎች” ሲሆኑ፣ ከፍተኛ የመቁሰል አደጋ ከደረሰባቸው ውስጥ 110 የፀጥታ አስከባሪዎች መሆናቸው ታውቋል። በተመሣሣይ፣ ሰሞኑን በጎንደር ከተማ በተከሰተው ችግር ምክንያት በ20 ሰዎች እና በ11 የፀጥታ አስከባሪዎች ላይ የሕይወት መጥፋት አደጋ ተከስቷል። በአጠቃላይ፣ ባለፉት ስምንት ወራት ብቻ በኦሮሚያና አማራ ክልሎች 25 የፀጥታ አስከባሪዎች እና በ14 የመንግስት ባለስልጣናትን ላይ የሞት አደጋ ደርሷል።
ከመስከረም ወር 1968 ዓ.ም ጀምሮ በተማሪዎች አባላቱ ላይ ጠንካራ እርምጃ መውሰዱ በመጀመሩ ተከትሎ ኢህአፓ (የኢትዮጲ ህዝብ አብዮታዊ ፓርቲ) በደርግ አባላትና ደጋፊዎቹ ላይ የኃይል እርምጅ መውሰድ ጀመረ። የነጭ-ሽብር ጥቃቱን የተጀመረው በመስከረም ወር አጋማሽ ላይ በመንግስቱ ኃ/ማሪያም ላይ የግድያ ሙከራ በማድረግ ሲሆን ቀጥሎ ከፍተኛ የመንግስት ካድሬ የነበረውን አቶ ፍቅሬ መርድን በመግደል ነበር። በቀጣይ ሁለት ወራት ውስጥ 10 ከፍተኛ የደርግ ባለስልጣናትንና 15 የፀጥታ አስከባሪዎች በኢህአፓ ተገድለዋል። በ“African Watch Report” መሰረት፣ ኢህአፓ በደርግ አባላትና ደጋፊዎች ላይ እየወሰደ የነበረው የኃይል እርምጃ እስከ አመቱ አጋማሽ ድረስ የቀጠለ ሲሆን በዚህም በብዙ መቶዎች የሚቆጠሩ ሰዎች ተገድለዋል። ደርግ የአፀፋ እርምጃ መውሰድ የጀመረው በተመሣሣይ ወቅት ከመስከረም ወር ጀምሮ ቢሆንም የጅምላ እስርና ግድያ የጀመረው ግን ከየካቲት ወር በኋላ መሆኑን በሪፖርቱ ተጠቅሷል።
በአጠቃላይ፣ በ2008 ዓ.ም ከሕዳር ወር ጀምሮ 25 የፀጥታ አስከባሪዎች እና 14 የመንግስት ባለስልጣናት ተገድለዋል። በተመሣሣይ፣ በ1968 ዓ.ም በጥቅምትና ሕዳር ወር ውስጥ ብቻ 15 የፀጥታ አስከባሪዎች እና 10 የመንግስት ባለስልጣናት ተገድለው ነበር። በሁለቱም አጋጣሚዎች በመቶዎች የሚቆጠሩ ሰላማዊ ዜጎች ሕይወት የጠፋበት ከፍተኛ ደረጃ ላይ የደረሰ ግጭት እንደመከሰቱ በፀጥታ ኃይሎች ላይ የደረሰውን የሞትና የመቁሰል አደጋ መገመት ይቻል ይሆናል። ምክንያቱም፣ ለተቃውሞ ሰልፍ የወጡ ነዋሪዎችና የፀጥታ አስከባሪዎች በግጭቱ ቀጥተኛ ተሳታፊዎች እንደመሆናቸው መጠን፣ በእነዚህ አካላት ላይ የሚደርሰው የሞትና የመቁሰል አደጋ የግጭቱ ስፋት ይጠቁማል። በተመሣሣይ፣ የ1997 ዓ.ም ምርጫን ተከትሎ በተከሰተው አመፅና ብጥብጥ የተገደሉትን ሰዎች ብዛት መንግስት የ54 ብቻ ነው ሲል፣ አንዳንድ ወገኖች 193 እንደሆነ ይጠቅሳሉ። ሆኖም ግን፣ በወቅቱ የደረሰው የሞትና የመቁሰል አደጋ በዋናነት በሰላማዊ ዜጎችና ፀጥታ አስከባሪዎች ላይ እንጂ በመንግስት ባለስልጣናት ላይ አልነበረም። በመሆም፣ ከዘንድሮው ጋር ተመሣሣይ ነው ማለት አይቻልም።
