By Mahdere Andinet
August 24, 2013
ATLANTA, Georgia — To bring about the long over due democratic changes in Ethiopia, close alliance between and among the various opposition parties is mandatory, not an option, said Ato Belay Fekadu, official of Unity for Democracy and Justice Party.
Addressing a gathering in Atlanta in August 10, 2013 from Addis Ababa via Skype, Ato Belay noted that Andinet Party is working hand and glove with other party functionaries in almost all regions and province where branch offices of various opposition parties exist. The popular march under the slogan “Millions of Voices for Freedom” is gaining momentum notwithstanding the apathetic harassment and intimidation by the ruling party, Ato Belay noted.
He further stated that protest rallies were successfully held in Arba Mintch, Jinka, Bhair Dar, Gondar, Wollo and in other provinces where Andinet Party members, supporters and activists were harassed, beaten, and arrested by EPRDF’s security forces for distributing leaflets and calling the masses to join the demonstrations. He said the main objective of “Millions of Voices for Freedom” motto is to disengage the general public from undesirable fear that has engulfed the people for years.
He reiterated that his party has reached an agreement with nearly 30 opposition political parties to work together for a common cause and cited Jinka as a place where joint efforts achieved sound results adding that Andinet has no illusion that it would single- handedly bring democratic changes in Ethiopia.
He expressed confidence that the ruling party has no power to completely annihilate the opposition forces albeit EPRDF repeatedly undertakes nerve-wracking and inhuman actions against peaceful demonstrators. He said it is very important to draw a clear line and understand the distinction between TPLF members and the general Tigrean people.
Referring to the on-going mass protests by the Muslim Community, Ato Belay said unlike government’s propagation that it is striving to create a Sharia led system in Ethiopia, the Muslims are posing a simple demand that their rights be respected as outlined in the constitution.
Towards the end of this month, he said, Andinet is planning to have a huge gathering in Addis Ababa in memory of second anniversary of the arrest of Eskindir Nega, Andualem Araghe and other party members, journalists and human rights activists.
During the last couple of months the ruling party has intensified its stiff measures particularly against the youth and party members, noted Ato Belay. He recalled that a number of executive committee members in Gondar and Wolayta were terminated while still others faced harsh imprisonments. In Addis Ababa alone, he said, close to 70 youngsters were arrested for no apparent reason.
Expressing optimism, Belay noted that despite all these extremely irritating and stressful situations, Andinet is determined to raise the level of the peaceful struggle to a higher level.
Prior to the opening of the meeting, a moment of silence was observed in honor of all those who pay their dues while struggling for the rule of law, equality and respect of human rights in Ethiopia.
The meeting was organized by Atlanta Andinet support group and entrance tickets were sold earlier as part of fund-rosining scheme. However, due to a technical issue the fund raising was postponed for a later date and the organizers announced that tickets already sold are still valid for the coming session.