The successful completion of the Timret/OLF International Tour and Dr. Berhanu’s concluding speech on what we should do Next.
The Timret/OLF international tour is just completed. It covered eleven cities in five countries. There were six in the US, two in Canada and three in different European cities. Without risking any exaggeration, quite a few people consider it as a moderately successful world-wide tour that brought varied audiences in an unusually big numbers never seen since the heydays of kinjit. It is still early to know the full impact of this international tour on the future struggle against Zenwi and his mafia gangs. But according to Dr. Berhanu, it sure has raised a lot of hope and optimism for many Ethiopians hungry for freedom and democracy in Ethiopia.
The new and revised political manifesto by the faction of OLF, led by General Kemal Gelchu, has very much contributed to this optimism. The OLF’s new position has embraced Ethiopia’s unity and its territorial integrity. And it has promised to cooperate with all other democratic forces for a united, free, and democratic Ethiopia. No wonder Ethiopians in high numbers flocked to the Timret/OLF joint meetings during this worldwide tour.
Dr. Berhanu described his take of why these meetings are unique. He said that different groups showed up at the meetings for several reasons. Many of them are happy that OLF has embraced Ethiopian unity. A few are suspicious of OLF motives and they showed up to find out and verify this bold move on OLF’s part. But a few came to oppose this new coalition between Ginbot 7 and OLF which he said is understandable.
And most of all, Dr. Berhanu stressed that the Timret/OLF meetings are unique because it is the first of its kind in Ethiopia’s political history where an ethnically oriented organization is willing to be flexible enough and take such a bold measure to embrace Ethiopian unity under freedom and democracy. Almost all other coalitions that we witnessed before were among those known as unity forces with different and sometimes seemingly antagonistic political positions.
Dr. Berhanu further added that this new cooperation with OLF showed how patience and caution pay. It is also a testimony how respect and tolerance for each other, irrespective of our ethnic and political differences, lead to a fruitful ending with mutual understanding. He further indicated that this historic collaboration with OLF is a living proof that Ethiopians of all ethnic origin are tired of the divide and rule strategy of Monster Zenawi. And people are looking for a genuine and creative leadership to do the job. He emphasized that such cooperation should be duplicated as a working model as well as the modus operandus of the Ethiopian political discourse.
Having said that, Dr. Berhanu also warned that meetings are essential and they are a good start. A meeting as a means to an end is fine; however, it is not an end in itself. He said he does not want to spend too much time on meetings after this international meeting blitz that lasted more than a month. Results are based on what we actually do on the ground and not on having too many meetings. Dr. Berhanu emphasized that our roots as well as our work is and should be in Ethiopia.
According to www.market.com website, life is very miserable in Ethiopia. Dr. Berhanu quoted this website indicating that only 962 tax payers (individuals and companies included) constitute 70 percent of the tax collected in a year. Imagine, only 962. All the high rise buildings we see when some of us go to Ethiopia belong to these 962 individuals and companies. All these 962 rich tax payers are linked directly or indirectly to the mafia family of Zenawi and Azeb. Talk about the disappearance of the middle class, this is it. Talk about a gap between the rich and the poor, here you have it. A gap that is classic and chronic. If this does not make a violent revolution, nothing will.
Dr. Berhanu indicated that prostitution among 13 year olds is now rampant in Ethiopia. He further added that Monster Zenawi is breaking world record in shipping stolen money out the country into foreign banks. While our people are going hungry, Zenawi is selling fertile lands to foreigners. According to Dr. Berhanu the situation is so dire, even farmers are immigrating let alone young people who have at least a secondary education. On top of these horrible crimes, Monster Zenawi is sending 45,000 maids to the Arab countries every single year. And thereby being responsible for the overflow of African and middle Eastern prisons with people of Ethiopian descent.
“Who are we, as a people, simply watching when our sisters are being dragged in Arab streets?” asked Dr. Berhanu. He expressed his concern about the challenge we are facing to continue as a society because of our lack of resolve and commitment to action. He advised politicians to stop playing the blame game and focus on asking themselves. He indicated that creating a coalition is easy. Many have done that before. But the problem is that they don’t stick or stay for long. And the burning issue today is to stay as long as it takes and create results. Dr. Berhanu pointed out that unless coalitions start creating results, nobody is going to support them.
Dr. Berhanu further stressed the fact that Ethiopia and Ethiopians have never been humiliated in their history as they are now. He pointed out that despite this fact; social revolt never escaped Dawro where Yenesew burned himself. He urged all anti-Zenawi forces not to use excuses for it is clear that we are the reasons why the Dawro uprising never caught fire around the country. Unless we get up, nothing happens. He warned more worse things are going to come in the future; unless we refrain from this immoral behavior of fighting against each other and start seriously focusing on Monster Zenawi. Ethiopia is pregnant with revolution. But we are not doing enough anything to help the birth of this revolution. Dr. Berhanu called all Ethiopians to rise up and embrace our decisive struggle and conclude it with victory that has eluded us for over four decades.
Here are four specific and important actions that Dr. Berhanu recommended in the weeks and months ahead.
1) We should continue to start negotiations with other ethnic organizations including the OLF faction(s) that oppose General Kemal Gelchu’s new position. If we unite, we benefit. If we don’t, we lose. United we stand, and divided we fall. We should extend our olive branch to the OLF factions that at the moment disagree with our position.
2) Those who call themselves as ‘unity forces’ should reconsider and investigate their positions and abandon putting unity as a precondition for coalition building in order to bring them to the fold. We should gradually start reaching Unity Forces. If we don’t bring these forces to the fold, there is a danger of going back to the age old attacks and name calling which is not acceptable. We should move from competition to coalition and collaboration.
3) We should cooperate with the democratic organizations inside Ethiopia who are currently fighting Zenawi. We need to help them in all ways possible to make them stronger.
4) Civic organizations in the Diaspora also need a lot of help to solve their problems. They should be strong enough to fight Zenawi’s Diaspora policy that is designed to conquer and split these civic organizations. We should strengthen and unite civic organizations such as churches, mosques, ESFNA sport federation, and Ethiopian community centers throughout the Diaspora.
The speech Dr. Berhanu gave in Minnesota can be summarized as a “CALL FOR ACTION”. It is high time we all do and deliver something for Ethiopia that is pregnant with a revolution. We in the Diaspora can do that practically in several ways.
1) Complete our monthly subscription to ESAT of at least $20/per month.
2) Take an active part in our churches and mosques as well as other civic organizations that are under attack by agents of Monster Zenawi.
3)Seek and find all armed groups who are fighting Monster Zenawi and help them financially and materially after making sure they are genuine and proactive.
4) Start opening a dialogue with other opposition groups that are still outside the fold such as EPRP, the OLF wing that opposes General Kemal Gelchu, and those known as “unity forces”.
5)Support Andinet, Medrek, and other democratic organizations involved in peaceful struggle in Ethiopia who are, at this point, under a huge attack by Monster Zenawi. Let us get in touch with them and help them.
Dr. Berhanu’s speech