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Ethiopia’s Kinijit Diaspora leadership, the sources of uncertain future

September 4, 2006

By Maru Gubena

September 4, 2006 — As in any society, a good number of Ethiopians residing throughout the international community feel we are carrying a heavy load of responsibilities on our heads concerning the well being of our country – Ethiopia – and its people. This is true even though we work and live far from the land of our birth and from the majority of the people from whom we are an inseparable part. Because of these undeniable facts of belonging and of responsibility, the Ethiopian Diaspora has always been actively involved, engaged with the politics of Ethiopia and with the many other complex issues and problems that have faced our people for many decades now. Regrettably, however, even though many of us are entirely convinced about the indispensability of professional coordination and an effectively operating organization, whether political or non political, and despite having the required knowledge, skills and money, we have not been so lucky as to come up with the desired organizations – organizations that would represent and coordinate our collective needs, voices and contributions to peace, development and the possible process of democratization of our country. This is partly because we quite often choose to disagree with each other, and often prefer to be confrontational towards each other rather than collectively going in search of ways to operate that will be conducive to strengthening the common factors and grounds that are in our hands, and which can serve as sources of harmony and unity – and which could undeniably be helpful in furthering our common goals and desires.

It would not be wrong to argue that it is the absence of such coordinating professional organizations, with unfailing leaders – together with our persistent internal disagreements and conflicts – that have made our own activities ineffective, so that we have continued to be entirely dependent upon the initiatives and actions of other actors, on events and crisis taking place within our country or elsewhere in the region. We often seem unwilling to listen to each other, tending to choose the path of “go it alone.” As the experience of the past two or more decades plainly illustrates, the Ethiopian Diaspora often appears to be willing to come together or at least to show signs of temporary togetherness and unity only when one or more enemy guerrilla or rebel groups are approaching to invade our villages or our cities, or when we feel that members of our own family are at risk. Or when the unelected TPLF leadership ruthlessly murders our Ethiopian compatriots, the youth, women and children, in the clear light of day. In other words, we have been and still are exclusively dependent upon our emotions, which in turn depend on being awakened by the initiatives and actions undertaken by our enemies back home. The May 2005 general election is a case in point.

So far as I recall, we did not have a single organization in any western major city either before the election or immediately thereafter. It is also undeniably true that a disproportionately high number of us in the Ethiopian Diaspora did not even know that an election was to be held in Ethiopia on 15 May 2005 – a day that has now been registered in books of world history as an historical event. And since we were not organized and didn’t have a professional organization of our own, the practical and meaningful contributions on the part of the Ethiopian Diaspora community were uncoordinated, individualistic in character and quite limited, to the extent that anything at all happened. Subsequently, the Ethiopian Diaspora community has become paralyzed, unable neither to create a professionally organized platform of its own, with a collective voice – an organization capable of directly or indirectly challenging and confronting the criminal activities of the tyrant regime of the TPLF leadership both diplomatically and legally – nor to actively and effectively channel the required and most essential material and non-material support to the opposition political parties at home. It is further true that well meant, serious and wisely fashioned suggestions and recommendations provided by concerned Ethiopians to political leaders and to those with a close links and connections to them to organize the Diaspora community as an essential organ of the opposition parties and as a single and coordinated voice in timely fashion, have been put aside as irrelevant, without a response to those worried, concerned Ethiopians.

Looking in retrospect at the events and developments both before and after the 15 May 2005 parliamentary election, one could argue convincingly that the lack of understanding and underestimation of the strong determination and desire of Ethiopians to rid the land of Ethiopia of the TPLF regime, the increasing desire on the part of the TPLF leadership to improve its image internationally, the growing need of this leadership for improved relations and more economic and military assistance from industrialized nations – alongside the falsity of TPLF’s stated intention to fulfill the formal conditions and demands of donor nations for relatively free election and democratization – a narrow window of opportunity to further cultivate the process of peace, freedom and bring to an end the repressive tyranny of the TPLF leadership was opened. Regrettably, however, for the reasons stated in earlier paragraphs, including our failure to have internationally organized political and diplomatic networks in place long before the election, the lack of nationally and internationally functioning support and work groups prior to the election and the absence of written arrangements, clarity and openness among the political parties that shaped and formed Kinijit, and no doubt for other many reasons that are beyond my capacity to explain, these opportunities, though slim, slipped from the hands of the entire Ethiopian people. And the TPLF leadership, whose power structures were shaking, has managed to somehow revive and reconsider or review its position both in the land of Ethiopia and on the world political stage, at least for the time being; and has succeeded in jailing the most important, well known and highly respected Kinijit leaders, using creatively invented charges – charges that were to gradually, gravely force them to choose between relinquishing their political roles as leaders or following in the footsteps of Professor Asrat Woldeyes – to die slowly in TPLF’s most cruel and most primitive confinement.

