European Parliament Conference: 2018 Ethiopia – Ways toward Politically Inclusive Democracy

European Parliament Conference: 2018 Ethiopia – Ways toward Politically Inclusive Democracy

Brussels, Belgium
by Dr. Bersisa Berri, Representative of the OLF and the PAFD

July 11, 2018

Ms. Chairman,

I am a member of National Council of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and also a member of the PAFD external Committee. Your excellences member of the European parliament, Dear participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to thank the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), PAFD, and offices of their Excellencies Mrs. Julie Ward and Ana Gomes MEPs from the Party Group of the progressive Alliance of socialists and democrats, as well as his excellency Jordi Sole MEP from the party Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance for Organizing this important and timely Conference.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the last 27 years, peoples in Ethiopia were subjected to various forms of democratic and human rights abuses under the TPLF/ EPRDF brutal rule. The absence of rule of law, lack of inclusive political leadership and systematic neglects of various nations and peoples by the regime has intensified the already precarious conditions of the peoples in Ethiopia. This totalitarian regime situation demanded the unity and strength of the opposition parties to change the Ethiopian political landscape. It was with this aim that the OLF and other major political opposition groups took initiative to bring together various Ethiopian opposition forces to form a political alliance known as the PAFD.

The aims of PAFD are to transform the current empire state of undemocratic Ethiopia into free and democratic communities by wholly dismantling the traditional tyrannical system; and to secure the democratic right for self-determination, freedom, respect and dignity to all oppressed peoples in Ethiopia. Since its establishment in 2015, the PAFD has done momentous jobs to bring together various political organizations and worked in harmony to tackle the regime. The most significant achievement was the all-inclusive ‘International Conference on a Current Crisis in Ethiopia that took place 24-25 February 2018 in London. The London conference brought together 11 major political organizations and set memorandum of understanding and road map to solving the current crises in Ethiopia. This Brussels conference is the extension of the London conference and focus on working more closely with wider opposition parties for peace, freedom, justice and democracy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Under the current situation the unity and strength of the opposition parties are even more pertinent than ever. Despite some are mentioning there is a change, the Ethiopian regime is at the verge of collapse. Particularly the last three years popular movements have significantly challenged the regime and dismantled most of the government structures and the economy. We honor and appreciate the peoples’
struggle for freedom and democracy, particularly, the sacrifices of Oromo Youth movement (Qeerroo), who withstand the Government’s continuous brutalities and pushed the regime towards change. The regime has been forced to release political prisoners, lift state of emergencies and repeal the anti- terrorist laws.

Although the declarations of anti-terrorist law have no legitimate reason, the regime used it to stifle decent and to legalize the arrests and killing of civilians and opposition groups for the last nine years. We see the lifting of the Anti-terrorist law as a positive step. However, we also note that the regime’s crime against humanity was not only restricted to periods of anti-terrorist law. The state terrorism, which admitted by the PM, and countless massacres happened several times before the anti- terrorist law was declared. For example, before the Anti-terrorist law declared in August 2009 more 3000 killings of civilians took place in various regions including Oromia, Ogadenia, Gambella, Afar, Amhara, Sidama, Shekicho and Keficho regions.

This includes the TPLF orchestrated drama of Baddano and Woter Massacres of the Amhara people where OLF was wrongfully accused but lately proved that it was carried out by the TPLF intelligence to label OLF as a terrorist organization. This was the time when TPLF was preparing itself to declare antiterrorist laws on OLF and other opposition parties. Even after lifting the anti-terrorist law there is no guarantee that government hostilities and human right abuses can stop. The current evidence on the ground shows that the regime is still hunting members and supporters of the opposition groups using armed forces and surrogate organizations continued throughout the country.

Ladies and gentlemen, currently we observe two contradictory issues going on in Ethiopia.

First, the regime is campaigning for change and opening political space. The new PM is declaiming peace, reconciliation, and widening political space on the media. Although some minor steps took place to convince people, the critical government structure, including economic and military powers and security apparatus are still in the hands of TPLF/ EPRDF officials. We would like to caution the Ethiopian people and inform the International Community that the regime has a tendency of misinforming the public in a name of ‘change’ ‘peaceful negotiation’ and ‘widening political space’. We also observe an inclination of diverting the true essence of change that people demanding by moving towards cosmetic change rather than fundamental change. It is not justifiable to separate the PM Dr. Abiy from the EPRDF as he is appointed by his party and tirelessly working to implement his party’s (EPRDF’S) policies.

Second, the regime is engaged in a secret war against the opposition groups. TPLF/EPRDF is deploying intelligence and military campaign to weaken or destroy substantive political organizations such as OLF, ONLF, SNLF, GPLM BPLM and other oppositions. Since PM Abiy put to power, several peoples have been mass- murdered and/or individually hunted and killed by the TPLF or their surrogate armed forces due to support of opposition parties. Instigating conflicts between peoples as mechanism of governance has continued in unprecedented scale; homes and livestock of thousands of people have been burned and properties destroyed; peoples are uprooted from their livings; thousands are still in detention under torture in known and unknown prisons. The regime is still undergoing genocide on one side and pretending peaceful negotiation and widening political space on the other.

Ladies and gentlemen, the problem in Ethiopian is deep rooted and widespread that demand full-fledged engagement with various stakeholders. The PAFD has extended its horizon to include all stakeholders in the democratization process. This is the platform where we all openly plan, strategize, act and monitor our success together until the quests of our peoples for freedom, justice, democracy and equality is properly addressed. It is our principle that the current political crises in Ethiopia would be solved through dialogue and peaceful negotiation. In this regard, we appreciate the recent call of the PM for peaceful negotiation and some steps he is taking. We call up on the government to go beyond the media campaign and take genuine and practical steps towards the implementation of the negotiation process and transitional arrangement.

· We strongly ask the TPLF/EPRDF regime to stop war and hostilities on opposition parties and move to more inclusiveness and genuine political dialogue that involve all stakeholders.
· We strongly ask the new PM to immediately intervene to stop the unfolding tragic carnage in Oromia, Ogadenia, Sidama, Amhara and other regions and bring the perpetrators to justice.
· We ask the International Community to stand with the peoples of Ethiopia, which are scarifying their lives for the peace, human rights, democracy and freedom.
· We call up on the European Parliament and the International Community to embrace all-inclusive political arrangement and push the regime towards the Transitional Arrangement and democratization process that bring about lasting peace and stability in the country
· Finally, we call upon the international body, individual nation or group of nations to come forward to facilitate as a peace broker of the peaceful negotiation between the opposition parties and the Ethiopian government.

Freedom, Peace and Justice for all!

Thank you for listening