Open Request to the City Administration of Addis Ababa
Kelemu Smeneh April 14, 2014
By and large we have a well-functioning government
that is registering amazing results to the country as a whole. But sometimes,
the unexpected and unbelievable stories that come from Addis amaze me. Even
more, the strange and unexpected actions of the authorities in Addis, actions
that defy logic, makes me wonder how decisions are made and whether consequences
of these measures are assessed in a serious manner.
One such story is the proposed anti-gay
demonstration that is scheduled to take place in Addis on April 26, 2014. Since
the authorities did not refute the reported news my piece is based on the
assumption that there will be an anti-gay demonstration in Addis on the
The Addis Ababa city administration or any
organ of the government who gave the permission for the demonstration to take
place may argue that any group has the right to request and get the approval to
hold a demonstration. This maybe right in almost all cases except in
situations where such action impinges on the right of others and undermines
their personal rights.
In my opinion the proposed demonstration,
for the following reasons, is illegal and at worst, casts a negative picture on
From the outset it should be acknowledged
that the state does not have any business in the ‘bedrooms’ of the nation where
relationships based on consensual agreement take place. The nation and its
instruments are created for the purpose of safeguarding the common aspirations
of society based on its constituted rules and regulations. Hence,
demonstrations that target particular group of people should be considered as
harassment and intimidation to say the least. And the state shall not sanction
or be part of a group or allow a group to conduct hateful and harassing acts.
The facts that it is religious group that
are conducting these demonstrations speak volumes about these groups trying to
impose their wishes upon others. It should not be allowed to proceed.
Even if one assumes, (and this could be
99.5% true), that the Ethiopian people are against gay relationship, imposing a
majority wish on a small minority is not the right thing to do. It is the law
that is the basis for determining what is wrong or right. Imagine, (setting
aside the argument that this is a silly example), one group coming out and
asking permission to demonstrate against a small population in Ethiopia that
eats pork. Should that be allowed too? Not at all.
Now let’s see what the political
repercussion of letting this demonstration take place.
As far as I know the Ethiopian state is not
least concerned about the sexual preferences of its citizenry. Its
preoccupation is with eradication of poverty and building the image of the
country through fast development. As it is all types of ‘lords of poverty’ are
ganging up on this nation due to outright jealousy, but mainly because
development runs contrary to their self-interest – their existence. They hate
to see positive pictures, hear good news coming out of Ethiopia. The proposed
demonstration is a welcome news to them.
Already the United States Embassy in
Ethiopia is advising its citizens to stay put and not leave their house on that
day. Gay groups and the western media are lambasting the country.
And for what possible gain is this country
allowing itself to be attacked by all diverse groups by providing unnecessary
munitions? A serious government knows issues worthy fighting for.
There is one important thing one should consider
in this saga. It is not the belief of this writer that traditional religious groups
of Ethiopia are the source of this new found issue. One should be suspicious
of all the ‘new’ religious groups – fundamentals of all hues that I think have
a hand in promoting this issue, creating the condition and provoking the
population for a public demonstration. One should know that these religious
groupings that are opening their offices in Addis as missionaries and aid
agencies are ’lords of poverty’ bent on destabilizing the country by creating
trivial and yet sensitive issues.
One should also suspect that all these
‘human rights groups’ could be acting as ‘agent provocateurs’ by acting behind
the scenes and encouraging gullible groups to push for demonstrations only to come
out later and condemns the government and the country for its intolerant and
The government should know better. The
issue is not whether sexual preferences of men or women are right or wrong.
The issue is whether a government allows one section of society to be
intimidated by others and be sanctioned by the government in an indirect way.
I would suggest, in passing, that the local
governments have spokespersons that can give quick responses to news that are
reported in the media. Complete silence allows rumours and incorrect reports to
pass as genuine.
I urge the government to reverse its
decision and stop this demonstration from taking place. This writer is aware
that there are some foreign elements that abuse children and young men for
their hideous sexual satisfaction. The government is advised to impose the
full brunt of the law on such local and foreign agents. Demonstration is not
the way to go.