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Ethiopia: The Lessons of the Current Ethiopian Soccer Tournaments

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07/07/12

  10:49:49 pm, by admin, 1534 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Ethiopia: The Lessons of the Current Ethiopian Soccer Tournaments

Ethiopia: The Lessons of the Current Ethiopian Soccer Tournaments

By Nahom Freda

The two Ethiopian soccer tournaments staged in Washington D.C. and Dallas in the U.S., whether we admit it or not, are extensions of the struggle for democracy, human rights, and press freedom in Ethiopia. The argument of the newly-formed All Ethiopian Sports Association One (AESA One), hosting the D.C. event, is that this is a non-political annual event, as has been the case since the inception of the federation some twenty-nine years ago. Reports indicate that AESA One has received generous financial support from Ethio-Saudi billionaire Mr. Mohamed Al Amoudi to host the event. Mr. Al Amoudi is a declared support of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party in Ethiopia for the last two decades. The party, led by Mr. Melse Zenawi, stands accused of stealing elections and gross human rights violations. Many believe that AESA One is affiliated with the Ethiopian government and concerned Ethiopians have called on fellow Diaspora Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia to boycott the Washington, D.C. event.
Some have stated that Mr. Al Amoudi has been a generous benefactor of the federation for many years and his support for AESA One’s inaugural event is no different and should not be a ground for boycott. Others have suggested that if Mr. Al Amoudi was independent he should have supported both events. As pointed out in a Washington post article (Ethiopian soccer tournament promoting unity leads to division), the problem started when known supporters of Mr. Al Amoudi within the Ethiopian Sports Federation of North America (ASFNA) started demanding that the federation disinvite last year’s guest of honor Ms. Brtukan Midekas, a prominent opposition leader who has been twice incarcerated and abused by the Ethiopian government. This was the genesis of the problem that resulted in the split of the federation, if you call it that (only a handful of members splintered and formed AESA One – the majority are still with the federation). The splintered group tried to usurp the name “The Ethiopian Sports Federation of North America” and ascribe it to its new organization. But this attempt was defeated in a court of law and the legitimate federation managed to retain its name and reputation. The question is: why Mr. Al Amoudi chose to associate himself with a minority splinter group?
Despite arguments to the contrary, Mr. Al Amoudi is not a disinterested and benevolent businessman. He works hand-and-gloves with the de facto dictator Melese Zenawi of Ethiopia (not my word but Washington post’s characterization of Meles, see the above article). Al Amoudi has openly expressed his support for the dictator and his government on repeated occasions. Supporting a leader and a party of his choice is Al Amoudi’s right. The problem is Zenawi and his party, the EPRDF, stand accused of gross human rights violations and stealing elections in Ethiopian, where Al Amoudi has huge and a growing business interest. So the argument is that Al Amoudi is not a benign businessman but someone who is colluding with a dictator and using his resources to prop-up a despicable dictator. The government’s record on human rights, press freedom, and assembly is abysmal and one of the worst in the world, which is well-documented by governments and civil society organizations in the West. Many are languishing in jails just because they demanded the rights cherished by billions in the world. The Meles government, which has been in power for more than 20 years, is obsessed with indefinitely staying in power and at any cost. Since the 2005 elections and EPRDF’s trouncing, Zenawi has obliterated the opposition through repressive measures, arrested or exiled independent journalist, clamped down on civil society, and stifled Internet and press freedom. The government has developed a pervasive intelligence and security apparatus that spies on its own citizens and opposition politicians.

