My Comment on this young Ethiopian Compatriot and other Relevant Issues
(By Assefa Negash – email@example.com ) (To read the article in PDF, click here)
Very interesting Ethiopian of Oromo origin who critically questions the fallacies the Oromo ethno-nationalists have been spreading about our past history. He raises relevant questions & challenges Oromo nationalists to answer his questions. He calls for the solidarity of Amaras & Oromos. He affirms the significance of Adwa victory as a national heritage & legacy to be proud of. The only naivety he demonstrates in the final part of his presentation is his belief or conviction that some of the founders of OLF who have now created ODF i.e. the Oromo Democratic Front (Lencho Letta et al) have shifted their political position & are working for Ethioipia. This is not true. All Oromo nationalists running the whole gamut from OLF to Oromo Federalist Congress of Ato Bultcha Demeksa/Merrerea Gudina/Bekele Gerba to OPDO welcome & cherish the ethnic federalism TPLF had adopted since 1991. Listen to Bati Lencho (ODF’s leading cadre) speech made in Seattle, USA recently about the commonalities TPLF and his organization share when it comes to ethnic federalism. And we have seen where ethnic federalism leads to in the last 26 years. Ethnic federalism has frozen ethnic identities, created ethnic boundaries and walls, denied Ethiopians the right to move and live in all parts of Ethiopia as free right-bearing citizens whose rights are not curtailed, circumscribed or violated on account of their ethnic identity. Ethnic federalism finally leads to the break-up of a nation as we have clearly witnessed in former Yugoslavia. All Oromo ethno-nationalists agree on the sanctity or holiness of the ethnic federalism the TPLF has enshrined into a governing law of the country. This ethnic federalism project has led to destruction, displacement of millions of people, ethnic cleansings, inter-ethnic conflicts, etc that we have widely witnessed in the past 26 years. Despite all these clear destruction ethnic federalism has brought to Ethiopia, all Oromo ethno-nationalist groups, including OLF & Oromo organizations legally operating within Ethiopia such as the Oromo Federalist Congress adhere strongly to this divisive ethnic federalism project which they see as a democratic gain that has brought good to Oromos. The final outcome of this project is the disintegration of Ethiopia on ethnic lines and the emergence of new nations such as Oromia, Ogadenia, etc. There are already clear signs that we are heading towards this scenario.
Federalism cannot be practiced in a society where basic democratic rights based on individual rights do not exist. The present Ethiopian constitution, which takes as its point of departure the supremacy of group rights over individual rights, does not recognize the existence and legal rights of a right-bearing individual Ethiopian citizen who can move about, live and work in every nook and cranny of Ethiopia of his/her choice. Rights are given to vague collective entities known as nations, nationalities and peoples that are manipulated at will by TPLF through its satellite organizations bearing the name PDOs (People’s Democratic Organizations such as OPDO, SEPDO, etc). Under the present ethnic federalism structure, which created ethnic enclaves where minority ethnic groups are considered persona non grata and have no rights whatsoever, an Amara or Gurage, Kembata, Welaita, Hadiya, etc has no rights to speak of in the so-called Oromia or Somali state. This is also what justified the ethnic cleansings we witnessed during the last 26 years. It is this ethnic federal project that all Oromo organizations vow to maintain at any cost even after TPLF will have disappeared. One has to read the political program of the Oromo Federalist Congress which clearly states that it is committed to the ethnic federalism project. All Oromo ethno-nationalists know where this would lead to, i.e the disintegration of Ethiopia and the emergence of new independent countries known as Oromia state, Ogadenia state, etc. Ethnic federalism leads to the break-up of Ethiopia that would subsequently lead to the creation of the new Oromia state. It is any one’s guess what will follow when the