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Ethiopia: Eskinder’s Wail from the Gulag irks 'Tyrants on the Throne'
By Selam Beyene
At a time when patriotic Ethiopians like Eskinder Nega are languishing in Gulag-style prisons for exercising their rights to express their opinions, those of us living beyond Woyane’s reach are blessed with the freedom to read books that stimulate the mind, shed light on our rich heritage, expose the treasonous policies of the Woyane regime in power, and, above all, enlighten us on the triumphs of those luminous sons and daughters of Ethiopia who built a country that was once Africa’s beacon of hope but is now being torn asunder by the treacherous TPLF cadres.
One such book is “Republicans on the Throne: A Personal Account of Ethiopia's Modernization and Painful Quest for Democracy” by Tekalign Gedamu (Tsehai Publishers, 2011). To read the book is to go on a journey through time filled with traumatic events, dashed hopes, lost opportunities and excessive greed on one side, and patriotism, optimism, Ethiopian ingenuity and love of country on the other. The memoir, which has the mark of an unusual flare of literary brilliance and unmatched elegance, is punctuated with ubiquitous gems of trivia only an essayist of the author’s experience and intellect can muster and encapsulate in mesmerizing prose. More importantly, it offers a pragmatic roadmap for a democratic Ethiopia in which the philosophy of ethnocentrism will have no place, individual rights will be respected, and lasting peace and stability for the region will be secured.
As we read in this magnificently written book the gripping account of the journey Ethiopia has undertaken over the past several decades, we can’t help but wonder how from a land that had once produced such great leaders as Aklilu Habte-Wold, Yilma Diressa, Ketema Yifru and numerous others, including the author himself, could emerge tyrants and traitors in the likes of Mengistu Haile-Mariam, Meles Zenawi and his TPLF cadres, whose deviant policies have led the country to a path of destruction. Today’s Ethiopia is a country where ethnic politics is the official ruling party platform; corruption, nepotism and greed are instruments of anti-Ethiopianism; reading pro-democracy Websites is criminalized; and speaking truth to power is a certain ticket to the country’s Gulag. Nothing captures the sense of totalitarianism and hopelessness reigning in the country today better than the recent posting by Eskinder Nega in The New York Times (July 24, 2013):
‘I was arrested in September 2011 and detained for nine months before I was found guilty in June 2012 under Ethiopia’s overly broad Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which ostensibly covers the “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt” of terrorist acts. In reality, the law has been used as a pretext to detain journalists who criticize the government. Last July, I was sentenced to 18 years in prison. … all I did was report on the Arab Spring and suggest that something similar might happen in Ethiopia if the authoritarian regime didn’t reform. … I also dared to question the government’s ludicrous claim that jailed journalists were terrorists.’
It is in the backdrop of such a horrendous and uncertain condition in the country that we are presented with Republicans on the Throne. This is a book that will put to shame our generation for ignorance of our heritage, and enlighten current and future generations about the heroic achievements of their forefathers and their obligation to fight and die for their proud and precious legacy.
In the early chapters of the memoir, the author reminiscences about his youth in Gore, one of the remotest provincial cities during Emperor Haile Selassie’s reign, and takes the reader back to an age of innocence when citizens were not categorized by their ethnicity but by the social bond that tied them closely together, and when leaders and followers revered the sanctity of our tricolor and the inviolability of our sovereignty. In contrast, the treasonous tyrants “on the throne” today denigrate the flag that countless generations protected with blood and sweat, parcel out precious land to foreigners at dirt cheap prices, aggressively promote inter-ethnic strives, and loot the cherished wealth of the country.
The subsequent chapters that depict Gedamu’s early life as a student in the US and the ensuing decades of career in the United Nations, successive governments in Ethiopia and eventually the African Development Bank, paint the picture of a man who epitomizes all the qualities of that unique Ethiopian we all grew up to venerate -- one who values hard work over leisure, esteems public service over personal wealth, relishes integrity over treachery, and, above all, reveres love of country over caustic ethnic politics. In due course, the memoir elucidates the strengths and weaknesses of the Imperial system, the chaos that followed the 1974 revolution, and the emergence of successive brutal dictatorships.
