Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cracking on Dissent by Cadre Network Making Ethiopia an open Air Prison

By Abenezer A

Before we get into that, first let’s see the political history of Ethiopia is

Political history
The current government, led by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), came to power in arm struggle  1991 after many years fight in an atmosphere of great hope, ending a decade of civil war and overthrowing dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. A coalition of armed groups, including the Tigrean People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), both ideologically driven Marxist organizations, allied  together to overthrow Mengistu's "Derg" (an Amharic word meaning committee), which had been in power since 1974. The Derg was responsible for human rights violations on an very high  scale including the torture, murder, and "disappearance" of tens of thousands of Ethiopians during the 1976-1978 period dubbed the Red Terror. The Derg continued to commit widespread violations of human rights until its defeat in 1991. Prior to the Derg, Emperor Haile Selassie ruled the country for more than forty years. His imperial rule was also characterized by widespread human rights abuses, autocratic control of the legislature and judiciary, and maintenance of an essentially feudal system in the countryside.

After the derg was toppled down, a transitional government was formed in 1991 that lasted until 1995. The constitution was adopted in 1995, drawing lines between regions based on ethnicity, Eprdf masquerade as coalition  party  formed by oromo people democratic organization(opdo), Amahra National Democratic Movement, Southern people’s democratic Movement (Spdm). However The TPLF dominated central government claims that its guiding principles are democracy, development, and minority rights, but maintains a tight grip over diverse segments of society and all potential political opponents. The ruling part Eprdf has enshrined ostensibly democratic institutions at local, regional, and national levels, but, in reality, party cadres remain in control. International advisors say that, for example, political decentralization, seemingly meant to ensure democratic decision-making at local levels, has in fact been carefully crafted by the central government to ensure effective federal (and ruling party) control of regional and local government institutions. International observers have cited widespread interference and manipulation, including some political killings, in recent national and local elections. Some opposition parties boycotted the elections to protest a perceived uneven playing field.

Governance in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is  right now one party state, where check and balance are nonexistent.  Recently in may 2015, Ethiopia has conducted the 5th round election.  The Ethiopian people’s Revolutionary democratic front  came to power in 1991 with hope creating a democratic system. That hope shattered the moment Eprdf start revealing its true colors, for two decades Eprdf has been engaged in a gross human right violations instead of conducting a democratic reform. It has conducted 5 round elections, all the elections weren’t free and fair. The 3rd round election which was held in 2005 security forces fatally shot,beat or strangle 193 people protesting election fraud  and on the fourth round election, Eprdf claim to have won 99.6 % parliamentary seats. The party faced a strong  criticism from different civil society organizations. In May  (Eprdf) took all the parliament seats winning, this equates the regime with North Korea, Iraq of Sadam Hussain.

In Ethiopia people live with fear of being arrested the next minute they utter their discontent bet in social media or in social gatherings.  Following the 2005 Election Clash, the government has scaled up its repression closing many private newspapers by drafting controversial laws

No Freedom or space  to practice journalism

Because of high risks of operating inside the country, many Ethiopian journalists work in exile reporting through personal blogs and websites. CPJ says Ethiopia drove 30 journalists into exile in 2014, a sharp increase over both 2012 and 2013. Authorities use sophisticated  high-tech jamming equipment to filter and block news websites seen as pro-opposition or which the regime called promoter of Anti-peace Elements Agendas. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), since 2010 the Ethiopian government has developed a robust and sophisticated internet and mobile framework to monitor journalists and opposition groups, block access to unwanted websites or critical television and radio programs, and collect evidence for prosecutions in politically motivated trials. The regime spends millions to purchase surveillance  programs

Crack on dissents and independent medias has intensified

As its been previously stated, after 2005 the crack on independent medias and civil society has intensified.  The government saw that civil society organizations are a big threat to its existence.  Following that government adopted three proclamations, in 2008 Freedom of mass media and access to information law and in 2009, the infamous anti-terrorism  law and the charity and society law. After the adoption of the laws  countless people has been jailed  with fabricated charges, some of the charges include trying to incite violence by photoshoping onself with osama bin laden picture and posting on facebook, there also individuals  charged for being a bachelor.  Here are some of the people who has been charged with terrisom after the adoption of the law. There are also  group of bloggers who were charged for applying for an internet security training, which one of the defendants confessed recently to have been forced to drink his urine. According to committee to protect journalists, since 2010,  60 Ethiopian journalists have fled into exile, including 30 in 2014 alone. The adoption of the proclamation not only affected those in the media sector, civil servants and university students

The one to five organizing method        

 Right now Eprdf has more than 7 million members which was 400000  ten years ago, one in  five Ethiopians aged between 20 and 65 is a member of the ruling party Eprdf now.  It was created with the aim of creating “development army”, the government come up with a one to five system, each model famer which clearly is a cadre, should bring five peasant neighbors in his wake. In reality though, the so called army has become a multi-tentacle tool to enlist and control the whole population.

The presence of the Eprdf at all levels of society—directly and, increasingly, electronically—inhibits free private discussion. Many people are afraid of speaking against the government. Eprdf maintains a network of paid informants, and opposition politicians have accused the government of tapping their phones.

The 1 to 5 organizing method is a network that makes Ethiopians feel like they are in open air prison,  right now in Ethiopia, people are in fear of expressing themselves in front of their relatives let alone co-workers. The 5 to 1 organizing method give the government the ability to spy on 5 people using one individual.  At this moment, job and  promotion is reserved only member of the ruling party Eprdf.  As previously stated, Eprdf spends millions of dollars to buy surveillance software to spy on opposition leaders and journalists which are living in exile, this is happening in  a nation where 15 millions are going to be starved in 2016. The government don’t know how to prioritize, even recently they have unveiled  a plan to build house for  retired senior EPRDF remembers  with a cost of 25 million birr.
One To 5 network in Universities
Academic freedom is often restricted in Ethiopia. The government has accused universities of being a supporter of opposition parties  and restricts  political activities on campuses. There are reports of students being pressured into joining the Eprdf in order to secure employment or places at universities; professors are similarly pressured in order to ensure favorable positions or promotions. The Ministry of Education closely monitors and regulates official curricula, and the research, speech, and assembly of both professors and students are frequently restricted. In 2014, the Scholars at Risk network catalogued three incidents in academia, including the jailing or firing of professors who expressed antigovernment opinions.

The government wants to control every sector of the government, in university campuses students are supposed to take government propaganda training  to get registered. Those who refused to attend get dismissed.  Students cant air out their discontent, since the regime on power had make sure that there is 1 spy for every  5 person in University campuses.  Great critics of the government who teach at the campuses get dismissed for their political belief.   University campus has turned from a place where students are supposed to maximize their potential to serve the nation to the ruling party’s ideology teaching center.  The  person who spies on the 5 individuals get a daily payment for his or her spying work.  From the political history of the nation, Ethiopian universities were the starting points of public uprising. The 1973 student movement, started with a question of securing the land for the farmers holding the motto of land to the tiller. Currently Students are passive in campus involve in political activities due the cadre network that spy on them. However last year in 2014  and 2015 Oromo students have goes against the odds  and  did a wide scale protest against the New Integrated Addis Master plan, according to eyewitness 47  students have  lost their life and  many has been arrested, the protest has sparked again in 2015  starting from November 25, its continuing now, sofar 44 people have lost their life.  Unless the government get rid off  its militant mentality and start to give space and listen its people, It will get worse than it already is right now.

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