Friday, April 12, 2024

Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Call to EU leaders, EU Commission to support Ethiopian democracy

Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES)

Scandinavian Chapter

Press Release No. 27

March 22, 2006

Title: Call to the European Heads of States and the EU Commission to oppose dictatorship and support Ethiopian democracy

“Democracy can be established and cherished only by citizens who have confidence in themselves and in the law, and where all struggle for power will be peaceful and in accordance with law, without intimidation. In addition the benefit of democracy is that each citizen and the people as a whole will assume responsibility for their own lives and for the progress of the country. People in a state of subjugation have neither freedom nor responsibility.

If we could muster the moral courage to follow such a course, not only will we be able to save Ethiopia from any impending danger but we can also transform it into a reliable country of which we can be proud. It has been my long held conviction that, when Ethiopia gets just and equitable governance, it can become the Japan of Africa in just one generation.” Ethiopia Vision 2020 Prof. Mesfin W/Mariam, November 2003. (Since November 2005 in jail, accused of “Treason” by the Meles regime)

“I deserve and Ethiopians deserve as much rights, as much democratic government as anyone else. In fact, we need it more for our development. We need it desperately, because we need to liberate the individual. At the end of the day, development is what individuals do, not what the state or donors do. It is what individuals do to improve their lives that will improve long-term development. The issue of freedom and democracy is important. It always amazes
me that donors are not interested in that aspect”. Berhanu Nega, IRIN, May 30, 2003 (Since November 2005 in jail, accused of “Treason” by the Meles regime)

1. Taking Ethiopian democracy seriously

The EU-Observation team has finally produced its report where it clearly pointed out the first democratic election in Ethiopia has been forced by the regime not to meet acceptable standards of democratic procedures due to widespread voting and electoral mal-practice. The EU Heads of States and the EU Commission can only ignore this clear message from the EU parliament at the risk of being on the alter of history siding with dictatorship and not democracy. The question is: are the Heads of States prepared to take Ethiopian and indeed African democracy seriously or will they play politics and support dictatorship by privileging other concerns and betraying thus the very democracy they often say and preach to see rooted all over the world?

Ethiopians from all over Europe have come to Brussels to make the point that it is high time that Europe’s word and deed flow in one direction. That Europe, all the twenty six actors together as Europe, denounces the vile Meles dictatorship that has rudely and cruelly disappointed the democratic aspiration of the Ethiopian people. Not to listen to this just demand by Europe is to betray the ideals and values Europeans are very good at talking about always, such as human rights, democracy, rule of law, and good governance. But talk comes cheap. United European action against the Meles dictatorship is what is needed to guide combined European policy to ensure democracy prevails over dictatorship. It is time that Europe applies the new political partnership and the new economic partnership agreements consistently to promote human rights and democracy and good governance. When its own legislative branch scrupulously documents the democratic failure of a national election that paradoxically signalled a historical turning point owing to massive voter turn out and a prior relatively open public debate, Europe cannot afford to ignore it without risking loss of moral and normative authority. Europe must take its own legislature and the people of Ethiopia seriously. Europe must show firm belief in the Ethiopian people, and not the dictators of Ethiopia.

2. Immediate and unconditional release of the entire elected opposition leadership and other prisoners of conscience

No African Government has locked up an entire opposition leadership right now as the Meles dictatorship has done. Engineer Hailu Shawl, Judge Birtukan and all the CUD leaders including Ato Debebe, Dr. Yakob, Dr. Araya, Dr. Befekadu, and journalists and civil society actors such as Ato Daniel and all others must be released unconditionally. The absurd charges of treason and genocide must be dropped without any condition or refrain.