The book is also a treasure trove of anecdotal accounts of important events and personalities that shed further light on the modus operandi of the time and the lives and moral fibers of some of the extraordinary leaders that ran the day-to-day business of the nation. As one flips through the pages one is frequently reminded of how little did most of us know about those leaders, not to mention the foibles of Aman Andom, the remarkable professionalism of Haddis Alemayehu, the statesmanship of Aklilu Habte-Wold or the gumption of Michael Imru.
As the writer transitions his focus to the post-Derg era, he momentarily leaves the reader with a sense of puzzlement as to why he would choose to return to Ethiopia and embark on major entrepreneurial projects under the tyrannical rule of Zenawi. In light of the stellar background of the author as an accomplished technocrat who had served under or lived through disparate systems of government, the reason for such seemingly foolhardy decision is hard to justify, and even more difficult to attribute to a manifestation of plain naiveté. However, a perceptive reader would soon be sympathetic on the knowledge that the sinister and elusive propaganda Zenawi perfected has hoodwinked many seasoned technocrats of Gedamu’s caliber and eventually landed them in prison. Even today, it is with a sense of unfathomable astonishment and compunction that we witness the tragic transfer of hard-earned Diaspora money into Woyane’s coffers, in the name of investing in the home country, by credulous Ethiopian émigrés in the West, who have yet to fully appreciate the true nature of the regime and the cancerous ethnic agenda it has espoused to irreparably harm the long-term viability of the nation.
While the book by and large abounds with a wealth of information about the recent past and present history of the country, some of the most significant contributions come in the last few chapters, in which breaking from tradition, the author tackles head on Woyane’s totalitarianism and duplicity, and masterfully analyzes the internal and external challenges that must be confronted to build a “promising future”. Unlike most writers of the same genre whose pens are woefully timid when it comes to underscoring the true nature of Woyane, Gedamu boldly exposes the most dangerous aspect of the regime, viz, its anti-Ethiopianism. “Closely wedded to ideology, perhaps even its principal raison d'être, is TPLF’s commitment to the politics of ethnic identity,” he affirms. He goes on to caution: “A one-dimensional perception of identity puts greater emphasis on the rights of groups and correspondingly less on the rights of the individuals that make up these groups; and lesser still on those outside the group.” He then reminds us of Amy Gutman’s wise words: “Subordinating individual [rights] to group [rights] is another name for tyranny.”
In debunking the anti-Ethiopia agenda that “extremist TPLF members” espouse, Gedamu warns them of the “… tragic backlash that is bound to ensue if they persist in their policy,” and notes:
“An independent Tigrai built on assets plundered from Ethiopia is the surest prescription for a potent reprisal that would be an unending source of conflict for the new state. More menacingly, Tigreans living in Ethiopia would be exposed to vengeful acts of violence too fearful to contemplate. The silent majority of Tigreans is doubtless conscious of this and will hopefully prevail upon the party fanatics to pursue a policy of multiethnic collaboration and accommodation.”
To those who try to find answers to the present predicament of Ethiopia, where totalitarianism, corruption and anti-Ethiopianism define the Woyane leadership, the author candidly expounds Woyane’s barricade against the struggle for democracy, fundamental freedoms, national cohesion and the fight against poverty. He authoritatively declares that “[N]either Marxism nor identity politics is likely to respond to the challenges facing Ethiopians today: autocracy, poverty, and communal antagonisms,” and boldly charts a pragmatic roadmap that can inform genuine dialogue to extricate the country from the current quagmire of ethnocentric rule, naked tyranny and gloomy prospects of national collapse.
Admittedly, Gedamu’s roadmap is only one of many admirable ideas put forth by many genuine Ethiopians to accelerate the victory for democracy and national salvation that has proved so elusive so far. Such a victory, however, can only be possible through the discreet activities of a strong organization that enjoys the participation of a well-informed membership about their heritage and the true nature of the regime. While the works of writers like Gedamu are a good start, it is the responsibility of every legitimate Ethiopian to ensure the messages are spread far and wide.
The enemy is well armed, superbly organized and lavishly financed, and has controlled the population through a Soviet- style security system and sinfully alluring entitlements that may make the tasks of pro-democracy forces exceedingly onerous. However, as the recent history of the Arab Spring has shown, no power can pent up the rage of an oppressed people for much too long.
The writer may be reached at email@example.com
The people of Ethiopia have demanded,
Their freedom and peace be respected,
And, this is how the people’s govt precisely responded!
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, the people said,
By extremists and terrorists we cannot be bullied,
No more again our elders be killed,
In the name of religion no more fraud,
In the name of opposition protest we’ll not be deceived!
