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Double Injustice – By Dawit Fanta

“Crash one, then the rest will keep in line”
Absolutist regimes like as in Ethiopia are infamous in such a way that they are utterly intolerant to dissent. They employ both covert and overt operations to hammer anyone who nails out.
For example, the TPLF regime frequently adopts different law-like Dictatorial Orders to suppress freedom of speech and to straitjacket the whole society into its ideology.
Eskinder Nega, who is the recipient of PEN American centre’s Freedom to write Award, and the opposition political leader Andualem Aragie are among the innocent victims of TPLF’s dictatorial edict: “Anti-Terrorism law”, who were sentenced 18 years in prison and life imprisonment respectively on July 2012.
However, two months later that their case got closed their private properties has been frozen by the Federal court with the inquisition of the prosecutor. To make the bad situation worse, the freezing of their asset was not part of the July verdict; so, it is a double injustice in that:
1. They are falsely charged and sentenced
2. Their assets have been frozen two months later their case gets closed.
On the other hand, it is also a Double-Jeopardy in which the prosecutor is trying to put the defendants on trial more than once for the same case.
In fact, dictatorship has begets such suppression through the legal system which has been hijacked to serve the will and interest of few elites on power.
Evasion from the real source of problem and focusing to gain coercive leverage over those who oppose is imbecile and politically suicidal. Instead the TPLF regime ought to take steps on the following points to uproot the sources of problems which mainly created by itself.
1. Revocation of those suppressive edicts.
For example, Pr. No. 652/2009, Civic Society Law, Media Law,…….etc.
2. Releasing political and conscience prisoners without any precondition.
3. Drawing and keeping a clear line between party and government.
4. Replacing the extractive political institutions with inclusive political institutions. These inclusive political institutions will distribute power broadly in a society rather than being vested in a narrow group.
5. Ethnic contribution must be evenly distributed in the high rank of the Military and Security apparatus. Citizens must be measured based on their skill and talent; not by their ethnic lines.
6. The Gigantic but the extractive economic institutions and the trade empires of TPLF must be owned by the government; and they have to be privatized in accordance with the country’s privatization procedure in time. Here we have to be clear that these extractive economic institutions and trade empires have played a great part in enriching the existing narrow group; and their economic wealth and power help consolidate their political dominance. These extractive economic institutions are also designed to extract wealth from the broad section of the society to benefit minorities. However, the transformation of those extractive economic institutions into inclusive economic institutions will have a double reward in developing democratic and prosperous nation.
7. Fair distribution of wealth must be assured.
8. Free and fair election must be the only means to assume power in Ethiopia.
9. The individual Rights which are stated in the constitution must be respected unconditionally.
10. The establishment of private media particularly TV and Radio has to be allowed without putting insurmountable barriers on the entrants.
11. Parts of the constitution which are argumentative must be revised.
12. Individuals Rights must not be over-stepped and usurped under the cover of Group Rights.
13. In a country like Ethiopia which is comprised of more than 70 ethnic groups, it is impossible to realize a genuine and successful Federal System based on only ethnic lines. Perhaps, as we have seen for the last two decades, the trial has led to asymmetric federalism which causes:
a. To spread ethnic tension in multi ethnic region on the basis of:
• Identity conflict
• Boundary conflict
• Representation
For example, in Harari region the Amharas /the second populous ethnic group in Harari region next to Oromo/ have no representation where as the Oromos and Hararis have.
• Sharing of resources.
b. To spread ethnic tension between titular and non-titular ethnic groups.
For example, in South region, Wolayta and Silte are more titular than Hadiya and Guragie respectively.
c. To encourage political parties on ethnics than the national cause.
d. To torn asunder the national politics.
e. To ethnify the whole political edifice.
f. To cause a disgruntled society with Psedo-autonomy.
So, to avoid the above flaws other parameters like settlement pattern, Geography, culture, Administration suitability……..and so on should also be taken into consideration for autonomous and symmetric federalism.
14. The political space must be opened for in and outside parties; and the playing ground must be leveled. Besides, favorable situation must be arranged for those who started armed struggle to bring them to the negotiation table.

To say the least of it, unless the above points get a dependable response, the deep-rooted dissention, strong opposition and related problems will never be stopped by means of suppression and intimidation.

Dawit Fanta,
September 25, 2012

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