- Why the analogy is strongly relevant to the situation we have gone through and where we are in now?
The simplified definition of cancer is that it is a disease caused by an uncontrollable division of abnormal cells in certain parts of a body. It is a very common knowledge that though there is tremendous efforts going on in the area of science and technology, the fact is that cancer is still one of the most deadly diseases of the world’s population.
The most mysterious characteristic of this disease is how certain cells of our body abnormally divide themselves and become killers of all other cells and tissues of the body they are part and parcel. This is typically analogical to the cancerous socio- political situation (ethno-centric tyranny) the people of Ethiopia have gone through for the past quarter of a century.
What is greatly inspiring nowadays is that the people of Ethiopia have legitimately and realistically come to the conclusion that this long time cancer of injustice and impoverishment must be removed, not be treated with the means that has been repeatedly tried but terribly failed due to the very nature and behavior of TPLF/EPRDF. In other words, trying to treat the cancerous socio-political agenda and practice the Ethiopian people have experienced more than two decades with the same failed treatment would be a serious mistake that couldn’t be explained let alone rationally be justified and excused.
As I am not a person with either a background of medical science or related areas of studies, the purpose of this comment of mine is not to discuss about cancer as such. But I am a person who understands well that cancer which has its own contextual meaning is not limited to what happens to our biological and physical functions only. It is commonly used in the context of a chronically dire situation in which a given society finds itself. Needless to say, the ongoing reign of state-terror in our country is a cancer that must be dealt with timely and decisively. To this end, the ongoing legitimate civil disobedience desperately demands for doing what must be done in a well-thought, well-planned, well-coordinated, well- organized, well- determined, well-aimed and well-led manner.
This is because it is becoming crystal clear that it is impossible to indefinitely wait and see until the very cancerous way of doing politics put the country at the very verge of disappearing from the map we know by making her innocent people of various ethnic groups fight over having their own piece of territories which of course will never be able to survive as viable entities or state actors. I strongly believe that the people of Ethiopia will never allow the cancerous political game of TPLF/EPRDF to go unchecked and turn Ethiopia into pieces of “independent territories” and make Ethiopia and Ethiopians things of the past. But I equally believe that unless the cancerous political game of the past quarter of a century is removed and all those cells , tissues and organs of the mother body (Ethiopia) revive and strive for healthy, peaceful , strong , sustainable growth and development ; there is no convincing reason not to fear the danger of senseless separation and subsequently mutual destruction.
Jan Phillip, the author of The Arts of Original Thinking / The Making of a Thought Leader/ (2006) strongly argues about the danger of painfully undesirable separation within, between and among the people whose survival and destiny is intrinsically interdependent. As the very survival and fate of a body is determined by an orderly and healthy function of each cell, tissue and organ; so is the survival and fate of the people who live in a territory which they call it their homeland. Phillip logically and realistically argues that whenever something goes wrong with certain cells of a body and causes serious disruption to the very functions of the body system, we must seriously be concerned with and think how we have to do something about it in a timely and appropriate manner.
“If the body’s organs competed with each other like corporations compete, like nations compete, like individuals compete, for what they believe to be limited resources, the body would collapse. It is only able to thrive when every cell responds to messages from other cells with an immediate impulse to be of use, to share its life force and send its energy and nutrients where they are needed. Tumors get their start when cells isolate themselves and start multiplying independently of the normal laws of growth. When cells in certain area reproduce unchecked, serving no physiologic function, they can interfere with vital body function, absorb nutrients needed elsewhere, and destroy surrounding normal tissues. It is no stretch to apply this analogy to what is happening around the world today.”
She makes her analogical argument convincingly clear when she says, “we do damage to the entire human family when we make decisions that serve certain individuals but not the whole.”
I do not think there is any other powerfully loud and clear example for this analogical argument than the cancer of injustice and enslavement the people of Ethiopia have gone through a long period of time in their own homeland by their won fellow citizens.