We already know who is behind,
By whom the extremists are being financed,
By the Egyptians, shabians, and diaspora hate mongerrs, they’ve been lead,
It is clear to see we are not blind,
Thanks to God!
We are in a good hand!
We are protected!
Our developmental progress, freedom and democracy cannot be compromised,
Our strong govt EPRDF will never be yielded!
All Ethiopia’s enemies Diaspora losers shabia alike, your cause is dead!
Never to cry back gone for good,
Deep down under you too are buried!
May the devil burn your rear end!!!!
You failed terribly in obscuring and neglecting to mention Ethiopian Muslims’ peaceful demand for their God given right in your letter.
Instead you mentioned Al qaeda presence in Ethiopia just like the government tried to use it to oppress Eth Muslims but found no evidence except the most peaceful Muslims in the country.
Shame on you.
If you were Jawar who wrote this letter believe me they (your tribe) will write an article that say “…slit non Muslims..” You can read it on ECADF for more info.
What a mentality. What an Ethiopia for few.
You guys talk about freedom, justice and equality for yourself only and yet we see on the controry when others are oppressed.
Don’t dream there will not be an Arab Spring in Ethiopia first we are not Arabs and second we are enjoying the freedom of religion and nation’s and nationality even if it is bitter to you.
second now we are working to fight our number one enemy which is poverty which was imposed to us by previous regimes you are advocating.
third there is no Ethiopia without the nations and nationalities (including Tigray) thus whether you like it or not Tigray is Ethiopia and from the very beginning it has its own share in building Ethiopia.
Fourth if you have mind to think and eyes to see around TPLF/EPRDF are doing better than your great leaders.
Reading through this article I thought ato Sleam was about to bring out some facts which we are not aware of about our country. His first introductory lines…"At a time when patriotic Ethiopians like Eskindir Nega….” commenced it clearly showed what he was about to get himself into. He then quickly changed route to what I clearly see as a promotional work for a book which he himself had played no role in writing. Why put so much work on that and not leave for Ethiopians to read the book themselves and make their own judgements?
The whole article was nothing but a reiteration of the hatred and anti Ethiopia rhetoric we have been hearing for the last how many years I do not know. What Eskindir Nega did was incite hatred,violence and propagate terrorism in the hope that the “Arab Spring” would also snowball in Ethiopia, which ofcourse did not for the mere fact that there were no preconditions that nurtured for that phenomenon to happen in our country. Now knowing that his wish and predictions, like all other professors(Al Mariam etc), doctors(Birhanu Nega ec) and the wanna-be politicians(Jawar Mohammed etc) in the toxic diaspora did not come true in our country,the barrage of blame assignings on the anti terrorist law, human rights violations and a creation of a Gulag scenario have become the everyday whining.The so-called “Arab Spring” never came into being in Ethiopia because the Ethiopian people did not see the importance and need of it! FULL STOP! Assasinating a 70 year old muslim teacher on a broad day light and tearing the Ethiopian flag has nothing to do with freedom of religion or other demands. In summary there is no ground to champion Eskindir Nega as a patriot and as it has become a tradition now among the toxic diaspora this article has miserably failed to prove anything valid other than jade us with words of hatred and anger and by doing so to hopefully reinstate the political agenda of the DERG, the EPRP, MEISON and others who detest and loathe the Ethiopian government.
Ethiopia is prospering and shall continue to prosper!
Let’s not forget there are many Journalists Other than Eskender Nega languishing at Kaliti…
Ethiopia is number one country in Africa - on a par with Neighboring Eritrea - in the number of Journalists put in Prison. There are even more who were threatened with jail terms or forced into exile for just reporting.
According Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ):
“In Ethiopia, CPJ research shows, national security prosecutions have forced many journalists into silence. One Ethiopian reporter, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said he was detained on anti-terrorism charges after covering protests by Muslims opposing government policies seen as curtailing religious freedom. Fearing he could be swept into a legal vortex, he abandoned reporting on Muslim activities in the country. “It is very difficult to be a journalist and exercise the profession without fear of getting charged under the new anti-terrorism law,” he told CPJ.
maybe you don’t understand but there ARE extremists who have been trying to make Ethiopia an Islamic state for the last 20-30 years through funds from Rich Arab nations. I’m not saying every Ethiopian Muslim is a terrorists, but there are those funded by the Arabs to divide Ethiopia, especially on the issue of Religion between Christians and Muslism, to destabilize the country and ultimately make it an Islamic state.
