(by Gutu Olana)
Dictators are in a constant battle of gaining meaning to their existence by denying meaningful life to others. Through its atrocious actions and inactions, the TPLF/EPRDF has taken the animosity between itself and the people of Ethiopia to another threshold. It has completely lost the shred of legitimacy it had in few quarters when assuming power in 1991.
It is incumbent on us – the people – to struggle for the restoration of our humanity and dignity. Although the primary responsibility to liberate ourselves rests upon us, we should not underestimate the role of the international community in this life-and-death situation. Since November 2015, over 600 people have been killed, thousands wounded, and tens of thousands imprisoned in Oromia, by government forces, while protesting peacefully. Over 100 people have been killed in Oromia and Amhara regions only during the last weekend.
Most of the financial aid is given in the name of development and social services. While the dictators in Ethiopia are busy killing and detaining innocent people across Oromia and Amhara regions – not doing development or running social services – the World Bank is busy processing over 2 billion USD in new aid for the regime.
It should be noted that, following the bloody 2005 elections during which about 200 people were killed by government forces, the Bank introduced a slightly tightened control system, which it has progressively loosened. Through the Program-for-Results Financing (PforR), it is currently implementing a scheme that is consequentially similar to the direct budget support it used to run before the 2005 elections. The “Results” in the “PforR” is to be confirmed by a mere report by the government, and the World Bank has no verification system of its own. The effect is that the regime will be able to divert the fund away from the intended purposes, including using it for enforcing tyranny. These concerns were already analyzed and communicated by The Oakland Institute in a report titled “Moral Bankruptcy: World Bank Reinvents Tainted Aid Program for Ethiopia.”
To aid the government of Ethiopia in this time, when it is perpetrating a brutal crackdown against peaceful protesters, is an antithesis of development/public service and painful for the people suffering under the current regime. Remember, actions become eventful not only in themselves but also in relation to the context in which they take place. On both sides of the actions, there are human beings – those who stand with the authoritarian regime to enforce repression and those who suffer the consequences.
It is unfortunate and outrageous that the international donor community has refused to seriously consider the plight of the oppressed and continued to offer diplomatic, financial, and military aid to the oppressor. By doing so, the donor community supported dictatorship and serious human rights violations and deferred the dawn of freedom against the oppressed. They chose to support an authoritarian, minority regime in contradiction with the values they ostensibly advocate for – hypocrisy can only start to explain this blatant contradiction. It is unfortunate that the people of Ethiopia will have to put up with this agonizing reality.
It has been repeatedly said that dictators do not learn from history and, I add, hypocrites do not learn from history either. Allies of the TPLF/EPRDF regime are in a moral bankruptcy, with alarming consequences. We hold them morally responsible for sustained repression of the people of Ethiopia. Those who continue to directly and indirectly support a regime that kills, maims, and tortures innocent people will be held responsible in the court of public opinion and leave a bloody history for generations to come.
The delay of freedom and justice is very costly to all the oppressed people of Ethiopia, the cohorts of the regime, and the world at large. However, the quest for these virtuous goals will continue and, no matter how long it takes, will ultimately hit its desired destination. Then comes a time when redressing current moral bankruptcy of the international community becomes impossible. Nonetheless, today has offered non-ignorable options for all to consider seriously.
Out of faith in the inner sincerity of human beings and humanity’s united yearning for liberty and justice, I appeal to the citizens and tax payers of Western donor countries to hold their governments accountable and demand an end to financial, diplomatic, and military support to the authoritarian regime of Ethiopia, which is turning the country into war zone. Behold donors and Western allies of the minority regime, the struggle in Ethiopia may soon enter a massively new phase.