The cancerous socio-political system of ethno-centric minority in the past quarter of a century in our country was planted and nurtured by the inner circle of TPLF and spread through its agents (Amhara National Democratic Movement -ANDM, Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization – OPDO, Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement –SEPDM) and others which TPLF call them loyal partners. It is this cancerous socio-political behavior and practice that has become a killer (destroyer) of the very survival of motherland (Ethiopia) and the very fundamental rights of her innocent people. This very disturbing socio-political abnormality of TPLF and its puppets has now reached at its full-fledged cancerous stage that would never be effectively treated other than removing without any further delay.
Here is what Amy Chua, the author of World on Fire (2003) has to argue about the danger of market and political –dominant minority not only at a national but also at global level. She says, “… like south East Asia or Latin American – but probably to a greater extent – Africa is plagued with the problem of market –dominant minorities. As the result, economic liberalization, free markets, and globalization aggravating Africa’s extreme ethnic concentration of wealth, provoking … dangerous combination of frustration, envy, insecurity, and suppressed anger….”
Here is what she says in the case of Ethiopia; “Ethiopian government played a major role in fomenting ethnic division and hatred within the country. Starting in 1992 the government issued to all residents identity cards providing an ethnic designation.”
This clearly shows that TPLF did not take time after it came to power to make its cancerous socio-political agenda the law of the land. Having declared this and all other deadly cancerous policies, laws, and rules and regulations, it established its own ethnic –based minority economic empire in the name of investment and development. It invited both domestic and foreign “investors” who have no any sense of moral obligation to open their minds and hearts and see what they did and are doing at the very expenses of the lives of the people. It is this partnership of ethno-centric tyranny and market –dominant minority (domestic and foreign “investors”) that has brought the very survival of the country and the well-being of citizens to the very miserable situation we are witnessing at this moment in time.
Globally speaking, despite the fact that globalization has brought about tremendous positive things, the gap between the haves and have- nots is getting dangerously wide and deep. The unholy partnership between those minorities who control political power and those market –dominant minorities (national and transnational corporations and individual investors) makes the very lives of the majority miserable, and consequently causes a serious threat to peace and stability both at the national, regional and global level. That is why the people of Ethiopia and those who are genuinely concerned strongly and relentlessly remind foreign governments and international community that the very cancerous socio-political game (ethno-centric tyranny) in Ethiopia is directly or indirectly a serious threat to the very peace and stability of that part of Africa (the Horn and East) in particular and of course Africa in general.
TPLF/EPRDF had to make sure that its political agenda of ethnic division and hatred must particularly target the two majority ethnic groups (nations/nationalities, if we want to play with words or concepts), Oromo and Amhara. That is why one of the most dangerously moron officials of TPLF, Getachew Reda told us that “as Amaharas and Oromos are as fire and hay, it is unthinkable to see unity of purpose between them.” Needless to say, this kind of stupidly irresponsible words of moth are neither surprised nor unexpected from a bunch of politicians who are extremely frustrated because they have realized that they are victims of their own chronic cancerous socio-political game.
TPLF had to make sure that Oromos and Amharas not only remain far apart but also engage in constant, mutually exclusive and destructive way of doing things. The ethno-centric tyrannical ruling circle excessively used the two mutually exclusive and destructive concepts, chauvinist Amhara and narrow –nationalist Oromo hoping that this generation and the generation to come would be carriers of this socio-political cancer it planted, nurtured and spread for the past quarter of a century. Fortunately enough, this evil-guided socio-political orchestration has been proved to be stupidly wrong when the people of Ethiopia from every ethnic background and every part of the country march for freedom with the very powerful slogan of “theblood shedding in every corner of our country is our own blood!”
Not only this, but these two majority ethnic groups have been used as scary forces to other ethnic groups and tribes. Members of the inner circle of the ruling front have systematically tried to make all other ethnic groups believe that the end of the political game of TPLF/EPRDF will be the total reverse of the rights of nations and nationalities, and subsequently the end of Ethiopia’s fate to continue as a country. One of the most stupidly and notoriously arrogant high ranking members of TPLF, Abay Tsehaye told us with no any sense of responsibility that if his Liberation Front of Tigray should go, the country will be in a situation worse than what happened in Rwanda twenty-two years ago. He made his evil-mindedness much more clear when he warned us that Rwandans have come together after wildly killing each other, but Ethiopia’s fate will face double horror: killing each other and ending the survival of Ethiopia as a country. Imagine fellow Ethiopians, it is these cold-blooded ethno-centric politicians who have ruled our country of more than ninety million Ethiopians for a quarter of a century.
