By Yilma Bekele
By all accounts the minority based dictatorial regime in Ethiopia is in big trouble. Circumstances in the neighborhood are a bit disconcerting to Meles and company. You can tell from the flurry of activity being orchestrated the last three months that Arat Kilo is on pins and needles. The Woyane regime is doing its best to keep the Ethiopian people at home and their Diaspora relatives focused on something else other than the vision of an uprising. The events in North Africa and the Middle East have unnerved our TPLF bosses. It is rumored a few of them are in need of diapers, may we suggest Huggies due to their patented leakage protection.
The regime has devised a two‐pronged attack to postpone the inevitable uprising. At home the Junta leader is busy wagging his fingers and huffing and puffing to scare and bully. The last two weeks he has put on a performance with the local cadre press to assure his followers that their job is safe due to the phenomenal economic growth that the chances of upheaval is deemed to be non‐existent. No one believed him. Looks like it was not enough. He decided to use his podium in the kangaroo Parliament to vent some more. There is a video posted on his web site. It is as usual two a part series. I listened to part two. Is it possible that all tyrants attend the same school? Castro used to speak for four hours, Mengistu used to speak for hours, Gaddafi was given a fifteen‐minute slot to speak at the UN but rambled for an hour and half and our own orator spoke for an hour and twelve minutes in part one and an hour and thirty‐four minutes in part two. He must love his voice. Of course it was a captive audience. He knows no one will dare leave his lecture. I am sure most of the cadre parliamentarians have no idea what he is talking about and the fact is he was not actually addressing them. They are just a prop.
This lecture was more focused on preparing the ground for his actions when the peoples demand for democracy begins. He was lining up the new enemies that are going to get the blame. This time around Egypt got the top billing. According to Ato Meles Egypt is in the process of undermining our way of life. Egypt in collusion with archenemy Eritrea and the local opposition including OLF, Andenet and Medrek and others are conspiring to topple our democratically elected government. He was very theatrical when he started waving his fingers and adjusting his glasses. It looks like the subject is dear to his heart. He just wanted to say I told you so when his sharp shooters start the mayhem.
His Diaspora strategy is unfolding as we speak. His cadre representatives are in North America. According to the World Bank the Diaspora sent in remittances $3.2billion USD in 2009 which is about $52 billion Bir. In 2009 Ethiopia earned $375.8 million from coffee, $158 million from flowers, $205 million from Khat and $129 million from sesame seed. You see what I mean. The Diaspora contributes ten times as much as the number one export. We are the premier benefactors of our precious homeland. I can say may the almighty bless the Ethiopian Diaspora but I wont. It is not something to be proud of. If the regime attracts $3.2 billion without working for it the question becomes what is the meaning of the current tour?
The fact that the illegal regime is dispatching its top guns to face the fury of the dreaded Diaspora is a little, shall I say strange. Why at this juncture in time is a good question? It is not logical to think the DLA Piper advised regime would send its officials into the lions den and in broad daylight without a
valid and compelling reason. My hunch is there is more to it than selling land. When you consider the temperature reaching a boiling point against tyranny around the neighborhood I have a feeling Woyane probably felt this to be a good time to shift the attention of the Diaspora away from lighting the fuse.
Nice try but it wont work this time. Looks like all the vital ingredients for a BEKA moment are all present and accounted for. Based on our recent experience in North Africa and the Middle East we pass the test with flying colors. Let us see, the main causes for the peoples uprising were, leaders in power for too long, rampant corruption and runaway nepotism, economic stagnation and recurring high inflation, high unemployment and a vast majority under thirty and under utilized, general hopelessness and resignation with high rate of migration. It is what is commonly referred to as volatile situation.
The weakest link in our peoples yearning for a better future is a small section of the Diaspora. It is a sad fact. To see those that got away due to a matter of chance using their new found success to bring misery on their own people is shameful. Without the cash inflow from the Diaspora the Ethiopian regime will not have been emboldened to be so arrogant. Remittances enable the regime to live for another day. This is not about the few hundred dollars that is sent to keep a family alive. That is a humanitarian act. It is about the big money. The money, that goes to buy stolen land to build a fake foreign looking building in collaboration with government and government affiliated businesses at an inflated price. The dollars that come in without strings attached enable the regime to pay its many employees that exist to torment our people.
