Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Who Will Tell Their Stories?

There are times when you almost don’t want to know any more information. You are able to function better that way. Distance makes pragmatism possible.

There are times, my friends, when you are debilitated by information.

I had a long talk with my father in Ethiopia. Things are way worse than we could have imagined. In Ethiopia, it’s 1978 all over again.

The generation Ato Meles belongs to went on protests marches on the streets of Addis Abeba in the early 70s without the indignity of being mowed down. They were demanding a revolution—the usurping of the Ethiopian constituency, and the deposing of the Emperor. They held placards calling the Emperor a ruthless dictator who had to be brought to justice. They told the world that they were standing for the poor, the downtrodden and the forgotten.

Yet they were not shot at from point blank range.

Today, those same people are pointing guns at children and firing because of the urgent need to “protect the constitution.” Today, “destruction of government property” gets a swift response in the form of assassination. The same people who called for the overturn of a government by any means necessary now think any form of peaceful protest is “anti-peace.” Those same people now kill the poor, the downtrodden and the forgotten in the name of “keeping the peace.” They now round off the young and pack them in disease infested camps because “it is the government’s responsibility to keep the people safe.” My, my. How times have changed.

When the dust settles and the truth surfaces of what has been happening to Ethiopians these past few weeks, it is my hope that Ethiopians will have the strength for justice and not revenge.

There are yet untold stories of the families of those “wanted” being arrested and held as hostages; of torture; of beatings; of killings; of planted grenades; of staged ‘protests’… stories which will eventually see the light of day. It’s not just Ato Meles who will be held accountable. It is also those in Ato Meles’ entourage who have stayed silent.

We should start taking pictures of all the boys in red berets and start gathering evidence.

Eventually, when Ato Meles is held accountable, he better pray that the Ethiopian people are half as kind to him as he has been cruel to them.

More reason to write to Jeffrey Sachs: “Sachs and Violence” on ethiopundit, who as always breaks it down marvelously.

Mesqel Square refers us to a story by an AAU student at the School of Journalism and Communication: The latest news is … “there is NO NEWS!”

Bilal Mohammed, 29, has been working at the SSI for eight months as a reporter. On Wednesday, he and photographer William Connors had pulled up at the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa to see what was going on. The hospital guards had been told not to let journalists in. Connors started snapping pictures of the police around the hospital and the pair suddenly found themselves being escorted to the police station in the Mexico area.

“What happened after that is revolting…I was beaten, was told to take my clothes off and actually crawled on the hard floor…but I didn’t break my fast and was tortured until my boss bailed me out about
9:00 pm,” whispered Mohammed.

Can you imagine then what is being done to Ethiopians who have no cell phones and no way to tell their stories…to Ethiopians in the countryside who have dared stand up to EPRDF’s atrocities?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

couldn't help it-i really want to express my respect for your profound knowledge and ability to defend the truth. as a people we lack knowledge and ability to defend ourselves-that is why we are prone to oppression and attack.
Sachs:i really doubt if he does not know the truth-may be it is the amount of MONEY involved and we might be perfect guinea pigs for his RESEARCH-otherwise the guy is not stupid.

1:47 PM, November 08, 2005  
Blogger kuchiye said...


Just returned from a mass rally in front of the State Department. Thousands of highly charged Ethiopians sent a fervent message and appeal to Dr. Rice. Never had a mass rally of this magnitude been conducted in the premises of a US government who claims to champion the cause of democracy, justice and the rule of law. Our messages were loud and clear reverberating through the length and breadth of the capital city.

No amount of word can describe the spirit of oneness, determination and commitment on display. Never have you seen as many Ethiopian flags, as many shirts, hats and knapsacks all clad in our favorite colors of green, yellow and red. The tears were not of despair but of defiance, the songs were of hope and victory.

The cross section of the rally manifestly revealed that Ethiopia’s children from the northern tip to the south, from the western tip to the east were fully represented. The rally exposed the utter emptiness of Zenawi’s fear mongering propaganda that Ethiopians have irreconcilable interests and hopes.

What a spectacle and another unifying event will the November 15, mass demonstration will turn out to be! Ethiopians of all walks of life from DC, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersy, Delaware, Georgia and others will converge on Capitol Hill. Our voices will be heard as far as Addis, Dessie, Baher Dar, Awassa and the rest of Ethiopia. It will embolden our countrymen who are courageously combating a tyrant and his cohorts.

Wonq: The Ethiopian renaissance is here! The messenger of dissent and disintegration will end up solidifying our unity even more.

