Nobody will be fooled by TPLF’s acrobatics when it pretends to be loosening its grip by futile measures, such as suspending the new Cahrities and Civil Societies act that was recently enacted. Perhaps, they may fool the international community, but not us, Ethiopians.
From the beginning, the challenge to TPLF’s power never came from the Ethiopian NGO sector. It was obvious that 99 percent of Ethiopia’s NGOs were primarily engaged in delivering basic services, that in the first place the government should have provided to the people, by raising resources from outside the country. They were doing the government’s job, and that was why it allowed them to mushroom in the country since 1991, as long as they did not question the status quo. And since then, TPLF was closely monitoring them and made sure they operated under their strict serveillance. The very few NGOs that had a different approach to development, were always warned, shown the “red line” and kept back in line.
It was in the run up to the 2005 election that a few NGOs were showing interest in participating in voter education whcih made the TPLF feel insulted. They were quickly brought to silence immediately after the election, just by beating and jailing two unique civil society activists, Daniel Bekele (he was not even a member of the local NGO) and Netsanet Demissie.
The challenge to TPLF’s power came from the opposition who were capable of mobilizing the whole of the Ethiopian society, and bit the regime in the 2005 election. The humilated, the deafitted and rejected TPLF, then turned its anger on everybody. Nobody was spared from the massacre and incarceration!!! Children, young people, women the elderly, NGOs.
As the pressure from the people, the opposition, and the international community mounted in the face of severe human rights violation, TPLF had to look for ways of distracting attention, invading Somalia in the pretext of terrorism and then drafting and enacting NGO law, jailing Birtukan. It succeeded. The whole world’s attention shifted from the plight Ethiopians were facing, to Somalia. The debate became whether to tighten or loosen this or that artcile of the draft or enacted NGO law, to whether the condition of Birtucan’s arrest was legal or illegal in reference to “Clemency law’ or the “constitution”, as if laws and constitution matter in TPLF’s Ethiopia. Any way TPLF distracted world attention, and bought time to plan the next distructive strategy which enables it to cling to power.
Since the beginning of May 2009, signs of revolt against the repression began to show up and TPLF is inside a narrow ring. They are now on the move to to repress further to silence this errupting volcano, by jailing many, and by killing many.
But they are trying to pretend that they are changing, once more for the “constitunecy”, the international commuity. They are calling back deported Eritreans to return and invest and reclaim what they lost after the 1998 deportation. For the donors, this is a “normalization of relations with Eritrea towards peace”, but for us, Ethiopians, this is purely to buy vote from Eritreans by allowing them to vote in 2010, and an attempt to isolate Isayas Afeworki, from his people. There is not an iota of desire to build peace in the mind of the TPLF thugs.
They are pretending that they are changing by suspending the recent “Charities and Civil Societie” law, again, for the international community. For the local NGOs, even the “change” had no meaning to them. In practice, it never affected them, as it was just intended to scare foreigners.
They have already moved back to Somalia, “to fight terrorists”, and they will soon release Birtukan Mideksa.
There will soon be euphoria, within the international community, who would rush to claim that the “regime is opening up space for civil society activity”, and will plead that “the regime has to be given chance”.
But for us, Ethiopians they are not changing, they are distracting attention and buying time. We know them, that is the style of their governance. Their message is conssitent: Don’t challenge our authority. We take them for their words and fight them to the end. We will never be fooled!!!