Lataa T. Bay’isaa*
Today, the world is witnessing a surge in “people power” uprising, campaigns and movements, in places such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, Sudan, etc. While the world focuses on Libya’s popular uprising and Moammar Gadhafi’s murderous response, Ethiopia has far from the international spotlight—been ratcheting up its repression. In the last few years, Addis Ababa has moved to dismantle the leading figures of Ethiopia’s opposition political parties and have confined them to a political prison run by the TPLF military corps.
Mass protests erupted during 2005 election flaws, in open defiance of the regime, and were spreading beyond Addis Ababa, punished by regime’s murderous response. However, there are tendencies that the western world reversing their foreign policy commitment increasingly towards the interests of civil resistance by those facing repression. The recent outright support by the US government for popular civilian uprisings in Egypt and Libya proves this fact. Western democracies have been quick to condemn Gadhafi, and have passed a number of measures against him and his regime since Tripoli’s crackdown began. By contrast, Ethiopia’s violent political repression is only part of the latest, repression that has been ongoing for more than 20 years, and yet there appears no urgency in the West to adopt human-rights sanctions against Addis Ababa. There are compelling reasons to rectify this policy discrepancy.
Like Libya, Ethiopia is a place where dissent has been put down, with varying degrees of brutality, for decades—since the early days of the 1991 coup. There, torture is rife and members of dissidents are intimidated, kidnapped and killed; hundreds of political prisoners, women, men languishing and die at the hangman’s hands, following hasty trials held in utter disregard for the most elementary rules of fairness and justice; cruelty is dispensed regularly for the sole purpose of instilling fear in the population.
In 2005, until people in Ethiopia openly challenged the West imposed regime of Meles Zenawi, following the fraudulent elections, Western democracies did nothing little to question Ethiopia’s treatment of its own very people. But then, Ethiopian erupted. Its people, chanting “death to the dictator,” made it clear even to the most election observers from EU parliament that their rulers kept power by force, not consent. Western leaders offered little words of condemnation, but nothing little else. Now, if people in Ethiopian stand up for freedom, is their second chance to show they are not indifferent to Ethiopian people’s suffering, by hitting Addis Ababa with similar measures to the ones they are imposing on Gadhafi.
Ethiopia’s Meles in Panic
Uprising has been very instrumental in political transitions from authoritarian or oppressive rule for many decades and now flourishing in North African nations and the Arab world. As it came to surface recently, there have been reports that coming out from the Ethiopia entrenched regime of Meles Zenawi’s inner circle that revolt is feared in Ethiopia and the regime is in panic. In Ethiopia, the current soaring food prices, repression against opposition political parties, freedom of expression are among issues highlighted as the potential cause to spark unrest to ouster the ruthless regime reigning for the past two decades. Ethiopia is one of the worst inflation-ridden and increasing food prices countries and the majority of its citizens couldn’t afford a dissent meal. The monetary policies that are pursued the TPLF regime by and large out of touch with the ordinary citizens of the country. Repression on political opposition, in which people in Ethiopia found themselves in an Orwellian nightmare where even small utterances of protest could lead to disappearances, prolonged incarceration without any form of legal redress and torture. This fueled tension in the country and the ruthless TPLF regime rushing to take precautions measures anticipating the looming public uprising. They are moving around their military apparatus towards some strategic positions to deter people from taking part in any form of mass action.
Waging Liberation Struggle
The liberation struggle to remove dictatorship ultimately depends on people’s determination to liberate them-selves from the system. Organized civil disobedience has been used to fight colonialism and foreign occupation, advance women’s and minority rights, and improve transparency and good governance. The current wave of change being undertaken by citizens of the North Africa countries exemplifies the spirit of organized civil resistance. Nations and nationalities in Ethiopia also entitled to have and achieve the universal right for freedom and liberty through organized civil resistance. Well-organized mass should be mobilized; well-planned and coordinated leadership should be in place to shape the uprising towards the cherished common goal, is a key to succeed in struggle for freedom. Such strategized revolt could end the reign of TPLF regime and bring the new dawn to the nations and nationalities of Ethiopia without delay. The ongoing uprising in North Africa and the Arab world have inspired subjugated and oppressed people such as Ethiopia and will encourage them to seek change through united struggle. Though currently, it seems not so easy to mobilize enough that will be sufficient to destroy the TPLF regime and its loyal military and police forces, a unified uprising could increase the vulnerability of TPLF regime and it can crumble in short time span.
Lack of Institutions
Free social institutions such as religious organizations, cultural associations, students associations, political parties, and human rights organizations were instrumental in Egypt’s uprising and helped to popularize the cause. These types of institutions are missing in Ethiopia as the autonomy and freedom of such institutions are taken away or controlled by the repressive regime of Meles Zenawi. However, if defiant people get up for justice in unison, no mighty power of Meles and his loyal cadres can hold them back from achieving their right for freedom.
Call for Uprising in Ethiopia: Lessons from Libya
Democracy is a bad news for dictators. The more peaceful channels people have to express grievances and pursue their goals, the less likely they are to turn to violence. As we watch Libyan depot Moammar Gaddafi lash out at pro-democracy protestors with all the murderous force at his disposal, those people in Ethiopia are reminded of uprising and dictator who butchered thousands to preserve his reign of terror. Ethiopia’s dictator vehemently watching the happenings in Libya and elsewhere in the Arab world as he stretches long to assess and control activities in the country. Libyan’s Gaddafi has launched by far the bloodiest crackdown in a wave of antigovernment uprisings sweeping the North Africa and the Arab world.
The regime have already used aircraft against unarmed civilian demonstrators and committed inhuman atrocities. Uprising in Ethiopia could result in a similar ways, even worse as the armies and police forces are the most reliable agents of Meles who are turned their guns on civilian protestors. Meles Zenawi’s forces had dumped more than 200 bodies from 2005 uprisings. The victims were civilian, men and women, and killed daring to stand up to a dictator and yearn for freedom. Freedom won’t come without a determined people to revolt. Revolt against brute regime is a heroic act; however, it causes a great sacrifice.
Freedom for Oppressed People!!
* Leta T. Bayissa is a student at University of Applied Sciences North-western Switzerland, reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org