Assessing the Outcome of Long Periods of Silence from Kinijit’s Diaspora Leadership

As can be heard and observed in every town and city where we work and live, anger, confusion and frustration about what precisely has gone wrong with Ethiopian opposition political parties, and especially with the dying mother – Kinijit, which most of us had considered as our symbol of resistance and hope of freedom – have in recent times become a source of a new Cold War and battlefield among Kinijit members and supporters themselves, thereby inflicting irreparable damages on Kinijit and tearing it into untold pieces. The unwillingness and/or incapability of the Kinijit International Political Leadership Committee (KIL), to which I will refer as the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, to effectively explain what precisely has gone wrong with Kinijit worldwide have been adding undesired fuel to the increasing number of Paltalk rooms whose participants are against, or are radical militants of the newly founded “Alliance for Freedom and Democracy” (AFD), whose objectives seem to be exclusively focused on outsmarting and annihilating each other, as well as assailing the personal reputations of the so called “Admins” or dominant figures in each Paltalk room, as well as their family members and colleagues. Anyone who disagrees with the generally held views in a Paltalk room and raises rational questions is automatically declared a potential enemy of that room, and will be “bounced” or kicked out of the room for 24 or 48 hours, or perhaps for an unspecified period of time. Also, individuals who disagree with the formation of the AFD and have differing views from AFD founders and supporters but are willing to be interviewed by one of those rooms, will be automatically castigated and associated with the unelected TPLF leadership, and will be called “Woyane.” Others who are reserved or unwilling to criticize the AFD are accused of being a “puppet of OLF and Shabiya.” What a world of differences!

One thing we should all be glad about is that we are not living in Ethiopia, and that such radical militants, engaged day and night in waging their war of words against each other and against many other innocent Ethiopians, have empty hands – no guns and no bombs, nor any other tools to harm any of us directly. What is undeniably true, however, is that the sounds of this war of words – waged by those radical militants who consider themselves indispensable Kinijit Core Groups – apart from being a factor in damaging Kinijit itself, scaring and driving away a substantial number of Kinijit mainstream and moderate supporters and potential contributors, have become important reminders to most of us of the guardians of the painful period of the early years of the Ethiopian revolution.

Above all else, however, the question is: how did we so suddenly and so unexpectedly come to the situation where we are today? What went wrong with us – with the Ethiopian Diaspora community; and what precisely went wrong with our mother – Kinijit – who is presently dying? What are the sources and processes that brought our dying mother to the point where the Diaspora Kinijit is today? Why is the Kinijit Diaspora leadership so reluctant and unwilling to effectively explain to us of what went wrong with Kinijit and its leadership both before and after the jailing of our leaders? Why is it that while we – the children of Kinijit – are waiting so desperately and helplessly, day and night, for the Kinijit Diaspora leadership to go all over the world and help to clear up the confusion and the disturbing dark clouds, they remain unwilling to stand in front of us?

Indeed, since the winds of division, confusion and frustration have managed to penetrate deep inside the Kinijit Diaspora community, and especially since the formation of AFD, both moderate and radical Kinijit militants have been waiting for a very long time. And we are still waiting, in hopes that the Kinijit Diaspora leadership will come out of its bed to actively engage in cleaning and clearing up the heavy, dark clouds surrounding the entire body of Kinijit itself, and help explain what went wrong with the Diaspora Kinijit leadership, pointing up the essential points, if there are any, and the future fruits to be expected from the agreements recently reached and signed with the OLF and other rebel groups. Regrettably, however, no one among the Kinijit Diaspora leadership seems to be bold enough to face the challenging questions and concerns currently smoldering in the hearts and minds of the entire body of Kinijit Diaspora Support Groups (which I will also refer in this paper as Chapter or Chapters), the members and sympathizers.