Churchs are burned by radical Islamist thought the country especially the rural areas.
This is an important issue and Ethiopian Muslims should know about this issue, rather than “supporting” it blindly.
You are great—anjete qibe teta!
Selam: your train has gone and there is no more train coming for you. You can walk alone on your dream railway–and you day on the way.
You hate Tigray for many reasons, and the main reasons are:
1. They do not talk aimlessly–rather they perform.
2. They are humans, unlike your uncles and forefathers.
3. They created Ethiopia–truly speaking they are the true Ethiopians if you want to know the reality. They have their finger print on every Ethiopian achievement.
4. They do not–I say again they do not urinate in their pants when things get tough.
…to be continued…
Dear Addis Zemen,
as always, thank you for your articulate, logic- based, educational for the wisdom hungry, but painful for the hate - blinded never changing morons, such as this “hate Beyene". Look at him, cursing and darkening one nationality, (Tigray in this case) I am wondering, how do they even dream to represent a group or “an opposition party” when not having a clue of responsibilities for someone’s actions? When it is loud and clear that their actions are based on hatred and my way or the highway kind of rigidity??
I guarantee you that you and the likes, won’t change, but things (the inevitability) will change on you. Keep spitting the trash.
Adgi ,who the hell has sent you such Foolish Propaganda .The Shabi Adhanom ,the SS Agazis ,the Evil
Widow ,the Agazi ghost Sebehat ,the Baboon Mimi ,the Hipo Sele ,or the Village Idiot Pig Ben .You stink more one of the Banda Land On Line or Adgiforum Editors . …LOL !!!!
You said Arab Spring shall never happen in Ethiopia ,Moron as you are ,the way that your Bandit masters are mistreating so badly the Ethiopian Peoples ,you do not even have the capacity to analyse that your own fate ,along with your thuggy bros and bandit masters ,shall be worst even than the life into HELL .
You think any person who has failed to remember or mention the names of your Jihadist Muslims in jail is a failed person. We know the Jihadist Muslims’ demand in Ethiopia has been for power sharing. How do you think we will give power to a Muslim in a Christian country that has never been ruled for thousands of years by a Jihadist Muslim? Who told you Eskinder Nega is in the same cell where your Islamist terrorists are jailed? You are just guessing they are enjoying life together and playing cards the whole day, and still you expect Eskinder to write about the other Jihadist Muslim criminals.
You mention every time that Jawar is your hero: he is another Jihadist Muslim who has not yet been found, caught, and sent to the same notorious Qaliti jail. One day, he will be caught and pay a heavy price for preaching the disintegration of the Christian land of Ethiopia.
Who told you the Jihadist Muslims in Ethiopia are peaceful and law-abiding citizens? You must understand there are no peaceful Muslims in the entire world. You have been fighting the non-Muslim world for centuries and you have divided the world into two houses: the house of peace and the house of war. According to your stupidity, the house of peace is the Muslim world, and the house of war is the non-Muslim world. Your fight has always been with the house of war. You always think the non-Muslim world is a world of conflict and a world of war. It is quite the opposite! The house of peace is, in fact, the house of bloody war. How come one puts Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Somalia, and Afghanistan into the house of peace, and America, England, France, Germany, Australia, and other democratic countries into the house of war?
The shame is yours, not Eskinder’s! Eskinder has to hundle his own problems, and you, Gragn Ahmed, Seattle, and Jawar must bear their own burdens.
Ethnic politics and Woyane propaganda aside, the Ethiopian Muslims have legitimate demand for freedom to worship and we need to support them, as well as freedom for Eskinder Nega.
The Woyane who relish and defend the current system should be ashamed of themselves, because the current system is not good for anyone with a good sense of judgement, as it is riddled with so many problems including ethnic division, mass unemployment, refugees, political prisoners, hatred among Ethiopians, and huge religion and ethnic tensions and that are not good for a health and peaceful coexistence.
I am wondering always are you a foolish
sick person that every time you want to write
something you ar using the same word?
