November 4, 2011

OLF on current situation in Ethiopia

October 2011 (OLF Info Desk) Meles Zenawi, the head of dictatorial regime in Ethiopia, once again reaffirmed that an independent and peaceful struggle in Ethiopia is intolerable. In his shivery response for questions raised from the single member of the opposition party- MEDREK representative in the rubberstamp parliament, Meles reiterated that there is no way to a viable peaceful struggle under his regime, except all the oppositions surrender to the ruling party’s interests.

According to his warning, most of the MEDREK leadership members who are from the Oromo and Amhara nations have links with the OLF and Gimbot 7. Making such accusations with out any tangible evidence is not difficult for the EPREDF regime, because, apparently as they do, they never bother to blackmail the opposition parties by preparing a fictitious documentary films intended to attack the opponents. Accordingly, in the same session he promised the public that there is a documentary film coming soon to substantiate the needed ‘evidences’ in order to imprison some more opposition figures those falsely alleged having links with the OLF and other ‘outlawed’ organizations.

It is obvious that Mr. Zenawi has big fear that always forces his utterance tone to shivery when he mentions the name of the OLF in his so many speeches and interviews. Why does he fear to that extent? He announced several times that the OLF is gone, and will not come back. Why so many warnings always in apprehension? Why can’t he deliver a speech in relaxed atmosphere when he comes to the case of the OLF? The answer is short and clear. Meles knows that OLF is the only political force that has challenged the regime nonstop for the last twenty years. His nightmare is that the OLF has untapped sufficient potential and capacity that poses real and eminent danger to his fragile regime at any time. He knows very well the fact that OLF has an enormous support all over Oromia; unwavering support even when OLF was under difficult conditions for several times. The problem is, he doesn’t want to admit this truth publicly. It is this fear buried inside his spine that makes him always shiver emotionally.

Despite all promises to build a genuine and democratic order in Ethiopia, the EPRDF regime failed to meet the public expectations. It shamelessly deceived the international community always telling them as if there is some democratic process under way. However, on the contrary facts on the ground loudly tell that no meaningful and successful democratic development is hoped under this minority regime in the past twenty years. As we are witnessing today, things have been deteriorating fast since the last years of the regime started counting. Anybody with genuine assessment can acknowledge the democratic process of the country suffered from bad to worst, starting from the establishment of the Transitional Government (TGE) in 1991 to the present days.

The TPLF government is the government of a Tigray based minority elite. The federal regional governments do not exercise their rights enshrined in the Federal constitution. The regional governments have no public constituency and they are party-elected cadre-collections; they don’t have rights to decide any thing by themselves at their administration level. Very recent reports from Oromia substantiate this fact very well. Many from the militia, police commanders, zonal and Ona (district) administrators in most of Oromia region are either imprisoned or purged from their posts. Others turned their guns to the regime by joining the resistance; and the rest are finding their way to neighboring countries to seek asylum.

The reports also in addition confirm that the militias and police institutions in many parts of Oromia are experiencing harsh harassments by nervous and frightened Federal Government police force. The reason for the harassment campaign is that most of the regional militias and police members are found to be sympathetic and bewailing to the drought-hit and hungry people of their regions. Thus they were not willing to force their own poverty stricken relatives to pay over-charged taxes and fertilizer costs that were imposed by the Federal Government. Because of these, in some areas of Oromia, the role of regional militia and police institutions is taken over by the Federal Government bodies loyal to the TPLF leaders. This move is deliberate to systematically weaken the federal arrangement, which the international community usually praise, as a success of democracy and long lasting solution for the political problems in Ethiopia.

One of other evidences for the total failure of democracy in Ethiopia is the terrorizing and dividing of the opposition parties to immobilize and silence them. Though the oppositions are trying to operate controlling themselves within the scope of the constitution, obeying countless imposed regulations, the regime has never tolerated them to operate independently. The recent imprisonment of some opposition figures from MEDREK and the total closure of the famous Metcha and Tulama Welfare Association (MTA) for the third time in its history are among few evidences that demonstrate this fact. Such brutal actions are repeatedly taken not because they have links with the OLF, as alleged by the regime, it is only from undemocratic nature of the regime that has to keep any opposition weak. As witnessed by all in the 2010 election, the TPLF regime shamelessly announced that it won 99.6% of the “vote”. The 99.6% victory announced by the regime itself is a clear evidence to confirm that democracy is dead under this regime. To those who did not believe before, the regime has clearly reaffirmed that it is a one-party state. After securing tens of billions of dollars in the name of building democracy in the past twenty years, the TPLF regime has now ridiculously unveiled its dictatorial naked figure to all.

