ARAT KILO MUST CHANGE (Girma Kassa)
(April 13, 2013) I remember I was a little kid around Arategna Kifle Tor (an area in Central Addis Ababa); exchange of intense fires took place. Few minutes later, bodies of young Ethiopians were all over the place. There were about half dozen possibly EPRP activists who were slained by the then Derg (The Mengistu Haile Mariam) Security forces.
I do not know the names of these students. I do not know their parents nor where they came from. Maybe they could have been the only child of their parents. What I know is this … these Ethiopians were killed by Ethiopians.
I remember it was the morning of June 8, 2005, the image of a 16 years old young girl was at the front page of some of independent Amharic newspapers, I bought that morning. Shiberre Dessalegn was her name. She was shot dead, around Kotobe (western part of Addis Ababa). In 2005 , including Shibere, more than 200 Ethiopians were massacred by Ethiopians.
If we write more stories from Gambella, Gode, Hausen, Assossa, Bedeno, Ambo, Ginchi, Borena, Azezo time will not suffice to list down all the horrors and atrocities committed by Ethiopians against Ethiopians. The number of Ethiopians killed by Ethiopians may be 5 to 10 times larger that the number of those killed by foreign invaders (Italians, Siad Barre forces, Egyptians, Turks …).
Were these not enough?
In today’s Ethiopia, situations have not improved. Still Ethiopians are suffering at the hands of Ethiopians. Civilians are expelled from their home because they happened to be from one ethnic group. Reporters , political leaders and human right activists are being jailed, because they happened to disagree with authorities. While we show hospitality and care for foreigners (mostly Chinese, Indians and Arabs), we have continued humiliating and oppressing Ethiopians, and are showing no compassion, love and respect towards our brothers and sisters. Let Eskinder Nega and Andwalem Arague be testimony for these. Let Reyot Alemu and Bekele Gerba speak and confirm these. All these atrocities, intolerance and cruelties we are seeing in our country are indicative that we have serious problems as a nation, and that we need to change.
For how long, will we be using our fingers to pull a trigger on our fellow brothers and sisters? For how long will we use our hands to write hate and division articles against one another? For how long will we use our fist to beat down and torture another Ethiopian? For how long will we be unwilling to embrace one another? When do we put a brake on the cycle of bloodshed and violence? When do we stop expelling civilians from their homes because they happened to be from one ethnic group? When do we stop mercilessly and barbarically arresting innocent people with tramped up terrorist charges because they happened to disagree with us? When do we transition from mob mentality and the politics of the jungle towards a civilized politics of tolerance and maturity? When do we focus on empowering one another, holding hands together and working with big commitment to build a united, democratic and prosperous Ethiopia, where all its children are equal regardless of their age, class, ethnic group, religion and political ideology?
If we want to be a country of the 21st century and be counted among the civilized countries, we have to change as a Nation. Change must quickly come from Arat Kilo. It’s been now 9 months since Meles Zenawi was not in charge. Many of us expected positive changes from the new Administration of Haile Mariam Desalegn. Unfortunately we have seen nothing so far. In fact it’s getting worse. Calls for dialog and reconciliation have been ignored. No single step was taken towards moderation and democratic reform. Elections are about to be held with no contenders. Independent newspapers are closed. People are arrested. Judges are threatened. THIS IS NOT GOOD. I AM RAIZING A RED FLAG and plead authorities to change and do the right thing, before it is too late.
The writer, Girma Kassa could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org