The disregard for the sanctity of human life is continuing apace. At a time when the innocent are dying in shocking circumstances it’s not the number of dead that should be of prime concern; one death is one too many. The bloodletting is sickening. Peace-loving citizens are worried sick by the disturbing news they are greeted with each day. In the meantime forces arrayed on different sides of the political divide are callously exploiting the death of citizens for propaganda consumption. Many are losing sight of the bigger picture that Ethiopianness represents due to the ethnic- and language-based tug of war. Narratives that undermine the multi-ethnic unity of Ethiopia that was built on mutual love and solidarity abound. Vile elements consumed with blind extremism and bent on rending the country apart through the advancement of an ethno-centric agenda are committing acts which will be judged harshly by history.
As we have said time and again the proud and civilized people of Ethiopia must always be respected. If we don’t watch out what we do and say today may well come back to bite us tomorrow. Future generations will condemn those intent on disintegrating Ethiopia, a country that our heroic ancestors defended with their blood, and subjecting its people to misery. The ruling party and other political forces both operating at home or overseas, interest groups and individuals must all desist from inflicting a long-term damage for the sake of attaining a short-term political victory. Selling out Ethiopia and its honorable people to foreign adversaries is an unforgivable sin as is adding fuel to fire by design. The secret behind Ethiopians’ long history of co-existence is the fact that they value more what unites them than divides them. If, as the constitution puts it, our common destiny is to be best served by rectifying historically unjust relationships it cannot be realized by stoking conflict for momentary gains. Those who chose such a course of action have brought about nothing but the destruction of a nation and carnage. Syria is a case in point.
Irrespective of their differences the proud and far-sighted people of Ethiopia do not countenance forces intent on sowing the seeds of chaos. As an exemplary people who have lived together in love, peace and solidarity for centuries, they ought to be accorded respect. They have a boundless love for their country. They yearn for peace, democracy and equality. They aspire to live under a system of the rule of law that guarantees, among others, inclusiveness and empowerment, the unencumbered exercise of fundamental freedoms, protection against abuse at the hand of those who have political clout as well as a sense of stronger unity in diversity. They want their children to grow in an environment that is free of moral decadence and enables them to become upstanding citizens. Wreaking havoc on a people who ask for nothing more than these basic needs is unpardonable by any measure.
The alarming rise in the type and frequency of deadly incidences, some of which stem from anti-democratic practices that have persisted for decades and curbed the political space, are jeopardizing Ethiopia’s unity like never before. The compatriots to blame for the irrational and irresponsible acts that history will not look at kindly do not care an iota about the safety and security of their fellow citizens. What is the end game for such short-sighted politics? The government has preferred to be silent rather than provide the public with a clear picture as to how the country is faring, creating the impression that it is unmoved by the appalling bloodshed taking place in some regions.
Last week an ethnic conflict that arose in the Buno Bedele Zone of Oromia region led to the death of fourteen people. Hundreds were injured while over fifteen hundred were displaced. The news has shocked the entire nation. Though the violent protests which rocked the country for the past two years were put under control following the ten-month state of emergency, the loss of human life resumed after it was lifted. Why hasn’t the problem been solved yet? Why has it proven impossible to heed the public’s grievances with a view to bring about a durable political stability? What god did the months-long “deep renewal” exercise undertaken by the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) do? Why doesn’t the Front come clean about the widely reported feuding within its ranks? These are some of the issues which the powers that be do not seem to have the courage to address. As a result they are assuming dangerous proportions that could have ugly consequences. History will never forgive us if the threat they pose comes to pass.
Declaring a state of emergency or deploying the security forces cannot in themselves extricate the country and its people from the predicament they are in. The right way to go about is to respond to the demands of the public. And the appropriate response is one thing and one thing only—to abide by the rule of law and broaden the constricted political space. Facilitating conditions that allow both political actors and individuals to operate freely is a step in the right direction in the democracy building process. As administrations at the local, regional and federal level submit to the rule of law and respect the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the constitution the unnecessary loss of lives and vandalism the country has endured will stop. This will pave the way for a level-headed, as opposed to an irrational, dialogue. Ensuring that the conduct of affairs of government are transparent and entail accountability as well as implementing the system of checks and balances is instrumental in guaranteeing the rule of law. It also encourages compatriots who believe they can contribute to the democratization endeavor to do so in a democratic and lawful manner. Those insisting on going the opposite direction will be spurned by the public. Ethiopia desperately needs a civilized political discourse. History will judge harshly wreckers sowing seeds of chaos!