It is because of these lengthy periods of silence and the persistent unwillingness of the Diaspora leadership to come out from its fortresses and share with us the good, the bad and the ugly, including the increasing uncertainties involving the future face of Kinijit, our beloved dying mother, that I thought an attempt to chronologically record what seem to me the cardinal sources responsible for the divisions that currently exist among us, based purely on my own personal involvements, observations and experiences, might be some help to those concerned and worried compatriots and others involved with the issues of our country.

Looking retrospectively at the dying mother and what has led to her illness

Despite many early warnings given by many concerned Ethiopians, including myself, about the future direction of the Kinijit Diaspora, remarkable mistakes have been made; these have now become difficult if not impossible to reverse or repair. Although not as remarkable as the irresponsible, reckless errors that have occurred between the beginning of January 2006 and the present day, sounds of complaint and resentment were to be heard among deeply and enthusiastically involved Kinijit supporters even as early as June and July of 2005.

To begin with, it is to be remembered that whenever one or more of the now jailed leaders was invited by the Ethiopian community or Kinijit supporters in any given country to be a guest speaker and help to explain the current events and developments in our country, including the political bargaining position of Kinijit itself, it was the habit of some irresponsible, self-centered individual Ethiopian compatriots who see themselves as personal friends or family members of the invited guest speakers, or feel more important for Kinijit and its leaders than other Ethiopian community members, to make their own private arrangements with the invited guest speakers prior to their arrival, without informing the organizers of the planned gathering. Consequently, instead of being received by the organizers of the event – who paid their flight and hotel expenses – or going directly to the conference hotel rooms the organizers of the conference have booked for them, invited guest speakers were often taken – or hijacked – by those irresponsible individuals to their private houses. Such unacceptable behaviour on the part of these individuals has often left demonstration or conference organizers confused, not knowing whether their guest speakers had arrived at their intended destination or not. In most cases, the organizers of the event or gathering are eventually informed, though not in a timely fashion, of the arrival of the invited guest speaker by the very individuals who have snatched them, promising that they themselves will bring the invited speaker to the place where the event will be held. It has, however, always been the case that the invited guest arrives two or more hours later than they were expected, causing enormous irritation and disappointment among participants and forcing the conference or demonstration organizers to reschedule the entire programme. In most cases, we have even been able to observe that invited guest speakers have been taken away again by the same individuals immediately after they have finished the specific topic or topics assigned to them, without attending the rest of the conference programme and interacting with the participants. What is most surprising and unfortunate is that these reckless, irresponsible compatriots never seem to understand the huge irritation and disappointment they have caused participants, and never apologize for the chaos they have created in the conference programme. Such unacceptable behaviours need to be seriously discussed and corrected.