As former communists, the leaders of the EPRDF are obsessed in controlling any and all civic and religious associations. And this is not confined to entities within Ethiopia. The EPRDF actively works to infiltrate and control similar organizations in the Diaspora. If these fail, it tries to undermine these organizations and focus on creating subservient parallel entities that promote EPRDF’s diabolical interests. The over 20 years of track record of Mr. Zanawi is instructive of his zeal to control all such organizations lest they become breeding ground for democratic activism. The government of Zenawi has no legitimacy in Ethiopia to be proud of, which was shown in the EPRDF’s trouncing at the 2005 elections. Zenawi reversed his election losses with an iron fist and he has not since relented in stifling any hint of resistant to his dictatorial rule. The only legitimacy Zenawi enjoys is through repression at home and from his international benefactors on account of his role in the fight against terrorism. Although Zenawi is a stellar ally to the West on those fronts, the West is uncomfortable with Zenawi’s human rights records. But that unease is outweighed by their interest in geo-politics and the fight against terrorism.

The Ethiopian Diaspora in the West is a constant irritant in questioning the West’s alliance with Zenawi and in highlighting the dictator’s abysmal human rights records. For these and other reasons, Zenawi abhors independent civic and religious organizations whether they are at home or abroad. He has worked for years to neutralize this threat either by co-opting independent associations to his side, or if this fails, by breaking them apart and replacing them with compliant and friendly ones. In Ethiopia, Zenawi has used this strategy to obliterate and replace with compliant ones, to name but a few: the Ethiopian Human Rights Organization, the Ethiopian Teachers Association, the Ethiopian Women Lawyers’ Association; journalist associations, labor and student unions, etc. He has organized residents in political cells and monitors their daily activities and uses them for purposes that promote his interests. He has removed the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch and replaced him with his own appointee. Now a similar effort is underway to control the Muslim society by trying to appoint his handpicked persons to lead the religion. In the Diaspora, Zenawi has used the same underhand tactics to infiltrate and overtake churches. In doing so, Zenawi has turned these churches into a forum for doctrinal preaching completely devoid of stances on human rights, justice, freedom, and equality for the oppressed people of Ethiopia. He has infested the Diaspora airwaves with insistent pro-EPRDF propaganda by funding several radio stations and websites, which basically serve as mouthpiece for his policies and programs.

Zenawi was out to control ESFNA by unleashing his power and supporters. But thanks for valiant and dedicated individuals, ESFNA has not only withstood the onslaught but defeated Zenawis’ underhand at a court of law. From the attendance of events in Washington D.C. and in Dallas, it looks like dictator Zenawi’s attempt to control ESFNA has not only rendered him another defeat but backfired. According to the Washington Post, less than 100 people attended the opening ceremony of AESA One last Sunday, July 8, 2012. In a city that is home to more Ethiopians than anywhere else in North America, the message of Ethiopians in the Diaspora was loud and clear: they are ready to guard their independence and freedom! Reports from Ethiopia indicate that the Ethiopian Muslim community has demonstrated similar resolve in rejecting Zenawi’s unwanted overture. It looks like people are ticked off with Zenawi’s overreach, and this might be a sign of bigger and bolder things to come. This is a huge achievement for the majority that cherish independence and freedom and a warning for those standing on the wrong side of history. One can easily guess Zenawi’s worries now that different sectors are asserting their independence and freedom and how this might embolden others to follow suit.

The battle between ESFNA and AESA One is thus an extension of the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality in Ethiopia. Despite the argument that sports should be free of politics, it has always been used to fight injustice, inequality, and oppression the world over. History is replete with such examples where sports organizations and sports figures have sided with those yearning for freedom, equality, and dignity. In 1964, South Africa was banned from the Tokyo Olympics for its refusal to abolish apartheid. In 1980, the United States and other democracies boycotted the Moscow Olympics because the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. In 1984, the Soviet Union responded by boycotting the Los Angeles Olympics. The two abominable systems are no more, thanks in part to the contributions of sports!!!

If the history of sports is instructive, there is no question the struggle for freedom, justice and equality in Ethiopia has entered a new stage and is rapidly changing Dictator Zenawi’s nightmare into a reality. Sport, which is fundamentally about fairness and equality, has played and will continue to play a crucial role in standing with the oppressed peoples of the world that are yearning for justice, freedom, and equality. The situation of Ethiopians is no different today. In the true spirit of sports, we need to be the bearers of the torch for justice, freedom, and equality for all Ethiopians and let’s all join ESFNA in person and spirit!!!

