Desta Hailu 05-02-17
It has been said many times that the system that is being built in our country is a self-corrective one. Its manifestations are the actions the government took at various times on good governance problems, corruption or other national problems by basing it on rule of law. It shows that the system has a corrective mechanism to solve problems that are created within the government.
This type of self corrective mechanism is implemented in any country that adheres to a democratic system. The aforementioned self corrective mechanism and the recently implemented deep renewal process are expressions of this mechanism. Through these mechanisms, it has been confirmed sure that any part of the government or political party cannot be ahead of the law.
Even we recall the very recent one; the deep renewal process undertaken throughout the country by EPRDF and its partner organizations with the forefront participation of the public, actions like holding thousands of government officials accountable, demoting and relieving them of their duties, warning etc … have been taken. The evaluation and assessment carried out on government officials that were frustrating the public and using government power/seat for their own personal gain shows that the deep renewal process; which took place with the active participation of the people, shows the process is going through the right direction.
This issue I raised above shows the Ethiopian government follows a self corrective system and that nobody in the country can be above the law. This kind of effort of the government protects its citizens’ human and democratic rights. It shows that everyone is equal before the law and shows that no one can hide from being held accountable for the problem they cause.
This self corrective mechanism/approach of the system was recently at play through one of the democratic institutions of the country - the FDRE Human Rights Commission. The commission has recently presented its report regarding human rights violation that occurred in light with the unrest that occurred in some Oromia and Amhara regions from July 2015 to September 2016, and an ethic conflict that erupted in Gedeo zone, Southern region. The report; which was presented by the Director of the commission Dr. Addisu Iyasu, stated that 669 civilian people and members of the security forces have lost their lives due to the unrest in the mentioned areas.
As per the investigation report of the commission, 495 of the people that lost their lives to the unrest died in the unrest that occurred in Oromia region, the rest lost their lives due to the unrest that occured in Amhara and Southern regions. In an investigation the commission undertook in 15 zones and 91 woredas in Oromia region, it has also outlined the causes and reasons that exacerbated the situation as well.
Deep rooted good governance problems and human rights violation, unemployment, delay and scrapping of development programs, and the benefit Oromia region has on Addis Ababa not being enacted by law and implemented are mentioned as causes. As to the factors that exacerbated the situation, the report mentioned OLF; a group labeled as terrorist by our country, Oromia Media Network (OMN) and other Medias that played negative role in their bid to realize their own political interest on the back of the publics’ frustration.
The report stated there was a battle in eastern Arsi, Bale, Western Guji and Guji zones. The report also indicated that as there was full day battle taking place in south western and western Shoa zones, Sodo, Ada Berga, Meta Robi, Denbi, the measure taken by the security forces was legal, proportionate and appropriate.
On the other hand, it was said that the 14 prisoners that were killed by security officers when they tried to escape from Adami Tulu prison was not legal, proportionate and necessary. The report also stated that as the demonstration that took place in Bale zone, Robe city and Raytu woreda did not involve guns and arms, the measures taken by the security forces; which led to the deaths of two people, was not proportionate.
It was also stated that the measure taken in eastern and western Harrerghe zones in Aweday city that led to the deaths of 28 people was illegal and disproportionate. In addition to this, it was indicated that the deaths of 12 people in Nekemte city, western Wollega was illegal and disproportionate as well. In general, the commission has suggested government officials at every level that didn’t take the necessary measure when it was known that unrest and violence will erupt in Oromia to face justice, and also stated that security officers that killed 14 inmates of Adami Tulu correctional prison should be charged with crime. The commission has also suggested to the parliament that OLF and its collaborators and leaders and members of Oromo Federalist Congress should be hold accountable. The commission also said that 110 civilian people and 30 members of the security forces have lost their lives in the the unrest and oppositions that took place at various zones in Amhara region. The commission also indicated that 276 civilians and 100 security forces have been injured. The cause of the unrests that occurred in the region was attributed by the commission to deep rooted good governance problems, injustice, land allocation problem, unfair taxation and rising living cost.