The second important problem within the Kinijit Diaspora began to surface immediately after the arrest of the Kinijit leaders by the tyrannical TPLF leadership, when the idea of the need to establish Chapters in support of Kinijit and its jailed leaders in every country began to spread throughout the Ethiopian Diaspora community. While the need to establish Chapters was widely and enthusiastically accepted, disagreements and conflicts emerged within each Ethiopian community because of the methods and processes used to establish the Chapters. This was due to the absence of leadership, a common and clear policy, and strategy. Because of the absence of leadership and a common policy for Kinijit, a small section of the Ethiopian Diaspora community was given a free hand to establish Chapters, simply on the basis of their own views, desires and wishes and those of their family members, friends or groups that joined them as committee members. Consequently, a number of Chapters were established secretly, or without convening the kind of gatherings or meetings with the community members in the area, as would have been required by a proper process. Despite this, the majority of the community members did make every possible effort to convince the founders of these Chapters, demanding reorganization of the Chapters and election of an inclusive committee of members elected by all of the concerned and involved Ethiopians upon whom the Chapters are supposed to be entirely dependent, both financially and morally. Regrettably, however, the arguments of the majority never did succeed in reaching the ears and minds of the members of the so-called Committees of the Chapters that had already been established. The most dominant figures among the establishers of these Chapters argued that others in the Ethiopian community should simply be registered as members and contributors to the activities of Kinijit Chapters, but should not have the right to vote or decide which individuals would be allowed to join, or who would be the chairperson of the Chapter. Some individuals among the establishers of Chapters went even further, insisting that they themselves were and are more concerned about the current and future face of Ethiopia, and have much closer connections and relations with the jailed leaders. And therefore, that they alone know what will promote the well-being of our jailed leaders and their families. Further, the founders of each Chapter were also allowed to employ and use the official Kinijit logo. Although it is difficult to provide a precise number or frequency of events, the founders of the various Chapters were also able to organize a few fundraising events. These took place whenever and wherever they wished, and apparently the organizers also assumed the right to channel the money collected to those they defined as being in need on the basis of their own personal information, connections, networks and judgments. Such activities, however, were short-lived. Due to the stubbornness and self-centeredness of the self-nominated Chapter leaders themselves, they were not able to win the hearts and minds of the community members in their own areas, so that the established Chapters abruptly became paralyzed and gradually ceased to operate. Regrettably, however, as will be seen in the following paragraphs, apart from the absence of leadership and a common policy, it is in part the initial committee members of these Chapters who contributed greatly to the creation and expansion of the current crisis within Kinijit, and in adding more fuel to the already long-existing divisions among Ethiopians and within the Diaspora community in particular – to the point that a good number of them have been forced to cease communicating with each other.

The third historical error that coincided with the formation of the various Kinijit Chapters, and which can be seen as an extremely unnecessary and disappointing mistake, was the measure undertaken by the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and the Chapters themselves in an attempt to isolate one part of Ethiopian society from the rest of the Ethiopian Diaspora community, based simply on their origin or ethnicity. I am not going to further specify the part of Ethiopian society I am talking about, since my readers already know this perfectly well. But this was a very bad measure, entirely unacceptable and harmful to the Diaspora community as a whole. It is additionally important to note that the measure, though unwritten and officially undeclared, was received by those Ethiopians with independent and democratic minds who are spending their time and energy in an attempt to contribute to the process of peace, development and the unity of our country, as not only disturbing but also damaging to the reputation of Kinijit itself – a political organization that we all see as a party whose leaders have achieved the highest educational background, to be fighting for the equality of all Ethiopians, and to be peace makers and respectful of their people in all of the regions of Ethiopia. The unsuccessful attempt made with the intention of separating certain groups from the Ethiopian community was not only irresponsible and harsh, but was also totally out of the spirit, political programme and policy framework of Kinijit and our jailed leaders.

The mistakes of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and the various Chapters outlined above were not the end of the matter. The fourth and the worst of these remarkable, distracting mistakes was still to come. As many will recall, the most disastrous and destructive action undertaken by the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and its Chapters has been the abrupt disbanding of the Ethiopian Task Force immediately after the jailing of our leaders. The Task Force, established in the early summer of 2005, was serving the entire Ethiopian community. It incorporated all opposition political parties, pro-democracy media outlets, the Women’s Association, Teachers Association, Youth Association and others, serving as an indispensable link and bridge among those residing throughout the world and organizing multiple activities, including staging demonstrations, engaging in diplomatic wars, organizing seminars and conferences, staging candlelight vigils and so on, until around November 2005. This Task Force was acting as a force for unity and a collective voice to demand the release of our jailed leaders and press our resistance against the untold repression of our people by the tyrannical leadership of Meles Zenawi. No one among the Kinijit supporters, members and sympathizers or the Ethiopian Diaspora at large knows the background, the reasons that the Kijnijit Diaspora leadership and its Chapters reached such a destructive decision. In my recollection, the Diaspora Kinijit leadership never put out a single press release or held the sort of conference or meeting where they could elaborate the reasons that forced them to disband the Ethiopian resistance Task Force and help us to understand this decision. The only thing we have been told – very recently – is that there are major differences between political parties and civil society, something everyone already knew from the time the Task Force was founded. The fact is, however, that the Ethiopian opposition parties and Ethiopian civil society have more in common and reasons to work together within an Ethiopian resistance Task Force that are broader than their existing differences. Most Ethiopians who are neutral on this issue believe though that the reason that the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and the Chapters decided to destroy the entire Ethiopian resistance Task Force was something else, which they did not wish to share with us. That is a bad choice for a political party that desperately needs our support. The repercussions of this irresponsible measure have been huge, including a cessation of Kinijit’s activities, an increase in tension, a feeling of powerlessness within the Kinijit community and persistent conflicts within the Kinijit Diaspora leadership and among its Chapters. The most tragic aspect of all is that no one of us knows when the dark clouds that surround the poor house of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership will clear.