No African leadership has locked up a man with the stature of Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam who fought with principle and unwavering commitment tyranny and poverty’over forty years consistently from the 1960s to now. If Meles had been a self-respecting democrat, he would not have thrown into jail a modest and frail old man whose only possession is the moral power and knowledge to resist tyranny and fight poverty unto death. One recalls the stature of the French president De Gaulle, who on advice to throw Jean Paul Sartre into jail who opposed the French war against Algerian independence; quipped one cannot put France’s Voltaire into prison. In Ethiopia, Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam can be taken to something like our Ethiopian Voltaire! Europe at least must heed the advice of General De Gaulle and insist that such an Ethiopian with high principles and ideals must not be unjustly and illegally put in jail with the bizarre regime charges of treason and genocide. We cannot expect this from Meles, but Europe must not disappoint us if we can expect this from her!

No African leadership has put a principled man like Dr. Berhanu Nega, an elected mayor who scored a landslide victory and has a track-record of standing with prescient vision to bring the best of democracy and development for all the Ethiopian people in jail.

No African leadership has carted away the urban and rural youth in concentration camps with such large numbers and brutalities as Meles has done. No African leader can engage in such vile violations and still be considered by Europe as a person that Europe can continue to do business with. Today Europe faces both a moral and political crises in Ethiopia. Europe cannot take the situation as normal and behave with the attitude of putting aside or ignoring the worsening situation in Ethiopia. The democratic crises in Ethiopia are showing the hypocrisy of official European policy. Until and unless Europe confronts the truth head on, and accept that the real culprit for the democratic and post-election crises is the Meles dictatorship, Europe too will face deep crises of values where rhetoric becomes out of sink with action based on implementing the oft- stated positions to stand for democracy, law, human rights and governance. Europe can only resolve this contradiction when it takes Ethiopia’s democratic aspiration seriously and stop putting pressure on the victim, the opposition, and the people who voted and chose and rudely got cheated of their voices and votes.

3. Europe must show respect to the jailed opposition and must seek truth for the murdered and the illegally rounded up urban and rural youth in Ethiopia into make-shift camps

All principled nations must be able to say this: To the jailed we owe them respect, and we vow to resist for all time until their jailors are forced to listen to the clarion call of justice; to the arrogantly, unjustly and brutally killed, we owe them the truth; extracted if possible through a thoroughgoing no holds bar national reconciliation process based on an intelligent trade off between the past and future in favour of shaping a shared democratic and just future for all Ethiopians. To the urban and rural youth across the country, to the students and others whom the regime continues on a daily basis to criminalise based on the spurious pretext to pre-empt an anticipated dissent, we owe them apologies and reparation. To all the families that lost loved ones, we owe them the truth and immortalising their memory by recognising the martyrdom of their sons and daughters by launching May 15, 2005 as an Ethiopian National Democratic Day to be celebrated for all time.

Principled nations must support the varied struggles of the Ethiopian people to bring about democratic change. They should support the struggle to uncover layers upon layers of deception and misinformation piled up on the people and nation by successive dictatorial regimes including the current killer dictatorial power in Ethiopia.

Ethiopians must vow to continue an uninterrupted resistance: Those in jail and those in the grave call us to sharpen our will never to abandon their fate in the depressingly oppressive and shackling grip of tyranny. Their own sacrifice is a signature and call to egg us on never to take Ethiopia’s democratisation lightly.

4. The hypocrisy of the Great Powers towards Africa’s aspiration to democracy must stop!

The historical record shows that the great powers have not taken democracy seriously in Africa. They put a premium very often on their narrowly conceived interest first and foremost, what ever that may be in a given period. Rhetorically, they say they prefer democracy and human rights to dictatorship. But then they quickly qualify this by saying if democracy leads to chaos or anarchy, they prefer the dictators to control the situation and give signals to thank them rather than condemn their killer and violent actions against the people. They belittle the murders and jailing and the mass arrests and sinister and gross human rights violations as a correctable reaction from the regime. Instead of showing outrage, they belittle the regime’s crimes into something akin to ?an understandable or even justifiable overreaction.’ They refrain by not saying exactly what it really is- an outrage against human rights and the democratic aspiration of the people. They ignore the people and try to placate the dictators. They show sensitivity to those who should be damned by them and ignore and neglect the people who are killed, jailed and face daily harassment from the killer-regime.

