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Humanity before Ethnicity

Open Letter to Ethiopian Delegates Planning to Defect in North America

April 09, 2011

Dear members of the Ethiopian delegation to North America:

As you embark on a North American tour of 14 cities to lure members from the Diaspora to invest in the TPLF/EPRDF’s Growth and Transformation Plan, we are aware of the strong possibility that some, or even many of you within the ranks of the government’s 52-person delegation sent on this campaign, will attempt to defect while you have this opportunity to seek asylum in either Canada or the United States.

If you have not committed human rights crimes; this is your chance to join the people in their struggle against tyranny. You may have strategic information or influence to help move us forward. At the same time, we in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), call on Ethiopians in the Diaspora to provide assistance and shelter to any seeking to defect under these conditions.

Despite the fears of life and survival that drive some to cooperate with this brutal, repressive and corrupt regime, most Ethiopians; including a number among you, have come from families where the fear of God and the moral convictions of conscience create an unbearable load of guilt on the soul as you attempt to carry out official duties; knowing that you are part of the infrastructure that perpetuates the misery of millions of Ethiopian people; even selling the future of your own children to foreign investors. Yet, we also understand how difficult it is to stand up in opposition within Ethiopia.

We also understand that for the majority of EPRDF party members, allegiance to this dictatorship is only "skin-deep" and will be discarded like old, dirty clothes as soon as a better alternative is in place and a New Ethiopia is formed. However, before that happens, through your present position you could contribute to loosening this regime’s death-grip on the people that is squeezing the life from Ethiopia. You could contribute to the unraveling of an illegitimately elected government; making it more possible to do so without violence and bloodshed. We are not telling you to defect; because that carries with it many ramifications that only you understand, but if you are already planning to do so, you will join the ranks of your fellow Ethiopians and we will embrace you.

As you see the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Libya and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East, rise up to end authoritarian regimes in their countries, they are saying they have had enough of lost lives and opportunities due to tyranny and corruption. Ethiopians are saying the same!

Accompanying these uprisings, we are seeing many defections among government officials, ministers, ambassadors, military officers, soldiers and others whose allegiance is no longer on the side of despots, but instead on the side of justice and freedom. No longer will their consciences allow them to prop up a violent regime which has become an enemy to its citizens.

As you know, the people of Ethiopia, from both inside and outside of the country, are mobilizing to bring an end to the Meles regime; echoing the same discontent as our North African and Middle Eastern neighbors. In response, Meles and his cronies are panicking, frightened that the Day of Accountability is imminent. We believe that their fear of the Diaspora is the reason behind your mission to divide and silence them by tempting them with business offers "too good to refuse. " Previous business endeavors based on good intentions meant to support themselves while improving the quality of lives of their families and communities have now been inextricably linked to the one and only business partner available, the Meles regime, who makes all the rules. Once entrapped, those partnerships require loyalty, silence and complicity in order to maintain "approved status. " However, no longer are Ethiopians so easily deceived and this strategy will fail to silence the Diaspora. as brutality has silenced those in Ethiopia.

Within Ethiopia, the government has had to use brutality to silence the opposition by closing off all political space, politicizing all opportunity and criminalizing dissent. Another example of this extreme pressure on the people is seen by the huge jump in membership in the EPRDF; rising from 600,000 in 2005 to 4,000,000 during the 2010 election while at the same time, silent opposition to this unpopular regime increased.

You easily may be among these Ethiopians who are only cooperating for a time. You could make a difference in shortening that time even further. If you have information that can help expose, confront or end dictatorship in Ethiopia, we invite you to join your fellow Ethiopians in our struggle for a better, freer and more just Ethiopia. In particular, we in the SMNE believe in reconciliation; not in hatred and division. When we speak of putting "humanity before ethnicity," we are speaking of the shared humanity of everyone; including the Woyane and those working with the government. When we say "no one is free until all are free; " that also includes Woyane who live in fear knowing that a government that fears its own citizens will not last.

