When HR 128 is requesting inclusiveness why it lacks transparency to incorporate others concerns?
By: W.Yilma November, 18/2017
One of the problem in Diaspora Ethiopian communities is lack of understanding the essence of unity in diversity. The majority of Ethiopians advocating unity without giving acknowledgement to our diversities, a cultural beauty to our country. Patriotism is not only defeating the enemy at war front or loving the flag and the country, but it includes also working hard to bring socio-economic development, make peace through reconciliation, consensus and compromise with those groups who have different ethnic backgrounds, opinions or interests. Because we lack to understand these issues either knowingly or subconsciously, we plead outsiders to replace us to bring change in our country. This is a sign of hopelessness bring neither peace nor political settlements in our country. We are the one who can bring changes, if we come to our mind and change the way we behaved, and the way we engage in our political arenas. Many Diaspora Ethiopians who are living in western countries have an opportunity to learn what democracy means, and enjoy life, to pursue their dreams, and respect others regardless of their political affiliation, race, religion and ethnicity. However, the mindset of some groups is completely impermissible to accept these values and to apply when it comes to their fellow Ethiopians. To change others, we need to change the way we think, and behave. Diaspora communities should understand that it is the people of Ethiopia who are the one who should decide their future by actively engaging in their country’s political process. There are ways and means Diaspora communities (which many of them changed their citizenship to their host countries) can contribute their share in positive way in helping and empowering the people to stand for their right if their right is violated by the government in power. I personally do think that the way some Diaspora “activist” are engaging in Ethiopian politics is not only destructive in its nature, but also very dangerous! What I understand in our political discourse is that the danger to our country is not only emanated from our diversities, but also from our collective ignorance, attitudes and hate driven extremism inherited from Marxist- Leninist ideology of the 60’s and 70’s. I know many readers may considered this as an insult or disgrace, but let’s face this reality not with emotions, but with our sanity of mind.
From the beginning the reason why many people turned their back to EPRDF is because of its policy in particular the implementation of the loose federal system without thorough discussions with the Ethiopian public; the acceptance of Eritrean independence without enough preparation and make Ethiopia landlocked country. No one will change these now, and it is better to accept todays reality that there are good starts in many fields and there are also still issues that concerns many of us. What is important to note here is that the Eritrean case bleed and drained our human and economic resources, and need a solution by any means. I wish we had centralized government that would satisfy all Ethiopians. Unfortunately, that time has already gone irreversibly and replaced by the current system, which is not easy to change without consequences. The only thing what we can do is to made a constitutional amendment to the loose federation with the aim to sustain the unity of Ethiopia for the next generation. On the other hand, no one denied the that the Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has created ethnic nationalism in Ethiopia. But this new ethnic based federalism brought two unexpected scenarios. The first is the rise of narrow nationalism in which some groups are seeking secession, and the second is the rise of chauvinism (advocating unitary centralized government). Both are endangering the unity of the country, and I think this mentality metastasize and start manifesting within the members of the ruling party coalition.
In Diaspora the supporters of these two groups are trying their best to create unholy alliance to disguise western politicians as if they both are advocates of human right and democracy in their country of origins. Unfortunately, because of their antagonistic nature, they both are unable to bring peace and unity for the Ethiopian people. What concerns me the most about these two and other satellite groups is that because of their relentless hate propaganda campaigns channeled from both sides to Ethiopia, ethnic hate which was previously sequestered among the elites is now widespread and start affecting the ordinary people’s life. As a result of this we are witnessing to see the loss of innocent human life due to sporadic conflicts between ordinary people of different ethnic backgrounds. It is also not unusual to see that whenever there is ethnic related clash back home, some Diaspora groups are cheering as if it is a victory for them to see when poor people are killing each other. Without question, the outside actor’s role in aggravating this and other problem is undeniable. Ethiopia has never seen in her entire history as today the interference of foreigners in her internal affairs. Because many of the Diaspora elites are the followers of dogmatic ideology “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” they intensified their efforts to invite more external actors to mingle in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. Regardless of our ethnic backgrounds or ideological differences, this should concern all of us. This is the reason why I decided to write this article to share and to express my opinion on the danger and long-term consequences of External actor’s involvements in our country’s internal affairs.
As we all know it is not unusual for United States of American politicians to prepared various laws in the form of bill against any foreign country when there is an issue that concern them or endangering their geo-political interest. Different bills were drafted by congress against Ethiopia and some passed and some failed. The new bill called House Resolution (HR) 128 is an extension of those previously failed bills. This bill was prepared and sponsored mainly by two congressmen, honorable Mike Coffman from Colorado and Chris Smith from New jersey. To put into effect this bill, some sectors of Diaspora Ethiopians communities and other foreign entities are actively participated in lobbying these and other congressmen (similarly the EPRDF is also spending considerable amount of money for counter attack). I am sure the money spent by both to lobby foreigners could build one or two modern hospital back home to serve thousands of poor Ethiopians. After I watched congressman Mike Coffman speech many questions came to my mind (Please watch the attached video below).
