Toward Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia
Press Release: May 25, 2008
The Worldwide March Committee for Freedom and Justice,
held from May 15-18 was a great effort by hundreds of
organizers and participants in Ethiopian cities and
communities throughout the world. We want to thank all
of those organizers who worked so hard and devoted countless
hours to bring it all together in a relatively short
period of time!
Many Ethiopians rose up from the silence of the last
many months to show that they have not forgotten those
back home. More importantly, we have learned that we
Ethiopians can successfully work together across many
lines of differences that have separated us in the past.
We have learned that we can accomplish exponentially
more together than in separate factions—the biggest
obstacle to our success in the past. In fact, we would
never be where we are today if we had been a more united
people. In actuality, even a core group of united people
who are willing to work intensely for the greater good,
representing the diversity of Ethiopian citizenry can
be more effective because of that unity than groups
with more resources or members.
Instead, we have learned that we do not necessarily
come closer to freeing the country by creating more
political parties or civic groups, but instead what
is of utmost importance is having a core group of people
with commitment, vision, organization and who trust
A major intent of the Worldwide March was to remember
our fellow Ethiopians who died back home since TPLF
came to power. That mission was accomplished. Most of
the people within the executive committee were overwhelmed
and touched by the stories reported to them of how people
commemorated this day in many different ways—through
candlelight vigils, prayer, community gatherings, marches
and public meetings.
In eleven countries, Ethiopians presented a petition
asking these donor countries to stop supporting this
repressive regime and to instead, to start encouraging
a democratic process and the opening up of freedoms
within Ethiopia. By these actions, Ethiopians showed
that our people who died for freedom, did not die in
vain and that many of us will not rest until justice
and reform comes to Ethiopia.
In Geneva at the United Nations, two letters were presented
to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to
urge them to take action on Ethiopia and on behalf of
Ethiopians refugees who are suffering in Libya, Egypt,
Israel, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and many countries.
A second accomplishment was that we Ethiopians demonstrated
that we have not forgotten those who are still suffering
intense hardships back home. We know of the extraordinarily
high inflation in the country that makes food aid essential
for the survival of millions, only worsened by the heartbreaking
news that a drought is coming to Ethiopia from which
6 million Ethiopians may die.
Neither have we forgotten how many Ethiopians are continuing
to face torture, threats and intimidation. We know of
the many thousands who are still imprisoned, people
like Teddy Afro who was detained for what strongly appears
to be a bogus crime. He has been punished like many
of his fellow Ethiopians for simply speaking the truth
about the oppression found in the country.
In the midst of all this, the phony election last month
has left Ethiopians with only one choice of a political
party, the same party of the ruling government that
is repressing the media, taking away their freedom of
expression, giving away their land to Sudan and committing
the ongoing genocide in the Ogaden—the EPRDF government
of Mr. Meles Zenawi!
Thirdly, our grief over the many deaths and continued
suffering of our loved ones has reminded us that shared
grief can find greater relief when connected together
as one. Some people may have been disappointed by the
division within the political parties and the failure
of our political leaders to guide us, but despite this,
we have found that there are people who will never give
Those people are men and women, young and old, from
all parts of Ethiopia—from the east to the west
to the south to the north. They are from all of the
many different ethnic groups, religions, political parties
and civic groups. These people came out from many different
countries in the world, agreeing to work together because
they knew it was the only way to free their country.
They knew they could not wait for another foreign country
to free them, but that they had to take on the responsibility
The Worldwide March Committee is developing a next
step action plan which would involve the creation of
a Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia—like
we have been suggesting for over a year. An important
step in this initiative would be to bring together political
parties, civic organizations and religious organizations
so as to develop a vision and strategy of how to free
Ethiopia and how to build the foundation for a new Ethiopia
where justice, freedom and harmony could be sustainable.
What we need to do is to have a national conference—with
political, civic, religious and other groups involved—in
order to discuss and develop a plan for the country’s
political future, one based on consensus. This national
conference would have two goals: (a) to address the
demand for political freedom; in other words, what do
we want for Ethiopia and how can we best resolve our
differences so we can work together to accomplish it,
and (b) what is a viable plan, with all its components
and steps, for bringing about the changes we want?
Right now, things look very grim and dark in Ethiopia
and everyone knows it. One of the biggest fears many
have is that the discontent, division, frustration and
anger could boil over and erupt. Many fear that we might
be sitting on a time bomb that could explode before
we have been able to put into place a strong, multi-ethnic
body that could guide the people through such difficulties.
None of us want a disaster to unfold. Because of that,
we must think ahead and strategize as to how we can
avert that kind of disaster, yet not compromise on the
push towards the changes we need.
Right now, Meles is using repression and control, but
this will not work forever. It is in the interest of
every single living Ethiopian to really think of the
seriousness of this situation as a motivation to come
together with the genuine intention of making some concessions
for the good of everyone. If people refuse to do so,
all of us will suffer for our joint failure.
The Worldwide March Committee has learned that there
is still a way to forge a future, as long as we place
our faith and hope in God that even when it looks to
be impossible, God can help us find a way through this
dark valley, especially if we travel this road together.
During these last weeks, we have built new friendships
with people throughout the world who we only met through
the phone and Internet. We are now enjoying the richness
of new relationships and after many intense meetings
and discussions with a shared purpose in mind, we feel
we know each other despite many of us never meeting
in person. This is part of the new family of Ethiopia,
but we are still looking for our other family members.
If you want to be part of this, please feel free to
The problem of Ethiopia cannot be solved by one ethnic
group, one political party or by one religion. All of
us are needed. We are asking Ethiopians to join with
us in seeking a new political culture in Ethiopia. In
this new political culture, the self-seeking politics
of ethnic power barons is replaced by a de-ethnicized,
inclusive politics drawing on African traditions of
consensus, respect, integrity and participation. The
existing repressive politics where leaders grasp for
power to ensure their accumulation and that of their
followers ignores the ordinary Ethiopian who must suffer
government rather than being served by it.
In the existing house of politics where elites rule
for themselves, changing the political leadership, only
changes the participants who `eat’. The ordinary
Ethiopian can only stare in wonder at the rapaciousness
of the ruling clique. Currently, human rights are proclaimed
to satisfy the national and international community
but when human rights clash with the interests of the
powerful, then they wither and die. Our rights and lives
are exceedingly fragile subject to the whims of the
The Worldwide March Committee has a vision of a new
house. The house we have right now in Ethiopia has become
the house of the elite that pushes out the vulnerable
and the weak from its protection. Ethiopians are not
brought within the house but rather left to languish
in the undeveloped bush outside. While the leaders are
sheltered and feasting within, the ordinary person is
wet and starving beyond the bright lights of the exclusive
Now it is time for all of us to build a new house where
we will invite everyone to come back in to the hut to
live, but it cannot be built by one person. It will
require many hands. We want to build a new house where
all can enjoy their rights and acquire meaningful opportunities
to enhance their lives and those of their children.
All Ethiopians, whether male or female, old or young,
whatever one’s ethnic identity or religious affiliation,
no matter what region of the country, are invited to
participate in this national endeavour of transformation
under the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia.
We call on donor countries and international institutions
to respect our goals and to join with us in the creation
of this new Ethiopia under a new political culture of
respect, participation and life enhancement.
Keep posted for the next events. We have only begun
our march ahead to freedom and justice for Ethiopia.
The way before us may be difficult, but with God, nothing
For further questions, please contact
the Worldwide March Executive Committee at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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