Let me reiterate that this kind of idiotically irresponsible words of mouth of notorious masterminds of socio-political cancer are nothing but a desperate attempt to perpetuate a system that has been and is being totally rejected by the people who have gone through incredible level of suffering for two decades. But, it is equally necessary not to take words which come from very evil-driven state of minds of those who unfortunately lost their sense of morality, rationale and reasoning power as simple as anything. This is because we have to be seriously concerned and stay alert when we see and hear those who control the killing stat -machinery once again declare war on innocent people of Ethiopian through the command of their puppet head of government, Hailemariam Desalegn. Needless to say, this should not be taken as a dirty political game as usual. It is an extremely dangerous war declared on the people who peacefully demanded for opening the political space that is completely closed and locked for more than two decades with the sign saying “Danger.” Yes, the people of Ethiopia have rightfully and repeatedly challenged TPLF/EPRDF either to pave the way for genuine democratic change by becoming part of it or to exit without causing much more damage.
- How TPLF/EPRDF is resistant to other methods of treatment and why removal is the only option left? Just few highlights:
2.1. The people of Ethiopia have tirelessly and justifiably tried to remind and warn TPLF/EPRDF that the very supreme contractual document, the constitution (with its own certain serious problems) has never been operative as it was and is supposed to be. TPLF/EPRDF invokes the document (the constitution) whenever it wants to punish any opposition political parties, and even journalists who do nothing wrong but work hard to inform the public about what has gone and is going wrong with the political economy controlled by a bunch of ethno-centric politicians and there cronies. This deadly toxic behavior comes from the inner circle of TPLF/EPRDF which categorizes any individual or group with dissenting political or any other area of concern as a serious threat to its politics of suppression and economic empire.
It goes without saying that if TPLF/EPRDF were a ruling force with a sense of responsibility and accountability, it could listen to the very legitimate and powerful voices of the people and use it as great opportunity to treat its deadly relapsing cancerous political game accordingly. That is why we are in a situation where we are now; the situation in which the people of Ethiopia have come to a conclusion that the cancer of injustice and enslavement of a quarter of a century must be removed as it cannot be treated with the same repeatedly and horribly failed method.
2.2. The people of Ethiopia have legitimately and relentlessly reminded and warned TPLF/EPRDF that one of the most critical characteristics of a democratic political system, the separation of powers among the three branches of government (the legislative, executive and judiciary) is practically non-existence. In other words, the five hundred and forty-seven members of parliament are nothing but rubber-stamps of an ethno-centric tyranny. What makes the ruling system of TPLF disastrous is when the judiciary system which is responsible for the interpretation of the law and delivering justice has totally become the third branch which is responsible for siting and giving fake ruling on the cases of TPLF/EPRDF’s dirty political accusation against opposition forces and journalists. Yes, it is incredibly devastating to witness justice being turned upside down.
2.2. The people of Ethiopia have shown an incredible level of patience when they have relentlessly reminded and warned TPLF/EPRDF and those of its loyal partners not to take the country from bad to painfully worse situation. This genuine call for taking the country to the right track of political space and engagement has been made even in the midst of harassment, intimidation, dehumanization, arbitrary detention, torture, and extrajudicial killings for two decades. It is very difficult to comprehend how and why the masterminds of TPLF/EPRDF have chosen to ignore loud and clear voices of the people and to not only keep doing politics as usual but sadly enough making things more deadly painful. How sad it is unfortunate to see “our” rulers not taking preventive actions before the socio-political cancer they nurtured, badly spread and tried hard to inculcate in the minds of the people goes out of control and destroy the very deep-rooted and unbreakable fabrics of togetherness of generations. Put simply, the cancer of injustice, hatred and division and mutual -destruction must be removed before it completely destroys the mother body (Ethiopia) and the cells, tissues and organs (the people with all their harmonious interactions). This is what TPLF/EPRDF itself have chosen instead of peoples’ choices for civilized dialogue, real sense of reconciliation and establishing inclusively and genuinely democratic political system.