The fifth divisive mistake, which has continued to smolder in the hearts and minds of a disproportionately high number of Ethiopians, is the way the Kinijit Diaspora leadership was nominated. Here it must be made abundantly clear that disagreeing with or opposing the manner in which the Kinijit Diaspora leadership was put in place does not mean at all that we don’t respect and love our jailed leaders. We certainly respect and love them. With all due respect, however, we should also be allowed, at least in my opinion, to agree or disagree. On these grounds I would simply like to state my arguments and disagreements plainly.

To start with, it is not only wrong and unfair to say – and make all possible efforts to convince us – that the Kinijit Diaspora leadership residing permanently in the United States and Europe has been nominated by our jailed leaders, who are heavily guarded, forced to sleep on the cold stony floors of Kaliti prison, with their communications monitored every single minute. It is also unacceptable and undemocratic, and, as we have seen, the methods being employed by the Kinijit Diaspora leadership do not seem to be functional. It is indeed sad and most unfortunate that, while most of us have lived for decades in western society, in our own organization we still seem unable to work with the systems and the transparency that we all want and are fighting to see implemented in our country. Again, it is saddening that instead of doing our best to be sincere with one another and work together, we tend to choose to engage each other with fabulously formulated stories, sweet, joyful dreams that are entirely impossible either to test or to verify – for example, the validity of the entire process of the nomination. And while we have lived here in the west for decades, mysteriously enough, we are not even allowed to ask and to come to understand how our jailed leaders were able to nominate these individuals and how were the Ethiopian Kinijit Diaspora leaders then elected? Who were the independently chosen members of the election commission or committee?

Apart from that – the question of a democratic or undemocratic process – my Ethiopian compatriots seem to have neglected or completely forgotten some essential differences between the political positions, rights and responsibilities of the jailed Kinijit leaders in Ethiopia and those of the Ethiopian Diaspora. It is clear that it is our jailed leaders who are living in Ethiopia, who participated in the May 2005 general election, and that they are the ones in the disease-infected prison of the TPLF. We, the Ethiopian Diaspora, are living outside Ethiopia and most of us have been nationals of other countries for decades. It is on the other hand undeniably true, that since we are part of the backbone and an inseparable part of Ethiopian society; further, since the politics and dictatorial regimes of Ethiopia have been and remain the causes that keep most of us apart from our loved ones and the land of Ethiopia, we remain involved and active; we wish to play an active and meaningful role and contribute to a process that leads to a final resolution of the current turmoil, which began with the 15 May 2005 Ethiopian election, by supporting the voice of the Ethiopian people and those who have been elected by the people.

