By Daniel Teferra (PhD)*
According to news reports, many people, mostly young, were killed at this year’s Ireicha Celebration in Bishoftu on October 2, 2016. They died fleeing teargas grenades and gun shots fired by security forces in the direction of the crowd, which was chanting anti-TPLF slogans.
The explanation given by government officials was that the Celebration was being used for political purposes by “anti-peace” elements. Even then, there is no justification for firing at an unarmed crowd. The people could have been ordered with a loud speaker to disperse peacefully. It seems that the officials were concerned more about TPLF rather than the well-being of the people.
Since early this year, many innocent civilians have been killed in various parts of the country by security forces for opposing the arbitrary policies of the TPLF government. The People of Ethiopia want to own their own land. They don’t want a one-party rule; they want ethnic division to end.
The TPLF regime is so presumptuous that it sent one of its officials to Addis Ababa University to lecture the professors on its accomplishments of the last fifteen years instead of addressing the demands of the people. However, the professors insisted that the demands of the people should be addressed first.
Once the professors were assembled in a lecture hall, they expressed their opposition to the government by clapping their hands every time the official tried to speak. The government official finally left the lecture hall in frustration.
The TPLF regime at the moment controls the means of violence and enjoys Western financial and diplomatic support. It feels so powerful that it is contemptuous and callous in its treatment of the people. However, the people of Ethiopia will finally get the attention of the government and its outside supporters if they continue to press their demands peacefully in unison for as long as it takes.
As the pressure on the government mounts, the regime will eventually be forced to weigh its options. Therefore, what the people need to do now is to continue with what they have been doing, that is, pressing their demands peacefully in unison.
In the meantime, Ethiopians and descendants of Ethiopia residing abroad can help by synchronizing their activities with the demands of the people. However, the call by some individuals for a transitional or caretaker government is not one of those demands. To be sure, the people of Ethiopia would like to see an end to ethnic division and a one party rule. They would like to own their own land.
The people of Ethiopia themselves can form their own government once they are able to force the regime to a negotiating table. Thus, presently the focus of Ethiopians abroad should be on supporting collectively the demands of the people in Ethiopia rather than calling for a transitional or caretaker government in a vacuum.
*Emeritus Professor of Economics at Ferris State University; UW-Whitewater; firstname.lastname@example.org.