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Can Ethiopians Save Ethiopia from Itself? Aklog Birara (Dr)  

March 11, 2023

-the Ethiopian state is ethnically polarized, repressive, murderous, and corrupt—

Aklog Birara (Dr)

“I am sick and tired of hearing about deaths and constant lies” in Ethiopia.

Human rights and social activist Obang Meto

“Please let me live. I shall no longer claim to be an Amhara or Christian.”                        An Amhara girl in Wellega, Oromia

“He (Abiy Ahmad) intentionally closed his eyes to the TPLF’s maneuver to keep its modern weaponry and its professional defense forces. It seems that Abiy and the TPLF have silently agreed that the handing over of old weapons and the disbanding of TPLF recruits is enough to fool Ethiopians into believing that the TPLF has disarmed. “

Kenyan Journalist Leo Okere, “Abiy Ahmad’s Machinations for Amharafrei,” February 22, 2023

“ Neglect by the Ethiopian government, Ethiopia’s neighbors, global powers, and the African Union (where, at the recent AU summit, while talking about finding ‘African solutions to African problems, Ahmed shamefully failed to mention the Amhara’s plight/problem), which has also been deafeningly silent, in public at least, arms the gunmen; encourages mobs to slash and burn homes; gives no value to the lives of those men women and children being attacked, and thereby grants license to the terrorists to continue. Stand up, stand up all who are aware of this horror in our midst and demand that the Ethiopian government acts to stop the carnage.”

Journalist Graham Peebles, “Ethiopia: the agony of tribal nationalism,” March 10, 2023, in Counter Punch

The level of shamelessness may differ from regime to regime. In my lifetime, the Ethiopian state and government have always been repressive. It is unlikely this political condition will change any time soon unless Ethiopian political and social elites abandon tribal nationalism altogether and chart a new course.

The purpose of this commentary is to persuade the international community, especially the government of the United States whose Secretary of State, Anton Blinken will soon be heading to Ethiopia, the European Union, specialized UN agencies, the African Union and Commission, human rights organizations as well as ordinary people across the globe to call for accountability of Ethiopia’s federal government leadership before things get even far worse.

Regardless of the American motive behind, pouring more aid to save a repressive, tribally oriented, incompetent, dysfunctional and corrupt regime may send the wrong signals in the same manner it did when the USA channeled tens of billions to the TPLF regime. Remember thieves of state and the phenomenon still fresh in the minds of millions of Ethiopians that the TPLF received $30 billion from the USA, enriched a few, diverted billions and kept Tigray poor and food aid dependent to this day.

Ethiopia’s Prosperity Party that replaced the TPLF and that runs the state and government—is unabashedly dominated by the Oromo Prosperity Party and behind it the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO) as well as the Liberation Army they command—are on the verge of rewriting Ethiopia’s history and dismantling the fabric of Ethiopian society with clear intent of homogenizing it.

This incontestable and perceptible merger of party, state, and government, the complete collapse or subordination of Ethiopia’s opposition parties under the watch of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed make human rights abuses including ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity such as genocide, internal displacement of millions, the suffering from hunger of 22 million Ethiopians, the bulldozing of hundreds of homes in Addis Ababa, ethnicity-based nepotism, theft, graft and corruption possible.

The void in institutional checks and balances and the dearth of independent labor unions, civil society and professional organizations compound Ethiopia’s deep rooted institutional and structural problems.

It is time for the international community including donors to acknowledge that the Ethiopian state and government are no longer impartial actors. They are part and parcel of the core institutional and structural hurdles Ethiopians deal with every day.

In his study “State Repression and Political Order,” distinguished political scientist Christian Davenport, 2013, summarizes the essence of state and government sponsored repression this way. “State repression includes harassment, surveillance/spying, bans, arrests, torture, and mass killing by government agents and/or affiliates within their territorial jurisdiction.” Why do state and government authorities sponsor repression?

I recall the euphoria that swept Ethiopian society and spread like wildfire around the globe when Reuters reported on August 14, 2018 “As forgiveness sweeps Ethiopia, some wonder about justice”. This refers to the refreshing speech that make me an Abiy fan.

What happened then after Prime Minister acceded power in April 2018 underpins and contrasts the tectonic changes that took place after the honeymoon.