በዘንድሮ አመት፣ ባለፉት ስምንት ወራት ውስጥ ብቻ 14 የመንግስት ባለስልጣናት ተገድለዋል። በአመፅና የተቃውሞ እንቅስቃሴው ቀጥተኛ ተሳታፊ ከሆኑት ዜጎችና የፀጥታ አስከባሪዎች በተለየ፣ የመንግስት ባለስልጣናት መገደላቸው የሚጠቁመው የግጭቱን ስፋት ሳይሆን የግጭቱን ዓይነት ነው። ከዚህ አንፃር፣ የዘንድሮ ግጭት በዓይነቱ ከ1968ቱ የነጭ-ሽብር ጥቃት ጋር ይበልጥ ተመሣሣይነት አለው። በሁለቱም አጋጣሚዎች የመንግስት ባለስልጣናት ከፀጥታ አስከባሪዎች እኩል የተቃዋሚ ኃይሎች ኢላማ ነበሩ። ከዚህ በተጨማሪ፣ ሃሳብን ይበልጥ ለመረዳት እንዲቻል ሰሞኑን በግሌ የታዘብኳቸውን ሁለት አጋጣሚዎች እንደ ማሳያ ለመጥቀስ እሞክራለሁ።
አጋጣሚ-1፡- ባለፈው ሳምንት በደቡብ ምዕራብ ሸዋ ዞን፣ ቱሉ-ቦሎ ከተማ ውስጥ ከተማዋ የቀድሞ ከንቲባ ማንነቱ ባልታወቀ ሰው በጥይት ተመትቶ መሞቱን ሰማሁ። እዚያ የሚኖር ጋደኛዬ ጋር ስልክ ደውዬ ስለ አሟሟቱ ስጤቀው ሰውዬው የተገደለው በስህተት እንደሆነ ነገረኝ። ነገሩ ገርሞኝ፤ “ጦር መሳሪያ ይዞ…፣ ሰው ለመግደል ጥይት ተኩሶ ሲያበቃ፣ እንዴት ነው “በስህተት” ሊባል የሚችለው የሚል ጥያቄ አስከተልኩ። “ሰውዬው የተገደለው በዕለቱ አንድ ከኦሮሚያ ክልል ቢሮ የመጣ ባለስልጣን ስለነበረ፣ ገዳዩ እሱን ያገኘ መስሎት ነው በስህተት የገደለው” በማለት የግል ግምቱን ነገረኝ።
አጋጣሚ-2፡- በቅርቡ በጎንደር ከተማ የነበረውን ሁኔታ አስመልክቶ በፌስቡክ ገፄ ላይ “በትግራይ ብሔር ተወላጆች ላይ የሚፈፀመው ጥቃት ይቁም!” የሚል ፅሁፍ ለጥፌ ነበር። በተለይ በንብረት ላይ የደረሰውን ጥፋት አስመልክቶ በተደጋጋሚ ሲሰጥ የነበረው፤ “ጥቃት የደረሰባቸው ‘የወያኔ/ህውሓት አቃጣሪዎች’ ናቸው” የሚለው አስተያየት ሲሆን ይህም ልክ እንደ ሚዛናዊ አስተያየት በብዙዎች ዘንድ ሲደጋገም ታዝቤያለሁ።
ከላይ በተጠቀሱት ችግሮች ዙሪያ በሚመለከተው አካል እየተደረገ ስላለው የማጣራት ስራ ዝርዝር መረጃ የለኝም። በእርግጥ የእኔ ትኩረት ዝርዝር መረጃ ላይ አይደለም። ከዚያ ይልቅ፣ በሁለቱም አጋጣሚዎች ላይ ስለሚንፀባረቀው የተሳሳተ እሳቤ ነው። ይህም፣ የመንግስት ኃላፊዎች እና ደጋፊዎች ሕይወት እና ንብረትን ማጥፋት ተገቢና ተቀባይነት ያለው ተግባር ተደርጎ መቅረቡ ላይ ነው። ልክ እንደ ነጭ-ሽብር ዘመን፣ ከሕግ አግባብ ውጪ የማንኛውም ዜጋ ሕይወትና ንብረት መጥፋት የለበትም የሚለው የሕግ-የበላይነት መርህ እንደዋዛ እየተሸረሸረ መሄዱ በጣም አሳሳቢ ነው።
