Ethiopia : Why are we shocked?

Reactions in social media to news of arrest of six zone9 bloggers and journalist seem to be that of shock. In my view, many of us are shocked not because the development is something new in the history of TPLF leadership as governing party but because of the pattern of constant forgetfulness about the nature of TPLF led government – perhaps something which emanated from the failure of taking the administration for what it really is.

Much has been said about the brutality of ethnic TPLF party power machine. In fact, we have had a chance to hear first hand testimonials from people who were members of TPLF inner circles and its founding members. A story of violent killings of dissenting voices,a story of brutal arrest of members, a story of purger and all that. We have learned that it travels more than extra miles to suppress its own members since its times as a guerrilla force.

Among other former TPLFites, Asseged Gebresellassie is a living witness. He was one of the founding members of the now governing TPLF party. Apparently, his conscience and intellect was standing between him and the TPLF party so much so that he had to quit with TPLF and join hands with other former founding and long time members of TPLF party to form opposition party which is now mainly operating in the ethnic political base of TPLF ; Tigray. And what was the response of TPLF? Harassment and repression not just Asegede himself but even his sons.

Outside of the ethnic TPLF party and its former affiliates, almost every single part of Ethiopia experienced TPLF brutality – either directly or through its clique parties which are part of the sham EPRDF coalition. Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations have documented piles and piles of stories of repression and gross human rights violations. Yet, not all repressions and human rights violations are documented. One can not help imagining the extent of repression in the parts of Ethiopia which are out of the reach of human rights activists due to repression.

And there are stories that we all know as citizens and victims. Innocent citizens have been thrown to jail in the past only because they happen to have a different view of the past and the future of Ethiopia. In fact, in 2005 we have witnessed a glimpse of possible extent TPLF ,under the leadership of the late Meles Zenawi, can go to maintain its power. Well over 200 citizens were brutally massacred in the capital while exercising the constitutional right for peaceful demonstration. So as to give the story a twist, some security forces were attacked in an orchestrated TPLF plot. Most of the victims were innocent young Ethiopians.

Of course, Ethiopia was shocked back then. The incident left the impression, among many of us, that TPLF has no limit to the extent of its brutality and any thing can happen for citizens with dissenting voices. And that is why I was not shocked when six members of bloggers were unexpectedly and arbitrarily arrested a couple of days ago. It’s not something new. Many Ethiopians lived it. And many are living it in different parts of the country. It is imaginable that the bloggers certainly appear dangerous to TPLF leadership. Because the bloggers have demonstrated that can think critically and they can express what they think with clarity to their audiences. Their regular and active presence in social media might have even benefited supporters of the regime itself.

With all honesty, I was surprised to see some in social media to pause their ethnic affiliation and/or support, whatever the case is, with/to TPLF and question the legality of arbitrary detention of dissenting voices.

Of course, as some pointed out, we have no clue as to why TPLF leadership became sleepless about zone9 bloggers and decided to throw most of them to jail. We can only lean on our past experience that TPLF has a history of brutal repression of citizens with dissenting voices and we know, for sure, that the bloggers clearly demonstrated that they have a different vision and aspiration for Ethiopia, which is their absolute right!

We know that they question and think. It’s a constitutional right. I for the one can not imagine any single one of them to engage in any violent project other than articulation of their own world view and aspiration for Ethiopia. And that is a duty of citizens. It should not be treated as a matter of choice or luxury. It’s an act of honorable,responsible and rational citizens. [Continue reading on next page]

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