  1. Abiy declared publicly that Ethiopians had suffered from “state terrorism” for which he asked forgiveness; and released thousands of political prisoners reversing decades of state and government sponsored security abuses under the TPLF.

 

  1. No single individual or group knew how many political prisoners were maimed, lynched, flogged, or tortured. No one was held accountable for torture and other human rights abuses.

Most were jailed by the TPLF dominated EPRDF state and government because they demanded fair treatment, freedom, justice, and the chance to live and work in any part of Ethiopia without fear.

  1. Ethiopia’s state of emergency was lifted.
  2. Ethiopia made peace with Eritrea.

 

  1. Abiy declared that he will liberalize the Ethiopian economy by opening it up for foreign competition.

 

  1. Whether intentional, foresight or negligence, Abiy did not announce plans to investigate human rights abuses and redress horrible actions committed by TPLF security or its defense forces commandeered by top Tigrean military officers.

It is public policy akin to saying saying to the international community that the Ethiopian government shall “forgive and move on. In his inaugural address, Abiy retorted “I call on us all to forgive each other from our hearts. To close the chapters from yesterday, and to forge ahead to the next bright future through national consensus,”

Without justice, the “next bright future” is delusional, crafty, jaded, sinister, and irresponsible.

Simply put, justice was left aside then as it is left alone today after 5 years of another ethno-nationalist supremacy and dominance of the Ethiopian state and government this time headed by what one Ethiopian expert opined is “Ethiopia’s trojan horse.” It is not up to me to figure what that means.

The point I wish to emphasize is this. Once you deny political prisoners justice in a court of law by holding those who committed human rights violations, crimes against humanity and the like, you tend to believe that your model of “forgive and move on” is the right one for the state and government to follow. One political prisoner who benefited from the release by the name of Kefyalew Tefera, who was shot and wounded by TPLF security and whose legs were amputated while in prison put the matter starkly to Reuters. “I am still a prisoner. I left half my body in there, I have no legs, I don’t consider myself free.”

This attribution is shared widely today. Ethiopia’s judicial system is broken. It is an understatement to state that it is far worse today than it has ever been. Because there is no justice at all. At the time ex-political prisoner Kefyalew complained about the lack of justice, one of Ethiopia’s highly acclaimed human rights lawyers, Wondimu Ibssa, who represented hundreds of political prisoners then and still represents many, said.

“A lot of work needs to be done because the judiciary has been disgraced.” I share his description of Ethiopia’s justice system as “a mockery of justice” that regional authorities also mimic.

The state and government of Ethiopia cannot possibly protect victims if authorities operate above the law. It is sheer madness and fantasy to claim love, togetherness, unity, peace, and reconciliation while ethnicity and religion-based atrocities are tolerated, condoned, or encouraged by the Ethiopian state and government.

Why not learn from the past?

By paying lip service, ignoring persistent crimes against humanity, pumping tens of billions of aids without accountability in the West, especially the European Union, the USA and specialized UN agencies emboldened TPLF dominated EPRDF. It did more harm than good over three decades of brutal rule. Ethiopia is still poor and dependent,

Similarly, the international community, the AU, the Ethiopian people including the Diaspora let their guards down, provided critical public relations, public diplomacy, material and technical support to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who acceded power and promised the prospect of Ethiopianism over repugnant tribalism, civil and democratic rights over state sponsored repression, an inclusive, just, democratic and prosperous Ethiopia outlawing theft, graft, tribal nepotism and corruption and introducing a competitive and open market economy that will boost employment and make goods such as foods and services available and affordable to millions.

Behind this façade rapid and bold institutional and structural reform over the past five years is an astutely crafted machination and transformation of the Ethiopian state and government into a “newly minted Ethiopia” characterized by Oromo political, social, cultural, and economic elite governance.

While the West led by the government of the United States focuses primarily on the terrible war between Russia and Ukraine, horrific and repulsive crimes against humanity including ethnic cleansing, genocide, beatings and maiming, lynching, expulsions from homes in Addis Ababa as well as unprecedented ethnicity based displacements are taking place throughout Ethiopia. Displacement of an estimated one million Amhara and increasingly minorities such as Gurage, Guji, Hamer and others are taking place, making the second most populous country, home of the African Union and more than 100 embassies and consulates lawless.

