Ethiopian journalist sees his country in struggle between democracy and threat of genocide

Filed under: News |
Wesley G. Pippert PippertW@missouri.edu
December 10, 2019
Eskinder Nega,  a once-imprisoned journalist, told a National Press Club audience Monday that his native Ethiopia is struggling between the persistent threat of genocide and the elusive reality of democracy.
“Right now, we’re not thinking of democracy, a luxury,” Nega said. “Right now we’re dabbling,” with elections scheduled next year.
“Genocide is the paramount issue,” he asserted.
Nega was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2012 on charges of having violated the government’s Anti-Terrorism law, but, in 2018, with support from the National Press Club, he was released along with about 1,000 other prisoners under the reforms of the new prime  minister, Abiy Ahmed. Nega said that only one journalist is still in prison. Coincidentally, Ahmed is in Oslo this week to receive the Nobel peace prize for his work in resolving the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The session included a sharp exchange between Nega and Engidu Woldie, identified by himself as a free-lance journalist and by one Ethiopian-American attendee as a supporter of the Ethiopian government.
During the question and answer period, Woldie asked a series of pointed questions: Why Nega approved showing graphic photos of children being tortured; Whether he was forming a political party; and Was he traveling widely to court the international community?
Nega replied the photos in question “show the problem … and some want to see them.”  He said he was interested not only in politics “but in reversing 150 years of history.” The problem, he added, is “not politics, but survival.” He said he is traveling because “we need the international community to come help us.”
Ethiopia, reported to have at least 80 ethnic groups, has been torn by racial conflict for generations, Nega said, adding that a youth group, Qeerroo, “is interested in ethnic cleansing,” and in light of that threat, “elections seem too far and distant.”
“I’m doing the best I can to get the message across,” Nega said, adding “you need a depth of knowledge to fully understand the situation in Ethiopia.”
He feels that, despite recent reforms, the governmental structure continues to have “an obsession to stay in power.”
When  asked  if he was “the Nelson Mandela of Ethiopia,” a reference to the late leader for independence in South Africa,  Nega brushed off the question with a head shake.
Nega’s appearance, a conversation with Rachel Oswald, vice chair of the Press Freedom Committee, was sponsored by the Club and its Journalism Institute.
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12 Responses to Ethiopian journalist sees his country in struggle between democracy and threat of genocide

  1. No one should be pessimistic about Ethiopia under Dr. Abiye Ahmed. He is harbinger of peace and an Ambassador of Divine to take Ethiopia to greater heights.
    Master Stroke for Ethiopia by Nobel Laureate Dr. Abiye Ahmed . IKDEM DR. ABIYE.

    HAPPY DAYS FOR ETHIOPIA

    Ethiopia to get US$2.9 billion financing package from IMF

    Dec. 11, 2019
    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced today December 11, 2019 that it has reached an agreement with the Ethiopian government on a US$2.9 billion financing package. The funds will be dispensed over three years after IMF’s Fund’s Executive Board approve the agreement.

    The IMF posted the following on its website:
    Ms. Jain-Chandra issued the following statement today on the staff-level agreement:

    style=”margin-left: 80px;”>“The Ethiopian government and the IMF staff team reached preliminary agreement, subject to approval by the Fund’s Executive Board, on policies that could constitute the basis for Ethiopia’s new program supported by the ECF and EFF arrangements. The overall objective of the program would be to support implementation of the authorities’ Homegrown Economic Reform Program. “The Fund-supported program would consist of five main pillars: (1) durably address the foreign exchange shortage and transition to a more flexible exchange rate regime; (2) strengthen oversight and management of state-owned enterprises to contain debt vulnerabilities; (3) strengthen domestic revenue mobilization and expenditure efficiency to create space for adequate poverty-reducing and essential infrastructure spending; (4) reform the financial sector to support private investment and modernize the monetary policy framework; and (5) strengthen the supervisory framework and financial safety nets. “We will submit the program request to the Executive Board for its consideration.”

    Why did the IMF decided to give such a large amount of funds to Ethiopia? The answer is because they have the right man to do THE RIGHT job from within Ethiopia and that man is Abiy Ahmed. Who can lead Ethiopia and transcend to greater heights.