independent Oromia state is declared by Oromo ethno-nationalists. Ethnic cleansing of millions of non-Oromos from Oromia, including Finfine (present day Addis Ababa) will be a fact. It was none other than Dima Negewo (who is now one of the leaders of the deceptive Oromo Democratic Front that is flirting with the Mafia-type cabal dubbed Ginbot 7, who declared in September 1990 at a public conference held in Mulheim (Germany) the following statement to a question raised as to what OLF is fighting for. Dima, who spoke at the conference as the leader and representative of OLF, stated that “the goal of OLF is to liberate Oromia and enter Finfine and declare the independence of Oromia state”. At this point, an Ethiopian from among the audience asked him by saying:
“Mr. Dima, what you refer to as Finfine is the present Addis Ababa. What will happen to the majority of non-Oromos who now live in Addis Ababa?“. Dima Negewo emphatically stated “We would open a corridor and let non-Oromos out“. When I confronted Dima when he came to Rotterdam the next year as information minister of Ethiopia under the TPLF regime, he denied that he said it but admitted that somebody else said it. The fact is there were more than 200 Ethiopians at the conference. And one Ethiopian guy who can witness that Dima uttered the above lines still lives in Holland in addition to me who has now brought this issue to the fore. My point is let us not be fooled by ethno-nationalists who change their political gear for tactical reasons while holding firm to their ethno-nationalist agenda of creating a new Oromo state on the ruins of Ethiopia. Today, this same guy by the name of Dima Negewo, whose organization has been fighting for independent Oromia, is trying to double up as a patriotic Ethiopian by using the power-thirsty Diasporic cabal group called Ginbot 7 as a front in order to delude or cheat gullible Ethiopians into believing that a section of the OLF has changed its political course radically by embracing Ethiopia. Nothing has changed about Oromo ethno-nationalists operating outside Ethiopia like the OLF or ODF and others within Ethiopia (like the Oromo Federalist Congress) with regard to their project of creating an independent Oromia state. Both the OLF and the other legally operating Oromo ethno-nationalist organizations within Ethiopia have a common agenda i.e. the creation of a new Oromia state on the ruins of Ethiopia. And Oromo nationalism has made significant strides in the direction of an independent Oromia state thanks to the ethnic-based administrative Killils TPLF and OLF have created in Ethiopia at the July 1991 so-called Peace Conference held in Addis Ababa. Actually the plan to break-up Ethiopia along ethnic lines was agreed upon between OLF, TPLF and EPLF at a meeting held at Senafe in Eritrea before the July 1, 1991 conference held in Addis Ababa. Lencho admitted that he was the author of the initial draft of what came to be known as the July 1991 Charter. It was this draft of Lencho Letta which was discussed and agreed upon at the Senafe meeting in Eritrea which later became the Charter on which the current ethnic division of Ethiopia is based. It was this Charter that was later adopted at the July 1, 1991 so-called Peace Conference convened by TPLF and at which current OLF leaders became prominent luminaries.
Ethno-nationalists cannot bring about democratization of any society because ethno-nationalism hates democracy which envisages a society constituted by freely-thinking and freely-acting individuals in a political and legal context where the supremacy of individual rights as against group rights are enshrined, as in all truly democratic countries, including those with federal arrangement such as USA and Germany. All ethno-nationalists from TPLF to those opposed to it such as the OLF, Oromo Federalist Congress, etc abhor or hate a democratic and legal political system where the supremacy of individual rights reigns supreme. So does it make sense to believe that the leading OLF cadres of yester-years have now changed their political conviction in order to democratize Ethiopia?. Nothing has changed about them and nothing good would come from Oromo or other ethno-nationalists that would heal Ethiopia’s festering wounds.