Viva Freedom!

21 comments

Comment from: Debreberhan [Visitor]
Debreberhan

AESA One was a huge success story for a first time game.Check the videos on youtube fo youself or on their website.Believe me, they will comeout much stronger the next round! While ESFNA is being takenover and missused by distructive hate politics of the diaspora opposion AESA One is the only tournment for those who love the sport.

Go AESA one!

07/08/12 @ 00:06
Comment from: Wolayita [Visitor]
Wolayita

ESFNA is ASFNA-Amhara sport Federation of North America.

AESA is ATSA-All Tigrians sport Association

OSFNA is clear.It is Oromo sport federationj of North America.

All of these donot encompass people such as Gurages, Wolayitas, Sidamas, Somalis, etc.

Southernerns must form our own sport federation.

07/08/12 @ 00:44
Comment from: hamerenohe [Visitor]
hamerenohe

I was so disgusted to find out last year that this cultural event for Ethiopians has been hijacked by stubborn clueless and undemocratic polarized political groups. As much as I am so independent and no supporter of EPRDF or Kinijit,this event should have been free from any religious and political groups. It was not…. so I really like the alternative i.e. AESA One. Besides it is not the first time we saw AlAmoudin giving money to Ethiopians. If he wants to sponsor this tournament and this group……so be it. Keep it up.

07/08/12 @ 00:46
Comment from: Temesghen [Visitor]
Temesghen

Aesna’s july 4th celebration was totally dominated by our brothers and sisters born and raised in the U. S. and from U. S. blacks parentage. Friday’s audience was mostly the players themselves. It was boycotted by the Ethiopians in Dc area. I counted no more than 500 people in the video posted elsewhere. You can count them for yourselves. Same people , their pictures taken again and again. See for yourselves. All young and soccer playing age.
It was a total failure. was

07/08/12 @ 03:01
Comment from: Reality [Visitor]
Reality

NOBODY CARES ABOUT ETHIOPIAN SOCCER, YESTERDAY OR TODAY!

07/08/12 @ 03:27
Comment from: Redone [Visitor]
Redone

Al amoudi has given 50 million Birr for the construction of a referral hospital in Gonder in 2007. Should we boycott that hospital too?

07/08/12 @ 03:27
Comment from: wedi_adwa [Visitor]
wedi_adwa

It’s funny, the author wants Al Amoudi to fund both tournaments when the people in one camp are telling the guy that his money is a blood money? I don’t know if he is choosing to be ignorant intentionally or unintentionally but no sane person gives charity to a group that tries to insult him!!! Here is Solomon’s new song that tries to warn people of the existence of people like this author http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B22jYCVnx3s&feature=BFa&list=FLxixGLFS_UEGInEePS10-8Q

07/08/12 @ 04:01
Comment from: prince-somali [Visitor]
prince-somali

Wolayita,

You made me laugh with your humorous presentation of the REAL meaning and the possibility of southerners forming their own ‘ethnic’ based league.

As much as I like your comments I tend to disagree with you on this, what does ethnicity and politics have to do with sports

07/08/12 @ 08:49
Comment from: Belay [Visitor]
Belay

wedi-adwa good observation. but dont forget, for these fake people its blood money until he puts it in their pocket..my question is why not they leave it up to the people whether to join or not. how can one intimidate and harass people and turn around and claim “the outcome was very low". what if the other side does the same thing in dallas, threatening those ethiopians who attend the event. the truth is 99% of ethiopians have rejected both groups together with their childish tournament and wish they simply disappear not to come back ever.