We hope; particularly with your help, that the solution of reform in Ethiopia will come without bloodshed and loss of Ethiopian lives; but instead, through dialogue, negotiations and reconciliation. Those who have committed crimes will face justice and will not be given a free ride; however, if you among those people who have never committed a crime, you could get out of this accelerating downward spiral of destruction so that many innocent people are not carried along with it. You are now standing up for a government that is not going to last. Now is the time to side with the people. Start speaking the truth about what is going on in the country.

Most of the Libyan ambassadors joined with the people; discarding a dictator who was bent on destroying everything Libyan rather than to give up his personal power and control. This sent a strong message to outsiders and donor countries that these people were not part of the Libyan government because they chose to, but because of fear, force and survival. Similarly, we know most Ethiopians are merely supporting the TPLF/EPRDF because of the same reasons. Few of you in this 52-person Ethiopian delegation will be the top, hard-core members of the TPLF; now giving some of you an opportunity to become free from the grip of tyranny and to instead help build a New Ethiopia for all its diverse, beautiful people.

The TPLF/EPRDF is a government based on ethnic division and hatred; polluting the land with violence, corruption and chronic poverty where the vulnerable majority are always at risk. No wonder why everyone wants to leave the country.

Think of what has been going on—starting with the stolen 2010 election, the brutal repression of the opposition, the iron-clad control of information and communication, the unconscionable land and resource grabs along with the forced resettlements of the people from ancestral land, the arbitrary arrests of suspected activists, the war-mongering with Eritrea and now Egypt, the use of food, fertilizer, jobs and business permits to reward cronies or punish opponents and a system of spies and surveillance that monitors citizens down to the neighborhood level—including now requiring fingerprinting of business owners, including those living in North America.

It all reveals the desperate picture of a country being held behind bars. For you coming here to represent this government, this is the reality of what you are supporting. It is time to be with the people and to stop the suffering, death, violence and bloodshed.

We also want to address those working within the government system anywhere. You surely now know that Ethiopians are working to mobilize an uprising, what will be your position? If you care about the future well being of our endangered country and have valuable information that can help the struggle; leak it out to the people. If you, as a minister, ambassador, delegate, office worker or as someone in another position on the inside, know that the government is planning something that could harm Ethiopians both now or if they rise up in the future, share it with people. If you could be a strategic help in your current position by working undercover; stay there and become a source of counter-intelligence.

To Ethiopians in the Diaspora, if some of these delegates want to give us information that could help freedom, justice and democracy come to Ethiopia, let us work with them to bring change to the country. When these people leave the government and come on our side, let us embrace them.

If you are member of the delegation, please feel to call us if you have information or are one of those planning to defect or to work undercover now or when the right time comes.

In an Associated Press article on April 5, 2011 entitled, “Ethiopia ‘ready to help Eritreans topple regime’”, Meles recently told journalists, “We have to facilitate ways for Eritrean people to remove their dictatorial regime.” This is an amazing statement coming from him. Although it is empty rhetoric and thoroughly politically motivated towards his own survival, it does affirm the universal acknowledgement that all people should have the right to live in freedom. Yes, we Ethiopians also must facilitate ways for the Ethiopian people to remove our own dictatorial regime!

You are in a position of influence; use it for the good of Ethiopia.

Stand up and say NO! Shout out with the rest of Ethiopians that you have had ENOUGH! Beka! Gaye! Bass! Wetandem! Alonyi! Diiteh! Gides! Yeakel!

Become part of building a better Ethiopia that can be passed on to our children and grandchildren! May God give the necessary courage, wisdom and opportunity to do the right thing!


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 at the following link http://www.solidaritymovement.net/index.cfm and filling out the required fields to be adds on our mailing lists or to subscribe or to suggest material for inclusion. For a full archive and other resources, see http://www.solidaritymovement.org/. You can also join us on the Face book page.

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