Despite all protest they invent one excuse or another or one rationale after rationale to find ways to fund them and support the dictators by using and alternating open and secret methods. When they cannot do the funding directly they are known to have used proxy clients to pass the funds to the dictators. It looks that this is what is taking place in Ethiopia now. If the World Bank feels constrained to provide direct budget support, its affiliates such as the African Development Bank, the Arab Development Bank or the Asian Development bank, as the case may be, can step in and fill in for it. The same can also apply to bilateral assistance. It is easy to use an African client to pass on the money or the weapons, when it gets sensitive to do it oneself directly to a given country. In the case of the forces arrayed to abort Ethiopian democracy, the situation is outrageous because the external forces choose to do both, use covert and overt methods, direct and indirect support to the current dictatorship.

This practice is of course immoral, but proxy wars using dictators and proxy financial deals to them have not really gone away yet sadly in Africa at the expense of African lives and democracy. The struggle for democracy is also a struggle to make this unethical dealing, this lack of openness and secretiveness a thing of the past.

5. The Ethiopian people and others in Africa have been ready for democracy a long time ago!

This may be news to the outsiders, but the people of Africa have been ready to govern themselves democratically after the direct colonial episode. The reason why democracy fails to take root has nothing to do with the assumption that the African people are not ready for democracy. It has to do with the peculiar coincidence of external support to local dictatorship owing to the singular fact that both internal and external forces fail to take the rooting of democracy in African soil seriously. This external un-seriousness towards the institutionalisation of African democracy is perhaps one of the principal reasons why democratic reforms cannot be sustained in Africa. Sadly our country suffers from this lack of great power seriousness towards African democracy. The ruling elite lack seriousness because it speaks with the language of power, violence and deception. The great powers too promote above all the interest of power over reason, expediency over values and dictatorship over democracy and short-term concerns over long term human security. Therein lies the difficulties we face in the struggle to unleash the democratic opportunities for Ethiopia. It is a hard struggle, but also a worthy and noble one. The march on 23.03.06 is a march to shame power, to speak truth to power, to appeal to any democratic sensibility to support those who are in jail for the very democracy that the great powers find cheap to talk about and hard to live by and assist in implementing by backing solidly, clearly and unambiguously the democratic forces in our country. It is the goal to change our society and bring democratic transition through civic action and expression, and the peoples votes and choices rather than the gun that we continue to put our plea to Europe.

6. The Significance of May 15, 2005

Who can blame if Ethiopians continue to struggle without any let up to democratise the politics and society that the dictatorial regime has chosen to criminalise. Well, we Ethiopians will never afford to squander the democratic energy so magnificently displayed on May 15, 2005. For Ethiopia there can be no procrastination with regard to timing. It is now that democracy has to be rooted in the country. We say it is not much to ask and insist it is about time that the world takes seriously the voice of 25 million voting Ethiopians, widely reported to be 90 % of the registered voting population!! No democrat can condone wasting this democratic hour by yielding to the dictates of interest or by the unexamined presupposition that the Meles dictatorship is good enough for Ethiopians and USA president Bush’s war against terror. This attitude shows lack of seriousness to the democratic aspiration and historical breakthrough of an old nation on May 15, 2005.

The world must not conspire to abort but to welcome the democratic baptism of this nation. The votes, choices and decisions of the Ethiopian people have to be respected. The regime engineered national crises and trampled underfoot this national democratic expression desperate to hang on to power by spreading malice and poison that injects the virus of mistrust to break the new solidarity forged by the democratic renaissance tasted in practice in the May election.

