September 2, 2013
When Semayawi party organized a peaceful demonstration sometime in June 2013 for the first time in eight years after ruling TPLF led party savagely quelled peaceful demonstration in 2005 killing more than 200 civilians and wounding thousands, it seemed it was TPLF government that was making news in major media outlets for allowing the demonstration. The demonstration was essentially meant for putting pressure on the government to take a path towards respecting its own constitution.
After the demonstration, Semayawi party vowed to organize similar demonstration in three months if government failed to address peaceful demands: release of prisoners of conscience and Ethiopian Muslim activists, among others.
The demands were not addressed and Semayawi party was making preparations to organize another peaceful demonstration in Addis Ababa when heavily armed government security forces stormed the party’s office in the capital and seized flags and banners. Party officials and organizers of the demonstration in the office, including young girls, were brutally beaten in the premises of the opposition party office. Many party officials were arrested including party chairman, Yilkal Gentenet. Due to the forceful measures TPLF government took, the party had to cancel the demonstration.
On the other hand, government organized a proxy demonstration same day through “religious leaders” against “religious extremism” in the capital, which BBC covered in its world service. Surprisingly, BBC did not cover the story about the arrest of opposition party officials – a story developed same day in the same city.
The issue is TPLF led government is taking brutal and illegal measures, and acting more like a thug with total impunity. The sentiment reflected in social media following the incident is that now it is reached to the point where peaceful political struggle became unthinkable in Ethiopia. Whether this sentiment will take root and help transform new political consciousness in the country is something to be seen in future. What seems to be certain is that peaceful struggle does not work with TPLF led government.
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