March Events, May 15-18: Telling the Truth about Ethiopia
Press Release: May 12, 2008
The third anniversary of the failed Ethiopian National
Election is almost here. As the time approaches, the
Worldwide March Committee members are working hard to
plan events in cities across North America, Europe,
Australia, Africa and Israel.
These events will publicly demonstrate that the Ethiopian
peoples’ thirst for freedom, human rights, justice
and democracy will not die despite the hijacking of
the last election and the increasing repression within
the country. This has been a huge organizational task
and will not be perfect, but it is the beginning. Let
the sleeping giant—the freedom loving people of
Ethiopia—awaken and rise up for truth and right!
EPRDF or Woyane reportedly are asking, “Why do
these people want to embarrass their government and
their country by coming out for this rally?
The real question is, who is embarrassing Ethiopia—those
who repress their fellow Ethiopians or those who tell
the truth about it? In other words, stop the human rights
abuses, injustices and electoral manipulations and we
will not have anything to rally about.
Just look at two recent examples, Ethiopian children
have the lowest access (83%) to health care in the world![i] Secondly, Ethiopia received another world distinction—the
dishonor of being the most backslidden country in the
world in regards to freedom of the press![ii]
Should we admit this? Why not? Are these correctable
problems? Of course! Denial of real problems will not
do anything to solve them. In all fairness, health care
is an enormous problem throughout the world, but Ethiopia
is the worst—why? The repression of the press
is directly linked to a repressive government. Why should
we not rally against this?
We would be happy and proud of our government that
was doing its best for the people despite limitations.
This is the kind of government for which we are rallying—not
a perfect government, but a government that serves the
people, not themselves! Anyone who agrees with us should
come out this week and not stop working until justice
comes to Ethiopia!
This is not about political choices. It is about the
basic right to make “a political choice”—whichever
choice that might be! If you want a choice, you need
to come out from May 15 to 18th and stand up for that
One of the greatest joys over these last three to four
weeks of planning has been to see so many previous “fighters
for liberty” re-emerge to work alongside new Ethiopians
at the grass roots level after the deep discouragement
among Ethiopians over the last months. There has been
a tremendous amount of work accomplished in a very short
time—with much more to do—but the highlight
has been in seeing new groups and new people joining
together to accomplish a shared goal—a free Ethiopia
where the rights of all of the people will be respected.
As Ethiopians remember those who have died, let us
come together in unity for we have all suffered losses
either during this regime or at the hands of earlier
ones in our history. These events are meant to remind
us that one of the chief roles of government is to protect
and uphold the lives of its citizens. How can we do
a better job of this as a people and as a nation? These
events over these four days are ways to raise the expectations
for what we expect as people of Ethiopia, the Horn,
Africa and as members of human kind.
Groups will differ in how they accomplish this. The
format of these events will take on the creativity,
diversity and ownership of the local organizers. In
some cities, events will be combined into one or two
events. Others will change the dates to accommodate
the needs and preferences of various groups.
For instance, Muslims will be having a Day of Marching
on Thursday, a Day of Prayer on Friday and a Day of
Reaching Out will remain the same, Saturday. For some,
celebrating a Day of Reaching Out will mean small gatherings
in homes for dinner, tea or coffee while others are
organizing community gatherings in town halls or in
their places of faith. Prayer gatherings Friday or Sunday
might include five earnest people or fifty.
Remember, this is only the beginning. It is an opportunity
to reject the worst parts of tribalistic thinking that
leave so many out. We can be proud of our own ethnicity
while at the same time; we can still embrace others
from other backgrounds.
We are hopeful that all these events and suggestions
will begin to connect us together in new ways so that
the human rights of all Ethiopians will be upheld and
valued and so that people will reach out in unity, tolerance,
respect, love and care for one another to create a better
future for our children.
We still expect more and more people to join by the
end of the week, contributing in their own ways to this
effort. Some of these efforts will be very simple, but
meaningful. Here is one inspiring example of two families
from Denmark. We hope many of you will follow this example.
It began with a Tigrayan woman who read about the upcoming
events, particularly the suggestion about reaching out
on Day Three to your neighbors and those from different
groups around you. She immediately thought of an Ethiopian
family she regularly met at the grocery store. She said
that early on, she had asked the woman, Abasha Neach?
the woman replied in English, “I’m an Oromo.”
After that, both of them had merely passed each other
in the community for five years. She admitted that she
was friendlier with the Danes in the country than with
one of her own fellow Ethiopians. She said that after
reading about reaching out to others, she had started
to feel guilty and knew she had been wrong. She decided
she was going to do change.
The next time she saw the woman in the store, she asked
her if she could come with her family to her home so
she could cook for them and have supper together. The
woman asked her why. She explained that it was because
those organizing the Worldwide March events had asked
people to do simple things such as reaching out to invite
someone to your home for supper, not to talk about politics,
but to learn about each other. She said she had been
passing her in the community for five years and that
she wanted to know her better.
At first, the woman told her that she would get back
to her, but by the time she had gotten through the store,
she went up to the other woman who had invited her and
said, “We will come to your home.”
We will not know the end of this story until after
next Saturday, but what if more people did this all
over the Diaspora and throughout Ethiopia? What would
Ethiopia be like if this became common? Changes like
this are up to many average Ethiopians, not politicians
who sometimes use their hidden agendas or ethnicity
to divide average Ethiopians. If many average Ethiopians
would extend love and caring actions to others, imagine
what could happen!
This is what it means to be human. This is what our
complaint is about our government--- they have forgotten
how to be human. Let us start this week to show each
other what it will mean to Ethiopia if each of us is
simply “human”, one person at a time! Let
us persist in our struggle for such a society. Come
out of your homes and join this week in any way you
can to bring about a new Ethiopia! It is up to Ethiopians
like you and like me!
For information on events or if you want to participate
in some of the planned groups, you should email us at email@example.com for details. Events are planned in many different cities
in 23 cities and in 17 countries throughout the world.
If you want to join, it is still not too late! If you
are already organizing something, email the details
to us of the date, the time and the location so we can
put it all together with other information. Also, for
ideas of possible slogans that are being used throughout
the world, contact us.
For more information please contact
The Worldwide March for Ethiopian Freedom, Human Rights
and Justice Organizing Committee
By E-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] See recent report from Save the Children’s 9th
annual State of the World’s Mothers report where
it ranks Basic Health Care for children. http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=852438
[ii] See recent report from Committee to Protect Journalists
(CPJ) May 2007 five-year report ranks Ethiopia as the
world’s most backslidden country. http://www.cpj.org/attacks07/pages07/almanac07.html