Open Letter to Professor Alemayehu Gebre Mariam

Filed under: Opinion |

By Asfaw Regas

I am one of those Ethiopians who read your articles over the years and appreciated your taking the time to write every week during TPLF’s brutal dictatorial rule. I believe your articles, as well as articles from many other fellow citizens made positive contributions to the struggle against then dictatorship by exposing the regime’s heinous crimes as well as educating us all. However, the changes that we have been witnessing in your writings and public oral statements since the ascendancy to power of Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed have been dramatic in that they seem to be more of a propaganda stunt used to elevate the Prime Minister to great heights than incisive, critical, above all objective statements that reflect the reality on the ground. This is unbecoming of a professor who teaches constitutional law and political science and claims to stand for truth, freedom, justice and equality for all our people.

In your recent article on ZeHabesha titled, “Hope Springs Eternal in Africa with Leaders Like Abiy Ahmed!“, as you have done several times before, you have gone the “extra mile” to not only commend but also glorify and make the Prime Minister look like an angel with some magical power to bring Sudanese opposing forces to the table and bring about a solution. Whereas the Prime Minister and others who played a positive role in the said process should be commended you seem to lose sight of the fact that the Prime Minister shuttles the East Africa region in a diplomatic mission to resolve conflicts and bring opposing parties together while ignoring the ethnic conflicts that are taking place in various parts of our country, the mass displacement by millions of our fellow Ethiopians including young children, women, and elderlies including in Kamashi, Assosa, Gedeo Legetafo, Sulultata, Dire Dawa, and other Somalia, Amhara, Beninshangul, and Oromia towns and cities.

I recall in one of your weekly articles several years ago you rightly criticized the late vicious dictator Meles Zenawi for his claim of trying to resolve problems in neighboring countries while ignoring problems at home noting that “he stirs someone else’s pot while his own is burning”. However, on the contrary you now bestow sainthood to Dr. Abiy Ahmed who has consistently ignored the various ethnic conflicts at home and taken reactive instead of proactive measures to prevent the massacre of fellow Ethiopians and destruction of property in Burayu, Jigjiga, Gedeo, Hawasa, etc., a double standard that you’ve employed blinded by your worship for the latter.

The danger that is hovering over our country is palpable, an everyday reality that is manifesting itself through ethnic conflicts and displacement of our poor and helpless citizens, a result of an apartheid rule by EPRDF, now being exacerbated by the tireless efforts of few lunatic extremists such as Jawar Mohammed and Ezkiel Gabissa to disintegrate our country. These individuals are treated like royals at a certain star hotel with all their living expenses covered and provided bodyguards, all cost borne by the poor Ethiopians taxpayers’ money by none other than the Prime Minister!

Your continuous attempt to depict the Prime Minister as someone with some mystical power able to accomplish things no one else was able to accomplish including African and European powers is nothing but a cheap propaganda. If the Prime Minister has such power why ignore the crisis unfolding in our country before our eyes, including conflicts between different ethnic groups resulting in the death, brutal injury and displacement by millions of our fellow Ethiopians, the destruction of churches and other public property in many parts of the country!!! As the saying goes, “Charity starts at home” and if the Prime Minister is indeed bequeathed with such capacity and is true to what he has been claiming to lift Ethiopia over the past one year, he

shouldn’t have ignored the crisis in our country. In fact, on the contrary, it appears as though he has given a tacit green light to the destructive efforts perpetrated by the likes of Jawar Mohammed and Ezkiel Gabissa (at a minimum, “Silence is agreement”)! I would like to remind you here that it is the Prime Minister who shared a stage with Jawar Mohammed at a stadium in Minnesota when he visited the U.S. a year ago and raised the latter’s hand and touted him as a “Freedom Fighter”!!! Jawar Mohammed is nothing but a terrorist who is widely believed as being used by some foreign powers who are historic enemies of our beloved motherland financing his media network in return for his destructive project against our country. He is a guy whose place should be nowhere but at a kids playground but emerged from nowhere, thanks to social media, a decaying apartheid regime and disgruntled youth baptized in ethnic politics, however he now plays “the tail wags the dog” politics in our country. In its long history, our country had a multitude of great men and women, I would say in many walks of life, be it in politics, journalism, sports, government, literature, academia, civil service, religion, the military, private sector, etc., who “wowed” foreigners and fellow citizens alike by their knowledge, wisdom, foresight, humility, grace, mannerisms as well as patriotism. Despite such history it is heartbreaking to see our country having become a playground for the likes of Jawar Mohammed, Ezkiel Gabissa and their accomplices!!!