What is behind HR 128? Is this bill prepared to satisfy small groups interest who left their country in the 1970’s, ignoring millions of Ethiopians who may impacted by this bill? If it passes, what is the credibility or the objectivity of the testimonies given by those who does not know Ethiopia for more than 40 years? (it should be clear that with all the challenges, Ethiopia today is completely changed). My other concern is, the bill was prepared to satisfy those two social groups whom the congressman was mentioned in his speech. Why the congressman ignored others who have a concern about the motives and the way this bill was prepared? To what extent the congressman is sure that these two social groups whom he mentioned during his speech have common interest and aspirations with the people whom they claimed are representing? Is it fair to think that small elite’s groups should decide what is best and right for the nation, and their interest and aspiration is the same with the vast majorities of the ordinary Ethiopians people? Ethiopia is not only for few elites who are advancing their interest by overlooking public interest. The vast majority of Ethiopian populations are small scale farmers who are in the process of transforming themselves from subsistence to self-sufficient farming system. I am disturbed more to the tones and contents of Mike Coffman speech than the contents expressed in the bill. We Ethiopians should know that no one will know better than us to solve our internal problems and it is better to invest our time, money, knowledge and energy to achieve that. What is the problem and reasons hindering us from talking each other in our own internal matter? If we managed to reached out foreigners who does not have a clue to our internal affairs, what is the problem not to communicate each other’s to discuss our own affairs?
In general, it is not a crime to criticize or oppose the Ethiopian government policy or actions. What is not right is to give directive or commands to the Ethiopian government by another foreign country. It is not my intention either to argue here or to deny the importance of constitutional democracy and the need to respect human right or the separation of power between the three branches of the government. With all risks, this is the crucial for the survival of the country, and the government in power should understand this fact. Many Ethiopians (no matter what differences they have in their domestic politics) they don’t accept this kind of direct and open interference by foreigners.! I truly believe that there are ways and means for US congressmen to address this issue, if they truly have a concern the way the government is handling the human right and other related political issues. They can go to Ethiopia to see things by their own eyes, held constructive discussions with government officials and other domestic opposition groups. If all attempts failed there are diplomatic channels the US America should follow to send their messages to the Ethiopian government. I do think the congressman overlooked the objective reality of Ethiopia by overestimating Diaspora role in politics of Ethiopia, and the impressions the vast majority of Ethiopians have towards Diaspora communities. I am sure the recent visit by UN ambassador Nikki Haley and senators Inhoff who visited last month have different impressions about Ethiopia with congressman Coffman and Chris. What should be clear here is that external power involvement in one country’s internal affairs have always a consequence which sometimes can implant chronic problem to the country in question.
Scrutinizing the honorable Mike Coffman speech, with respect, it was carefully drafted to create more divisions among Diaspora Ethiopian diverse ethnic groups. Throwing words carelessly are easy, but understanding their repercussions are different. His speech to the congress exposed him that he knowingly sided or reflecting only two groups interest by ignoring the concerns of others. This kind of one sidedness is not expecting from a congressman who claims to serve the people equally. To me the HR 128 is nothing but a public relation effort to satisfy few and those foreign entities like the Human Watch and their surrogates organizations like US and Europe based environmental organizations who venomously opposing Ethiopia’s right to develop their national resources mainly for hydropower. Beside this, HR 128 overstep its limit and blatantly violated the sovereignty of Ethiopia. I see this as a pretext for foreigners to interfere in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. More importantly this bill is focusing only to the action taken by one side by ignoring the causes that leads the tragedy (loss of life) to happen. The bill completely ignored Diaspora sponsored media outlets (without ignoring the involvements of external actors in particular the Eritrea and Egypt governments) role in creating disorganized social unrest by disseminating fake and fabricated information’s to provoke the youth to take desperate actions and to ignite ethnic conflicts. We are witnessing how many infrastructures and manufacturing warehouses were destroyed and burnt to ash. We are witnessing the disruptions of the economic activities throughout the country and its implication to people’s daily life. We are witnessing the relentless efforts of Diaspora own media outlets spewing venomous hate to incite ethnic violence. We are witnessing the promises given to Egypt by some secessionist groups to stop the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam if they seize power! “I understand the development goals behind the GERD, but that development for Ethiopia in this case is a matter of life and death for Egypt” El-Sisi, November, 8 of this year in televised discussion during an opening of the largest fish farm in middle east. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/281712/-.aspx
We are witnessing how many infrastructures and manufacturing warehouses were destroyed and burnt to ash. We are witnessing the disruptions of the economic activities throughout the country and its implication to people’s daily life. We are witnessing the relentless efforts of Diaspora own media outlets spewing venomous hate to incite ethnic violence. I do not think the congressman is unaware of these realities.