Internal displacement causes huger. Hunger causes deaths. Targeted deaths constitute a form of genocide with intent to downsize the targeted ethnic group, in this case Amhara.

The strangulation of Addis Ababa

The Oromo Prosperity Party– blend of the OLF/OPDO/OLF liberation army as well as the Prosperity Party dominated Addis Ababa municipal government—

  • Ban and restrict mostly Amhara from moving into Addis Ababa and demolish and or bulldoze homes occupied by Amhara and Gurage.
  • Restrict the free flow of foods into Addis Ababa from the Amhara region.
  • Deny access to water to citizens of Addis Ababa by demanding they pay  exorbitant prices to the Oromia regional government.
  • Shift investment capital from Addis Ababa to the Sheger Megacity Project that will cost hundreds of billions of Birr.
  • Propagate innuendos and misleading allegation that Addis Ababa, a city of close to 6 million Ethiopians who hail from diverse ethnic groups serves as a hub of Amhara hegemony and center of influence.

The claim of Amhara hegemony, strangulating the city of Addis Ababa and forcing the submission of millions of Ethiopians for the benefit of Oromo tribal political actors is sheer madness. The city is a hub of international diplomacy, the center of Ethiopia’s industry and serves as a beehive of activity.

Consequently, Addis Ababa is critical for the welfare of all Ethiopians and for the continuation of Ethiopia as the world knows it.

What do I suggest then?

  1. The Government of the United States, members of the EU, UN specialized agencies, the African Union, IGAD, human rights groups and the rest have a moral obligation to leverage their resources and institutions and urge the federal government of Ethiopia to assume responsibility and stop the carnage that is taking place in Ethiopia under the watch of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party.

 

  1. I share the concern and debate reported by Foreign Policy on March 9, 2023, that the Biden Administration in general and President Joe Biden in particular administration “have not done enough to acknowledge or hold Ethiopia accountable for atrocities, ethnic cleansing, and possible war crimes it committed during a devastating two-year war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group in the country’s northern Tigray region. That war cost hundreds of thousands of lives and destabilized Africa’s second-most-populous country.”

That is not all, President Biden and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cannot afford to ignore targeted ethnic cleansing, genocide and massive displacement of Amhara, Gurage, Guji and other minorities in Wellega, Oromia, Benishangul Gumuz, Northern Shoa and the City of Addis Ababa.

  1. While I fully understand motivating factor of US national security interests in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, it will be prudent for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to visit the Afar, Amhara regions as well as the hub of massive displacement, in the city of Debre Berhan where thousands of Ethiopians suffer in makeshift camps and where hundreds of children are on the verge of starvation.

 

  1. I also agree that “Mass killing never stays buried. Everyone in the victim community and the atrocity-prevention community will remember which U.S. policymakers made this call to ignore its own information and move forward with these economic packages.”

US Secretary of State Blinken can avert or at least mitigate US reputational risk by demanding cessation of atrocities and human rights abuses not just in Tigray but also in Oromia and the city of Addis Ababa, where Amhara are banned by Oromo authorities with the consent of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister from entering Addis Ababa.

  1. There is no doubt that Ethiopian macroeconomic conditions are teetering and that the economy is on the verge of collapse. Food prices are beyond reach for ordinary Ethiopians. More than 22 million Ethiopians go hungry each day. Drought victims in the Somali, Afar and Southern (some parts) regions are in immediate need of emergency food assistance that only the United States possesses the means to alleviate.  It therefore seems to me that USAID must channel its largesse to affected communities including the millions in the Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions.

 

  1. In this instance I agree with “Officials in the other camp, including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) chief Samantha Power, who argue in internal policy debates that the administration needs to extract more commitments from the Ethiopian government on human rights and accountability for war crimes and other atrocities before agreeing to fully open access to economic and trade lifelines”.

Finally, I urge Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to go back and embrace his promissory start and make history.