Before anything else, it is then we, the Ethiopian Diaspora, who should come together to discuss the best ways we can help the Ethiopian people and our elected leaders. We need to fashion strategies and instruments conducive to realizing our goals and desires, and an important part of this will be to elect our own leaders among us – among the members of the Ethiopian Diaspora community. But despite the huge respect and love we have for our jailed leaders, they cannot, in any way, nominate or elect someone for us, even if that person is associated with and good to them. Since it is undeniably true that we are the ones who must be responsible for providing the materials and financial assistance the Kinijit Diaspora and its leadership will require, and who must initiate, develop and carry out the strategies and activities related to our jailed leaders and our resistance against the tyrannical TPLF regime, it is indeed extremely strange and totally out of place in terms of democratic standards and principles that we should not have the right to decide who will lead us and the policies and strategies we are supposed to implement. Most shocking of all, in my view, is that the so-called leaders of the Ethiopian Diaspora have not even attempted to measure and fundamentally understand the attitudes and overall reactions of the Ethiopian Diaspora in general related to their nomination, and to think over and over about this before even conceiving the idea about the need of Kinijit Diaspora leadership, much less declaring themselves elected. Again, it is because of this reckless, carelessness way of doing things that to the present day the majority of the Ethiopian Diaspora and all of the Ethiopian pro-democracy outlets remained engaged in wrangling and confronting each other with issues and questions related to the Kinijit Diaspora leadership. What a sad, bad situation!

The sixth and most critical mistake, which created enormous chaos and hopelessness among a large number of Ethiopians and has been directly responsible for the serious illness, that has led to the untimely death of the authority of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership, is the hasty and unwise decision of two or three individuals among the Kinijit Diaspora leadership to join with OLF and three other guerrilla movements that are operating in Ethiopia in the formation of the recently founded political organization that they have carefully and strategically called the ”Alliance for Freedom and Democracy,” abbreviated using the three initial letters – AFD. It is probably appropriate and may even be healthy to point out that the opposition and disagreement of most Ethiopians, including myself, is not necessarily with the formation of the AFD. On the contrary, it is peace, unity, development and economic prosperity with political stability that the struggle and dreams of the entire Ethiopian people are about. I in fact can dare to boldly state that a good number of Ethiopian compatriots who view the formation of AFD critically are probably more concerned about the future face of Ethiopia and its territorial integrity than those so-called Diaspora leaders of Kinijit who put their signatures on the Memorandum of Understanding and the Statutes of the AFD.

The critical concerns and most worrisome issues regarding the formation of the AFD, apart from the complete secrecy of all of the meetings and other exchanges that eventually led to the agreement and its signing by the parties involved, are the total vagueness of objectives, the absence of a common agenda, and the lack of instruments that could serve as a bridge to those involved to help realize the intended goals, if there are any. It is additionally true that one cannot find the sort of points that could be conducive to producing the future progress envisioned by AFD. What is more hurtful is that there is not even a single word or statement in any of the documents signed by the parties that speaks to the future territorial integrity of Ethiopia. Also, given that all four of Kinijit’s partners in this undertaking are armed groupings or parties, their immediate and future contribution to peaceful resistance by Kinijit are not clear at all. It is also entirely unclear what precisely Kinijit’s direct role and contribution would be with respect to those engaged in battling the tyrannical TPLF regime militarily. What a tragic partnership!

The questions that have become most bothersome to a good number of Ethiopians – and which appear to be extremely difficult to answer – are: what might have been or are the factors and forces that led the individual members of the Kinijit Diaspora leadership to a conviction that they should enter into such a short-sighted partnership, with immense repercussions and damage to the well-being of Kinijit itself. Why form such a partnership with OLF, as well as other small, relatively new armed groups? Why? Why didn’t the Kinijit Diaspora leadership quietly discuss this with some concerned Ethiopians, say some twenty to forty elderly, wise mothers and fathers of our community, for five to seven days in one of the world’s many conference hotels prior to signing the documents? Failing that, and assuming that the Kinijit Diaspora leadership agreed and signed the prepared AFD documents in good faith – believing that the AFD has a future for Ethiopia – why on earth didn’t they then organize a mission to travel around the world to explain and convince Kinijit’s potential supporters and members? Why instead has there been such a lengthy period of silence? Why are the Kinijit Diaspora leaders still reluctant to directly test their decision and face the opposing views of those deeply disappointed and weeping children of Kinijit who feel that Kinijit has been seriously wounded but is lying in bed with no specialized doctors and nurses?