07/08/12 @ 10:05
Comment from: Ethiopian [Visitor]
Ethiopian

I think this is it for Aesna. They have tried to divide but to no avail. We should stop talking about Aesna, because it is so little it don’t deserve the attention of Ethiopians.
ESFNA will held the tournament in DC next year, it is official. We will show you what the support of Ethiopians mean. We ll meet next year in July. GO Esfna! There were at least 5000-7000 ppl in the closing ceremony yesterday in Dallas…All Ethiopians unlike Aesna.

Let’s see Aesna in another city other than DC….I dare them to even try outside DC area.

07/08/12 @ 13:19
Comment from: koster [Visitor]
koster

say no to Tigrian fascists and fight for Ethiopian independence instead of fighting each other.

07/08/12 @ 15:14
Comment from: ethio [Visitor]
ethio

Is it a first time tht Alamudi and Abent where supoorting this tournament??? do you now who own St.Geyorgise?? did the supporter of st.Geyorgise are EPDRF suportter?? all the American and your politics are fake so both Esaf or Asafone …who cares…just do ur things!

07/09/12 @ 04:36
Comment from: Gebru [Visitor]
Gebru

“Habesha - Talk ” what is a big deal ? It is a good news to hear since we (Ethiopian) increased in Population here in North-America it’s a good idea to add another Federation, there is nothing wrong with that unless we always blaming PM Melese, and S.Alamudi…..

07/09/12 @ 05:39
Comment from: Teka [Visitor]
Teka

You politicized the Ethiopian tournament and it is backfiring on you.The tournament should be to all Ethiopians from all political walks of life and not necessarily from the hate mongers opposition.
You should,in advance ,think that it could end that way. For how long do you think you keep the diaspora hostage of your hate politics? For how long do you think you kwill keep the diaspora in deception?
While the ground reality in Ethiopia is different from what you are propagating, you (the hate mongers) will
remain further and further isolated.Hundreds of people are going back and forth to Ethiopia. They are witnessing the great development that is going on in that country.Even the world is giving their testimony for fast growth,unseen in three to five generations of our people,of Ethiopia.But you remain stubborn and gave deaf ears.Instead you are beating the drum of Ethiopia’s demise
Most clever diaspora are going to invest in Ethiopia.I suspect those who hold high rank in the oppositions may have some property in one name or the other in Ethiopia. They are fooling people who trust them.
So unless you come to your sense and act properly,the truth in the ground prevails.It will not take that long that the former tournament organizers will loose their support .
This is going to happen in all areas in diaspora Ethiopians.Expect this in your political activities as well.

07/09/12 @ 12:43
Comment from: Amhara Princess [Visitor]
Amhara Princess

Mr Nahom Freda,

That was one priceless article, you Mr Freda have NAILED it. Thank you Sir, I am subscribed!

=========

To the real time Bastard Alamoudi & Co? Oops! No matter how hard you are trying to massage your deflated, smashed up egos, you were totally out numbered, purely outplayed, utterly disgraced, massively dumped and hopelessly DEFEATED in REAL court (NOT KANGAROO Ethiopian courts). Bravo DC, Bravo ESFNA, Bravo to all the African Americans, Caribbeans, Africans & all other friends of Ethiopia who joined Dallas and made it spectacular event.

Had Alamoudi’s clowns organized another event to give Ethiopians alternatives, most of us would have said, way to go! Obviously, alternatives, choices, healthy competition, different vibes are all healthy & great. However, they were out to overshadow ESFNA, to steal its name & hijack audiences using their bastard’s excessive $$. By organizing their event on the SAME time frame as ESFNA, they have proved that their tournament was determined to overshadow ESFNA. Go to hell. For that, you got a bloody nose from quarter of a million Ethiopians who live in DC & surroundings. Rather, most travelled all the way to Dallas, telling you to keep your Blood money where it belongs. Indeed.