Meanwhile, the regime is desperately making more draconian laws even against foreign tourists. According to such current laws, foreign tourists should be accompanied by government security forces during their tours in the country. This is not for the safety of the tourists, as the government tries to claim, but to control them not to travel freely and observe harsh political and economic lives the people face in the entire country that the regime want to not to admit. It emanates from the fear that the tourists might witness and record injustices in all aspects of life which the government wants to hide. This latest desperate action of the regime came a few months after a senior BBC News Night reporter, Mr. Angus Stickler reported his famous documentary film that revealed the worst human rights violations committed by the government against its own people. Prohibition of free travel to foreign passport holders and the arrest of two of the Swedish journalists while they were reporting the hidden atrocities in the Ogaden region is one of recent such actions. Today foreign journalists are not allowed to travel in the regions particularly in Oromia and Ogadenia, where gross human rights violations against innocent citizens are daily experiences.

The regime is jamming almost all radio broadcasts such as VOA, DW, frequently BBC, and a number of opposition media, such as Voice of Oromo Liberation (OLF organ). These media channels provide the peoples in Ethiopia with current and reliable information that is never reported on government-run media but concern their daily life. Top opposition-run websites such as www.oromoliberationfornt.org (OLF Web Site) and other important sites that expose injustices in Ethiopia are permanently blocked by the regime. Most of the free press reports in the country are closed by the harsh ‘Press law’; as a result many journalists are imprisoned, tortured, some killed and the rest have fled from the country. The peoples in Ethiopia are allowed only to consume the government-run television, radios, papers and other media, which are propaganda machines of the regime. The people are extremely deprived of their rights to gain free and fair information from any source they like.
The sad story is the silence of the Western democracies despite all these shameful anti democratic actions of the TPLF regime. The world famous human rights institutions such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Genocide Watch have repeatedly reported with tangible evidences on the human rights violations committed by the TPLF regime. In the last couple of years alone, they have released well searched reports that list countless human rights abuses, atrocities, crimes against humanity and war crimes of the Ethiopian regime. But the world powers turned their blind eyes to all.

The OLF has relentlessly tried to bring to the international community attention the horrific danger that overclouded Ethiopia. In a country where the majority is deprived of their fundamental rights by a minority group, democracy, human rights, justice, rule of law, peace and economic development are totally unthinkable. Today the situations we observe in Ethiopia clearly show this fact. The Western powers, particularly the USA, seemed to focus on War on Terror as a priority, putting aside the issue of democracy human rights and rule of law. But it looks it is benefiting from neither as the TPLF regime does not want the terror to vanish. Evidences are emerging in which the government coordinates and feeds the terror lines and militias in Somalia, in a bid to show itself on the other front as a partner on the fighting against terrorism. Indeed the TPLF is leading and enjoying the state terrorism.

In the Horn of Africa, the Ethiopian regime is deceiving the uninformed world by posing itself as ‘an important ally’ to the war on terror. The hard fact is that this government is the main cause of instability in the region. The political and human rights violations as well as closing the door to peaceful struggle are some of glaring causes that forced the opposition and liberation fronts to resort to armed struggle as the only option. As the head of Genocide Watch witnessed few years ago, ‘a government that terrorizes its own people, as the one in Ethiopia, can not be taken as an ally in the campaign of War on Terror.’ Using a huge amount of aid money for democratization process, the regime harasses every opposition activities to consolidate its power, and promise the West that it is the only strong ally to keep their interest in the Horn region. And thus the aid money continues to flow nonstop. The harassment continues as well. This is the vicious circle that is prolonging the sufferings of the peoples in Ethiopia. The Meles regime wrongly used the brand for ‘War on Terror’ to harass strong political oppositions that are considered as a threat to the regime. OLF is the main target of the regime to be labeled as a terrorist organization for the last twenty years. The OLF is mainly targeted as it is the only force that is a real threat to the regime to stay in power for decades ahead. To eliminate this threat, the regime is restlessly trying in the last twenty years, by misinforming the public and by misrepresenting the OLF, to register it in terrorist list of western governments. But it never succeeded and will never succeed too.

We would like to remind all again that OLF is a liberation movement that came out of liberation struggle of century old resistance against occupation and exploitation and struggles for the self determination of the Oromo people. Armed struggle is the option chosen by the Ethiopian regimes for the people and the organization as peaceful venue is closed for its own citizens. The situation in Ethiopia today is more compelling to everybody to resort to armed means as peaceful struggle under this brutal regime has proved to be a futile exercise. Most opposition organizations that participated in the 2005 election and that were enthusiastic for peaceful change in Ethiopia are today weakened to their total disintegration and several have been forced to abandon the peaceful venue. It is also this century old compelling situation that forced the OLF persist in armed resistance.

Finally we want to remind all interested in the situation in the Horn and in situation in Ethiopia in particular, that there will never ever be a genuine democracy and rule of law under the TPLF regime. For the last half a century the peoples in Ethiopia, genuine liberation organizations and opposition parties have paid enormous sacrifices to make peaceful struggle succeed. After half a century of struggle for peaceful change by several forces everyone is still freshly opting for armed means of struggle. Thus it remains upon all interested to assess their role with regard to the continuation of the status quo. The continued support to the brutal regime on power is pushing all worst scenarios to be realized. How long should we remain blind and deaf to the compelling situation remains to be answered?

Justice Shall Prevail!
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