Tegbar respectfully disagrees with Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam

June 16th, 2008

June 16, 2007

In his interview with Ethiopian Current Affairs on Sunday, June 15, Ethiopia’s most distinguished human rights activist Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam has made some assertions that Tegbar for Unity and Democracy (Tegbar) respectfully disagrees with.

Issue 1: Prof. Mesfin said: “Ethiopians have not yet started the ‘peaceful struggle’.”

Following the 2005 elections, Woyanne had rounded up 80,000 Kinijit supporters and detained them in Nazi-type, disease-infested concentration camps. Thousands were brutalized and killed. All of Kinijit’s top leaders were thrown in jail. What more does the professor wants from the people of Ethiopia after he and the other Kinijit leaders had abandoned the struggle when they were led to jail without making any contingency plan on how the struggle can continue in their absence? The people of Ethiopia did not fail to struggle or to follow their leaders. It is Prof. Mesfin and colleagues who failed to lead. Now after tens of thousands of Ethiopians paid all that sacrifice, many of them with their lives, the professor tells us that the “peaceful struggle did not start yet.” Tegbar rejects that assertions.

Issue 2: Prof. Mesfin said: “Woyane canceling the recent UDJ meeting in Addis Ababa was a victory for Ethiopians.”

The professor, while failing to acknowledge the huge sacrifices being paid by the people of Ethiopia, now tries to tell us that getting dispersed by two police officers without any argument or semblance of resistance is a victory. What the professor and his colleagues at UDJ are currently engaged in is not peaceful struggle. It is submission to tyranny.

The professor also said in the same interview: “The fact that Woyanne prevented the UDJ meeting from taking place over the weekend will expose it to the world.”

We found this statement to be less than convincing because every one knows about Woyanne’s crimes against the people of Ethiopia and Somalia. Two policemen illegally and arbitrarily dispersing 400 delegates of an opposition party without any hint of resistance exposes the weakness of UDJ’s leadership more than it exposes Woyanne’s lawlessness. Because the world has already witnessed Woyanne as it engaged in mass murder of civilians, including recent satellite photos that show entire villages burned down by Woyanne troops. How much more Woyanne can be exposed?

Issue 3: Prof. Mesfin tried to explain that 400 people taking orders from two Woyanne security agents to shut down their meeting is “Ethiopiawi Chewanet.”

Our forefathers who fought tooth and nail to keep Ethiopia, the oldest independent nation in the world, must be rolling in their graves to hear such a statement from a senior leader of an opposition party.

Issue 4: Prof. Mesfin said: “People and organizations that don’t participate or only follow the peaceful and non-resistance path come from the neftegna culture.”

The professor is telling us that self-defense is a “neftegna culture.” By his definition, OLF, ONLF and other freedom fighters are “neftegnoch.” We disagree. It is a natural right for people to defend themselves against tyranny using any means available to them.

Issue 5: Prof. Mesfin said: “Ethiopia’s feudal culture is an obstacle to the process of fighting Woyanne.”

We find this statement to be off base since a large portion of Ethiopia’s population is under 40 and has not lived through the feudal regimes of the past. In addition, it is this young demographic group that is paying the most sacrifice in the fight against Woyanne.

The professor further explained that organizations that don’t participate or only follow the peaceful or non-resistance path want to take Ethiopia back to the old feudal governance.

One should then ask the professor the following questions: Is self-defense feudalism? Are freedom fighters such as OLF, EPPF, ONLF, TPDM and Genbot 7 fighting to bring feudalism back?

According to Prof. Mesfin, the reason freedom fighters in Ethiopia are chasing Woyanne from all corners is because they want to bring feudalism back. Not because Woyannes are massacring Ethiopians; Not because Woyanne is stealing from Ethiopia’s children and making them hungry to then turning around and use them to beg from its masters.

As much as we respect Prof. Mesfin, we strongly disagree with a series of statements he has made during his interview on Sunday denigrating the sacrifices of Ethiopia’s freedom fighters. The professor can continue with his non-resistance, but when he goes out of his way to label those who are paying sacrifices with their lives as fuedals and neftegnas, we are obligated by our conscience to speak up.

We urge the professor to focus his criticism on Meles Zenawi’s terrorist regime, not the freedom fighters who are fighting to liberate our country from it.

Stop the struggle! Join the fight!