Ethnic federalism cannot be a basis for a truly democratic order. And there is nothing democratic about federalism based on ethnic identity. As far as I am concerned, none of the current Oromo organizations are willing to reject the ethnic federalism poison that is contained in the current TPLF constitution. In fact they are out there to defend it to death. The Oromo Democratic Front is nothing more than something launched as a tactical ploy by Oromo ethno-nationalists who are opposed to the emergence of a democratic system based on the recognition of the supremacy of individual rights over group rights in Ethiopian society. ODF is out to trick or beguile gullible and uninformed Ethiopians into believing that former OLF leaders are working for the unity of Ethiopia. Nothing is further from the truth. How can an organization like ODF, which is committed to the implementation of the divisive ethnic federalism project contained in the current TPLF constitution work for the democratization of Ethiopia and the unity of its people?. Let me elaborate the fallacy of the claim by ODF or other Oromo organizations such as the legally operating Oromo Federalist Congress based in Ethiopia that they are committed to democratization of Ethiopia and its unity. Under ethnic federalism, Ethiopia has been geographically and linguistically/ethnically reconfigured as Oromia, Amara, Tigrai, Somali, Afar, etc ethnic enclosures or Killils. This has created ethnic majorities and ethnic minorities in all these Killils. In other words this ethnic federalism has created two types of Ethiopians in every Killil, i.e. those who are considered sons of the soil (indigenous people) and those who are considered (new-comers or aliens). The latter groups have no rights to talk of claim. Those who belong to the ethnic majority group in each Killil have all legal rights and enjoy the right to elect and be elected. They have the right to property, legal protection, etc. But those dubbed minorities in all these ethnic Killils are treated as dirt or second class citizens. They have no rights to claim, no legal rights to protest the political, economic and legal discrimination they experience as minorities while living in these ethnic Killils or enclosures although they are born in these regions. This is how in the Ethiopia of TPLF, groups like Amaras, Gurages, etc who find themselves dispersed in many parts of Ethiopia have been turned overnight into minority people with no rights whatsoever. It is on the basis of this ethnic federalist project contained in the Ethiopian constitution and which all Oromo ethno-nationalist organizations support that the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of particularly Amaras and to some extent Gurages, Kembatas, etc has been undertaken.
So as one can observe from the foregoing example, ethnic federalism which ODF and all other Oromo organizations support, cannot be the basis of a democratic system that creates a political system where all Ethiopians can enjoy equal legal rights. A truly democratic system does not create two types of citizens in one society – one with right and the other without rights. It is only a racist or an apartheid-like system which creates two different types of citizens as we now see in Ethiopia. It is not equality but grotesque inequality that ethnic federalism has created in Ethiopia. Ethnic federalism creates a system that discriminates against particular members of society on the basis of their ethnic identity. As such it is an exclusive system that justifies the human rights violations of those who are identified as ethnic minorities. A democratic system does not exclude any one because he/she happens to be a member of this or that ethnic group as happens under ethnic federalism. Democracy does not ride rough-shod over others because they happen to be members of other ethnic groups as we are witnessing today in Ethiopia with the Amaras, Gurages, Kembatas, Welaitas, etc who live outside their designated Killis and experience discrimination. On account of all this, ethnic federalism, far from building democracy, it rather opposes democracy. Democracy is based on the protection of the rights of individuals irrespective of their linguistic or ethnic affiliation or identity. That is the reason why Ethiopians should not for a second entertain the idea that deceptive outfits such as the Oromo Democratic Front or its local counterpart known as the Oromo Federalist Congress are any different from the secessionist OLF. The fact that a hoaxer such as the former Dergue ESEPHA cadre Beyan Hussien Asoba (who hails from western Hararghe) make deceptive speech in Amharic about Ethiopian unity, should not delude or deceive Ethiopians into believing that Oromo ethno-nationalists have changed their goal of creating independent Oromia state. Oromo ethno-nationalists of all political stripes may change their tactics but their insistence on the continuation of ethnic federalism as an appropriate political system for Ethiopia even after TPLF will have been removed from power, only points to their strategic goal of realizing or materializing the independence of Oromia.