    The money from the IMF comes with endless restrictive list of things to do and not to do. For example the IMF might ask borrowing countries to devalue their currency,

    Nitin N Varia
    December 11, 2019 at 7:09 pm
    Reply

  2. I don’t think genocide as defined by the UN convention will likely take place in the old country. There are tangible developments I see from reading news on this and other similar websites. When I read news about a sit-down involving large ethnic political groups of Oromo and Amhara heritage for the first time I can remember that is encouraging news and must be applauded. I remember reading snippets from their communiqué wherein their vowed to refrain from provocative acts which include pejorative name calling. What I would like to see is for these two young men, Obbo Eskinder and Obbo Jawar stop pulling punches and sit down to hash out not differences but discuss how they can work to avert any such calamity from taking place. The stake of the country and every citizen regardless of ethnicity is in every stakeholder’s hands including these two firebrands. All of them need to grow up. They all should wake up, for a change, and look the world around them. The world is moving at blinding speed. Don’t the people of the old country deserve to be part of the action? In the name of those glorious forefathers who put aside their deadly antagonism to stand up to the bully who came to their house to wreak havoc in 1896. Those forefathers had antagonistic relationships but they put that aside when the chips were down for their country and people. They should always remember that the human blood that flowed like a raging river on that fateful day in 1896 in Adwa had Amhara, Barentu Oromo, Tigray and many other ethnic groups blood rolled into one. That Oromo did not say ‘I am gonna flow alone. That Amhara blood did not choose to flow alone. All others did the same flowing together as they holding hands just seconds before they died on that battlefield!!! Even just a stone throw away in 2016-2018 didn’t Oromos die, Amharas die, Somalis die, many young people from other ethnic groups die? Again, I call upon these two young men to rethink what they are doing now and come to their senses. It is not funny!!! Genocide is not funny!!! Using provocative terms to call others ‘neftegnas’ is not funny!!! Using ‘Oromo extremists’ as wholesale name calling is pejorative and should be thrown into the dustbin. Both should unite their forces to fight bigots lurking everywhere!!! Both should be assured that history will remember them for bad or good and they ought to choose to be on the good side. The same goes to others who are at odds to each other at this time. Again, the fate of the old country and its pride and joy citizens is in the hands of all stakeholders. I am not saying any differences in opinion shouldn’t exist but that should be predicated on the fate of the old country. All such ‘luxury’ is possible when the country exists.

    Ittu Aba Farda
    December 12, 2019 at 1:03 am
    Reply

  3. I see it much like a soccer game, five teams are on the pitch, each spiritedly trying to score against their opponent. But who is the opponent?

    There are multiple, clearly defined, ethnic based nationalities within the old country. Realism demands that each nationality can only score against itself. While on the pitch, rough play may ensue, anger may flare. However, that just happens to be the nature of the game. It’s not what one may depict as a feud. A contest? Yes, but certainly not a contention.

    Meimatungu
    December 12, 2019 at 8:34 am
    Reply

  4. በአሸባርነት የኖቤል ሽልማት ቢኖር ኖሮ ለመሸለም እስክንድር ነጋ የመጀመርያዉ ይሆን ነበር። እንዳበደ ዉሻ የሚሆነዉ አብይን ቀንቶ ነዉ። የሚያሳዝነዉ ግን የአካሄዱ አለማማር ብቻ ሳይሆን እጅግ አደገኛ መሆኑ ነዉ። ታጋይ ቢሞት ትግል አይሞትም በሚል እሳቤ የጓዱ የአሳምነዉ ፅጌን የተጨናገፈ መፈንቅለ መንግስት ለመጨረስ እነሆ እየታተረ ይገኛል። አብይ ቆፍጣናዉ ግን ልክ አንደ አሳምነዉ የዘለዓለም ዕረፍት ይሰጠዋል። ያን ጊዜ እናት ኢትዮጵያ ሰላም ታገኝና ወደ እድገት ጎዳና ግስጋሴዋን ትቀጥላለች።

    bekalu tsena
    December 12, 2019 at 1:15 pm
    Reply

  5. Bekalu

    I do not think you deserve this name as it refers to a person who is principled. However, from your writing, it is clear that you have an iota of critical thinking. Why do not you show us the wrongs of Eskinder or The great general Asaminew Tisgie. You are simply a propaganda machine/mouth piece of the Fake guy, Abiy, which I have to admit I was once, during the first few months of this guy’s premiership.

