Ethiopia: Make Peaceful Change Impossible? Make Violent Revolution Inevitable!
By Alemayehu G Mariam / December 21, 2015In December 2015, there is only one question that is uppermost in the mind of every Ethiopian:
Will the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF) kill, massacre, slaughter, murder and unleash a campaign of bloodbath and bloodshed to cling to power in Ethiopia?
Most regretfully, the answer is in the affirmative.
For the past 24 years, the T-TPLF had every opportunity for peaceful change in the country.
At every juncture of peace and reconciliation, at every turn of political engagement and accommodation, at every twist of democratization and at every election, the T-TPLF has not missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
For the past 24 years, the T-TPLF made peaceful change impossible in Ethiopia.
Today, the T-TPLF has made violent revolution inevitable, unavoidable and inescapable!
In December 2015, the people of Ethiopia passed the tipping point between peaceful change and violent revolution.
In December 2015, the people of Ethiopia crossed the Rubicon, the point of no return.
The fact that they have crossed the point of no return is plain in their articulated hatred of the T-TPLF as a criminal organization that represents no one but its corrupt and murderous leaders, cronies and servile elites that feed at its trough.
The point of no return is manifest in the fact that the people of Ethiopia no longer fear the T-TPLF.
The people know the T-TPLF, hiding under the skirt of its international donors and loaners and and armed to the teeth with all the weapons of war, is not much more than a cackle of hyenas against lion-hearted Ethiopians.
The people are openly defying the T-TPLF.
They are openly demanding structural reform.
They are openly and massively agitating and mobilizing for the removal of the T-TPLF from power.
The point of no return is evident in the determination of the people that the T-TPLF must be removed by any means necessary.
The fuse connected to the powder keg on which the T-TPLF is sitting is lit. It is a very short fuse. The only question is when the fuse will reach the powder keg to ignite a fire.
The T-TPLF started a fire that has been burning in the hearts of all Ethiopians for nearly 25 years.
The T-TPLF today thinks it can stomp out the fire of popular uprising by killing and massacring children and young adults who articulate and present their grievances in peaceful protests.
The T-TPLF thinks it can the defeat and delay the people’s sense of the fierce urgency of now by promising to clean up its act tomorrow, next week and next year.
Last week, Human Rights Watch reported:
Amnesty International similarly reported
A local publication, Addis Fortune cautioned,
The U.S. State Department issued the following earth-shaking statement:
Herman Cohen, former Assistant Secretary for African Affairs and the man who facilitated the takeover of power by the T-TPLF expressed puzzlement over T-TPLF massacres of unarmed protesters:
Gunning down peaceful demonstrators and committing murders against citizens has always been the hallmark of the T-TPLF.
The T-TPLF gunned down nearly one-thousand people following the 2005 elections.
The T-TPLF gunned down over 400 Anuaks in the Gambella region in 2004.
The T-TPLF gunned down thousands of Ogadenis in 2007-08.
The T-TPLF gunned down tens of thousands of Somalis between 2006-09.
The T-TPLF has gunned down tens of thousands of Ethiopian in every part of Ethiopia since they seized power in 1991.
Murderous sprees for the T-TPLF should come as a surprise to no one.
The T-TPLF leaders mingle among civilized society today wearing military uniforms and designer suits. Remove the suits and uniforms, and lo! There stand “the best o’ the cut-throats”, as Shakespeare might have described them.
The T-TPLF is a vampiric organization which was conceived in bloodshed.
The T-TPLF is an organization born in bloodshed.
The T-TPLF is an organization that lives and thrives in bloodshed.
The only question is whether the T-TPLF will die in bloodshed.
It is obvious the T-TPLF leaders, cronies and bottom feeder elites have been rattled by recent protests and resistance movements throughout the country. The last time the T-TPLF was this badly rattled was when their capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses) Meles Zenawi dropped dead in 2012.
The flashpoint in the current uprising is the so-called Addis Ababa master Plan, a hare-brained T-TPLF scheme of land expropriation of farmers on the far outskirts of the capital. (Click here to access the “MasterPlan” in Amharic.)
A panicked T-TPLF puppet-minister Hailemariam Desalegn blamed outside forces for the protests:
“Merciless legitimate action?” Did Hailemariam mean “merciless murderous action”?
Hailemariam and his T-TPLF masters are perfectly capable of taking “merciless” action, but they are totally incapable of taking “legitimate” action because they are unacquainted with the “rule of law.”
Hailemariam and his T-TPLF masters confuse the rule of law with the rule of thugs!
What Hailemariam is told to say by his T-TPLF masters is this: The T-TPLF will mercilessly massacre their opponents and protesters and do whatever it takes to stay in power.
The demonically bottomless capacity of the T-TPLF to take merciless action against their opponents is unquestioned. “Hell is empty because all the devils have enlisted in the T-TPLF,” to paraphrase Shakespeare.