በእርግጥ በ“ነጭ-ሽብር” እና “ቀይ-ሽብር” ዘመን በኢትዮጲያኖች ላይ የተፈፀመው ጅምላ ጭፍጨፋ ሀገሪቷን ዕውቀት መሃን አድርጓታል። በወቅቱ የተፈፀመው ጥፋት ግን በዋናነት በቃላት እንጂ በጥይት አልነበረም። ይህ በሀገራችን ታሪክ አሰቃቂ የሆነው ዘመን ሲመጣ ነጋሪት እያስጎሰመ አልነበረም። ከዚያ ይልቅ፣ በጥላቻና ስሜታዊ ግብዝነት በታጨቁ ቃላት እየተጎተተ ነው የመጣው። የሀገሪቱ የፖለቲካ ልሂቃን በተለያዩ መድረኮች የሚናገሯቸው ቃላት፣ ብዙሃኑን በአንድ ጎራ ማሰባሰብ ብቻ ሳይሆን ማሰብ እንዲያቆም ሊያደርጉት ሁሉ ይችላሉ (words that bind us also blind us)።
በ1968 ዓ.ም የኢህአፓ ጥቃት ከተጀመረ ከስምንት ወር በኋላ ጓድ መንግስቱ ኃ/ማሪያም በኢህአፓ ሲሰነዘርበት የነበረው ጥቃት “ነጭ-ሽብር” የሚል ስያሜ በመስጠት፣ አፀፋውን “ቀይ-ሽብር” ብሎ አወጀ። ይህን ተከትሎ፣ ሌ/ኮ አጥናፉ አባተ “በነጭ-ሽብር ለተገደለ አንድ አብዮተኛ አንድ ሺህ ፀረ-አብዮተኞች ይገደላሉ” (for every revolutionary killed, a thousand counter-revolutionaries executed) ብሎ ቃል በመግባት “የአብዮት ጥበቃ ጓዶችን” (Defense of the Revolution Squads) ማደራጀት ጀመረ። “መጥፎ ቀናት” (Evil Days) በሚል ርዕስ በ1983 ዓ.ም በወጣው የሰብዓዊ መብት ሪፖርት፤ “The promised ratio was not to be much of an exaggeration” በማለት፣ “በነጭ-ሽብር ለተገደለ አንድ የደርግ አባል አንድ ሺህ ተቃዋሚዎች ተገድለዋል” ቢባል ማጋነን እንዳልሆነ ይገልፃል።
በተመሣሣይ፣ የዘንድሮው አመፅ ከተከሰተ ከስምንት ወራት በኋላ፣ በተለይ በቅርቡ በጎንደር ከተማ በፀጥታ አስከባሪዎች (ፖሊሶች) እና ዜጎች ላይ ከደረሰው አደጋ ጋር ተያይዞ መንግስት የሚወስደው እርምጃ ችግሩን እንዳያባብሰው እሰጋለሁ። ከላይ ለመግለፅ እንደተሞከረው፣ በተለይ በኦሮሚያና አማራ ክልሎች እየታየ ያለው የአመፅና ተቃውሞ እንቅስቃሴ “የነጭ-ሽብር ተጀምሯል” ለማለት ያስደፍራል። በተመሣሣይ፣ የመንግስት ግብረ-መልሱ ልክ እንደ ደርግ በስሜታዊ ግብዝነትና ፍርሃት የሚመራ ከሆነ “ቀይ-ሽብር ይከተላል”። ስለዚህ፣ ሁሉም አካላት ነገሮችን ከማባባስ እንዲቆጠቡና በመንግስት የሚወሰዱ እርምጃዎች በጥሞና ሊታሰብባቸው እንደሚገባ ለማሳሰብ እወዳለሁ።
As protests in Ethiopia over the rights of the country’s Oromo people continue, Addis Ababa-based journalist James Jeffrey considers if they are threatening the country’s unity.
