Open Letter to Professor Alemayehu Gebre Mariam

16 mins read
34

Asfaw Regasa

I read your recent article, “If Not Abiy Ahmed, Then Who? I Stand by Ethiopia and Abiy Ahmed!” with interest but with no surprises about its contents. In your typical opportunistic act, you have been expressing your blind support for the Prime Minister in your writings and speeches since the Prime Minister came to power. Of course, you have all the right to support Abiy Ahmed; however, I find the extent of your worship toward him to be unfitting of an intellectual of your caliber, experience and age.

You depict the Prime Minister as messiah without whom Ethiopia will fall apart. You claim, “Is there any leader in Ethiopia today who has demonstrated the same level of courage, intelligence, vision, self-confidence, strategic thinking, honesty and integrity, communications skills, humility, passion and dedication as Abiy Ahmed?” In your assertion you build a personality cult for the Prime Minister as if he were infallible. Your assertion is also contemptuous to our country and its people, a country of 110 million people, with multitude of citizens who could have led our country in a much better direction than we have witnessed in the past two years if they had the same opportunity to do so. Unless you live on a different planet, the sufferings of our country and people over the past two years have been enormous; our fellow citizens have been literally slaughtered like a sheep (October 2019 and June 2020 to name but a few), hundreds of thousands evicted in different parts of our country because of their ethnic identity including the capital, all on the Prime Minister’s watch! I would like to ask you a few questions here: What would you think if those fellow Ethiopians who were slaughtered, beaten, stoned to death, dragged in the street, and evicted were one of your children, your mother, your father, your brother, and your sister, uncle, aunt, etc.? Have you ever tried to empathize and sympathize with them? Would you have the same colorful view of the past two years and a future “promised land of prosperity, dignity, fraternity…”? I leave the answers to your own conscience!

Certainly, the unprecedented brutal massacre and eviction of our fellow citizens, destruction of property, churches and mosques is a result of the venomous ethnic politics that the late vicious dictator Meles Zenawi and company imposed on our country and people nearly three decades ago, which has been exploited by secessionist groups such as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and their terrorist associates in country and in the diaspora, including Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Ezkiel Gabissa, Tsegaye Ararsa, etc. However, a golden opportunity to come up with a transition period that would potentially extricate our country’s complex socio-economic and political problems through an inclusive political process was missed two years ago, thanks to the Prime Minister! As I believe you would recall, when asked about forming a transitional government, he arrogantly claimed that he alone would transition the country. Similarly, when many concerned citizens later urged him for a road map of the transition process, the Prime Minister condescendingly claimed that “there is nothing as a road map in politics; the idea was floated by someone who wrote about it under the influence of khat and everyone is now talking about it.”

As you seem to be detached from reality, I would also like to remind you that the killings by sharp shooters of peaceful demonstrators in Addis Ababa and ensuing detention of thousands of youth in the dangerous Tolai concentration camp, recent incarceration of some of the political prisoners under concocted and bogus charges (Eskinder Nega, Sentayehu Chekol, Yilikal Getnet, Lidetu Ayalew, etc.), have all happened under the leadership of the Prime Minister! It was recently reported that Yilikal Getnet was deliberately left in a prison with COVID-19 patients, despite a court’s decision of their removal from where he is incarcerated. This is a brutal copycat measure taken from the pages of Meles

Zenwai books where he used to have his political prisoners shaved their heads with a single blade with the aim of having them infected with HIV/AIDS! Mr. Professor – the massacre and slaughter of our fellow citizens, eviction of hundreds of thousands, destruction of property, churches, and mosques, as well as imprisonment and beatings of political prisoners are not “a bump” as you tried to characterize them in your article! These are horrific and tragic scars that go into the dark pages of our history!

Make no mistake that like most Ethiopians, I commend the Prime Minister for the measure that he has recently taken to bring Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba and company to justice, albeit this was long overdue! However, the Prime Minister’s Attorney General futile attempt to draw a parallel and moral equivalence between Jawar Mohammed and Eskinder Nega is the utmost travesty of justice! This is some thing no rational human being (not just an Ethiopian) who is familiar with each of these two individual’s stances on Ethiopian politics, history, etc., as well as means each uses to achieve their political objectives would buy!

As you have been doing over the past couple of years, you continue to belittle fellow Ethiopian intellectuals who criticize the Abiy Ahmed Government, presenting yourself as the one and only one who is able to understand the complexities of politics and government. You wrote in your article, “… diaspora” intellectuals” who are abysmally clueless about what it takes to govern a long-abused and misgoverned country like Ethiopia.” Through this statement, you once again, as you have done repeatedly in the past, claim to be the only intellectual around, which is simply laughable! Such assertions only show your arrogance, self-proclaimed omniscience, and lack of humility. The intellectuals you condescendingly describe have taken the high road of ignoring your repeated insults, however as an ordinary citizen who strongly believes in speaking the truth I just couldn’t tolerate your arrogance and have written this piece (this is my second, of course) to call out your behavior for what it is in the hope that you will pause and introspect yourself.