You mention that Dr. Abiy Ahmed is a potential top candidate for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. For what? Ethiopia on Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s watch has become the number one nation in the world in internal displacement of people, an infamous title not even secured by Syria, Libya, and Yemen, countries that have been going through destructive civil wars for several years now. The peace and security of our nation is at stake due to the divisive ethnic politics that has been perpetrated by EPRDF for 28 years to this day, which Dr. Abiy Ahmed is a part of! Citizens get stubbed, murdered and persecuted at whim as a result of such politics and extremist propaganda by Jawar Mohammed and company. You just need to watch on youtube Jawar Mohammed’s recent speech in Hawasa and ensuing murder of citizens, destruction of churches and other property, as reported by Government media! You need to put yourself in the Hawasa mother’s shoes who was narrating the story of her ailing daughter who was stubbed while in her bed!!! In my opinion, it would be an insult to injury to those millions of Ethiopians who have been subjected to politically motivated arrests, injuries, murders and displacement under Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s rule if he is awarded a “Nobel Peace Prize”!!! Your further attempt to liken Dr. Abiy Ahmed with H.I.M. Haile Selassie was a great spin and good try! However, that’s a bit of stretch to say the least, Mr. Professor.

Your characterization of fellow citizens who do not bow to and worship Dr. Abiy Ahmed as “ungrateful brain dead in Ethiopia and in the Ethiopian diaspora”, “windbags and empty barrels” is very indecent and un-Ethiopian! It is not your first time to make such an outrageous statement in your writings and in public fora. You once claimed at a meeting held in Alexandria, VA something like, “No one can oppose Dr. Abiy Ahmed.” It is perplexing to hear such a statement from you who has taught constitutional law and political science for years. It is no-brainer that each and every citizen has a right to have an opinion of their own, criticize Dr. Abiy Ahmed or whoever in public office for what they do and they don’t do and the ultimate judge should be the people of Ethiopia, not a self-appointed professor who claims to be omniscient.

Finally, I would like to mention that the power-sharing deal in the Sudan creates a joint military and civilian council to rule the country for three years until elections can be held. As such, at least on a theoretical level (of course no one can predict what happens in the country’s politics

between now and three years from now) this will be an inclusive transitional government that creates a fertile ground for a path to a democratic system through building institutions needed for such a system. It is paradoxical that Dr. Abiy Ahmed commended the parties for taking this road, whereas he claimed to transition our country to a democratic system on his own (exclusively) when asked about it during his visit to the U.S. In addition, our Sudanese brothers and sisters are taking the time to make the necessary preparation for a democratic system whereas Dr. Abiy Ahmed and his EPRDF party are rushing to proceed with an election in less than nine months working in concert with his rubber stamp parliament despite opposition from many political parties and other concerned citizens saying that it would be unrealistic to conduct a free and fair election in a country where there is no basic peace and security. Mr. Professor, your article has also lost sight of this fact vis-à-vis the Sudanese power-sharing deal. In conclusion, Mr. Professor, I would like to say that no one questions your right to support and stand firm by the Prime Minister, however your excessively effusive statements and glorification of the Prime Minister, which cannot be objectively corroborated by what’s going on in our country, and insults toward fellow Ethiopians who disagree with him earns you nothing but disrespect and rejection. It is only my hope that you will be open to criticisms that come across your way, introspect and revert to assessing the reality on the ground objectively and free of any bias, and continue to make a positive contribution to our country that is going through one of the most difficult times in its history.

6 Responses to Open Letter to Professor Alemayehu Gebre Mariam

  1. Very interesting critic upon one’s Article.
    In my humble opinion Mr/Ms X [regardless of personality] is entitled to his/her opinion. And another writer Mr Y/Ms Y is free to refute the opinion of Mr/Ms X.
    In that exchange one should be very careful not to slide down thus appearing to be appealing to the other to take thy side. Please note that the protagonists have every right to express their respective opinion in their own prisms for the judgment by the READER. Appearing to be begging one to be on thy side is a sure way of negation and mastery. rezen

    Avatar for rezen

    rezen
    September 3, 2019 at 9:00 pm
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  2. Dearest Asfaw,
    Your points are well made. However, you have missed a very important point professor Alemayehu is making that is: after only a short period as a prime minster, Dr. Abiy made political progress (national, and reginal) as well as economical and psychological uplifting that gives hope for Africans in particular Ethiopians.
    Professor Alemayehu is not making Dr. Abiy as “Angel or having Magical power” he is simply stating the fact Dr. Abiy gave oxygen to the people who have been gasping for air. It is your prerogative to ask how much time we have before the oxygen tank empties out. It is for us Ethiopians as one nation, to see to it we replace the temporary air with a permanent one. Moreover, we should not spend unnessary energy on frame by frame pictures we need to focus on the big picture which is to take advantage of Dr. Abiy’s wisdom register all the losses, keep moving forward and make Ethiopia Great. Dr. Abiy is not perfect. Despite all obstacles he faced, he is making progress and we have to commend and give him high credit. He has a mountain of ice in front of him we have to come together to help him melt it.
    Dwelling on the past and gloom and doom of the future will never lead us to that end and to a better Ethiopia.
    We have the best culture, the best country and good hearted people that is the envy of the world. We are the children of Lucy, we are the foundation of humanity. We have to regect tribalism and embrace Ethiopianism.
    All what Ethiopia is asking is a big hug as one and genuine, heart felt thank you for all what she gave us. When do that, instead tearing each other down, our Ethiopia will reward us with unity, peace and prosperity .
    Once again, Asfaw, from my reading and understanding of his articles, professor Alemayehu is pointing out under Dr. Abiy’s leadership there is light at the end the tunnel but, to you that light is the lamp of an incoming train . I beg to differ !