    Bravo, ESKEW the great!!!
    RIP my hero and the savor of Amharas, General Asaminew Tisgie.

    Meseret
    December 12, 2019 at 4:59 pm
    Reply

  6. Mrbekalu I donot see any wrong with him warning for fear of peoples death protects every one Eskindir is pure Ethiopian even though he has some mistakes rather persons like aba mencha ja-war are the source of most problems in Ethiopia now leading extremities , he said already not all keros but extremists from all fano,ejeto and all being fanatic supporter or opposerr does not help the country rather destroys it .about abiy though I support him but not 100 percent to protect from condemning latter opening big mouth about dead person shows your immorality and lowness try to be decent always haters and fanatics are the danger of any country .

    Enasib
    December 12, 2019 at 5:10 pm
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  7. Wait for your turn Eskinder . Oromo doesn’t have to share what is ours with Amaras. You are lucky Abiy shares what he got with you because for some reason Abiy is keen towards Eskinder’s need. Amara should know it’s not Oromos duty to help the Amaras cause. We Oromos got the right to say no and can say no to Amara anytime we want to, there is nothing Amaras can do about it, since it is Oromos turn not Amaras . Baldrus Amara need to practice giving other ethnicities a chance to prosper.

    Chebude
    December 12, 2019 at 9:07 pm
    Reply

  8. The bunch of close-minded Oromos here don’t know how to give a balanced assessment of the problems, save Ittu Aba Farda. We “can do what we want” no dummy you can’t. Amharas are not asking you to help them but they are warning everyone who has an ear to hear that they have the right to defend themselves if push comes to shove they can do it in heartbeat.
    . Eskender who is raising the issue of genocidal keeros that have pron to shown time and gain their savagery gets a hash hash response from oromo firsters to cover this criminal mob known and recorded crime, but for Eskender to bring this crime to the world body is for these dummies Oroms is a problem. Jawar when he posts that his security removed without a notice a demonstration and killing spree goes without a permit while the Oromo police stands by ,but Eskender can not get a permit for demonstration because of Takelee uma say so, is that ok. Just get evolved in getting your message across as things stand now you don’t make a damn sense.

    Habtamu
    December 12, 2019 at 10:51 pm
    Reply

  9. Habtamu

    Don’t push Oromos to the limit with your gura mouth. We don’t remember when Amara defended itself from TPLF ANDM, we remember TPLF stoping the Amara’s heart from beating starting from Asrat Woldeyes with the Amara gura mouth silenced for 27+ years. Now your gura mouth is open again because Oromo let you.

    You said “Amara defending in a heart beat” MORE GURA. Maybe you are waiting for the dead Amaras heart to beat again. (Asrat Woldeyes , Ambachew , Asaminew , 60 ministers , Hailesselasie and other nephtegnas) you must be wishing for their heart to beat again so Amara defend through their heart beat. Newsflash× their gura filled mouth got their heartbeat stopped with their heart not beating ever again. Dead people’s heart don’t beat so for now all you can do is watch and learn from the brave Oromos Querros how defending is done.Maybe Amara will get their turn if you will give birth to a better generation next, who learnt a thing or two from Querros bravery. Don’t push us Oromos to treat you just like TPLF treated you with your GURA mouth. Irreecchh Bell.

    Irreecchh Bell
    December 13, 2019 at 9:04 am
    Reply

  10. ወስፋታም ቅዘናሙ ሀብታሙ You said “genocidal keeros”, what a thoughtful expression! How about what happened at Anole in 1886, Chalanqo in 1887, Walayita in 1894, Kafa in 1898, Gimira in 1912? How about the very recent all out massacre on the Gumuz in Matakal by the Amhara in Gojjam? እነኝህማ ትርክቶች ናቸዉ አይደል? Just present a single evidence where the Qeerroo committed mass murder.

    bekalu Tsena
    December 13, 2019 at 9:09 am
    Reply

  11. Narrow nationalists and racists are those who are against the democratic rights of the differet nations in Ethiopia. They have been using always derogatory terminologies in order to undermine the demands of the Oromo, the Sidama and all other nations. Such efforts are futile and a sign of desperation and hopelessness. No more business as a usual.

