January 17, 2008
The headline of this article would pass for simple ethnic politicking if it was not spoken by a founder and former politburo member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and a former Defense Minister of the regime now ruling
The headline is a direct quote of Mr. Seye Abraha, who was released recently after serving six years at the Qaliti dungeon on trumped-up charges of corruption for which his accuser, Mr. Meles Zenawi, could not produce any credible evidence. For human rights groups and many among Ethiopians who follow the human rights conditions in
I have no reason to doubt Seye’s assertions and figures or dismiss them as revenge against his former comrades as the apologists of the crimes of the regime try to tell us. In fact, nearly all people who have been at the Qaliti prison tell us the same thing. As he himself alluded to during his long speech, Seye understands that he shares responsibility and has a lot to answer for as one TPLF leader for the plight of the Oromo people. Many of us know that he has been at the forefront in fighting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) out of the political system in
Ato Seye to his credit has shown a sense of shame and atonement in the tone of his expressions as he spoke these words and discussed the prevailing injustice in the country. Whether Seye’s sense of justice has changed because of his own experience of facing injustice and prison personally or through his reevaluation of the system he helped build, does not matter at this point. He should be congratulated for the courage he has shown to speak the truth in public and calling for a solution. Some people vanish into obscurity when they get out of the TPLF/EPRDF system. Some simply keep sucking up to the system and pursue “tranquil” life. Others stand up to undo their misdeeds, speak the truth and keep fighting to undo their wrongs. I have more respect for the latler and think Seye is in this category.
The information that gets out of
For those of us who are not troubled enough by the magnitude of the injustice being perpetrated against the Oromo people, a good way of looking at it may be to look for parallels in history where a group of people identified by their ethnicity are subjected to such inhumanity. I tried to look all over history to find parallels to this kind of a disproportionate imprisonment of ethnic groups in any country. Believe it or not, the only similar parallels in history where you see these kinds of ugly features are only in countries under colonial rule, under Nazi Germany and in systems of apartheid. It is that troubling. An entire people that constitute the largest ethnic group in
I am by no means saying that oppression and human rights abuse being carried out in
Meles Zenawi’s regime is destroying the fabric that ties our people and all indications are an inter-ethnic hatred is evolving in the country. In fact, one other former prisoner who confirmed Seye's assertions told me another ugly fact. He told me that the most disgusting scene at the Qaliti prison is not only the disproportionate number of Oromo Prisoners. He said that there is also a disproportionate number of ethnic Tigreans manning the prisons as prison officials and guards. He said that it appears to him not as pure negligence on the part of the officials but as a deliberately work done by Meles and his clique to foment hatred against Tigreans. The Oromo prisoner’s, I was told by another prisoner, often refer to the guards and prison officials as the “Tigrewochu” (the Tigeans). If we deny that all of this will factor into feeding hatred, we are only fooling ourselves and playing dead. If we think what is happening around our neighborhood in
On a recent trip to the Amhara region, some young men asked me and my friends about our travels in
Yes, this is sad and I cringe to hear this coming out from my fellow Ethiopians. But I think we don’t only have to feel sad and hate hatred only sanctimoniously. We need to address the source of hatred with courage and head on instead. In
I think we can save our old, beautiful and historic country from degenerating into deeper divisions and hatred and falling into the traps set by Meles Zenawi and his clique. We can do this by standing up together across ethnicities and rejecting the inhumanity that is being committed by this cruel regime and its elite that is blinded by greed. There is nothing symbolic than rejecting this cruelty and barbarism against the Oromo people together. By so doing, we will all be fighting not for the rights of the Oromo people only but for ourselves and a better posterity too.
I know some apologists of the system would argue that this is the work of the OPDO, the Oromo Organization inside the EPRDF and that Oromos are fully represented. Give me a break. Stop giving me these sham symbols instead of the reality; or give it to unsuspecting foreigners in the embassies in Addis Ababa who seem to care less if we are destroyed as a nation. The symbols and realities are different and the Ethiopian people know it. We all know the real fact that the ethnic federalism being practiced in
I think we will all serve a great common purpose if all of us across ethnic groups rise up together and condemn this horrific crime against the Oromo people. This is not a thing to be left to the OLF. The OLF also cannot tell us that this is its exclusive problem and does not concern the rest of us, non Oromos. We do this only at the expense of the suffering of the innocent people.
At least those of us living in Diaspora should join hands across continents and cry at this injustice together and let the world know that this crime is being committed. Can any group, for a starter, rise up to organize a day of prayer and vigil for Oromo prisoners that packed the prisons in
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org