@ Welayta

Who is stopping you from forming Welamoo soccer team/event? After all, it is the good ol’ USA, land of the free & choices so why don’t you try that and see where it would take you eh? I agree with your idea of forming a Welamo soccer tournament but I massively disagree with you calling ESFNA as Amhara because you have to be as retarded as hell to believe such retardedness!

07/09/12 @ 20:00
Comment from: bavel [Visitor]
bavel

Im sorry guys but u guys talkin bull shit the only way zat help my poor ppl tryin 2 change their lifes interms of financially or proffesionally zat the only way 2 go cause the only problem we have rite now is poverty nd hunger we cant blame on this govt it has been a big problem on previous govts too …..and even if u want 2 change are u willing 2 go back nd fight . Thats y I dont belive in ur poltics ……as if u are patriotic bout ur country.

07/09/12 @ 21:42
Comment from: tulu [Visitor]
tulu

I ve one big question for u mr/s Nahom.
If your group doesnt want Alamoudis blood money, then ask some of your group leaders like Tamagn to give back the house he owens and bought by Alamudi, or mideqsa to leave the school and house paid by the tyranny.
THEN U LL B THE REAL ONE OPPOSITION!

07/10/12 @ 02:27
Comment from: YHD [Visitor]
YHD

A word of wisdom:
People have the right to support or oppose one political group or another without being harassed or intimidated by anyone. We live in a civilized and democratic country, but still fail to understand the fundamentals of a democratic culture which is based on respect and tolerance of differences. Why do we exclude those who have different opinion or belief than ours? We need to understand that there are many people, including children and young adults, in our community who are not interested in politics, and there may also be others who may have opposite political views than ours. Besides, for anyone who would like to be politically active, there are many other alternatives other than the traditionally unifying and mostly nonpolitical social activities we all cherish. I strongly believe that such activities should be spared from political polarizations. My belief is that we will be better off as a society and as a nation if we are agree to keep politics off from certain areas and activities. Sport tournaments, cultural & traditional activities, Churches, community centers, weddings, funerals & so on should be free and neutral from politics in order to create an environment that could accommodate all Ethiopians, irrespective of their religious, political or ideological views and affiliations. Let’s not allow poisonous politics divide family and friends, church and community.

07/10/12 @ 05:12
Comment from: MT [Visitor]
MT

Hats off to YDH! Very mature! That is what I expect to hear from Ethiopians.

It is hard to believe that there are so many stupid Ethiopians. Suspicions, speculations and obsessions have become Ethiopians’ way of life. After living in this country for so long, they haven’t even understood how the civilized nations are conducting their politics. Who gave them the right to tell me what to do? When I see them boycotting businesses, sending harassing messages, and showing childish behavior, I have to wonder how our children should feel about this. Hopefully the negativity that is blinding us will not transfer to our children. If this negativity isn’t nipped at the bud, it’ll cause a lot of problems for us. We need a new generation with positive energy and positive thinking. Politics should be separate from sports. We should work hard to become one; forgive one another and work towards one common goal. Let us keep Ethiopia together. Forget the past and move forward.

07/10/12 @ 19:07
Comment from: Hindia [Visitor]
Hindia

Alamoudi should hold an Ethiopian women’s festival for our sisters in Saudi Arabia. Our Ethiopian sisters in Saudi Arabia need to get the chance of geting together and spending a day or two socializing with each other more than diasporas in North America. If he really organizing an event like this to make a difference he shoukld hold it in Middle East . North America already have been organized for decades.

07/10/12 @ 20:20
Comment from: wolayita [Visitor]
wolayita

To:Prince-Somali

What do you mean? Sport has a lot to do with politics and ethnicity (nationality). Donot try to underestimate its role? If sport has nothing to do with politics:
- Why national anthems are sung during tournaments?
-Why flags are raised?
…..

Sport can be used as one of the main tools to strengthen the feeling of nationality among people of a nation(eg. Wlayita nation).

07/10/12 @ 23:40

rebtel

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