Do not forget how these same individuals who used to be leaders of OLF (now calling themselves leaders of ODF) opposed the outcome of the May 2005 elections in which Kinijit or CUD put to shame all those ethnic-based groups by attracting a huge support from among many Ethiopians across the ethnic or religious divide. Go and read the communique or statement OLF posted on its website rejecting the outcome of the election in which Kinijit or CUD came out as a preponderant political force within Ethiopia. Do not forget what the elderly man Ato Bultcha Demeksa uttered in a pal-talk interview with Ethiopians when he falsely identified the CUD with a particular ethnic group by stating that “the CUD was an Amara organization“. Oromo ethno-nationalists, like all ethno-nationalists, are anathema or allergic to the very idea of democracy. Ethno-nationalism is about creating boundaries, i.e. cultural, political and psychological boundaries so that elites from one ethnic group (say ethnic group A) can prevent healthy competition from another ethnic group (say ethnic group B). Any one Ethiopian can see for himself how divided Ethiopia has become in the last 26 years. Ethnic federalism has only created mutual suspicion, hatred, enmity and division in Ethiopian society that helped a minority Tigrean group to thrive on the corpse of non-Tigreans. If there is any ethnic group which has visibly benefitted from ethnic federalism, it is members of the Tigrean ethnic group. Of course some elites from other ethnic groups who serve as fronts to TPLF have benefitted from the current system. Add to this also the Adare or Harari minority ethnic group and groups such as the minority Silte group that have visibly identified themselves with the ruling Tigreans. Even for the Tigrean ethnic group members, once TPLF & the apartheid regime it has created is removed out of power, their future existence in an ethnically divided Ethiopia will not be an easy one given the deep resentment they created against themselves within the larger Ethiopian society. It is not without good reason that individuals like myself have rejected the new coalition set up by the power-thirsty Ginbot 7 cabal group & ODF recently. We have seen how some gullible individuals bearing the name intellectual were quick to appear publicly (courtesy of Ginbot 7 owned ESAT tv) to praise the “new initiative” launched by G7 and ODF, etc. One has also to see the long & invisible hands of EPLF in the new project of G7 and ODF. This new project is a deceptive outfit meant to save Ethiopia from destruction. Do not forget how EPLF created Alliance For Democracy (AFD) in May 2006 following the electoral victory of Kinijit or CUD that sent a shock wave down the spines of Oromo ethno-nationalists and the Eritrean government which saw the emergence of a pan-Ethiopian democratic group commanding the support of many Ethiopians as a deadly common threat to both of them. Many gullible Ethiopians were misled then by this EPLF/OLF project. The AFD project launched by these two groups with the help of power-thirsty individuals, some of whom later emerged as leaders of Ginbot 7, succeeded in dividing and weakening the supporters of Kinijit or CUD in the Diaspora. We are again witnessing the repetition of the same process now. This time, Eritrea is using the power-thirsty Mafia-type cabal known as Ginbot 7 and the new OLF known as ODF that has emerged with a new deceptive outfit.
Eritrea has proved to be a poison to Ethiopia since its creation by Italians in 1890. Since 1890, for the most part nothing good can come out of Eritrea to Ethiopia. This former province of Ethiopia, whose population takes pride in its colonial identity and slave name called Eritrea, has done more harm than good to Ethiopia since it was created as an Italian colonial enclave in 1890. Since 1890, Eritreans served as instruments of Ethiopia’s destruction first by serving their Italian masters in the invasion of Ethiopia in 1896 (at the battle of Adwa) and later in 1935-1941 as fascist soldiers in Mussolini’s army. Between 1935-1941 when Ethiopia was under fascist occupation as many as 100000 Eritrean served in the Italian fascist army and collaborated in killings that resulted in the death of 730000 Ethiopians. Italians have also employed and deployed their Somali and Libyan colonial subjects to kill and maim Ethiopians. Only some 400 Eritreans who defected from the Italian fascist army joined Ethiopian patriots and fought along their side. I respectfully remember these Eritreans who fought alongside our people. From 1961-1991 Eritrean nationalists served as Trojan horses in the destruction of Ethiopia by fighting Ethiopia from within and serving foreign powers (from near and afar) bent on the destruction of Ethiopia. I am an Ethiopian who regrets that Eritrea was united with Ethiopia in the 1950’s. That was a big mistake and miscalculation on the part of the leaders of Ethiopia then who could not grasp the danger lurking behind