“I call on us all to forgive each other from our hearts. To close the chapters from yesterday, and to forge ahead to the next bright future through national consensus,” March 10, 2023

 

Children in makeshift camps in the City of Debre Berhan

Children deserve education not human degradation (next page)

 

10 Comments

  1. Ayi Aklog birrrara

    The question should be: Can Ethiopia protect itself from opportunist “intellectuals” like you, who became cadres of Abiy Ahmad (the EPRDF spy) in 2018 and mislead the Ethiopian people accept him?

    History has recorded you and your likes as lame intellectuals who cannot predict the future based on past facts. But no shame in you and your likes.

    • Subject: “Can Ethiopians Save Ethiopia from Itself? by Aklog Birara (Dr)”

      Humble Commentary, 14 March 2023
      The DEPTH of the noble commentary [NOT the emotional inherent harsh surface commentary] is the EXACT PROBLEM of Ethiopia and — stretching the subject matter — to our entire dear BLACK AFRICAN CONTINENT. In short, it must be admitted that African “intellectuals” in totality have failed to rescue our beloved Black Africa.

      Consequently [but as a matter of fact] it is very sad to say that AFRICAN INTELLECTUALS became the cause of African problems!!!!!! We cannot expect self-serving marodorous to help us. It is, in fact, to the contrary.

      Hence, in a sense, it is VERY SAD TO SAY, WE BLACK AFRICANS BECAME [and still are] OUR OWN ENEMIES !!!!!!!
      Blind denying is NOT — and will never be — a solution to our deep problems. BLACK AFRICA MUST LOOK AT ITSELF on the MIRROR.
      THE END

  2. I agree entirely. There is no doubt that Ethiopian people have shown a higher tolerance to Abiy Ahmed Giverment. The extremes of Power , totalitarian governments slaughter their people and Ethnicity-based corruption is the current wave.

  3. I’m worried too. My worry is it will end up being another DR Congo or Libya’s kind with the central government somehow kept alive but many areas of the country being carved out as fiefdoms by warlords and duking it out with each other for dominance. We see it now how thugs in Oromia killing others from different ethnic groups. The same goes in almost every region except in Afar and Somalia regions(at least for now). With more than 120 million souls on the move the world is gonna have its worst nightmare to-date. Amid all this chaos and bloodletting someone will have the wherewithal to be another Assad or Mohamed al-Menfi still in Addis/Finfine. How long will this violent dysfunctional state last? For generations! As far as what comes out of it, your guess is just as good as mine. Libya and Syria has counted almost a generation since they went belly up. My meager hope is still breathing life counting on the dexterity of our level heads still refusing to die out. Those are my last penny in the bank. They have so managed to avert the doomsday that bigots have been working on since the 1970’s. They have successfully denied the means for bigots who are working 24-7 to start an all out bloody conflict between the two backbones of the country. They are in my daily prayers.

    • Ittu Aba farda can’t you stop pretending ? you are suppoter of Abiy’s genocidal mission?

      • Ittu Aba farda:

        A few weeks ago you were preaching that abiy amed is an irreplaceable “leader”. It appears you are refraining from that idea a bit. However, as a typical OLF cadre, you are still putting the blame on others and going around the bush rather than hitting the nail.

        • Dear Meseret,

          My only advice to you is to make sure you read all my comments with undivided attention and with no presupposition about me. I have tried my best as just ordinary observer to self validate the materials in my comments. Again, please read my comments without being presumptuous about me. I don’t usually respond to detractors but you sound to be honest and genuinely concerned about the fate of that glorious that produced us all.

  4. Ahhhhhhh….. Ethiopia, Ethiopia, Ethiopia !!!!!!
    Who ever thought that THE ANCIENT INDEPENDENT COUNTRY ON THE GLOBE WITH VAST AND ADMIRABLE HISTORY would fall down to a such a level of petty skirmish among its parts. WOW ! WOW! WOW!

    And what will be the next theatre of the various parts of “:MODERN” [ha, ha, ha…..] knowledgable pieces and bits, will do to THEMSELVES????????