2.3. The people of Ethiopia have strongly and genuinely expressed their legitimate frustrations and extremely serious concerns when TPLF/EPRDF has declared all the past elections historic and landslide victories of “revolutionary democracy”. The concerns of the people could be explained :a) It was and is wrong and dangerous to declare elections fair and free in a political environment that is entirely dominated and badly controlled by tyranny of ethno-centric minority b) it is absolutely a mockery of democracy to claim holding free and fair elections in a political environment where a national election board is set up and made operational to facilitate and make sure that the ruling party’s land slide victory is secured elections after elections by any means , including rigging, cheating and cracking down those who may complain and protest, instructing the court system ( disgracefully good for nothing judges) to turn down if the case becomes a court case . C)it was and is terribly hypocritical and delusional to expect those “godchildren” of TPLF ( the other three members of the ruling front and other loyalists) to truly represent the constituencies where they come from to play any meaningful role other than fulfilling their voracious self-inserts and the interests of cronies. Put simply, TPLF/EPRDF could not listen to the people who made their voices clear and loud that it is stupidly deceptive to think let alone to believe that genuine democratic elections are possible in a situation where there was no and there is no multiparty system in a real sense of the term because of an ethno-centric tyranny. d) It was and is a very serious insult to peoples’ intelligence to preach them about free and fair elections in a political environment in which all opposition parties and movements were and are categorized as disruptors and even terrorists and destroyed to the extent of sacrificing their innocent and peaceful members and supporters. e) The people of Ethiopia have decried the very evil-guided policies and laws against free media, civic organizations, advocacy groups, professional associations, etc. which are critically important for the existence of truly democratic system of election and representation. f) To claim that Ethiopians held free and fair elections in a political environment where all professional associations, labor unions, women associations, youth associations, religious institutions and even traditional self-help associations (Idir and equb) have become political arms of TPLF/EPRDF is a mockery of the very principles and values of democracy. Needless to say, this is an outrageous insult to the very intelligence of the people of Ethiopia who have cried and continued to cry for the right to live in their own homeland in which freedom, justice, and real sense of togetherness, equal opportunity, dignity, peace and prosperity are meaningfully and inalienably realized.
2.4. Retrospectively speaking, the people of Ethiopia genuinely hoped that TPLF/EPRDF would use multiple opportunities with no clumsy or nonsensical excuse to review its ill-guided political agenda and practice, and be a genuine partner or stakeholder of a political culture of transferring political power through truly active, enthusiastic, free and fair participation of the people.
With all notorious intimidation and suppression by an ethno-centric ruling party, the 2005 elections (“the era of Kinjit”) was characterized by tremendous enthusiasm and hope never been before. The Ethiopian people were enthusiastically hopeful that the politics of division along ethnic line, exclusion, mistrust, hatred and deadly conflicts would end and would become things of the past. The international community had also its own impression that there would be a considerable degree of courage from the ruling circle to create and develop a political space in which all opposition political parties could play their role in the process of building a democratic and prosperous society.
Sadly enough, things turned out to be devastating. When TPLF/EPRDF realized that people were serious enough about the need to freely and fairly determine their destiny through the most fundamental principle of “one man, one vote”, it changed the game back to the same if not the worst political madness. TPLF/EPRDF with its notoriously hypocritical and terribly ruthless leader, the late Ato meles Zenawi cracked down peoples’ march for freedom and justice. Hundreds of innocent citizens were gunned down in the streets of Addis Ababa and other cities and towns. Thousands were intimidated, harassed, arrested, tortured and received politically motivated harsh sentences. Opposition parties were destroyed and their leaders received harsh sentences from judges who simply read out and stamped the verdict of TPLF/EPRDF and thrown into notoriously miserable prisons. I do not want to go into the description of how they were released after languishing in those camps of misery. What I want to say is that the way the late Ato Meles Zenawi orchestrated their release was painfully disgraceful and it would remain one of the ugliest parts chapters of our political history.