We firmly believe that Ethiopian people are the source of all authority and the source of all legitimacy, and not donor money and donor supplied or purchased arms and a sectarian and brutal military force loyal to the Meles dictatorship, and not to the people and the rule of law. Presented with the opportunity to learn the facts, we have seen how capable the people of Ethiopia became in making informed decisions and choices through their unprecedented turn out and votes. It is the people and democracy that can and will solve the national crisis that has been deliberately created by the regime. All the people should be treated with respect by providing the truth and the real facts to them instead of misinforming them with deception and fraud. We owe the Ethiopian people the benefit of doubt, of a belief in their collective wisdom to see this nation to come through largely unscathed in the end from the current crises. Ethiopians should be proud to be a people who are able to manage their own affairs. The current state, as indeed all earlier states imposed over the country, is a huge burden to the people. The struggle for democracy is to create a state that helps and serves the people and not oppress and kill them with violence and poverty. We believe that the Ethiopian people can run their own affairs and forestall any form of crises left to govern themselves. The government is invasive and subtractive of their individual and collective well being. Left to themselves, the people are capable of organising and combining their self-rule with their shared rule or governance.

7. Appeal to the European Heads of States

NES calls on all the European Heads of States (HoS) to implement the recommendation of the resolution of the European parliament.

We call on HoS to put pressure on the regime to drop all absurd charges of treason and genocide and immediately and unconditionally release the entire elected CUD leadership and other prisoners jailed in relation to the May election.

We call on HoS to denounce the Meles regime for illegally and unjustly derailing the vibrant democratic environment and identify it as the true culprit that engineered a poisonous national crisis that aims to spread confusion by spreading mistrust suspicion across the nation.

We call on the EU HoS to support fully an international inquiry into the killings and derailment of the democratic election that began so well and ended in unfortunate post-election crises.

We call on the HoS to denounce the Meles dictatorship in its habit of criminalising politics and society by using and plotting all sorts of unworthy and unsavoury tactics and prevail upon it to enter into a process of sustained dialogue and national reconciliation by releasing the democratic energy of the people.

We call on the EU HoS to denounce the Meles regime for alleging, implicating outrageously the CUD opposition leadership and party with clandestine terror networks and other terror related plots.

We call on the EU HoS to encourage the process of sustained dialogue on the basis of democratic freedoms and an environment free from the poison of recrimination and absurd and bizarre charges of the publicly spirited communities of Ethiopians both at home and abroad.

8. Concluding Remark

The Meles regime is accusing individuals that contribute with civic responsibility to improve the lot of their community with engaging in terror, treason or genocide. All those it has jailed and accused of treason and genocide are accused because of their public spirit and determination to make sure democracy takes root in Ethiopia. Nothing is more tragic than the regime to be so cavalier about the people, opposition, democracy and human rights. Equally important nothing is more damaging to an aspirant emergent free society than the casual invocation of the enemies of public liberty as virtue. This regime seems consciously or unconsciously to encourage tactics that should be dreaded and spreads at will the criminalisation of dissent, the press, society and politics. A nation and people would not be able to spread democracy if the regime is hell bent to criminalise all the publicly spirited citizens. Citizens who have committed absolutely no crime have been accused of planning terror and thrown into jail when all they did is support their communities and introduce schools, clinics and electricity. The regime has turned a vibrant society into the suspicious society where the poison of mistrust is used to divide person from person. It is using fear to control the expression of dissenting voice. It is using a blanket criminalisation of society to threaten the birth of democracy and public debate to improve the life opportunities and decision making capacities of a gentle people and nation. The EU must condemn and denounce this outrage and not resource or fund it. The EU will never go wrong if it supports the Ethiopian people at this time and side with their aspirations.

Finally NES calls not only to root democracy for good in Ethiopia in our time, but for all time, for all generations, for the people, the country and nation, to end poverty and deprivation by providing Ethiopia the logo that encapsulates the national democratisation project in order to stand up united for moving forward uninterrupted no more by conflict, wars and unending and chronic instability.

Professor Mammo Muchie, Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
Berhanu G. Balcha, Vice- Chair of NES-Scandinavian Chapter
Tekola Worku, Secretary of NES-Scandinavian Chapter

Contact address:
– Fibigerstraede 2
– 9220- Aalborg East
– DenmarkTel. + 45 96 359 813 or +45 96 358 331
– Fax + 45 98 153 298
– Cell: +45 3112 5507
– Email: [email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.