the incorporation of the Eritrean population (that took pride in their newly-found slave identity called Eritrea) into Ethiopia. In 1992 the Eritrean leader Esaias Afewerki told an Italian newspaper named Correo de la Sierra saying that “Colonialism is evil but Italian colonialism was blessed or holy”. Italian colonialism brought to Eritreans nothing other than humiliation, degradation, racial segregation, low social status, etc. Far from resenting Italian colonial rule, Eritreans think that they are more civilized than the people of Ethiopia because of Italian colonial rule. I have hardly seen any Eritrean resenting Italian colonial rule as much as they resented Ethiopia in which many Eritreans basked in glory being the major business class of Ethiopia till 1998 when they were thrown out of Ethiopia by their Tigrean cousins with whom they destroyed Ethiopia. Ethiopians fought Italians at Adwa to prevent their degradation by Italian colonialists. Eritreans, who suffered all these degradations under Italian colonialist rule for 51 years, in fact took pride in their new-found Italian colonial identity and fought against Ethiopia for 30 years. The 30-years war of liberation fought by Eritreans was meant to defend the new Eritrean identity created for them by their Italian masters between 1890-1941. I am glad that Eritrea is no more part of Ethiopia and I am opposed to all those who hope to make Eritrea part of Ethiopia. Today, we increasingly hear of self-styled groups telling us that they are launching liberation fronts from their base in Eritrea to deliver Ethiopia from the jaws of Tigrean fascists. This is the kind of propaganda the ever deceptive cabal group Ginbot 7 is feeding to its gullible hordes. As the Amharic proverb aptly encapsulates it, one does not drink poison because he/she is thirsty (ውሃ ጠማኝ ተብሎ መርዝ አይጠጣም) as poison is deadly and fatal. Eritrean identity is a poison to Ethiopia and we should never expect anything good to come from any group claiming to liberate Ethiopia from its alleged military base in Eritrea or with the support of Eritreans. That is why we should reject any group claiming to work for Ethiopia with the support of EPLF or other Eritrean groups.
The participation of individuals like Major Dawit Woldegiorgis – a son of a notorious fascist collaborator whose father loyally served as a mouth-piece of Italian fascists & was later promoted by Emperor Haile Sellassie as minister – should be cause for alarm to all of us committed to the welfare of Ethiopia. Dawit had no qualms lying about his father’s alleged patriotic record on ESAT tv a few years ago. A powerful western government was behind the aborted coup d’etat project which was meant to decapitate or destroy the Ethiopian military brass (high ranking military officers) thereby facilitating the unhindered and swift march of TPLF & EPLF to Menelik’s palace in May 1991. Dawit was instrumental in facilitating the aborted May 1989 military coup d’etat which was deliberately destined to fail. The reason which promoted the staging of the aborted coup d’etat was the need to hasten the dissolution of the Dergue regime. To hasten the downfall of the Dergue regime, it was necessary to remove strong Ethiopian military generals that were leading the Ethiopian army fighting in Tigrai and Eritrea. Had the coup d’etat succeeded, it was clear that those generals killed by Dergue and who were involved in the coup d’etat could not have compromised on the national integrity of Ethiopia. As such an intelligent plan was designed by an intelligence office of a powerful Western nation. This plan envisaged the decapitation or beheading of the leadership of the Ethiopian army that would render the Ethiopian army leaderless. Once that was done, the independence of Eritrea and the enthronement of the TPLF would be a reality. It is here that the role of Dawit Wolde Giorgis became important since he is a military officer and highly placed former Degue official who had important contacts within Ethiopia and the army. Dawit played a key role as an agent of a powerful Western foreign power that sought a regime change in Ethiopia by bringing down the Dergue. The fact that the West wanted the downfall of the Dergue was already clear by the mid-1980s (anyone interested herein can read a book entitled “Without Troops and Tanks” by Mark Duffield & John Prendergast). Like his father Wolde Giorgis before him, Dawit has no qualms selling his country to the highest bidder. Using Dawit’s personal relationship with some of the coup d’etat leaders, those who sought to weaken Ethiopia were able to ensnare patriotic generals like Fanta Belay, Demissie Bulto, Amha Desta, etc who could not have compromised on the interest of their beloved Ethiopia. These generals could not have imagined that they have been ensnared and made to be part of a coup d’etat destined to be aborted in order to facilitate their own demises and the demise of the Ethiopian army and alongside the Dergue regime.
