For the past twenty-five years Ethiopia’s government successfully halted any descent or protest at their infancies. The regime was able to do so because it always has been a solid western ally. So any protest was cut short under the disguise of “terrorism”. We all know terrorism poses a greater threat to humanity and the western powers have shown their intention to fight terrorism until the end of times which the EPRDF is taking advantage of. As a result of that any individual person or any political party that challenges the current political statues quo in Ethiopia is labelled a terrorist and is harshly dealt with.
Even though the government was able to rule with an iron face for a quarter of a century, now it seems the time has come where all Ethiopians have come together and say no to the tactics of divide and conquer. And it is the result of this unity that has swept the country in waves of protests. This has been the case for almost a year now and instead of looking at itself the ruling party has engaged in mass arrest and intentionally hampering people’s right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue, and defend their ideas.
But what has changed and why are people bold enough to face this oppressive government? What is causing all these protests?
A number of factors have contributed to the development of the protests in Ethiopia where protesters demanded social and political reforms including an end to human rights abuses by the government, killings of civilians, mass arrests, corruption, unemployment and lack of responsiveness. I think that these created a negative feeling among some groups and/or individuals. These situations have had the power to create a will-of-protest in the mind of individuals. That is a source of dissatisfaction and discontent in the ground and a critical condition in the political climate of our state. Years of human right’s abuse, corruption, unemployment and unresponsiveness on the government part have allowed several politically, economically and historically motivated groups to join the protest and at certain point lead the protests.
Freedom: there is a lack of political freedom in Ethiopia. People are easily targeted for voicing their concerns regarding the way the government deals with people who are critical of its actions. People who openly speak about the human rights violations in Ethiopia disappear or are sent to jail and being tortured.
Corruption: it is the easiest and shortest path to wealth in Ethiopia. Honest, hard working and responsible individuals who pay their taxes are left behind while incompetent, corrupt and dishonest individuals prosper. This has reached a point where people in Ethiopia have come to think “why am I studying? Why am I working hard? Where is the reward?”
Unemployment: this is driving Ethiopians out of their country. Nowadays it is common to see young people with first and second degrees without jobs. Some even remain unemployed for up to five years after graduating. This is one of the reasons why so many Ethiopians are migrating to the Middle East through dangerous journeys.
Responsiveness: there is lack of responsiveness in administration and this can be seen both at the regional and federal levels. When unsatisfied customers complain or when individuals and/or groups observe a wrong-doing and report, those reports land on deaf ears. This has led people to think that they don’t matter or what they say is not valued.
Finally, there has not been a specific trigger and what we are seeing is an accumulation of years of frustration from ethnic groups who say they have been marginalized by the government and their human right restricted beyond imagination. Especially now that the state of emergency is declared, security forces arrest anyone without restrictions.
What we Ethiopians want is a normal life, a normal life where we can live and work without fear, a normal life where we can speak our minds, where we have the right to promote, pursue, and defend our ideas. And for that we need a government apparatus that is ready to listen to its people. We need an administration that takes criticism and use them as inputs for better performance. Sadly though, we have not been fortunate enough for that and we believe the time has come for change to take place. But in order for this to materialize we Ethiopians need the support of the international community.