2.5. Once again, the people of Ethiopia had to face a very hard reality that TPLF/EPRDF was not, is not and would not be willing and able to genuinely deal with the issue of how to get out of its game of socio- political cancer and commit itself to be a constructive partnership for reconciliation that would aimed at creating a truly democratic society.
Imagine fellow Ethiopians, the people have never lost their hope for having a democratic and peaceful change even in a political environment of which TPLF/EPRDF has destroyed all opposition forces and cracked down freedom of press and expression; and declared the May 2015 election not as land-slide as usual but a one hundred percent (historic) victory. It goes without saying that the notoriously conspiratorial and brutal legacy of the late Ato Meles Zenawi is being carried out in a much more extensive and intensive manner through a man (Ato Haliemariam Desalegn) who allowed himself to be the host of the ghost of his late predecessor and mentor .As his late mentor declared state of emergency towards the completion of the election results and destroyed not only peoples’ hope but so many innocent lives, Ato Hailmariam declared war on people who did nothing wrong let alone inviting the declaration of war other than demanding for freedom, justice, sense of compassion, dignity , and not be up-rooted from their lands and villages.
Just after not three years of the death of Ato Mels Zenawi and not a year after the “hundred percent and historic victory”, the uniquely and legitimately persistent popular uprising sparked in Oromia. The movement is now joined by a much more systematic, persistent and well-aimed movement of the Aamhara reginal state and of the southern Ethiopia, particularly the Konsos and other parts of the country in one way or another. These unprecedented civil disobediences clearly and loudly show that the cancerous socio-political system should be removed because it has proven itself that it is badly resistant to any other methods of treatments.
What the people are saying is that nowadays they have come to the conclusion that TPLF/EPRDF has lost the opportunity to open political space for civilized dialogue and mutual understanding in order to deal with all these and many other cancerous political games appropriately and effectively. This means that the only legitimate and viable method the people left with is removing the cancer of injustice and socio-economic destitution once and for all.
- Concluding Remakes: What is to be done?
I am well aware that a lot has been said as far as the question of what are the desirable, viable, effective and mutually beneficial things to be done is concerned. The question of why we could not find ourselves in a position of doing what we are saying is a very perplexing but still tough question we have to courageously face if we have to make a meaningful difference. This said, let me proceed to not new but necessary to repeat remarks of what is to be done.
3.1. I sincerely believe that the very first thing we have to do is honestly and with no clumsy excuse challenge ourselves (at individual level) with the question of: Am I as a member of a society in one way or another truly and practically devoted to doing what I can do and expected to do? To put it in other words, as the fruit of the struggle for freedom, justice, equal opportunity, a real sense of togetherness, dignity, and shared prosperity is a matter of creating a just and free society in which each and every citizen should be beneficial; the very role of each and every induvial is indispensable. I am raising this point of view because I strongly believe that we have a very serious challenge of narrowing if not filling the very wide and deep gap between the rhetoric we make and the wishes we wish on the one hand and interpreting them into deeds on the other hand. I am not naively expecting that all individuals or for that matter all groupings to behave and act rationally, fairly, and for the common good. It would be stupidly unrealistic not to expect some individuals or groupings who are victims of not seeing things beyond their wildly voracious self-interests. What I am talking is about the majority and genuinely concerned Ethiopians.
3.2. Needless to say, if we have to move forward and make a difference, there is a need to make our state of mind quite clear and convinced that the current political system of TPLF/EPRDF has horribly proved itself that it cannot be genuine partner of a genuine democratic change let alone to continue business as usual. This means that the very cancerous socio-political system has to be removed and replaced with a truly democratic system in which all stakeholders who would be accepting certain basic common platforms such as recognizing Ethiopia as their common house, genuine democracy/free and fair elections by free and dignified people, equality and mutual respect. There is also a need to be willing enough to deal with all other policy issues including the form and structure of government objectively/rationally, amicably/with the spirit of citizens of one homeland, professionally, responsibly, and with a real sense of statesmanship .
