The brutal and inhuman treatment of Ethiopians by the ruling clique, the TPLF/EPRDF over the last 25 years has been met by little challenges or any serious question by the donor governments of the West who provide the regime with lavish aid. The West in general and the United States government in particular chose to ignore the widespread human rights violations by the regime. The Ethiopian ruling clique rode the international antiterrorism bandwagon and is effectively using it to shield itself from questions and accountability for the terrorism it commits against the people it rules. Ethiopia continues to become the recipient of the largest Western aid in sub-Sahara Africa in spite of continuous reports by human rights organizations about widespread violations of human rights. In all its annual country reports, the US State Department human rights section has also reported grave violations of human rights in the country. The only reactions to note from the West, particularly the US, are the numerous and repeated expressions of “concern” over incidents of human rights violations. There has never been any practical and meaningful action taken to pressure the government to change its course. The sad result of these consistent appeasement has been the emboldening of the regime to continue with its grave violations of human rights that in many instances included genocidal massacres of citizens.
The much talked about recent visit by the US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Affairs, Mr. Tom Malinowski, to Ethiopia is reported to have raised some of the concerns of the US government regarding human rights violations that the regime executes using the current state of emergency as a cover. Sadly, Ethiopians expect that this visit and the talks with regime officials would not be any different from the previous ones and think that it would bring no significant changes to the deteriorating and dangerous conditions in the country. The West has completely failed to understand that the regime has made a final decision on using force as the only choice to stay in power. Any observer of conditions in Ethiopia clearly notes a growing pattern of repression, use of force and closure of political space for the opposition after the 2005 election where the ruling clique lost and recovered its power by repression and force. From these experiences the regime learnt that democracy and free and fair elections, freedom of expression, independent media, and civil society are its enemies. The regime decreed its antiterrorism law with the objective of accusing and eliminating peacefully working leaders of the opposition and journalists as well as potential political leaders. There have been numerous human rights reports that can be cited to show that the antiterrorism law has been extensively used to quell opposition activities. By so doing the regime has succeeded in closing all political space so much that, during the last national election in 2015, it succeeded in “winning” all the seats in the national parliament.
From their repeated agonizing experiences, the Ethiopian people too have learnt their lessons. They have concluded that the West has almost become an accomplice of the regime in their suffering.
They are tired of the lip service given by Westerners about democracy and human rights. Ethiopians, particularly young people, are increasingly leaving the peaceful political discourse in droves and choosing the use of force as the only option left for them to change the government and their dire circumstances. More and more young people are raising arms and organizing protests that sometimes turn out violent. Meanwhile the repression by the regime intensifies and feeds this general public resolve. Understandably the west does this appeasement for its objective of building its antiterrorism block. While this may be useful to the West temporarily, the gradual deterioration of the human conditions in Ethiopia is heading to the collapse of the system leading to a dangerous destabilization that could pose serious danger, not only to the country, but to the entire region.
Patriotic Ginbot 7 movement for unity and democracy would like to warn the West that the Ethiopia policy it currently pursues and the toothless talks with the regime are leading the country to a dangerous end. The only way the West can avoid a dangerous situation Ethiopia is currently facing we believe, is by resorting to using meaningful and coercive tools to change the behavior of the regime and force it to introduce fundamental changes in the country without further delay.
Ethiopia shall prevail !