Another cog in the T-TPLF wheel of misfortune by the name of Abiy Berhane in London echoed Hailemariam. “The violence in some parts of Oromia region is instigated by foreign-based opposition groups who are determined to overthrow the constitutional order in Ethiopia by the use of force.”
Another T-TPLF huckster by the name of Getachew Reda, who talks like sleazebucket used car salesman, said the cause of the troubles were armed gangs opposed to the T-TPLF’s efforts to consult with the people of the region on the city expansion plan. “The security forces will be taking very responsible and measured steps to neutralize the armed gangs which are now terrorizing the people in the region in those localities.”
How ludicrous is it for a regime of thugs armed to the teeth to call unarmed student and youthful protesters armed gangsters?
T-TPLF leaders and their fawning and bootlicking bottom feeders will spare no effort to demonize, criminalize, scandalize, sensationalize, criticize and brutalize their opponents.
How the T-TPLF made violent revolution inevitable
Last week Ethiopia’s foremost heroine of free press, Reeyot Alemu, declared she had joined Ginbot 7, a political organization committed to armed struggle against the T-TPLF.
In 2012, the T-TPLF had jailed Reeyot on bogus terrorism charges and sentenced her to 14 years in prison. She was released in July and arrived in the U.S. a few weeks ago.
Reeyot explained why she decided to join the armed struggle against the T-TPLF:
Is there no “opportunity for peaceful struggle” left in Ethiopia?
Reeyot’s statement that there is no opportunity for peaceful struggle left in Ethiopia is a question of profound importance for every Ethiopian. It is a question whose answer will determine decisively and irreversibly the future of Ethiopia. (The future of the T-TPLF is already determined. It has no future!)
Reeyot’s statement raises profound questions in my own thinking and the struggle I have waged against the T-TPLF criminals ceaselessly for nearly 10 years.
First let me say that I have the highest respect for Reeyot. I have the greatest appreciation for her sacrifices. I have great admiration for her defiance of the T-TPLF.
Reeyot refused to kneel down before the T-TPLF gods and ask for pardon and mercy. She stood her ground and refused to be intimidated, humiliated and dehumanized by the T-TPLF in prison.
When I heard Reeyot said “there is no opportunity for peaceful change in Ethiopia”, I felt like I was struck by lightning.
If I believed Reeyot was simply articulating her personal views, I would have treated her statement as a mere expression of her personal beliefs.
But Reeyot speaks for her generation, the 70 percent of young Ethiopians, like no one I know.
Reeyot resonates and echoes the despair, hopelessness, anguish, tribulation and resolve of her generation. She speaks for and is a messenger of Ethiopia’s young people.
When Reeyot delivers the message that there is no opportunity for peaceful struggle left in Ethiopia, that is a game changer for me.
As I contemplated Reeyot’s statement, I asked myself what the alternative choice is to peaceful struggle. Is it armed struggle?
When a gang of thugs publicly pledges to take “merciless actions” against unnamed protesters, indiscriminately shoots into protesting crowds, detonates hand grenades in the midst of worshippers, jails and tortures opponents, steals elections and claims to have won by 100 percent of the votes, the choice is not between peaceful and armed struggle.
No! No! The choice is NOT between peaceful struggle and armed struggle; the choice is between cowardice and violence.
I think Reeyot reached the spiritual tipping point Gandhi reached when he wrote, “The Doctrine of the Sword”:
I believe Reeyot reached the point where she was forced to accept permanent dishonor of Ethiopia by the T-TPLF or stand up and fight against the T-TPLF.
When facing and standing up to the military might, financial invincibility and total control of the T-TPLF, Reeyot re-proclaimed Gandhi’s declaration that “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
The indomitable will that has turned Reeyot away from the path of nonviolence is the courage of her convictions and her refusal to be afraid of the T-TPLF no more, to no longer accept humiliation and indignity from the T-TPLF.
Reeyot reached a point of “Enough is Enough!” I believe all Ethiopians have reached a point of “Enough is Enough!”
Reeyot’s decision, and I believe her decision reflects the views and will of the vast majority of her generation, to abandon the path of nonviolence and choose between cowardice and violence has caused me to question my own beliefs and relentless nonviolent personal struggle I have waged against the T-TPLF and its international supporters for nearly 10 years.
My long time readers of my very long essays will recall that I joined the human rights struggle in Ethiopia after the late T-TPLF leader ordered the massacre of hundreds of unarmed protesters following the 2005 election.
When I started my personal struggle for human rights in Ethiopia, I was convinced of three things: 1) Peaceful change in Ethiopia is not only possible but inevitable. 2) Meles Zenawi and the T-TPLF have set Ethiopia on fire, and fire fighters like me are needed to fight the fires of tribal hate, ethnic division, domination and antagonism and inequality and injustice. 3) Violence (the “law of the brute”) as a means of social change is immoral, barbaric and inhuman.