The latest round of bloody protests over Oromo rights had a tragically surreal beginning.
A bus filled with a wedding party taking the bride to the groom’s home was stopped at a routine checkpoint on 12 February near the southern Ethiopian town of Shashamane.
Local police told revellers to turn off the nationalistic Oromo music playing. They refused and the bus drove off.
The situation then rapidly escalated and reports indicate at least one person died and three others were injured after police fired shots.
The exact details of the incident are hard to verify, but what is clear is that days of protest followed, including armed local militia clashing with federal police, leaving seven policemen dead, the government says.
Oromia at a glance:
Oromia is Ethiopia’s largest region, surrounding the capital, Addis Ababa
Oromo are Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group – making up about a third of Ethiopia’s 95 million people
The Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) is Oromia’s largest legally registered political party, but holds no seats in parliament
Why Ethiopia is making a historic ‘master plan’ U-turn?
Since last November, Ethiopia has seen a third phase of the recent unrest in the Oromia region which has been unprecedented in its longevity and geographical spread.
The region is the largest in Ethiopia and the Oromos, who make up a third of the population, are the biggest of the country’s more than 80 ethnic groups.
Initially the protests were in reaction to a plan to expand the administrative border of the capital, Addis Ababa, which is encircled by Oromia.
But even after the region’s governing party, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation, which is part of Ethiopia’s governing coalition, shelved the plan in January, protests have continued.
“There is a strong sense of victimhood, extending back 150 years,” says Daniel Berhane, a prominent Addis Ababa-based political blogger, covering Ethiopia for the website Horn Affairs.
“People remember the history. The scars are still alive, such as how the Oromo language was suppressed until 20 years ago.”
Despite there being an ethnic basis to these protests, observers say that the deeper issues behind them, frustrations over land ownership, corruption, political and economic marginalisation, are familiar to many disenchanted Ethiopians.
The government has disputed the numbers given for those killed in the protests by rights groups
The numbers killed since November following clashes between protesters and security forces given by international rights organisations, activists and observers range from 80 to 250.
The government has dismissed various death tolls as exaggerations, and said that a recent report on the situation by the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) was an “absolute lie”.
Ethiopian citizens had a right to question the plan to expand Addis Ababa, but the protests were hijacked by people looking to incite violence, according to government spokesman Getachew Reda.
He says the security forces have faced “organised armed gangs burning down buildings belonging to private citizens, along with government installations”.
A security analyst who closely watches Ethiopia says “there could be radical elements and factions taking advantage, but you cannot define a movement by isolated events”.
Despite violent incidents, the protests have been described as “largely peaceful” by HRW and observers in Ethiopia.
“There is a perception of lack of competence in governance on the ground,” Mr Daniel says.
“There were easy remedies to appease initial protests, it was not hard science, but the right actions were not taken.”
In its defence, the government says it heeded the call of the people when it came to concerns over the Addis Ababa plan, and observers say the government deserves credit for withdrawing it.
Oromos in the diaspora have taken part in protests in solidarity
But the same political observers add that the government must allow Ethiopians to exercise their constitutional right to protest, and handle events in a way that does not escalate violence.
The government has said that the protests and information about them have been manipulated by foreign-based opposition groups who are using social media to exaggerate what is going on for their own ends.
“The diaspora magnifies news of what is happening, yes, but no matter how much it agitates, it cannot direct [what’s happening] at village level in Ethiopia,” says Jawar Mohammed, executive director of one of those accused of fomenting conflict, US-based broadcaster Oromia Media Network (OMN).
“This is about dissatisfaction.”
The ruling coalition and its allies won every single seat at the 2015 election
Mr Jawar says the imprisonment of leaders of the Oromo Federalist Congress party, Oromia’s largest legally registered opposition political party, along with thousands of other Oromo political prisoners, makes it difficult to negotiate a lasting solution.
“Also what is the UK and US doing? As major donors to Ethiopia they should be taking the lead to get the government to work out an agreement.”