    It is a typical example of CLASSICAL TRAGEDY, proudly displayed by a BLACK AFRICAN ANCIENT INDEPENDENT COUNTRY, NAMED ETHIOPIA.
    WHAT AN ENDING!!!!! WHAT A SAD HISTORY!!!! CRY, CRY, CRY OUR BELOVED BLACK AFRICA. >>>> an example to other races who always have a negative attitude upon BLACK AFRICAN PEOPLE.
    THE END

  5. The good thing happening in Ethiopia right now is that national politicians are talking, instead of waging wars against each other, a condition for the creation of a stable political order. On the other hand, we have “intellectuals” like this author who still cling to what happened in the past and contribute little to peaceful political development. Most of these writers still hold grudges against TPLF, now angry at Abiy because he made peace with Tigrean leaders, and the fact that the political groups that they support failed to seize power through the 1970s style clandestine political movements. Meanwhile, Ethiopians are looking forward to a future of peace and economic prosperity.

  6. Please read full article from the Archive – “ETHIOPIA’S RENAISSANCE – CRADLE OF MANKIND!”
    Analysis & Opinion / August 5, 2018

    The article was written on August 5, 2018. It warned about the likelihood of what is happening the country today. Here some bits and pieces but you’ll get the full picture by reading the full article.
    ………………………………………
    With election of Dr. Abiy Ahmed as Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, there is hope and enthusiasm about Ethiopia’s future, the like of which the country has never experienced in modern times! The Prime Minister has said and done all the right things so far, which gives us all great hope for the future! ………… But, with all the best wishes and prayers there is just not much a leader can do on his/her own, to change the history of the last century in general, and last 4 decades in particular, without the support of the masses! The problems and obstacles to solutions are as listed above, and much more! …………………. To allay fears of all of the groups mentioned above, and gain the confidence of all Ethiopians, certain strategic steps must be taken as soon as practicable, to prevent the country from sliding into chaos! In the absence of a democratic framework, constitutional and legal checks and balances, it’s difficult to guarantee safe passage from where the country is to proper governance. It is, therefore, necessary to have a practical framework to bring about a system which is palatable to all Ethiopians who are determined to protect their Motherland.
    4. What is the best solution to this potential crisis?
    1. The administration must act decisively against those who terrorize
    innocent civilians in any way! ……………
    2. Set up the administration of national unity:
    National transition committee to select Administration of National Unity (ANU) composed of:
    1. Regional politicians
    2. Regional civil leaders
    3. Legal experts
    4. Constitutional experts
    5. International legal and constitutional experts playing advisory roles
    • Tasks of the ANU
    1. Craft new constitution
    2. Set rules for amnesty of the individuals in the former administration
    and rules for administration of justice to the criminals under
    previous administration.
    3. Introduction of democratic practice and culture in the local
    administrations.
    4. Drafting of the referendum at about 5 years following the formation
    of the ANU
    5. Craft Ethiopia’s own version of what democratic culture should be
    and not to import what has failed in other places: Egypt after “Arab
    Spring”, Iraq after Sadam Hussein, etc.

    1. Need for re-thinking by the political entities: Whether a part of the ruling coalition or in the opposition, the political entities must rethink their strategies! It is obvious from the out-pouring of support from the Ethiopian public, at home and in the Diaspora, that the Prime Minister’s message of Ethiopia as one nation and Ethiopians as one people, is the desire of the majority of Ethiopians! So, in this political climate and realities of life today, what is the relevance of any political “LIBERATION FRONT”? By the way, “LIBERATION” from what? Over the last 27 years, thinking people must have been wondering what purpose the word “LIBERATION” in TPLF is! If it served as a reminder that, when push comes to shove, TPLF would declare independence of Tigray from Ethiopia, one wonders what purpose such a strategy of SELF-IMPRISONMENT will serve – being surrounded by hostile neighbors, and why should Tigrean Ethiopians want to be part of such madness? Every other “LIBERATION FRONT” must re-think their philosophy and change their names and priorities accordingly! For sure, Ethiopians, like every other nationality on the face of this planet, have many things to “LIBERATE” themselves from – diseases; hunger; poverty; lack of education; discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, etc.

    2. The previous regime, led by TPLF, had a definite strategy of creating and enforcing the ethnic-based federalism. Being a minority in numbers, the TPLF’s best bet to survive was by dividing other ethnic groups against each other. Now that they are out of power, we are seeing the result of 27 years of dividing people against each other. Going forward, Ethiopians, while cherishing their tribal identities, must eliminate ethnic LABELS from anything that may have political, geographical, national security……etc. implication!
    More to read ………………………………………..

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