Today we have government cadres in our cities promoting the so‐called Growth and Transformation Plan. It sounds like something DLA Piper will come up with to give it a positive and friendly spin. What ever it is you can be sure that the Ethiopian people do not have any input in this plan. Their representatives are government cadres chosen for loyalty not ability. They are not capable of understanding the issue and they do not have expert staff to help them. The plan is the brainchild of Meles and company in consultation with IMF and World Bank. Eighty million people are beholden to a handful of cadres that are in power because they have big guns. What they want from the Diaspora is more cash to be invested in enterprises they choose. Buying land, building a house, establishing bar and nightclub is encouraged. It is not allowed to start an Internet provider company, private television transmission, private radio station, independent newspaper and magazine or a printing press. The TPLF regime is allergic to knowledge‐based investment.
So what is the rational for investing? Some say it is patriotic and that it creates jobs. That argument has been tried before. That is what the Western governments said about their investment in Apartheid South Africa. They called it constructive engagement. It was a big lie. They were just greedy and slave labor was always cheaper. The South Africans response was best delivered by Noble Laureate Albert Luthuli, President of the African National Congress who said ”The economic boycott of South Africa will entail undoubted hardship for African. We do not doubt that. But if it is a method which shortens the day of bloodshed, the suffering to us will be a price we are willing to pay.”
The use of economic muscle to modify an adversarys behavior is common in International dealings. One of the earliest examples is In fact the American Revolution that owes its inception from the movement that erupted when the British Parliament passed what is known as the stamp act in March of 1765. The act required printed materials in the colonies to be produced on stamped paper from London and carry revenue stamp. Colonial America revolted. The stamp act was the spark that started the prairie fire that led to the American Revolution. The American colonies took exception to the stamp act because they felt they were being taxed without consent. Since they have no representation in the British parliament the colonies felt the act to be an affront to the system of local representation that they have put in place. The colonies said no taxation without representation.
A few months back here in the US the state of Arizona passed a draconian bill to control the so‐called illegal immigration problem. Some people felt it was an attempt to increase the power and intrusiveness of the State and should not be tolerated. Labor organizations, liberal groups and Human Rights advocates went on the offensive and organized boycotts of all business associated with Arizona. They used their economic muscle as a leverage to advocate change.
Mrs. Rosa Parkss refusal to give her bus seat to a white man sparked the Montgomery Bus boycott. Our African people in North America used their economic power to fight injustice. Martin Luther King was in the forefront of using boycott as a weapon to secure the rights of black people in America. The freedom we enjoy here today came because some fought using every means necessary. Todays Diaspora is working, learning, raising a family and helping their brethren back home because MLK, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and others said BEKA, GEYE, BAS, ALONE, WETANDEM, YAAKEL, GIDES, DETEM!
Dear Diaspora, dont you think it is a BEKA moment today. Do you really think the cadres that have been in power the last twenty years are capable of bringing change and transformation? Do you think they have the interest of Ethiopia at heart or are they focused in staying in power using any means necessary? I am sure a lot of you went to check on your investment, tell me were you satisfied with what you saw? I know the Woyane regime have prepared all that is necessary to make your stay comfortable and fun. When you consider the vast number of Hotels, nightclubs and whorehouses set in place to suck your dollars did you think that reflected the reality your parents and cousins face everyday? Did you notice the fear permeating the society, the unfriendly stare by cadres and security to remind you of your place? May be you thought that foreign passport afforded you some form of protection but how about your brothers and sisters? No matter how you look at it is a betrayal of country and people to wine and dine with killers and psychos. A mistake has been done but there is no point compounding it further. Today is a BEKA time.
When you consider how India, Korea, Israel and others used the potential of their Diaspora for transforming their country it is sad that we are still fighting against a predator regime that is hell bent in dividing us, setting us against each other and spending our resources in useless, unsustainable projects that do not help our country. Those countries did not invite their Diaspora to come and lease their parents land to build condominium. No they asked for investment in education, agriculture, industry and manufacturing. They wanted brainpower, they encouraged and subsidized knowledge not fell good projects for show and tell.
Change is coming. Mubarak did not stop it. Gaddafi tried but it looks like his days are numbered. Meles is trying to devise new ways of buying another week, another month but it is a useless exercise. He is not stupid, but he is blinded by power and false sense of security. It is the nature of dictators to think they are unique and what ever happened to their neighbor is not possible in their house. History has shown us otherwise. Ato Meles and company will not escape the judgment of their people. For now we will be in their face where ever they show up and say loud and clear BEKA!