Please pardon my unconcealed excitement - bet you will do the same had you experienced it.

3:30 PM, November 08, 2005  
Blogger ET Wonqette said...


thanks so much for the update (and the enthusiasm.) does anyone have pictures?

4:20 PM, November 08, 2005  
Anonymous s. hoewl aff said...

^^^ does meles know he has managed to galvanize et yuppies who had so far been anesthetized? that might just be the dumbest thing he has ever done.

kuch, i probably rubbed shoulders with you. managed to make the rally-- foregoing coffee break. i think i might have even cried.

wei Ta Ta. ahun esti minalebet........ pha!

4:47 PM, November 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Milton Friedman played Columbus to Pinochet's Ferdinand, and I don't think he's regretted it. I can't for the life of me see how one's conscience would permit such a thing. Perhaps it's because I have never been in that position.

6:24 PM, November 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The neo banda mecinary cadres at Aiga forum are trying to mufflel the voice of our people by trying to defame the good work of VOA through the use of a petition protesting their reporting of true stories. Lets counter this evil plot and sign this petition in support of VOA.


8:14 PM, November 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, here we are: Fresh on the BBC website there's a report that the opposition leaders will be charged with treason- an offence that carries the death penalty. Meles goes on to say that he personally does not approve of the death penalty... I suppose he prefers on-the-spot shootings, whether proven guilty or not. What kind of crazy arsehole has been unleashed?

7:19 AM, November 09, 2005  
Blogger BeTesfa said...


I found your blog recently and I appreciate your thoughts. We need to document and share stories of the cruelty of this government. We need as much evidence as we can get so that those who gave orders to shoot and kill innocent civilians expressing (even if they threw stones) their consititutional right can be brought to justice.

We need to persist until our goal of a truly representative democracy and the supremacy of the rule of law is established in Ethiopia. It is easty to lose hope when change is slow in coming or when brutality rules the day. But we need to harness this energy for change so it will not fizzle out over time.

We need to truly unite with a goal of achieving a political system that is based on ideas and principles that apply to all Ethiopians not based on ethnicity. We need to share ideas so we can achieve what we desire while we celebrate our diversity.

9:51 AM, November 09, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't allow the TPLF regime interfere with VOA Amharic program.

copy the following message and e-mail it or send a letter to

Submit request via e-mail: mailto:publicaffairs@ibb.gov
US Broadcasting Board of Governors
330 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20237
US Department of State

In Support of VOA’s Amharic Program (a voice to the voiceless)
We the undersigned Ethiopians, Ethio-Americans and friends of Ethiopia who are concerned and disturbed by the Ethiopian government’s deliberate attempt to shut down all free press and journalistic activities, here by, alert the US Broadcasting Board of Governors of the government’s recent attempts to discredit and disrupt free media not only in Ethiopia but also here in the United States of America.

The Voice of America (VOA) is an international multimedia broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. It is paid by American tax dollars to render service strictly to foreign audience. VOA is an extension of US foreign policy and a means to extend democratic influence and American values to the rest of the world.

The Amharic service of the VOA has been on air since 1982 and has been serving the people of Ethiopia in various educational, entertainment and current affairs programs. In the past two decades, the VOA Amharic program has been the only source of unbiased, relevant news for Ethiopians around the globe. It is exemplary in its professional exercise of journalism and its inclusion of diverse voices.

At this very moment, in Ethiopia, there is not a single newspaper, television or radio station that is not owned by the government. In a move that rivals the Marxist government of Mengistu Hailemariam (former military leader of Ethiopia), the current leader Meles Zenawi has jailed almost all members of the free press. Those who were not arrested are in hiding or are currently seeking asylum in a foreign country.

According to the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists), the Ethiopian government is involved in a heavy-handed attempt to intimidate the independent press and to suppress news of the protests and deaths in Addis Ababa. It further states that the Security forces are detaining not only the family members of the journalists that are in hiding but also the medical workers that gave information about the casualties of the recent protests.

We believe that VOA Amharic, at its core, shares one of the founding principles of the United States of America, freedom of expression. It is for this reason VOA Amharic has come to be a threat and an enemy of the Meles Zenawi Regime.

We urge the US Broadcasting Board of Governors to encourage the spread of democracy in Africa by supporting VOA (Amharic) and by standing firm against all Ethiopian government backed demands to disrupt or discontinue the single remaining, democratic media outlet for Ethiopians.

We thank you for your time, and look forward to hearing from you.


12:30 PM, November 09, 2005  

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