Can you say something constructive to the readers?
you look like you are are pro Egypt and
Eritrians, because u are gong to the opposite
Awelawayu ,so your hero is the shabis stooge ,I mean the Amice Adgi ,Min Tadergewaleh ,Sega Kuter bilut Taffia ,woyem Be Komatta Bet Ande Tat Birku Ale Awakewhu Ye Hagere Lidji . Nobody denied the greatest role played by Tigrai Peoples ,without Agazi Bandits Tigre
Mafiosis and Bandas ,on our History .Unfortunatly for you and your Thuggy bros and sists ,we can not mixe heros such Alula Aba Nega ,
Abraham Debotch ,Moges Asgedom ,Zerai Deres ,Tesfaye Debessay and many Tigrai Patriots with the Traitor Yohanes ,his coward son Mengesha ,his well known Facist Italian Banda Granson Haile Selassie Gugsa ,and Tigrai Mobility who served willingly the Invaders .The Shabis Clerk Zenawi and all his blood sucker bandits all of them originated from your desperate rocky land or from your cousin’s Shabi Land .
What’s these Arabs, fund, destablize, and so on which applied only on Muslims and no other religion.
Why only Muslims are extremist, terrorists, want establish (make) Islamic state.
Don’t you think you are the one who established a Coptic Island in the middle of Ethiopian Muslims territories;
you are the one who terrorize the peaceful Muslim population for 120 years;
You are the one extreme extreme fanatic Coptic who builts Coptic churches instead of schools;
You are in general big oppressor and idiot rigid inhumane.
Look at yourself in the mirror before you get out of touch like the evil debtra.
Teddy, Teddy, Teddy, Teddy…,
if I were you I would definitely commit suicide. enatih anten lemewled 9 wer mulu tesekayech. I am deeply sorry, not for you but for those who are related (blood relation) to you. Look at you, exposing your stupidity. Look at you pretending to be who you are not, (wise and standing for some purposeful goal…). How ever, it’s clear that you are just asafari, empty minded individual. Do yourself a favor, use the food stamp and welfare assistance to read some elementary books and see if you can see some sign of hope at the end of the tunnel. otherwise, the more you wait doing nothing (except collecting some hateful and rubbish words-sleeping by the computer )the more darker and hopeless the world would be for you.
This is perhaps one of the well written, articulate and spot on article I have read in recent times. The author should also address the demands of the Muslims which goes hand-in-hand with the release of Eskinder.
Piece of advice to the author, ethnic federalism is the only solution for solving Ethiopia’s political crisis, anything short of that will definitely create more Eritrea within 5 yrs.
To the Foolish ,brain washed ,Amice Agazi Ass Hole banda .Before opening your stinky mouth ,better for you that you revise the History and Whereabouts of your bnadit masters and their Mafia Firm .All of them enslaved by Shabya and Arabs specially Egyptian’s Clerks .
To refresh your dying memory ,it’s your own Dead Master who Shamessly signed with his ten fingers in 1993
during his visit to his then master
hosni Mubarak ,by recognising Egyptian conditions on the Nile River .And after May 1991sent to Asmera (Shabis Land) the then Tana Beless Hydro power and Agriculture Infrastructures projects equipments for the sake of Shabya .
TCHINKILATEBIS DEDEB BANDA !!!!!
Correction I was meaning “Tigrai Nobility.” .Beg your pardon .
August 3, 2013 – Ethiopian government forces open fire on unarmed demonstrators throughout the country, killing 25 and injuring dozens more, according to Ethiopian activist who took part in the demonstration.
Eyewitness says at least one child was among the dead. The government security forces arrested over 1,500 protesters on Friday!
TEDDY the loony asshole shabian,…
Why don’t you go somewhere like asmara online or whatever you got, and cry. Leave this Ethiopian website. We are tired if your painful barking. We know the woyanes or agazis kicked and fried your ass good. And that pain is gonna be with you forever. So kill yourself and get over your misery. We can’t help you.
Dear PM HM,
free all political prisoners who are voicing for the voiceless with Kilimanjaro size ‘wene’ using the rights clearly written on the constitution.
Addis zemen/rapper Yirgacheffe, let us try to find a way to create unity. I already put down my ammo waiting to see togetherness among my fellow Ethiopians. Remember The Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs story.
Here is my assumptions: Your
hero is a criminal by the court of law. His prison activities will not help me get out prison before his time. He probably will stay there more than that and you are the facilitator.
You are basically barking for nothing. Your English is excellent,
I would not even dare to compare with mine. But your IQ may be very low judging from your article.
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