3.3. It is quite necessary to honestly and repeatedly make clear that removing the cancerous socio-political system does not mean removing or indiscriminately disenfranchising all politicians, military and law enforcement citizens and all other public servants who one way or another affiliated with TPLF/ERRDF. Neither there would be unnecessary attempt to make unnecessary radical changes. Put simply, we have to do anything possible to end the political culture of destroy and start from scratch.
3.4. I strongly argue that one of the most devastating failures throughout two decades was the way opposition parties and movements did politics. This was characterized by: a) forming parties as simple as having conversation among friends and friends of friends and coming up with program papers (no problem to copy one) and get registered , and keep holding press conferences and issuing statements after statements, appearing on TV widows and making radio interviews b) forming parties by having get-together and consulting friends of certain ethnic group and naming it after that ethnic group , get it registered and show up publicly to pretend that the party is doing great especially concerning the rights of nations and nationalities. C) The notoriously ego-centric leaders and members have been proved to be the enemies of true democratic principles and values. The reason why I am raising very unfortunate and ugly way of doing politics is to underscore that this would continue to be a serious challenge which we have to deal with accordingly if we want to shorten the untold sufferings (cancerous political system) in our country.
3.4. Do we remember how we, the Ethiopian diaspora were fired up in the 2005 elections (the failed era of Kinijit) ? I strongly believe that the political culture of being fired up when things get hot and worse without a well- thought, well-defined, well-organized, well-coordinated, and farsighted operation cannot go beyond decrying the very symptoms of deadly politics. We have to admit that despite certain good sides of our efforts, most of the activities we did for the last quarter of a century were not mainly focused on how to remove the very root cause of the cancerous socio-political system . I truly appreciate when I think of how many demonstrations, conferences of various groupings, and other forms of activates we Ethiopians abroad participated or attended for the last two decades. But we equally must admit that we suffered from a) lack of engaging in activities and other forms of contributions that could help freedom fighters, including legally operating political groups, and media such as ESAT and other electronic media which are very indispensable in informing and awakening the people on the one hand and let the international community stay informed and alert on the hand. b) Being victims of worshiping some members of political party leaders (remember Kinijit) which led us to a very serious despair when things went terribly wrong. C) Lack of courage to straight-forwardly challenge certain political groupings in the diaspora which still could not get out of the political culture of holding regular and especial meetings, conferences, press conferences, issuing statements of concern and condemnation; and reporting as if they are doing great . d) Lack of taking our well-articulated and legitimately emotional rhetoric and incredibly persistent demonstrations/protests to a platform at which the issues of what is next can be discussed and an indicative roadmap should be communicated with the community for further steps to be taken.
3.5. There is a need to understand that if some undesirable activities might have happened in the ongoing popular uprisings such as ethnic –based incitation and attack either by individuals who could not control their emotions or most possibly by a deliberate act of TPLF itself, it must be dealt with wisely and systematically. It must also be understood that the happenings of unintended actions in the process of the struggle like ours which is taking place in a very ugly politics of ethnic division and hatred of TPLF cannot totally be avoided. That is why we have to a) try hard to control it not to get out of control b) we have to consistently educate and remind the people that the struggle is to remove the political cancer (politics of ethnic division and hated of TPLF/EPRDF) by engaging the people in the politics of togetherness, tolerance, inclusiveness, equal opportunity which is the direct opposite of the past quarter of a century.
Let me sum up by saying that the very challenge to cure cancer is because the very reason why certain cells go abnormal and become the killers of the body they belong to is not well known yet. But the very cause of our cancer of injustice is self-evidently clear. It is the system which was officially introduced, developed by a few evil-minded politicians of TPLF and spread by their three members of their ruling front (EPRDF). The question is: should the people continue reacting to the painful symptoms of the cancer or remove the very root cause of the pain that is becoming unbearable? It must be stressed clearly and loudly that if the ongoing courageously heroic popular disobedience would be history repeats itself (2005) and the cancer would relapse, the consequences would be hugely disastrous. I want to reasonably remain optimistic that the changed we desperately aspire will prevail with minim price of human and material resources; but we need to seriously and constantly remind ourselves that it (the change we aspire) depends on our own collective, resilient and effective way of doing politics.