CALL ME BY MY NAME: After the symposium

Obo Arada Shawl alias Wolde Tewolde   – July 13, 2008

    TPLF seeks Light where there is none
EPLF seeks Victory where there was once
     OLF seeks Democracy on the ground
EPRP seeks Knowledge above ground

Ten days ago, on July 3, 2008, a symposium was held in Washington, DC. The main purpose of the symposium according to Assimba Forum was to reach a consensus on how to fight for the release of TSEGEYE GEBRE MEDHIN alias popularly known as DEBTERAW.

On the agenda of Assimba forum, it was stated that DEBTERAW was to be seen from three dimensions, that of human, professional and public. In other words, DEBTERAW is a prisoner of conscience, an educator and a political figure.

Debteraw as a prisoner

Although the organizers of the event did invited many representative organizations and institutions that are related to the Human Rights aspects of DEBTERAW, few have come to participate in the one-day event. As at now, it is not definitely determined why many of the invited speakers did not show up. But among those who showed up include the following: –

  • Mesfin Mekonnen representing, Human Rights Council (HR2003)

  • Captain engineer Fantahun Kahsay representing Solidarity committee for Ethiopian political prisoners (SOCEPP) and

  • Dr. Mankelklot representing one of the Ethiopian Mass Media

The representative of Human Rights appealed to all the attendees of the symposium that as Ethiopians, we should be aware of at least, the fate of our human aspects if not for the animals and plants of Ethiopia. He said that there are tons of human right abuses in Ethiopia among them the abuse on DEBTERAW who has been imprisoned in incommunicado by the TPLF regime since 1991. It is time that we campaign for the implementation of the HR2003 so that our problems could be resolved peacefully. Ato Mesfin spoke on the current progress of H.R. 2003. He promised that if the Senate passes the legislation on H.R. 2003, it would have enormous impact on the Ethiopian societies as a whole.

Engineer Fantahun has spoken at length about what it means to be imprisoned for so many years as he was a victim himself. He was forced to abandon his profession to dwell on the rights of prisoners of Ethiopia.

Dr. Mankelklot has advocated for a change in his own words “to carry out a revolution”. However, he neither elaborates on what kind of revolution nor the methods of revolution.

He elaborated on a lot of issues of concern to all Ethiopians.

Debteraw As An Educator

Many individuals, young and old, have presented DEBTERAW’s works of non-visual arts. He was presented as one of the best of Ethiopian artists, educators in democracy and revolution. DEBTERAW’s acumen of struggle and change for all peoples of Ethiopia was par excellence. He was depicted as the alpha omega of One Flag, One Fidel and many Freedoms. In order to testify this, a well-known person from Sweden was scheduled to be a guest speaker for the occasion.

Unfortunately, this person by the name of Hailu G. Yohannes alias known as GOMERAW could not make it. It is sad that Ato Hailu is in what is known as in G’ZOT.

DEBTERAW & GOMERAW. What do they have in common? Both are revolutionaries, educators, artists and democrats. The only difference is that one is imprisoned INSIDE the country while the other is held ABROAD. Let us free them to free ourselves.

Debteraw and Gomeraw are twins in terms of Ethiopian, Arts and Literature with the background of Orthodox religion. Both did not believe in an organized religion. In the Orthodox Church, religion is relatively connected to DEMOCRACIA. The true knowledge and wisdom emanates from the monasteries of Ethiopia and Eritrea and not from the Board Rooms of Corporation or from the Vatican of Rome. Whatever the case since both are held in prison, we cannot discuss the issue of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. I had planned to discuss the issue of religion vis-à-vis politics during the symposium, but for technical and for lack of speakers on the subject of religion, we were forced to abandon the topic altogether.

DebterawAs A Public Figure

What makes Debteraw’s case as special is that DEBTERAW is an icon of a well-known political party organization popularly known as EPRP that became a target for harassment and banishment since its inception. DEBTERAW was number one target of the DERG era and still remain number one enemy of the TPLF regime.

On the one hand, EPRP was and is represented by the concept of one Flag, one Fidel and many freedoms. Because of many disinformation and propaganda towards the Ethiopian rainbow and the Geez script, even its own supporters wrongly condemned EPRP.

On the other hand, as freedom is precious, it is also costly. Many Ethiopians and Eritreans either afraid of its cost or its practicality, they do not stand with EPRP at least in the open forum. Because of these fears and tribulations, people from ERHCO and the Mass Media of Ethiopians did not show up in the one-day event for DEBTERAW. What a travesty!

The symposium was both a success and a sad story. This day and date was a day of special importance to hundreds of Ethiopians, Eritreans and to thousands of EPRP members, supporters and sympathizers. This day was meant to be the beginning of the end. The beginning of what and the end of what, one might ask?

We are living in a time akin to the Roman Empire when people stopped believing in what might call the main organizing principle of their society and instead pioneered new forms of community in which to live out of the realm of moral life. EPRP should be judged by posterity, as all of us should be ultimately. The DERG, EPLF and the TPLF are dictated and justified in the first instance not by political principles but by an extra-ideological perception (correct or incorrect) of imminent benefit or threat. EPRP’s stand was correct.

Even today, unlike EPRP’s mainstream political party, in Ethiopia and Eritrea, expediency rule and principles are expendable. It is time that a new beginning should be on the horizon. People had enough of ‘blood is thicker than water’ as espoused by EPLF and OLF and ‘what is in it for me’ as espoused by TPLF.

Concluding Remarks

|Debteraw Tsegeye’s revolutionary struggle is about courage and faith. It was not about dethroning the king, deposing the DERG or eliminating EPRDF per se. It is about fighting for not fighting back. EPRP owns a piece of Ethiopian and Eritrean political history. These days’ arguments abound. There are 10 sides to every story and very little agreement from one version to the next.

However, EPRP only negotiate with those who have something to gain by giving EPRP what it wants. EPRP see a clear way to take revenge on someone who wronged it. Of course, the best revenge is always to be so fabulously over the whole thing that EPRP couldn’t careless. EPRP’s internal coping mechanism is getting a workout healing and then forgiveness. If members of EPRP are feeling sore, at least they can take solace in the knowledge that is good for EPRP.

The one-day event symposium as expected had audience who listened to the divergent point of view, found common ground and willing to embrace new visionary ideas. Thanks to Assimba forum, especially to the balanced conduct of Ato Sewyew and Ato Elias. It was a wonderful event for a change based on a human cause.


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