This is a long way from the heady days of Ethiopia’s new federal constitution after the overthrow of the military dictatorship in 1991.
That introduced a decentralised system of ethnic federalism, but this jars with the dominance of the governing Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which, along with its allies, holds every seat in parliament.
“The ruling government is a victim of its own success,” the security analyst says.
The Oromo make up Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group
“The constitution it developed made promises and people trusted the EPRDF. Now people are demanding those rights and the government is responding with bullets and violence.”
He adds that the government has expanded basic services and infrastructure, and appears to respect different cultural and ethnic identities, but it cannot reconcile this with its more authoritarian decision-making process.
The government’s hitherto successful job of holding together this particularly heterogeneous federation is not about to crumble, according to observers here.
But things may get worse before they get better, unless underlying sources of friction and frustration are addressed.
During its rule of over two decades, the EPRDF government faces occasional condemnation and at times threats from foreign entities such as the Senate and Congress of the United States, and the European Parliament. Although a distant memory now, there once was a time when western embassies based in Addis Abeba issued regular statements in response to government actions deemed a threat to individual rights, civil liberties and the democratic process, gossip recalls.
Neither statements of condemnation from Addis Abeba nor resolutions originating in Brussels or Washington DC, have ever been a cause of concern for the Revolutionary Democrats here. At best, they may have had an effect of irritation to the leaders of the EPRDFites, claims gossip.
But when draft resolutions are taken up by determined legislators such as the late Congressman Donald Payne and Chris Smith, a US Congressman whose involvement with Ethiopia dates back to the famine of the 1980s, the EPRDF ites are rarely dismissive, claims gossip. Those legislators have been elected to a lawmaking body with a bite. And the United States is a country that cashes out an average of close to one billion dollars in aid to Ethiopia, on top of the many forms of assistance it provides the Ethiopian regime in international diplomacy and military cooperation.
In the aftermath of the 2005 electoral debacle in particular, the EPRDFites had begun to worry about the intensity of campaigns by foreign legislators, and were thus compelled to hire lobbying firms to counter the battle of perception. In the late 2000s, DLA Piper, one of the prominent lobbying firms on K Street, was hired for 50,000 dollars a month to help the Ethiopian government avoid sanction by the US Congress for its transgression of human rights.
DLA Piper may have premium clients such as Saudi Arabia, Palestine and even Al-Jazera. Now in partnership with a local law firm, Mehrteab Leul & Associates, its relationship with the Ethiopian government was not concluded in a pleasant manner, gossip disclosed. Ethiopian envoy to Washington at the time, Brehane G. Kirstos, reportedly had misgivings on the services the group had given and the results it had brought, claims gossip.
The need to hire another lobby firm has been kept on the hold since then, partly due to the reluctance of Brehane after he was promoted to a state minister for Foreign Affairs, gossip disclosed. How much of a say he may have from where he now sits, a special envoy to the Prime Minister with an office on Lorenzo Te’azaz Road, remains unclear.
However, the legislative pressure has begun from a rather different direction. The European Parliament has passed a resolution, condemning the ongoing crackdown on protestors in Oromia Regional State, due largely to the determined campaign of Ana Gomez. A European Parliamentarian from Portugal, she has had a bitter relationship with the Revolutionary Democrats since her days as chief observer of the 2005 national elections.
The European Parliament may not be as biting as its counterpart across the Atlantic; but the European Commission, as an associated institution, gives Ethiopia an average of 2.5 billion dollars aid a year. Thus, it would be of little surprise if the EPRDFites are now out shopping for a lobbying firm, with prospective candidates from London and Washington DC under consideration, gossip disclosed. A committee of three, comprising Tedros Adhanom (PhD), minister of Foreign Affairs, Getachew Reda, minister of Government Communications Affairs Office, and Abdulaziz Mohammed, minister of Finance & Economic Cooperation, is currently reviewing offers from close to seven firms. Nonetheless, the most likely candidate to bag the contract, which may cost the Ethiopian government an annual two million dollars, appears to be Chelgate, a London-based PR firm, and an American lobbying firm whose name remains undisclosed, says gossip.
Published on Feb 01,2016 [Vol 16 ,No 822]