OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR OF THE CITY OF TÜBINGEN
Am Markt 1
Dear Mr. Palmer:
As Germans of Ethiopian origin, We are writing to express our appreciation for your consideration of Mekelle as one of the three cities in Africa to be a partner city of Tübingen so that the cultural relations between the two historical cities can be enhanced through time. I wholeheartedly concur with your wise decision that Mekelle deserves to be a partner to your wonderful city, Tubingen.
However, We were caught with utter surprise when we saw Ethiopians, albeit few in number, stage demonstration against your decision on January 31, 2009. While it is sad to witness Ethiopians opposing a noble cause that could benefit both our cities, We can assure you that almost 99% of Ethiopians are behind your decision. We believe that the partnership between Mekelle and Tubingen not only can mutually promote the cultural relationships of the two cities, but also strengthens the centuries old friendly relationships of Ethiopia and Germany.
We understand that these people are entitled to their opinion, but opposing a partnership of two cities through demonstrations for cheap political gains is beyond the tenets of democracy, and borders insanity. Of course, the demonstrators tried to tell you unfounded horror stories about the current government; and thus the reason for the opposition of the proposed partnership of the two cities.
Quite contrary to the demonstrators’ false claim on the actions of the current Ethiopian govenment, Ethiopians enjoy unprecedented democracy for the first time in the nation’s more than 3000-year history. The Nations, Nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia highly appreciate the current democratic change and they are committed to embrace and foster it despite frequent calls to reverse the course of history by some of the opposition groups. The people of Ethiopia know quite well the difference between tyranny and freedom for they have experienced both under the previous governments and the current government respectively. It is ironic that the confidants of the previous govenment call the current democratically elected government a dictatorship when, in fact, many of the them served the Marxist junta, Mengistu Hailemariam, that killed many innocent Ethiopians as part of its “red terror” campaign.
The current government has brought so many positive changes to Ethiopia and to the way things used to function in the previous administrations. Below is a list of some of the accomplishments of the current government that I believe are worth mentioning:
● Constitution: The current government introduced a constitution in 1994, and ratified in 1995 that guaranteed every Nation, Nationality, and people in Ethiopia their unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession. Article 39 of the constitution further grants to every Nation, Nationality and people the right to speak, to write and develop its own language; to express and promote its culture; and to preserve its history.
● Elections: The current government has helped the Ethiopian people to conduct three National elections including the May 2005 parliamentary election that was hailed as fair and free election by world renowned election observers including the former U.S President Jimmy Carter and Observers from European countries.
● Education: Unlike the claims of the January 31, 2009 “Ethiopian” demonstrators in Tübingen, during the last 18 years, the current Ethiopian government has built more than two dozens of universities and hundreds of colleges all over Ethiopia. As a result, many Ethiopian students are benefiting from these universities and colleges throughout the country. Furthermore, the Ethiopian government, in collaboration with German contractors, plans to build twelve more universities in the near future.
● Economy: The government encourages free market through the Ethiopian Privatization Agency (EPA) that was established in February of 1994. Since then, business entities ranging from small retail trade outlets to large-scale enterprises have been privatized. The economy has been showing consistent growth against the odds of some drought years. As a proof, it is suffice to look at the statistics of the the last five years of the Ethiopian economy. As it can be verified by the World Bank and IMF, Ethiopia’s economy has shown an average growth of double digits for the last five consecutive years. Even at the time of global financial crises, the Ethiopian government expects to maintain a modest economic growth.
● The Justice System: Out of its conviction to justice, the government has established for the first time an independent court system that works for the people. In today’s Ethiopia, justice is served for every citizen; no innocent person gets penalized for a crime and no one is above the law. A case in point is the case of Ethiopian Pop Star Tewedros Kassahun (a.k.a. Teddy Afro) who was convicted of manslaughter of a homeless man in a hit-and-run after the court found him guilty of running down with his car and fleeing the scene without reporting the incident. Regardless of his pop star status, he had to face the law like any other citizen in the country. In the previous governments, however, this was not the case—people with power, political clout and/or money were able to commit serious crimes and let go without facing the consequences of their action.
● The Press: Consistent with the constitution it helped to materialize, the government has given licenses to more than a hundred private Newspapers and magazines in the country. The freedom of press is a milestone achievement for the people of Ethiopia for it was unheard of in the previous governments.
● Parliamentary system: The Ethiopian government, taking the Federal republic of Germany as a model, has introduced the first truly representative parliamentary system comprised of members elected directly by the people and responsible to the people.
In conclusion, the people of Mekelle in particular and the Ethiopian People in general appreciate your nomination of Mekelle as one of the three cities, and love to see your intention materialize for the mutual benefit of our sister cities. Hatred and ignorance of few individuals shouldn’t be rewarded; therefore, we hope that you make the right decision by selecting Mekelle.
More helpful links to know the reality regarding Ethiopia: