EPRDF, no identity and no vision

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For the past twenty one years, the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) that has no mandate to rule Ethiopia has actually ruled Ethiopia with iron fist dashing on the  Trojan horse,  the  EPRDF ( Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front).  The EPRDF, a political front; composed of a hodgepodge of ethnically assembled organizations, is a hollow group of ethnic demagogues created by its late leader to materialize his lifelong dream of dividing Ethiopia along ethnic lines. Ironically, the EPRDF that blatantly boasts to have averted the disintegration of Ethiopia, firmly stood up to the dreams of its creator and augmented the fragmentation of Ethiopia, the very country it calls home.

On Saturday March 23, 2013, the EPRDF started its 9th and possibly what could be its last congress with an embarrassing; and to the vast majority of Ethiopians with a pointless theme of – “The Thoughts of Meles”.  In fact, if there is one good cause served by the 9th EPRDF congress, it should be that, the Trojan horse EPRDF proved to the Ethiopian people that it is a party in existence with a borrowed identity that rules over a nation of ninety million people with a dead vision of a deceased man. The EPRDF is a party that lives in the past, failed to cease the moment and has no vision for the future.

The four-day congress that ended on Tuesday came to an end with exactly the same hollowness that it started. To the surprise of its own members and diehard supporters, the four -day congress looked like much of a eulogy of a man (dead for seven months) than an occasion to map a vision for Ethiopia’s future.  Despite all indications of the nation’s chronic problems of ethnic conflict, poverty, human rights abuse, deteriorating living conditions, and alarming outflow of skilled manpower, the EPRDF vowed to extend its grip on power and carry on the same old failed policies of the past. All in all, the handmade toy, the EPRDF, shamelessly told the Ethiopian people that it has no vision of its own and nothing new on its plate.

Ginbot 7, Movement for Justice, Freedom and Democracy not only invalidates the resolution of the 9th congress of the EPRDF, but it also extends its call to the Ethiopian people inside and outside Ethiopia to come together and fight in unison to stop the implementation of a policy that has a hard to reverse  detrimental effect on our nation. Ginbot 7 reiterates its perennial message to the Ethiopian people and to the international community at large that there are much better alternatives to the tested and failed policies of the EPRDF that benefit the interest of the Ethiopian people, the Horn of Africa and all other parties’ involved. The international community, donor nations and most importantly, the EU, United Kingdom and the United States must come to their senses and acknowledge that freedom; justice and democracy are God given human values that the people of Ethiopia thirst for just like the British and the American people.

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People left for abuse, a regime bankrolled to abuse

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On Saturday August 31, 2013, the Ethiopian capital once again turned into a hell where heavily armed TPLF commando forces besieged the Blue Party headquarters, looted the entire office material, and assaulted young men and women who at the time were on their last minute preparation for a peaceful demonstration planned for the following day. According to eye witnesses, leaders, members and supporters of Blue party were handcuffed; frog marched and badly beaten by heavily armed Special Forces. The assault and humiliation on young female members of the party was even worse and strange to the Ethiopian culture that treats all women as mothers. Many female members of the party were taken to police stations and army barracks, ordered to take out their clothes, and forced to roll in stinking sewage sludge.

Just like the absolute majority of the over 90 million Ethiopians, the dream of young men and women of Blue party is to see the important values of justice, liberty, and democracy prevail in their country. The only weapons they carry are pen and paper, their sole goal is peace and prosperity, and their slogan is “Let our voices be heard”. However, last Saturday; the response from an excessively brutal regime that knows only violence was to use an overwhelming force to silence the voices of freedom. This past Saturday, as it usually does; the TPLF regime took the constitutional right of the people and by doing so; the brutal regime has once again demonstrated its utter intolerance to multi-party politics and any kind dissent in Ethiopia.

Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice, Freedom and Democracy denounces the savage and heartless acts of the TPLF regime in its strongest sense and holds the regime accountable for all of its actions. Ginbot 7 understands that no words can comfort those who endured last Saturday’s horrendous assault and humiliation at the Blue party headquarters. However, we at Ginbot 7 want the courageous Blue Party leaders and members to know that we are thinking of you and sharing your pain at this difficult time. Most importantly, we want to reassure you that regardless of what the brutal regime does, no one can close the opened gates of liberty, and we shall overcome.

After 22 years of brutal killing, complete neglect for human right, utter intolerance for dissent, ever shrinking democratic space and unprecedented corruption; Ethiopia is left completely shattered and is now a failed State. At this historic juncture, Ginbot 7 wants to ask donor nations and other enablers of Ethiopia’s brutal dictators a very important question: Are you for the Ethiopian people or against the Ethiopian people? Are you financing dictatorship or development?

At the meantime, Ginbot 7 makes a call for all democratic forces of Ethiopia inside and outside the country to set aside their minor differences and stand firm for a nation that has been bleeding for so long. The question of how to fight the TPLF regime has already been answered by the continued and unabated brutal actions of the regime. We as a nation have been pushed to the limit and there is no more space to be pushed. We either fight collectively and declare our freedom or perish collectively. The nation has called us, let us answer the call.

Telecom and Internet Surveillance in Ethiopia – Human Rights Watch report

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The 137 page report details the technologies the Ethiopian government has acquired from several countries and uses to facilitate surveillance of perceived political opponents inside the country and among the diaspora. The government’s surveillance practices violate the rights to freedom of expression, association, and access to information. The government’s monopoly over all mobile and Internet services through its sole, state-owned telecom operator, Ethio Telecom, facilitates abuse of surveillance powers.

One day they arrested me and they showed me everything. They showed me a list of all my phone calls and they played a conversation I had with my brother. They arrested me because we talked about politics on the phone. Itwas the first phone I ever owned, and I thought I could finally talk freely.

— Former member of an Oromo opposition party, now a refugee in Kenya, May 2013

Since 2010, Ethiopia’s information technology capabilities have grown by leaps and bounds. Although Ethiopia still lags well behind many other countries in Africa, mobile phone coverage is increasing and access to email and social media have opened up opportunities for young Ethiopians—especially those living in urban areas—to communicate with each other and share viewpoints and ideas. The Ethiopian government should consider the spread of Internet and other
communications technology an important opportunity. Encouraging the growth of the telecommunications sector is crucial for the country to modernize and achieve its ambitious economic growth targets.

Instead, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of ethnically-based political parties in power for more than 20 years, continues to severely restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. It has used repressive laws to decimate civil society organizations and independent media and target individuals with politically-motivated prosecutions. The ethnic Oromo population has been particularly affected, with the ruling party using the fear of the ongoing but limited insurgency by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in the Oromia region to justify widespread repression of the ethnic Oromo population. Associations with other banned groups, including Ginbot 7, are also used to justify repression.