Gandhi taught that “nonviolence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the brute. The spirit lies dormant in the brute and he knows no law but that of physical might. The dignity of man requires obedience to a higher law to the strength of the spirit.”
I believed and still believe the law of the human species is nonviolence. But I also realize that “merciless” violence inflicted on the human species can transform humanity to respond to the brute with brutish means.
In August 2006, I wrote a commentary related to HR 5680 (Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006) in which I declared my philosophy for political change in Ethiopia. I said we bring change by winning the hearts and minds of the people:
Just a few days before ringing in 2016, I have come to realize that the T-TPLF has broken the hearts of the Ethiopian people beyond repair by 24 years of abuse; inflamed their hearts by 24 years of injustice; hardened their hearts by 24 years of indignity and humiliation; embittered their hearts by 24 years of exploitation; sickened their hearts by 24 years of corruption and today steeled their hearts by 24 years of tyrannical brutalization.
The heartbeats of the Ethiopian people have been transformed into the drumbeats of armed struggle and war.
As I look back at my relentless nearly ten-year struggle against abuse of power, tyranny and for human rights violations and for democracy, justice and human rights in Ethiopia, I am overwhelmed by the feeling that all of my efforts for peaceful change have been for naught. They did not amount to a hill of beans.
All of the unsolicited advice and warnings I gave to the T-TPLF and its leaders to change their ways, to mend their ways have gone unheeded.
All of my pleas to the T-TPLF to let up on its repression, to become more humane and just and to listen to the people have all fallen on deaf ears.
The fire I tried to put out in Ethiopia is now smoldering in every part of the country.
Many of my longtime readers remember my 2007 allegorical piece “The Hummingbird and the Forest Fire”.
In that piece I likened myself to the tiny hummingbird firefighter trying to put out a forest fire by carrying water in her beaks.
Is peaceful change still possible in Ethiopia?
I do not know factually if peaceful change is possible in Ethiopia anymore.
What I know for sure is that my dreams of building an Ethiopian “City Upon a Hill” are dissolving fast.
What I know for sure is that my efforts to educate and train our young people in the peaceful but unyielding ways of fighting the fires of ethnic division, human rights violation and tyrannical abuse of power are fast giving way to fighting fire with fire.
What I know for sure is the people of Ethiopia have resolved to get rid of the T-TPLF by force of arms because they have concluded the T-TPLF is impervious to reason, deaf to dialogue, discussion and debate and resolved in its decision to plunge the country and itself into the conflagration of civil war.
So it seems present events have made me the only person who still indulges in the illusion of peaceful change; the only person who believes in his wishes of peaceful change against overwhelming facts of change by force of arms; the only person who hopes peaceful change is still possible when hope has dimmed and defiant despair is becoming triumphant; the only person who preaches the ways of nonviolence to empty pews.
It seems I am the only person who still nurtures dreams of an Ethiopia at peace with itself and neighbors because it has undergone peaceful change.
In July 2012, when the late T-TPLF leader passed away, I wrote a commentary entitled, “Dreams of an Ethiopia in Peace”.
I called for the “beginning of national dialogue, not only in the halls of power, the corridors of the bureaucracy and the military barracks but also in the remotest villages, the church and masjid meeting halls and other places of worship, the schools and colleges, the neighborhood associations and in the taverns, the streets and markets and wherever two or more people congregate. We have no choice but to begin talking to each other with good will and in good faith.”
I dared to dream of an Ethiopia at peace because “Some men see things and say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’”
I dared to believe we can all walk in Nelson Mandla’s footsteps.
I dared to dream of a nation of utopian Ethiopians! Why not?
In my “Dreams” commentary, I cited Scripture to argue there is “a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”
After over two decades of T-TPLF rule, “What time is it in Ethiopia now?” I asked.
I said the time to talk and act is now! It is time to act now for peaceful change!
But my words, it seems have fallen on deaf ears and scattered to the wind.
As 2015 comes to a close, I think the people of Ethiopia hear the words of the great American revolutionary Patrick Henry more loudly and more clearly than my puny pleas and protestations for peaceful change:
Believe it or not, I still believe in the possibility of peaceful change in Ethiopia.
I so believe not because the facts in Ethiopia today support my view; not because my belief is supported in the opinion of the Ethiopian people; not because I believe the T-TPLF has learned its lesson in its 11th hour; not because I believe the T-TPLF will act in its own enlightened self-interest and seek to avert conflict and bloodshed; not because the great powers that be will intervene and pressure the T-TPLF to its senses, not because…
I still believe in the possibility of peaceful change in Ethiopia because I am a utopian Ethiopian.
To be continued...