When I expressed my opposition to HR 128, I am not denying the possibility of disproportionate action that may be taken by the regional states or federal governments security forces. If this has happened it must be addressed, and if necessary action must be taken against those who took disproportionate actions against the civilians. To get more trust, the government should be transparent and allow the public to participate in fact finding process. As far as I remembered report was submitted to the country ‘s parliament by the Ethiopian “human right” commission, and similar investigation are going on and this must be encouraging (the neutrality of this and others like ombudsman should be guaranteed by law). If the issue here is that the report is not reliable that is another thing which need another approach not HR 128 to twist the government arm to allow foreigners to come to Ethiopia and to investigate the “incidence”. Leave alone Ethiopia no country should allow this to happen. To me it is the citizen of that country who should decide the future of their country, and to challenge (if necessary with sacrifice) their government. US America democracy was built by the sacrifice of Americans not by foreigners. As far as I know, no country in our world implemented constitutional democracy by force or by imposition from outside power. If this is possible why the situation in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia does not show improvement? What is unique to Ethiopia is that in our entire history there is no time Ethiopians mange to solve their internal problem with the help of outsiders. In the contrary, history has shown that involvement of external power is the cause of all problem many countries including Ethiopia are facing today. I do think the tradition of Ethiopians in settling their own internal problem by themselves will continue in the future. Although Diaspora extremist are distorting and trying to exploit the events, at this crucial time where there are problems, the ongoing people to people visits and seminars held between different regional states is a reflection of this reality.
I said earlier that we Ethiopian should know that peace comes from us if we open our heart to accept those who have different opinion from us. Most of we forget to know that we are more alike than different. We have many challenges ahead due to many external actor’s involvements in our internal affairs in which HR 128 is one example. Groups who have a secessionist ideology effectively exploited the current situation as a good opportunity to achieve their goal in the name of human right and democracy (even though we all agreed that the existing system is not perfect in handling of human right issues and the implementation of democratic system). Similarly, other groups who are venomously opposing the current federal system, in the same fashion and in some case in coordination manner with the former are aggressively exploiting the situation without understanding the consequences of their actions. Let’s think for one moment, if we let foreigners to involve in our ethnic affiliated organizations of any form where does this end- up, and what will be the end result? All groups actions are full of anger with no purposes. I said this because, what efforts has been made by these and other groups to narrow differences between Ethiopians in their cities where diverse ethnic groups are living? If they are not interested or incapable to solve problems that are existing within Diaspora communities how could they solve the complex problems in Ethiopia from distance? To me the ultimate goal of both groups is to create power vacuum, a fertile ground for an external power intervention. Ethiopian Diaspora communities are badly divided and badly needs a force that could unite them with their diversities for common purposes. Voicing for human right or democracy is an empty slogan if f we do not respect our diversities. Let’s look first to ourselves to solve the problems in our backyards. Solving them will give us a strength to contribute our share in unison to improve human right and democracy back home. Our country badly needs people who think positively with sanity of mind, not those who think negatively with unstable mind!
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King.
On the other hand, no one denied the importance and the role of mass media in easing people’s daily life in many ways. But, we have to know that at this time some media outlets are acting as a fourth branch of governments. This is the reality and scariest scenario our world is facing today. How many of us scrutinize the information we consume from known and unknown fake media outlet? If we denied the destructive role some media outlets are playing in Ethiopian politics, we are part of the problem. It is time to think positively both the government in power and other opposition groups that our political culture need to be changed. The way we are handling our internal problem is completely wrong and dangerous, which need relentless efforts from all sides to find lasting solutions in civilized manner.
Finally, I want to raise my concerns about Ethiopian youth living both inside and outside the country. I am not sure if the old generation have a moral ground to be a role model for the youth to shape their future. I said this because, there are trends by some groups to use the youth as a scapegoat to achieve their narrow groups agendas. Burning manufacturing plants, vehicles, and dismantling infrastructures is not the best interest of the youth. The youth need them badly as a source of job opportunities. Every generation has its own socio-technological revolution. Understanding this we have to help in shaping the youth to follow the right direction. If we failed to understand this and left alone the youth to live by their own, that is the danger ahead where the future generation inherited a fragmented country, vulnerable to disintegration. Here in Diaspora there are clear symptoms of intolerance for diversity among the youth. I believe they contracted this “social disease” from their parents who have the same backward mind set. The youth should understand the danger of extreme narrow ethnocentric ideology and think critically not to drag to backward mentality as their parents are. We should not only appreciate western democracy as the bed rock for peace and mutual co-existence in diversities, but we should embrace and learn from it and help to implement to the society where they don’t have an opportunity as we have here.
I invite the readers to listen and watch the attached Amharic song video, Ethiopia!
Long Live Ethiopia!