    Eskinder Nega is one of the worst racists and inhuman in Ethiopia. He doesn’t want to seen any Oromo as a head of some  Ethiopian institutions. Therefore, Eskinder Nega has designed a plan of instigating violences time and again, so that the formation of a transitional government maybe realized. Thereby his main objective is helping the ultra nationalists of the Amahara, so that they can overtake political powers during the transitional period and can change the Ethiopian constitution and make everything retrogressive.

    His cheap propoganda against Qeerro will bring nothing. No power on earth will stop the Oromo people from fulfilling its aspirations as a freedom loving nation to regain its human dignity and rights. It is up to the ordinary Amaharas to respect this great nation for the sake of their own benefits. Let me make it clear: Their malicious politics will never work in the new Ethiopia. The scramble for Oromia like the Menilik’s era is no more possible. The  persistent stubbornness and greediness of the ultra nationalists like Eskinder will help even more as a fuel in strengthening and speeding up the de-Amaharaization of the whole Ethiopian politics in order to substitute it with the politics of a true multinationalism.

    All the ultra nationalists of the Amahara  have the same stand and positions concerning the human rights of the Oromo. They want to be masters on the Oromo and other Ethiopians forever. They are still dreaming the scramble for Oromia like the era of Menelik. Eskinder and his associates are the worst hardliners of the Amahara who have been fighting to bring back the domination of the Amahara system on the whole of Ethiopians. They don’t want to see the Oromo on the frontlines of the Ethiopian politics. They used to accuse the OLF by claiming that it struggles for the independent of Oromia. But none of the Oromo political organizations has working for the independent of Oromia. They have been struggling only for the democratic rights of the Oromo people. But still they don’t want to understand and respect that basic human rights.

    If they stand for equality were where they in the last 28 years as the Oromo were aggressively evicted from Finfinne and its surrounding. Eskinder has wrote nothing on the eviction of the Oromo until today. Even he is very comfortable with the evictions of the Oromos. Since 1991 more than 3 million Oromos were pushed out of  Finfinne and its surrounding in 4 directions. They were also robbed off their land and were made strangers in the same city. But Eskinder and his associates have never questioned the eviction of the Oromo from Finfinne and its surrounding as a demographic engineering angaist the Oromo. This democratic engineering against the Oromo people is actually not new. It is a very usual practice for the last 140 years since the era of Menilik. It was cultural, linguistic and moral genocide against the Oromo nation.

    Here are some of the slogans of the neo-racists groups of the Amahara, just to mention a few:

    – The Amahara  people will be back to its superiority!
    – Most part of Oromia belongs to  the Amahara people 
    – Amahara people must be worshiped as a creator of Ethiopia.
    – The Shewa Oromoo are not Oromo, they are Oromizied Amhara.
    – The Amahara are the best nation in the world.
    – All peoples in Amhara region (Oromo, Agawo, Kimanti, Wayito and Argoba) are Amahara weather they like it or not.
    – Amaharanism is like sprite.  Ever kids in Ethiopia goes to school, in order to behave like Amhara or to become Amhara.

    With such illusions they try to mislead the Amahara people. Their contempt for the other peoples of Ethiopia is enormous.

    Gamadaa
    December 13, 2019 at 10:16 am
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  12. ODP OLF is responsible for backing Querros genocides in the last two years, systemic genocidal crimes being committed against Amaras in the last two years by ODP OLF Querros.

    Now ODP is trying to hide in Prosperity so ODP do not get prosecuted for the systemic genocide , as OLF is hiding in new coalition to not get prosecuted and last but not least Querro claiming to be juvenile to escape justice.

    Bopa
    December 13, 2019 at 1:32 pm
    Reply

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