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Humanity before Ethnicity

Ethiopians Rejoice in the Egyptian Peoples’ Victory Over Mubarak as the Momentum for Regime Change Ignites Ethiopia!

February 11, 2011
As Egyptians rejoice the end of the Hosni Mubarak regime after thirty years of repressive and corrupt rule, we, the freedom-loving people of Ethiopia celebrate this victory of the people after standing with them in full solidarity in their pursuit of freedom over the last eighteen days and nights. We are inspired by the courage, sacrifice and determination they have demonstrated and are saddened by the needless loss of lives among the protestors; killed for merely exercising the universal right to peacefully protest. Yet, their deaths have not been in vain as hope is reignited among the people of other repressed countries; not only countries in the Middle East, but also in Africa.  Ethiopia is one of them!

We, the people of Ethiopia, now seek to make all the peace-loving people throughout the world aware of the strong likelihood of an imminent peoples’ uprising in Ethiopia that could potentially have enormous ramifications for the region. We believe that it is only a matter of time before Ethiopians, like Egyptians, rise up to confront the 20-year dictatorial regime of Meles Zenawi, a far more repressive strongman than Mubarak. Ethiopians have had “enough” of a leader known to the people as a “silent killer” due to his ability to charm outsiders, block information from the ground from getting out of the country and silence outsiders by making himself useful to the highest bidders; thereby maintaining a low-profile dictatorship; despite his brutality.

The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), along with its members, supporters, friends and fellow Ethiopians, is sounding a loud alert to all who value life, liberty and stability in the Horn of Africa; giving warning that a similar uprising of the people in Ethiopia, which is already gaining momentum, may unleash ethnic violence that could be disastrous for the country and region unless  pro-active measures are taken now.  The people of Ethiopia will not be satisfied until this tyrannical regime steps down and is replaced with a government that gives the people genuine freedom and democracy.  This makes it all the more critical for those who have supported the Meles regime as an ally in the past, to now facilitate the peoples’ struggle for freedom.

For your information, the SMNE is a non-violent, non-political, grassroots social justice movement of diverse Ethiopians, committed to bringing truth, justice, freedom, equality, reconciliation, accountability and respect for human and civil rights to the people of Ethiopia and beyond.

The foundation of the SMNE is based on the belief that the future well being of our global society rests in the hands of those among us—from the grassroots level to top decision-makers and governments—who can put “humanity before ethnicity,” or any other distinctions that divide and dehumanize other human beings from ourselves; inspiring us to care about these “others;” not only because of the intrinsic God-given value of each life, but also because “none of us will be free until all are free.” 

Meles may be a partner in the war on terror, a guest at the G-20, a guest at the European Union’s Security Conference, the African Union’s representative of NEPAD, the AU’s choice to represent the continent on climate change and a recent speaker at the World Economic Forum, but to Ethiopians, he is a terrorist—a serial perpetrator of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, who has used foreign aid to fund a repressive one-party apartheid government that has closed off all political space; resulting in a claimed electoral victory of 99.6%. He has severely restricted the activities of civic organizations; controls all the media, restricts the Internet, criminalizes dissent and represses the civil rights of the people; creating a culture of fear that has enabled him and his cronies to rob the people of Ethiopia of their land, natural resources and national assets. 

We in the SMNE, along with others, have repeatedly warned those in the international community about the increasing desperation of the Ethiopian people that could spontaneously erupt into an explosion of ethnic-based violence—even genocide—if support for this regime continued with no intervention. 

The western media knows what is going on, but few are talking about it; nor are officials at the G-8, the G-20 or other international government policy-makers who have turned a collective blind eye to his iron-clad rule. No one is publically acknowledging how the continued support of this tyrannical regime in Ethiopia—support meant to increase stability—could suddenly backfire, just like it did in Egypt; creating greater instability and the possible radicalization of the people in the Horn of Africa. Refusing to deal with it is not the solution. When it explodes, it may be too late. Keep in mind, in 2005, this was the government that shot and killed 194 peaceful protestors in the head. The stakes are even higher now. 

The already precarious situation is made all the more dangerous by the deep-seeded ethnic divisions within the country; carefully cultivated by this regime. Unlike Egyptians, who are mostly heterogeneous and enjoy a positive relationship with the military; in Ethiopia, Meles has used divide and conquer tactics to fragment the opposition and prolong his own power. He has garnered some degree of ethnic-based support by exploiting those within his own ethnic group of the Tigray—who make up only 6% of the population. He has used blatant favoritism to isolate them from the mainstream; including giving Tigrayans ethnic-based preference for top positions in every sector of society—including the military—resulting  in unprecedented levels of ethnic-based hatred, anger and hostility.   

As Meles tries to convince his own ethnic group and outsiders that he is the only one who can protect them and maintain stability, he must further clamp down on the peoples’ rights to do it. With a military force dominated by his own ethnic group, if violence is once again used against peaceful protestors, there is reason to fear what might happen in response. It is an untenable situation. Without intervention, unthinkable violence could erupt. Yet, much of this ethnic-based loyalty to Meles is only on the surface and may evaporate quickly if an alternative way out can be found.

In light of this, we urge donor countries to consider how careful preparation and pro-active support to the peoples’ movement for democratic rights could prevent bloodshed, chaos and the destabilization of Ethiopia where the geo-political impact would be far-reaching. 

We call on President Obama and other western leaders to re-examine foreign policies that choose dictators over the people. How sustainable is stability or national interest when it comes at the cost of the suffering, misery and abuse of our global neighbors? Only when the rhetoric of freedom, justice, truth, the rule of law and respect for human rights is empowered by policy, will we better ensure the security of our homeland, our global society and all humankind.  May God provide the moral strength, wisdom and courage to take the right actions in such a time as this!


Please do not hesitate to e-mail your comments to Mr. Obang Metho, Executive Director of the SMNE, at: obang@solidaritymovement.org. You can click on the following link http://www.solidaritymovement.net/index.cfm and fill out the required fields to be added to our mailing list or to subscribe or to suggest material for inclusion.

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