    Avatar for E.

    E.
    September 4, 2019 at 6:20 am
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  3. Hy mr Asfaw! Here I only remind you one saying ” while you open your mouth, your mind will be seen” Your have short insughtful thinking or you are blind minded.

    Avatar for Habtamu Woldeyohanis

    Habtamu Woldeyohanis
    September 5, 2019 at 12:58 am
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  4. I think both Obbo Asfaw and Professor Al have substance in their opinion. Professor had it in commending so many positive and uplifting steps the young PM took since his first day in office. Tens of thousands of political prisoners were freed, thousands who were forced to flee the country or started an armed struggle(including those who used to scavenge at Asmara, Riyadh and Al-Qahirah) were allowed to return home(unarmed) and the private media have been allowed to operate. In comparison to the his predecessors that did not take too long to send their battle hardened ruffians into the streets of the capital and mow down agitated but peaceful demonstrators. There was a breeze of fresh air in the old country for the first time since 1974. That deserves nothing but kudos for the young PM.

    But on the other hand it sometimes seems to me that there is a sense of disappointment on the PM for what has been happening right after April 2018. Every bigot that used to roam around among us here in the USA, Europe, Oceania and the dumpsites in Asmara has gone back to every nook and cranny spreading hateful poison among the hapless youth unleashing murders with a few that can be classified as ‘genocide’. They unleashed Guji on Gedeo, Shangul on Amhara and vice versa, Oromo on Somali and vice versa, Amhara on Tigre and vice versa. The result is more than 3.5 million displaced citizens. Now the UN agency is warning a calamity where millions will perish due to starvation because one major reason being the internal displacements of citizens. Farms are now fallow. It seems that the PM have chosen to wait it out and such hesitation has created an atmosphere of frustration and anger in many quarters and they should not be blamed for feeling overlooked and felt to fend for themselves in the presence of hundreds of thousands of armed soldiers under his command. What our dear professor should always keep in mind is this young PM is the ‘former’ army colonel in well tailored 3-piece suit. He can turn cold or hot on a dime. So far he has been on the cool side. For me the jury is still out but commending him for the positive steps he undertook since April, 2018.

    In light of all this carnage, I see some encouraging developments in some areas of the old country. What our Somali brothers and sisters are doing in maintaining peace and stability in their region is commendable. That does not come from going to Stanford and Colombia. It comes out of maturity and the indication that level heads are getting the upper hand there. I hope they keep it up and going. Also in many localities both in Oromia and Amhara regions level head elders are being heeded more and more on daily basis. That is encouraging news. I am hedging all my bets on these not-college-educated every day elders. But when I look at the educated sections with so much masters and PHD’s, in most cases I get disappointed and utterly disgusted. They have gone tone deaf. They think they know much better than anyone else. One writes articles it seems while loaded and the other one writes back while also loaded. Then we are thrown into cycles of disturbing diatribes and name calling with rejoinder this and rejoinder that. To be honest with you, I and many others don’t even understand what they are talking about. Some of them try to preach us the ‘virtues’ of Marx and his ‘class struggle’. It is the late 1960’s déjà vu for me. I wish they spend all their energy in promoting the capabilities of the old country to companies here and Europe which have mfg facilities outside their countries where many of such mfg facilities will never return due to insurmountable/prohibitive costs. The diatribes they chicken-scratch here or anywhere will not bring the dough home for that jobless/agitated youth or that desperate father/mother.

    Avatar for Ittu Aba Farda

    Ittu Aba Farda
    September 5, 2019 at 11:29 pm
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  5. Asfaw,

    You have told the truth. It is the truth. Prof Al has transformed a blind cheer leader. Yes, he is entitled to his opinion and his writings but not to facts. So, don’t listen to untrue critics

    Avatar for Zekarias

    Zekarias
    September 6, 2019 at 11:08 am
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  6. One more reminder and urging I want to make for those us who have lived here in the USA and become its citizens is to run for office at every level and become members of the congress just like others have done already. Just look at what the first thing the current member of congress with an Eritrean heritage did. When the democratic caucus decided to send a fact finding delegation to Africa who is a better candidate than him? Right? And the first pit stop, you may ask? It was Asmara, Piccola Roma or Secondo Roma!!! He did not disappoint either due to the fact they were treated there as if they were not in Africa but rather at small town in Italy. It was the first stop y’all!!! You will never hear Resolution this or that being tossed around by the congress. I really commend him for that. It is a feat very hard to accomplish but he did it!!! Even though members of the congress have had earful of stories of people in containers for years. He is and will be right there to debunk every such ‘false and unsubstantiated’ allegation!!! ‘If we do this or that such terrible will happen’ scare tactics, you know!!!

    So all of you masters and PHD’s among us wake up and run for offices but working for the good of the people that elect you.

    Avatar for Ittu Aba Farda

    Ittu Aba Farda
    September 10, 2019 at 2:06 am
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