The year 2016 was one of the most climactic in recent history of Ethiopia. After two decades of political repression and economic exclusion, millions of citizens across the four corners of the country decided to engage in a peaceful rebellion demanding fundamental change in the country. Tragically, but not unexpectedly, the TPLF/EPRDF-led regime decided to use brute force against peaceful demonstrators, killing hundreds and throwing into jail tens of thousands who still languish in identified and unidentified prisons scattered across the country.
The suffocating political environment, exacerbated by economic marginalization and exclusion, has created a social atmosphere of hopelessness and desperation for the majority of citizens.
The recent grenade attack and explosions in the northern cities of Bahir Dar and Gonder demonstrate that the people of Ethiopia are being pushed to the limit by the regime supposed to serve and protect them. The relentless brutally deadly measures being taken by forces loyal to the regime has created a situation where people are resorting to self-defense and resistance, at times taking desperate measures as seen recently in the two northern cities.
In the context of the brutal political, economic and social atmosphere, it is understandable that some groups might resort to such acts out of desperation. Ultimately, however, the people of Ethiopia and all concerned parties must hold the regime responsible for its institutional violence that continues to brutalize and alienate citizens, driving them to engage in desperate acts.
Conflicts, as the world has been witnessing in various countries, have their own dynamics, at times going in unfathomable and tragically abysmal directions. They start small, sporadic and scattered, subsequently they grow and intensify, costing lives and enormous destruction. The main catalyst for an unfortunate yet avoidable catastrophe is repression, oppression, and exclusion which leaves citizens with no choice but defend themselves and their families from neo-totalitarian minority regime brutality. This is what we are seeing in Syria and what we have observed across the Middle East and North Africa in recent years.
The reality is that durable peace cannot be maintained through a state of emergency and other forms of repressive measures. The only way towards sustainable and just peace is democracy, the supremacy of the rule of law and freedom for all citizens. Anything short of these fundamental changes and democratic dispensations could only be described as “pressure cooker” stability that is secured using brute force. History tells that the peace and stability that result from authoritarian rule are not only short lived but also dangerous.
The regime has a well-established record, not only violating citizen’s fundamental rights, but disregarding the sanctity of human life. As such, it is plausible that these kinds of irresponsible attacks on civilian targets could be the works of the regime itself to sow suspicion and mistrust among and between various communities.
All concerned parties, especially the international community, must take note of the progression of conflict and the deteriorating peace and security situation in Ethiopia under the veneer of a false sense of stability the leaders of the TPLF regime proclaim. In the absence of free and independent media, both national and international information on what is happening around the country and beneath the surface is hard to come by. However, citizen reporting and alternative media outlets are describing the deteriorating security situation in various parts of the country.
The people of Ethiopia are at the edges. Ethiopia as a multi-ethnic, multi–religious nation is at crossroads. The Ethiopian people can no longer endure the institutional repression they have tolerated for the past 25 years. The time has come to usher in a peaceful transition. And the time is now. The alternative which the international community should be cognizant about is we will only see more violence and destruction born out of desperation and hopelessness under the current brutal minority regime. The international community must learn lessons from ongoing conflicts elsewhere, witnessing the broad repercussions for the security, and stability of the Horn of Africa region.
The Patriotic Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracy unambiguously opposes any attack on civilian targets. Our movement, while committed to transitioning Ethiopia to an inclusive democratic system of governance, takes all the necessary steps and precautions to protect the safety and security of the civilian population. Furthermore, we condemn in the strongest terms the government’s irresponsible action targeting civilians and demand it to immediately stop this heinous practice. We also demand all other concerned parties to take all precautionary measures that protects the safety of the civilian population.
It is imperative that the Western countries re-evaluate their relationship with the regime, and begin to build relationships with pro-democracy organizations and support their endeavors to move the country toward democracy, stability and just peace.
Patriotic Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracy
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