Vision Ethiopia Statement
December 27, 2021
It is with mixed feelings that the Board of Vision Ethiopia (VE) noted the recent proposal on the establishment of a National Dialogue Commission, with a stated mandate of bridging differences and charting “an inclusive way forward for national understanding and alignment”.
We applaud the government for launching the initiative to establish a framework for building national consensus on critical issues through inclusive national dialogue and consultation.
By any measure, the essentiality of a national reconciliation framework for Ethiopia is an incontrovertible imperative. While the forward-looking objective of the proposed initiative is laudable, it is our view that its mandate should be framed with the proper historical context, and that the scope be expanded in congruence to the magnitude of the task it is intended to tackle. In addition, the proposed institution must, as implied in the preamble of the decree, be free of any political influence and fully independent. In order for the institution to be independent from political tampering, one essential requirement is that it must be run by members nominated by entities outside of the influence of the Prime Minister and the House of Peoples’ Representatives. Further, the promulgation of the initiative should not be confounded with any of the efforts relating to the ongoing war against the terrorist groups, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the armed-wing of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF-Shenie). Otherwise, any perception of lack of institutional independence, narrowness of the scope of the mandate or intent of use as a diversionary scheme for the ongoing crises is likely to dampen enthusiasm in the long-awaited institution.
National dialogue commissions, under such monikers as truth commissions, or truth and reconciliation commissions, have long been considered a critical element in the healing process of countries that have passed through a period of traumatic and tragic experience. A notable example is the truth and reconciliation commission of South Africa that was formed in 1995 following the collapse the apartheid system in that country. Despite its imperfections, the South African model has served as a template for several other countries, including Congo, Sierra Leone and even Chile. Another example is the path taken by Argentina with the establishment of the so called National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons. The differences in the sociopolitical backdrops of these countries notwithstanding, the institutions that achieved some degree of success have certain unmistakable commonalities, including their functions as instruments of truth-seeking and other basic objectives such as reconciliation, justice, reparation, and atonement.
Thus, a truth and reconciliation framework in Ethiopia is not only a matter of supreme urgency, but one that cannot be conceived as pertinently different from those witnessed in other nations. In fact, the proclamation of the belatedly proposed National Dialogue is long overdue, and should have happened in 2018, right after the termination of the tyrannical rule of the TPLF by popular uprisings across the land.
Thanks in part to the absence of an opportune national truth and reconciliation framework, the ethno-terrorist groups, the TPLF and OLF Shenie, have continued to wreak devastating damage with impunity on large segments of the country’s population. Amharas and other followers of the Orthodox Christian church have been subjected to genocidal violence and massive displacement in the Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz regions, while the central government played no more than the role of a spectator member of the unaffected groups. Predictably, the TPLF, emboldened by the indecision of the central government, launched a surprise attack on the Northern Command of the National Defense Forces, and massacred thousands of the members in cold blood on the infamous night of November 3, 2020. Subsequently, the central government declared a perplexing unilateral ceasefire and unleashed the terrorist group to plunder, massacre and pillage the Amhara and Afar regions with no accountability. Millions of Amhara and Afari people were displaced, young and old women were raped, countless innocent civilians of the regions were murdered, and incalculable damage was inflicted on public and private property. Then, on December 23rd, 2021, the government paradoxically let the criminal group retreat to the Tigray region, under the façade of flimsy and curious reasons, further exposing the unarmed inhabitants of the Amhara region to perpetual threats and attacks by the terrorist groups.
The government continues to exacerbate the fragile situation in the country by incarcerating dissidents, such as Eskinder Nega, and journalists, in the likes of Meaza Mohammed and Tamirat Negerra, who are known to be critical of Oromumma extremism and genocidal violence.
Externally, the country is under constant assault by the West, and neighboring Arab League member nations, thanks in part to the strategic and geopolitical importance of the region. Western media and other establishments have brought to bear their full might to destabilize the country using the TPLF and other terror groups as their Trojan horses.
Ethiopia can ensure its survival only through the unity of its people, who have been divided along ethnic lines by the poisonous apartheid constitution imposed on them by the TPLF terrorist group. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to lay a robust foundation for national reconciliation that is built on trust, accountability and reparation to ensure lasting peace, unity and stability.
Thus, the Board of VE strongly believes that the following are essential ingredients to chart a viable roadmap for the proposed Commission for a National Dialogue:
• A genuine mandate that is modelled after similar initiatives in other countries. The mandate should include truth, justice, reconciliation, atonement and reparation;
• Absolute independence of the institutions from political influence. This includes, but is not limited to, non-interference by the government in the appointment process of the officers of the Commission; and
• A clear affirmation of underlying principles, including the inviolability of the unity and territorial integrity of the country and the primacy of individual rights.
Board of Vision Ethiopia
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