In conclusion, I would strongly argue that it is this series of mistakes by the self-installed Kinijit Diaspora leaders, along with their internal conflicts for power and domination, that have created incalculable confusion and hopelessness among Kinijit supporters and members; that have caused the slowing or ceasing of the entire range of Kinijit activities, including our concerted efforts towards the release of our jailed leaders, and our resistance against our common enemy – the TPLF leadership – and accelerated the untimely death of our mother, Kinijit itself – a political organization that was and may be still highly respected and loved by the majority of Ethiopians. It is also vitally important to note that the turmoil following the internal wrangling among the Kinijit Diaspora leaders and Chapters, the persistent secrecy, the flow of contradictory statements and unreliable press releases from these leaders and associated Chapters – including the improper organization and administration of Kinijit’s website, www.kinijit.org – and other many issues, and our failure to object to them, unmistakably suggest that it is not just the irresponsible behaviour of these specific individuals, but it is rather our own ardent desire to see democracy implemented in our country, though without first democratizing ourselves – without attending courses that might be helpful in changing our undemocratic thoughts and attitudes, without tasting and facing up to the difficult aspects of democracy – indeed without understanding the complex, entangled patterns and meanings of democracy itself. To put these issues more straightforwardly, the overwhelming crises facing the Ethiopian community as a whole, and those committed to the well-being of Kinijit and its activities more particularly, are due to the fervent desire among a good number of us to secure certain socio-political and economic positions and to undemocratically dominate and rule the majority of our people – and to do this on the basis of our poor and selfish cultural patterns, that is, without even any previous discussion, as well as without the consent of those who are ruled. It is also due to their strong desire to be our undemocratic leaders that the Kinijit Diaspora leaders have continuously refused to accept the substantial differences between Kinijit at home – in Ethiopia – and Kinijit in the Diaspora. For example, whenever we express our critical views and talk explicitly about the specific and multiple problems facing the Kinijit Diaspora today, such as the undemocratic nature of the leadership and the way the Chapters have been established, including the limited or no general skill, communication and management experience among the disproportionately high number of Chapter members, the self-installed Kinijit Diaspora leaders and Chapter members speak tirelessly and with no shame only about Kinijit in Ethiopia – the Kinijit that was under the leadership of our jailed leaders in Ethiopia, that received the votes of millions of Ethiopians and that it is the spirit of all Ethiopians. This is unfair, undesirable and even counterproductive to our efforts.

What is more unfortunate and disturbing above everything else is that despite the pain, division and frustration they have caused among the entire Kinijit community, and the huge damage they have inflicted on Kinijit itself, individual Kinijit Diaspora leadership members often speak shamelessly, as if nothing has happened to Kinijit – as if everything is all right, and that under the Kinijit Diaspora leadership the democratic process is in safe hands – as if everything is in progress and on the right track This and other statements made by the Kinijit Diaspora leaders and activists are often reminiscent of similar statements made by the former dictator, Mengistu Hailemariam in May 1991: for example, that “our army will never disintegrate. We will crush the treasonous Meles Zenawi and his followers,” as he boarded his plane to Zimbabwe for good, while the forces of Meles Zenawi were on the verge of entering the capital city, Addis Ababa. It is also due to their wrong and unwarranted strong convictions and personal arrogance that the Kinijit Diaspora leaders are making all possible efforts to quiet or hold back the crying children of Kinijit – the children who are despondent, weeping day and night due their mother’s untimely death. Holding back sobbing children, and at the same time persistently refusing to explain about what exactly happened to our mother Kinijit, is indeed both wrong and unfair. Finally, I would add that, given the current turmoil, and the reduction of the hopes, expectations and dreams Ethiopians once had for peaceful political and leadership change to a point where these will be difficult to recover – for even if the crisis could be resolved and repaired, the moods, motivation and devotions of Ethiopians will never be the same as they were before 2006 – the only option that now remains in the hands of Ethiopians if we are to free themselves from the yoke of a prolonged TPLF political repression, permanent economic impoverishment and an increasing dependence on foreign charity, is to engage directly and collectively in armed confrontation with our principal enemy – the unelected ruler of our country and its people, even though the result may be the rule of another system of dictatorship.

Dr. Maru Gubena, from Ethiopia, is a political economist, writer and publisher. Readers who wish to contact the author can reach me at info@pada.nl

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