Ethiopia is a proud country with many ethnic groups and cultures. It has its own calendar and ‘Sene’ which is the tenth month corresponds to end of June and early July in European calendar. In the last three years, Sene has become a bad omen for political and ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia. Two years ago, attempt to assassinate the new Ethiopian prime minster failed. As expected, no one claimed responsibility but it was the talk of the town that only one political party representing one ethnic group could have the resource and the motive. Last year, Sene brought the assassination of key political and military leaders. This has led to some ethnic conflict and killing of many innocent people. The social media was full of posts, adding fuel to the conflict. It appeared that trolls sponsored by the perpetrators with clear motives had field days. Mind you, posts on social media and speeches from ethnic-based agitators abroad had serious consequences. They led to gruesome murder of innocent victims, burning of churches and monasteries, and so on.
The havocs following incidents in this Sene and the last two have many similarities and some differences including the following.
- It is apparent that the motive is destabilization of the nation by breaking the fragile peace people had for the last few years. Some leaders of ethnic-based political parties want power by any means possible. They do not care about human rights, human life and religious institutes. It has become a norm for the renowned leaders of political parties who are muslim to use their political status for their religious agendas. These are modern religious crusaders or new breeds of Islamic extremists who are out to destroy not just Ethiopia but Christianity as well. The unsuspecting followers are becoming their instruments of religious and ethnic terrorism. Oromos who blindly follow their deceiving fear-mongering muslim leaders should pose and have a glimpse of what is happening in Ethiopia and ask themselves what they want from their country and what kind of society they want to have. ‘Oppression by kings in the past’, though attractive and being cited by some Oromos, does not make sense in the 21st century when most of the country’s leaders are Oromos who have been accepting anyone with open arms to a peaceful political process.
- We are in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic. This is a kind of pandemic that may happen once in a century and requires all our attention and resources. Inciting violence at this time could be easy for those who live abroad and sheltered at home or take the necessary measures not to acquire the infection. I have seen videos of angry-looking demonstrators from North America and Europe. I say angry-looking because it looks like they have not yet realized what their religious fanatic leaders and those who back them for their sinister motives (e.g., Egypt and parties who seek the mantle of the government by force) are up to. They may be mad because their leaders are imprisoned by the Ethiopian police force. What do they want? Is it to have a lawless land where people who commit murder and atrocities run rogue? The one simple point the diaspora living in North America and Europe should grasp is the importance of the rule of law that applies to all regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.
- For the first time in the history of our nation, the country is very close to realizing its dreams of using Nile for its development. Unfortunately, Egypt and some internal ethnic based political parties feel that they will lose their stake if they let Ethiopia achieve its pursuits. They are trying their best to intervene. They are used to creating civil unrest and have done so for the past 3 decades. Therefore, the current violence in Ethiopia and the following ‘cry wolf’ of their surrogates abroad also has their signatures. Whatever our ethnic or religious background, we should appreciate the historical magnanimity of the moment in using Nile and its importance in the development of our nation.
- The social media posts indicate that misinformed children and youth are being used as pawns to disseminate distorted history and lies. It is impressive when you read or watch what they post. This is dangerous because these are the future of Ethiopia. It would be beneficial if that energy was used to learn more about their precious country which uniquely stayed independent from colonialists, largely avoiding enslavement of its people regardless of ethnicity. Unfortunately, decades of propaganda following the fall of Derg has been used to seed mistrust of one ethnic group over another. The educational curriculum was designed to give upper hand to whatever ethnic group was represented by the ruling party. These were meant to prolong the political life of those in power and is still being used as a way to get back their influence.
A few demonstrations by Oromos in diaspora tried to draw parallels between their agenda and the African Americans’ struggle in the US. Needless to say, that this is completely wrong.: i) civil right movement and now the black lives matter movement do not have the intention of creating two countries, but one that gives equal rights to all. Despite 400 years of slavery, leaders of the African American community did not call for retribution against whites or other races. ii) Blacks in the US were brought from different tribes in African countries but when the situation calls, people from different tribes work for common goal. The story of Amistad is a good example for this. I wish our political leaders from all ethnic groups come to their senses and participate in advancing Ethiopia to a new chapter.
It is understandable that there are some from Ethiopia who have extreme ethnic or religious notions. These individuals, educated or illiterate, base their logic on nothing other than their own ill perceived ideas. We should fight these ideas relentlessly and continue to have a respectful dialogue on how to make our families, communities and country better. Ethiopian community leaders and other institutes not affiliated with ethnic or religious group should take the initiative to create forums, organize peaceful demonstrations that respects all ethnic groups and religions, inform not just the diaspora community but also the general public abroad about the actual perpetrators and participants of violence in Ethiopia as well as the dangers of emerging new breeds of Islamic extremists under the disguise of ethnic political party. As the saying goes ‘love in practice is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams’. Love is, however, the beginning of all things created to last.