The delay in solving the Wolqait issue, a propagation that claimed Amhara land has been sold to Sudan, the uncorrected regional map in civic student text books were also mentioned as factors that exacerbated the issue. The commission; which stated that there have been disproportionate killing in Amhara region, has stated that there have been disproportioned killing in Gondar Azezo, Denbiya, Wenbera, Debark, Debre Tabor, Semada, Enjibra and Dangela.
The commission also said that it had verified through its investigation that 12 security forces and 4 civilians were killed in the action taken by the Federal anti-terror taskforce to apprehend suspects, and added that the actions taken in this regard was legal. The report also indicated that 11 thousand 678 Tigrayans were dislocated as a result to ethnic based attack that took place in Amhara region. Thus, the commission suggested for the culprit that are responsible for the deaths, injury and destruction of material that occurred as a result to the unrest and violence to face before the law.
In similar manner, 34 people have been killed as a result to the ethnic focused conflict that erupted in four woredas and two city administrations in Gedeo zone, and the commission added that the cause of the conflict was lack of good governance equal benefits, unwillingness of the zone administration to accept and implement the decision of court with regards to Gimbo market center at Dilla city to be given to Sainden share company, and the propagation made to force out members of ethnicities other than Gedeo from the zone.
In addition to those that have died, 178 people were injured, and 8 thousand 450 people from various ethnicity other than Gedeo were dislocated from their homes. The commission also suggested for government officials that are responsible to be hold accountable. The commission also put forward its suggestion to the parliament for Gedeo Peoples Democratic organization (GPDO), leaders of the zone and police to be brought before the law for their role in instigating and organizing role on the unrest. After deliberating upon the report, the parliament passed the report on April 2017.
I think anyone who read the commission report and the decision of the parliament can understand two things. One is anyone can understand from the report that the FDRE Ombudsman Institution is strengthening its capacity from time to time. Considering that the institution’s report is based on study, identified the causes of the problem, and was neutral and fair and put every entity responsible, it is not hard to understand this. Second, as a democratic institution, the commission has shown that the system is self corrective and anyone cannot be above the law.
Thus, in my belief, as such type of institution helps ensure and build upon our country’s democracy; it shouldn’t be replaced by any foreign forces. Instead it should be supported to further build its capacity and help it carry out even more action than it has been doing. Like any other country, those that should investigate problems that occur in Ethiopia are institutions the country established, and not foreign forces.
Pseudo human rights advocacy groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that are after ideology sell cannot have a place in this country – and they shouldn’t. This is because the sovereign power holders of this country are the nation, nationalities and people of this country and not foreign forces. We should be solving our problems ourselves, and not through a democracy that is run by the consent and approval of foreign forces.
Therefore despite some problems in their capacity, the FDRE human rights commission and ombudsman institutions should be applauded for the fact that they are carrying out their tasks neutrally and by siding with the people. As their allegiance is to their people only, these institutions are not organized as pseudo human rights advocacy group like the lights of human rights watch.
Thus these forces can only work for those who pay them; and cannot undertake their responsibilities by holding government bodies, terrorists, oppositions and individuals accountable as per their wrong doing just like the report of the commission did. Then again they can’t know about us more than ourselves. They cannot replace us and work for our own interest in our place. Considering that the commission’s report is credible and is also one way where the system corrects itself, it cannot be put together on the same term as with neo-liberal ideology demagogues.
When the work of the commission fully incline towards the people, the neo-liberal demagogues will not back from assigning all the wrongdoing to one side in the interest of the entity that pays them. And such type of unfair and unjust approach cannot help outside of strangling our bourgeoning democracy. So, we should be making huge effort in order to make sure that the system will not be suffocated by these neo-liberal extremists.
The system corrects itself because it is the system itself that would suffer if it is unable to realize the peoples’ human and democratic rights. Thus, the political meddling of foreign ideology demagogues that sells under the guise of human rights cannot in any way replace the system’s strict commitment to self correct. Therefore, I believe that institutions like human rights commissions should be supported and encouraged.