Sunday, July 22, 2007

Relief or victory?

The week has been one of those dramatic weeks we read in history of the world.
For a moment the release of our leaders seemed a relief. As the hour goes, citizens took it as victory (indeed it was a huge victory since the election). Had the leaders stayed longer outside, people might have taken the celebration on the streets (how I wish we could ever do that at times like this).

They were all dropped at their homes and in hours every resident of the prisoners were full of people from every direction. You could see thousands of people in each resident. The celebration lasted till midnight until our leaders got exhausted greeting everyone in their respective residents. It did not stop there. Yesterday and now as I write this, dozens of citizens are at the residents of our leaders.
The good thing is there are no sign of federal police in their uniforms to be seen in the city. It seems Zenawi has learnt the sight of federalis only creates chaos. We are not forgetting the plain cloth securities that are disbursed everywhere though. But not looking the uniform makes it easier… atleast prevents the anger from coming out for a moment.

For us here, it feels like things were moving in a fast forwarded mode. At the same time confused. It seemed same goes to our leaders. They were called to their meeting room in qaliti that fateful Friday. They had no idea they were called to go home. They thought it was one of those meetings with the shimagiles (mediator). After they were all brought to one room, they were told “you are going home right now”. They did not even have the time to change clothes or collect their stuff. All in all, things were happening as fast as they could be.

Citizens of Addis seem to learn the hardest way Zenawi is not what he says he is. Even when he does it in public to international media. When he said the pardon is absolute and in “no sense of vengeance” we would like to believe him. But in reality, that does not seem to be the case. The government media is repeating (infact fulltime after our leaders’ release) like a parrot about this “guilt letter” they started last Monday. I am wondering why we need all this at the moment. They are out from prison now. The PM is talking about “moving forward” (he neither did forget to mention about their “guilt acceptance” while talking about moving forward though.) Why are they covering the good thing that happened with mud? It takes a lot of gut standing from Zenawi’s point of view to do such a thing, “amnesty”. We might say it is the pressure that made him do what he did but still takes a lot of gut to really do it. Though there is no question they would be out at some point, Zenawi could have made their stay in prison longer than Friday. For whatever reason, Zenawi has released them. He should not be sacrificing the little good thing he did from all those terrible things he did for party consumption. He should not have campaigned to please hardliner EPRDFs who are not happy because of the leaders’ release. This is the time to think beyond the usual circle. It should be the time to think about Ethiopia. As a human being I presume Zenawi wants to have a peace of mind. Why is he not doing himself a favor? Why not all his gangs do themselves a favor? They have freed Siye a couple of weeks ago, top official during the “honeymoon” period who was thrown to jail just because a political difference arose. Now they have freed elected MPs and city council members again jailed for the right political stance the made to the rule of law and democracy in Ethiopia. This should have been the time to do the “fairytale look-alike” event Mandela did in 1995 which turned South Africa 180 degree turn. This should have been the time for the beginning of new era for Ethiopia. We had high hope for our country during the election that it blew in the air before we could enjoy the taste of freedom. We were hoping our leaders release will bring that hope we lost back. This is a message to Zenawi & co. There is still time to do the right thing. But time is really constraint. It is time to stop the not-working “opposition-kneeled-down” propaganda. It already nullified whatever agreement has been made for the good of Ethiopia which was brokered by the shimagiles. Zenawi & co. could come out champions by releasing the remaining political prisoners from all over the country prisons. Zenawi could come out champion by apologizing in public family members of those 193+ who are shot dead and wounded by his forces.

On the other hand, we might not hear anything from our released leaders official yet. It is not likely to happen till Monday evening or Tuesday. They are pretty hectic greeting everyone who are marching to their residences. They could also use some rest they can and have sometime with their families.

Leaving aside Zenawi’s plans, they should be able to discuss the way forward. Since the agreement they had with Zenawi seems to be nullified with the week long propaganda he is doing I am guessing they have no clue what he might be up to. Before entering any negotiation with Zenawi, the next couple of days (or even months) should be Kinijit only. We do not even know which one Zenawi is going to accept as Kinijit, the fake “registered” Kinijit in the parliament or the elected council members who have been in prison for the last twenty months. Kinijit as a party has lost many grounds for personal gain. Since our leaders were in prison, the air could not be cleared inside and outside the country no matter what. It is even worse outside. Many things in the struggle were done on individual basis, advocacy groups and activists. Things would have been a lot easier had all these groups been combined under one roof. We missed the leadership. Inspite of the leadership gap, the diaspora has done a commendable job for its leaders. I brought this up not to praise or downgrade anyone. This is just to emphasis the need for “house cleaning” before going into any business. Imagine what we could have achieved had we been all united under one roof. The released leaders, with the people, should also fight for the release of their colleagues and all political prisoners throughout the country. Then could come the issue with Zenawi. Here also they should never allow any filed full of foul games. The coast must be clear before starting anything when it comes dealing with Zenawi. I am sure they have known Zenawi not to be played anymore. I know our wise leaders will consider this and all other things beyond my capacity for the good of Ethiopia. Finally I only wish our leaders do not comment on the alleged “guilt letter”. It is the only thing Zenawi is barking about. If it makes him happy to bark and get the echo back, be it. Our leaders should not worry about it or the propaganda Zenawi is making. He tried to make it sound we elected our leaders just because we hate EPRDF but do not know the opposition. If thinking like that makes him feel better, again be it. I won’t help him anyway. We know our leaders. We know who we elected and why we elected them. Period. We do not need any propaganda of Zenawi’s to tell us they played foul. We know what we know. Our leaders should not be worried trying to prove Zenawi is playing. The job about the alleged “guilt letter” or document should be that of the shimagiles. That is why I feel our leaders should not be commenting on it unless and otherwise it is really necessary.
I feel this is the last chance to move forward.
I am just throwing my two cents as an individual citizen.