Just two years after the Ethiopian army brass were beheaded by that small guy called Mengistu H/Mariam and the Ethiopian army rendered leaderless, the final plan of enthroning TPLF and EPLF in Ethiopia and Eritrea became a fact. According to the plan of these powerful western backers of the two northern fronts, (the darlings of the West in the 1980’s) i.e. TPLF & EPLF, which were used by the West & neighboring Arab countries as pawns & instruments in the cold war conflict to dislodge the Soviet Union from Ethiopia and the horn of Africa, made it to power in May 1991. Because of this uncalled-for Western intervention in the internal affairs of Ethiopia, something not new to Ethiopia and which this country has repeatedly witnessed since the 19th century, the people of Ethiopia south of Tigrai have paid the highest price under a fascist Tigrean minority state that has effectively established an apartheid system that visibly benefits Tigreans by impovershing non-Tigreans since May 1991. This is how the TPLF created a fascist state premised on ultra-nationalist Tigrean nationalism that made its political debut in February 1975. The danger of Ethiopia’s disintegration does not seem to worry ethno-nationalists bent on creating their own new countries on the ruins of present-day Ethiopia. The result of 26 years of ethnic federalism political project has been generally negative for many Ethiopians. What will emerge out of this ethnic federalism project can only be a gloomy feature to all Ethiopians, including Tigrean ethno-nationalists, who currently feast on the corpse of Ethiopia by siphoning off Ethiopia’s wealth to create a prosperous Tigrai.
Although the emergence of critical Oromo young individuals like this guy is very encouraging and welcome, I am not so sure that many of the Quero (Oromo youth now in protest against TPLF) generation members that have been fed on the diet of hatred regarding anything thing Ethiopian, would reclaim Ethiopia with pride as this young & critical Ethiopian of Oromo origin did. But I have to say that the reflection of this young Ethiopian compatriot of Oromo origin is a very welcome development yet. I hope others will follow suit, albeit, gradually. For so long, lack of openness has allowed our society to be victim of medicores, hoaxers and individuals who commit treasonous act by repeatedly engaging themselves in destructive projects that harm the national interest of Ethiopia. Silence in the face of such destructive groups and individuals is nothing more than collaboration with them. As such let us raise our voice against such destructive forces, be them groups such as Ginbot 7, ODF/OLF or individuals that have repeatedly compromised the interest of Ethiopians like Dawit Wolde Giorgis (those interested to know more about the checkered history of Dawit Wolde Giorgis are advised to read “ፍረጅ ኢትዮጵያ፤ ሀገርና ሰራዊት – እሳካሁን ተደብቀው የኖሩ የሀገራችንና የሰራዊቱ ጉዳዮች” ከሻለቃ ጌታቸው የሮም). The Ethiopian culture of being silent in the face of destruction has done more harm than good. I believe that culture is created by people in a particular society for the purpose of serving these people. But when certain elements of a particular culture bring more harm than good to society, that culture has to change if that particular society that created that culture has to survive. I believe that Ethiopiawi Chewanent (ኢትዮጵያዊ ጨዋነት) that made us to be silent in the face of the destruction those from among our own ranks commit has to change. And it must change sooner than later. Finally let me say that I have mentioned names of leaders of organizations and individuals (something to be frowned upon by many Chewa Ethiopians ጨዋ ኢትዮጵያውያን) whose role in the affairs of Ethiopia I consider destructive. If any one of them would like to challenge me on any of the views I publicly stated herein, I am ready to take up the challenge and openly and publicly debate issues I raised herein as they are of public interest. በዚች ዓለም ውስጥ የምንኖረው አንድ ህይወት ነው፤ በዚች አጭር ህይወታችን ውስጥ ስለዛሬው የወገን ስቃይና ስለማያልፍ ታሪክና የሀገር ክብር እውነትን ተናግረን እንለፍ!!!!! እውነትን በመደበቅ ከአጥፊዎች ጋር አንተባበር!!! በኢትዮጵያ ጨዋነት ስም የዘለቀው ዝምታችን ሀገር አፍራሾችን በማበረታታቱ ደካማዎች ደጋግመው ሀገራችንን ጎዱብን፤ እነዚህ አጥፊ የሆኑ ሰዎች አደብ እንዲገዙ እውነቱን እንንገራቸው!!! በያለንበት ለሀገር ዘብ እንቁም!!!!