You stated in your article, “Do we want the Old Ethiopia mired in poverty, destructive politics of ethnicity, kililized territoriality and a government of no accountability?” I want to remind you that in his recent speech the Prime Minister you tout so much proclaimed his determination to “kililize” the southern parts our country as if the incalculable massacre of our people and destruction of institutions and property that emanated from ethnicization of our country was not enough. I would like to ask you a question here – as an unofficial advisor to the Prime Minister, what have you done to counsel him to change course from ethnicizing our country further? As I recall, before the Prime Minister came to power you rightly shattered in your writings TPLF’s destructive constitution as a piece that is not worth the paper written on it. However, in an astonishing acrobat that dwarfs the performance of famous U.S. athlete Simone Biles, when you thought it conveniently benefits the Prime Minister, you presented yourself as a legal interpreter of the constitution! What an awful shame!

You also claimed in your article, “For the past two years, Ethiopia has shown a magnificent trajectory out of thugtatorship into multiparty democracy, rule of law and expansion of civil liberties.” Which multiparty democracy are you talking about? The selective treatment of favored parties and mistreatment of other legally registered parties (e.g., Balderas)? And which rule of law and expansion of civil liberties? It is during the past two years that we have been witnessing the massive crimes being committed on our citizens, evictions, massacres with the Prime Minister’s government unable or unwilling to provide basic security to our people. Which planet do you live on, Mr. Professor? Please have heart for those fellow Ethiopians who have been going through immense sufferings due to loss of

loved ones, children who saw their parents slaughtered and mutilated, parents whose children shot dead in broad day light, the millions of our citizens who were evicted in different parts of the country, including the capital, bewildered and confused as to what is going on around them as they sought refuge and stayed in churches, mosques and makeshift plastic shades as if they were in a foreign land, the massacre of religious leaders, both Christians and Muslims, etc.? It seems that you see everything colorful from the comforts of your life in the U.S. or the prism of sort of “red carpet” type treatment you probably receive from the Prime Minister whenever you happen to be in Addis! Very sad, indeed!

One could go on picking out on your outrageous assertions in your article, however it is pointless to do so. In this article, I just wanted to highlight those that stood out for me. I will add one more. In your closing statement, you assert, “The one and ONLY choice is to stand with Ethiopia and Abiy Ahmed or stand against Ethiopia and Abiy Ahmed.” This is also a deceitful remark as you attempt to synonymize Ethiopia and Abiy Ahmed! This is like the TPLF rogues where they stupidly claim, “TPLF and the People of Tigray are the same.” In both cases the two are not the same! Those of us, a significant majority of us, who love our Ethiopia so dearly to our heart, with sleepless nights about its unity and the wellbeing of our people, stand with Ethiopia forever! Standing with Ethiopia is not a choice; it is a citizenry obligation that we all inherit from our forefathers and foremothers who maintained its unity and territorial integrity through great sacrifices. Those who stand against Ethiopia (leaders of the TPLF, OLF and other secessionist groups and their terrorist associates such as Jawar Mohammed, Ezkiel Gabissa, Bekele Gerba, Tsegaye Ararsa, etc.) commit an act of treason.

Standing with Abiy Ahmed, a leader of a political party with its own ideology and motives, is a choice one freely makes. We commend Abiy Ahmed where he does the right things and things right (as, for example, he did recently with putting in jail extremist elements who are hellbent of dismantling Ethiopia, such as Jawar Mohammad and company and other OLF extremists), and we call a sped sped when he does outrageous things. Your “You are either with us, or against us” type blanket statement, which is a futile attempt to scare people, is also contemptuous of our people since they should be able to make their own choices freely as to whether or not they stand with the Prime Minister. Otherwise, there is no multi-party democracy as you claim. By any stretch, Abiy Ahmed is not a messiah as you try to showcase him; on the contrary, he is a dictator in the making, unless he is provided constructive criticism and nipped in the bud so he gets back on track. His narcissistic and “I am all-knowledgeable” projection of himself and lectures to various groups, including his recent one to select party leaders, is a testament to this.

I finally leave you with this remark – we have a wise people who discern the wheat from chaff and they don’t need anyone from thousands of miles to lecture them what/who is right and wrong and who they should stand with. Stop building a cult for the Prime Minister! He is a fallible human being like anyone of us. If you can, please contribute to the building of institutions instead.

Asfaw Regasa