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Colorado Ethiopians Celebrate Collapse of Hailemariam Desalegn Dictatorship – 1

July 22, 2018

(Note: This is the first of several articles concerning the Ethiopian rally I attended; I was invited to be one of the speakers. Here are my notes. I generally say most of what is in these notes, and did so on this occasion. My sense is that what I participated in, experienced tonight was historic, nothing less. Many, many lessons here that I will be writing about in the near future. The event itself and the Ethiopian Community of the Greater Denver area will be the focus.)

Remarks of Rob Prince/Ethiopian Community Rally, Aurora Central High School, Aurora Colorado, July 22, 2018

Friends and Supporters of the Ethiopian Community of Colorado, a community some 30 to 35,000 strong.

Congratulations on having come through this painful period in your history, and having put years of repression, suffering, dictatorship, nepotism behind you!

Let us be frank with one another

While the changes in the Ethiopian government appear to have been little more than a change in prime ministers, the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn and the selection of another, Abiy Ahmed, is a much more profound change than that.

Desalegn did not merely step down.

He was overthrown, nothing less and it was a rebellion from below that included all sectors of the great and culturally rich Ethiopian nation that forced the dictator – for that is what he was, a dictator – to resign.

Let us hope that this change in power marks not just the end of the Desalegn dictatorship, but the end of what has been a 150 years of foreign intervention, that included such outrages as the Addis Ababa Massacre of 1937 by the Italian fascists.

Desalegn was forced out by protest demonstrations all over the country where people risked life and limb, imprisonment, torture, simply for expressing their love for their country, for democracy, and for the sustainable development of Ethiopia. Despite fierce repression, these demonstrations have taken place for decades, although in the past year they have crested, culminated into such force that the Ethiopian government could no longer deny the obvious – that it, in the eyes of the Ethiopian people, the government had lost its legitimacy and with that loss, the right to continue in power.

Those behind the scenes understood well, that if Hailemariam Desalegn was not “shown the door” of retirement that a popular movement so united and so intent on change would have not only swept the prime minister from the top of the political heap, but many others in powerful positions as well. So those powerbrokers – and their foreign advisors – took the necessary and prudent step, to avoid a more thorough-going movement of social change.

They had no choice, really… and so bent to the will of the people.

It was not only Ethipians within the country that pressed for and demanding change, openness.

The well organized opposition was working though out the world, including here in Colorado of the Ethiopian diaspora that made it impossible for his government to hide the many ways, Desalegn was selling the wealth of his country to foreign bidders, be used as a base for foreign intrigue and wars in Africa.

Thanks to the efforts of your country-people at home and in the Ethiopian diaspora, Ethiopia has entered a new, more hopeful period in its history, and yes, this is the cause for celebration after such a hard won victory.

Of course, as you are well aware, the removal of a dictator – welcome as it is – is only a step along the highway to Ethiopia’s growth and prosperity and that in the promising but fluid period that lies ahead, without the vigilance and continued active support of the Ethiopian public, that this hard won victory over tyranny can be derailed, as it was in Tunisia, Egypt.

I am confident that the Ethiopian Community of Colorado will do everything in their power to help keep the process of change – for greater development and democracy – on track.

It was the focused organizing of Colorado’s Ethiopian Community – and that of other Ethiopian Communities throughout this country that let to the adoption in the U.S. House of Representatives of HR 128 and Senate Resolution 168 last year, a bill that

1. note(d) with deep concern persistent reports of widespread human rights abuses and the contraction of democratic space in Ethiopia, which may threaten stability and reverse economic progress over the long term;
2. condemn(d) the use of excessive force by Ethiopian security forces, including the killing of unarmed protesters, and the wrongful arrest and detention of journalists, students, activists, and political leaders exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression…
3. it called for an end the use of excessive force by Ethiopian security forces and hold accountable those responsible for killing, torturing, or otherwise abusing the human rights of civilians exercising their constitutional rights through fair and public trials;
4. and for the release all activists, journalists, and opposition figures who have been wrongfully imprisoned for exercising their constitutional rights, including those arrested for reporting about public protests;

And passing this bill alerted the American nation to the abuses of power taking place in Ethiopia.

Support for this bill was spearheaded by your community here, indicating a degree of political sophistication and organization of Colorado Ethiopians, not common of immigrant communities which are often shy to involve themselves in national politics,.

I would hope that the energy, organization and general deep humanity of Colorado’s Ethiopian Community can be directed to your “new home” as effectively as it has to your African motherland, that the community will actively involve itself, in this fluid and turbulent moment in American politics, to the challenging issues facing the state of Colorado and the nation –

The housing crisis,, to free quality public education and medical care for all, to a shift in national priorities away from foreign military adventures to addressing the growing inequalities, infrastructural needs of our country, to a re-invigorate effort to eradicate racism, which of late has reared its ugly head in our midst.

The broader movement for human dignity in Colorado and the United States needs the energy, the organization of the Ethiopian Community…We need it badly, and you, need in turn, need to deepen your ties, your connections to those who share your problems and aspirations.

Let us move on together, to protect the gains of the Ethiopian people in Ethiopia, and to address the growing social crisis here in the US of A.

Again, congratulations friends. It is an hour to share this celebatory moment with you

_____________

Links:

Colorado Ethiopians Celebrate Collapse of Hailemariam Desalegn Dictatorship – 2

Ethiopians Celebrate the Collase of the Hailimariam Desalegn Dictatorship – 3

Ethiopia and the Iran Factor – 4

Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa Geopolitics

6 Comments leave one →
  1. William Conklin permalink
    July 23, 2018 6:40 am

    Exactly, the right point. Twenty five years ago, I was at a party and I raised many of the issues we are dealing with today: coming retirement crisis, minimum wage, number of military bases, increasing price of college, destruction of the social contract, etc. and I was told by the party goers that if I didn’t like the country I should leave. They had no understanding of the world or of what was proceeding in the United States. They believed that the United States is the best country in the world. Well we are the best at some things like the amount of money spent on the military, the number of billionaires, the most expensive colleges, the worst medical care for the buck and on an on.

    If we had some of the karma of these Ethiopians, it would benefit the whole world. Another very perceptive article. Thanks.

  2. Dawit Agonafer permalink
    July 23, 2018 9:05 am

    Thank you for attending our event and the wonderful speech you made at our event. Thank you for putting human dignity above all else. You were there for the Tunisians during their struggle and through the Arab spring. Your local and international activism is amazing. I have certainly gained a lot from your wise counsel and friendship in my activism work towards democratic changes in Ethiopia. You were there when our country was at a verge of genocide; and you were there yesterday when our community celebrated the ray of hope Ethiopians are seeing in Dr. Abiy Ahmed and the positive changes we’re witnessing. Thank you for your continued support and friendship. In the words of the old revolutionaries, Aluta Continua, Victoria Ascerta! Thank you again!

Trackbacks

  1. Colorado Ethiopians Celebrate Collapse of Hailemariam Desalegn Dictatorship – 2 | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog
  2. Ethiopians Celebrate the Collapse of Hailimariam Desalegn Dictatorship: Unfortunately There Are No Messiahs – 3 | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog
  3. Ethiopia and the Iran Factor: Fourth in a Series. | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog
  4. Ethiopia and the American Geo-Politics in the Horn of Africa – Fifth of a Series. | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog

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