EEDN Press Release
Under the guise of a “coalition” government dubbed EPRDF, Meles Zenawi’s Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has operated very much like a Mafia organization. Many of the top leaders are connected by blood or marriage. TPLF/EPRDF has stifled private initiatives by monopolizing land ownership, major businesses, telecommunications, the media, even fertilizer import and distribution, and allowing corrupt and incompetent party functionaries to run the bureaucracy. Yet, under Ethiopian law no political party is supposed to own businesses. Moreover, the ruling group controls over $25 billion in official development assistance that Ethiopia has received in the last seventeen years.
Yet, there is very little to show for all that money. In fact, Ethiopia under Meles Zenawi has gone from the frying pan into the fire. The misery index under his rule has gone up in every respect. The number of starving Ethiopians has reached over 10 million; and Ethiopia today has the 6th largest HIV/AIDS population in the world. Malaria, once contained to a few lowland areas, has now spread to 80% of the country; the number of street children and the unemployed keep rising; ethnic violence and religious conflicts encouraged by the regime’s cadres keep flaring up.
What meets the eye, such as building roads and founding “leb leb” universities - to populate them with students who are denied the proper education to qualify - are nothing more than Meles Zenawi’s grand design to divert visitors’ attention from the sacrifices in life and limb that is being paid by Ethiopian patriots in their struggle to liberate Ethiopia from TPLF/EPRDF tyranny and economic mismanagement. Moreover, Meles Zenawi’s regime actively sought and actualized the secession of Eritrea, land-locked Ethiopia, mandated ethnic federation without the consent of the people, and in disrespect of the will of the people, stole the May 15, 2005 elections, incarcerated elected opposition leaders on trumped-up charges, and worst of all, massacred 193 and seriously wounded 763 unarmed peaceful demonstrators.
Meles Zenawi plunged Ethiopia into the depth of despotism and kleptocracy. He has been a polarizing figure and has much blood on his hands resulting from the massacre of the 424 Anuaks of Gambella on December 13, 2003 and the death of 70,000 people in the senseless Ethio-Eritrea war of 1998-2000. Meles Zenawi and his regime have no history of compromise and live-and-let-live. They have over thirty-year history of destroying anyone who stood in their way. Rigidity and violence go back to the roots of the ruling party’s Marxist guerilla days, as do its notorious and long-entrenched authoritarian practices. They have been incapable of transforming themselves from a guerilla movement to a governing political party.
Learning from the South African experience about the strategic value of boycott, the Ethiopian Diaspora must leverage its financial and human capital by proactively deploying such a strategy in solidarity with our compatriots at home for the common good of all Ethiopians. This time, the international community will be on our side if we stand together and fight for the liberation of Ethiopia from tyranny and poverty. Therefore, we appeal to fellow Ethiopians planning to travel to Ethiopia this coming Christmas season to cancel their trip in order to pressure Meles Zenawi’s regime (1) to release all political prisoners including Tedy Afro unconditionally and (2) to take initiatives like (a) building democratic institutions such as independent judiciary, electoral commission, and media, and (b) convening a reconciliation conference to form a government of national unity and break the current political impasse. In the words of Benjamin Franklin during the American Revolution, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
The Board of Directors of EEDN,