Updated 9.27.2019 at 11:20 PM New York Time

Two days ago, the Addis Abeba police announced that the carrying of any other flag besides the “constitutional flag” and the carrying of signs during the holiday of Meskel are prohibited. Yesterday afternoon, after a social media firestorm was created over this act of blatant censorship, the edict was rolled back and gatherers were “allowed” to carry the flag or sign of their choice during an event that is observed by millions of Ethiopians.

Yet even in their decision to roll back an absurd attempt to criminalize free speech, local politicians—who would not act without the blessing of the federal government—made an incendiary statement that was aimed at the heart of one group of people in order to further incite ethnic frictions. Their target all along was the Ethiopian flag that is free of any political symbol, the same flag that kept Ethiopia free of colonization and was once a source of national unity.

In a most cunning way, authorities noted that the Ethiopian flag that doesn’t have a sinister pentagram on it is that of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and that worshipers are free to carry it. Let’s get one thing straight, the green, yellow red Sendek Alama is not a flag exclusive to the Orthodox church but a flag of the Ethiopian people. Though its inception dates back to biblical times, the colors of our flag also represented our nation for more than 3,000 years. The current flag that has a foreign object on it is the creation of the TPLF, instead of liberating Ethiopia a tribal junta decided to put their insignia on the national flag as a sign of ethnic chauvinism. To the chagrin of countless Ethiopians, the same symbol that was the hallmark of 28 years of tryanny was kept by the supposed new government.

There is a reason why churches, businesses and endless civic organizations back home and abroad do not fly the current Ethiopian flag. It is a source of division for that is exactly what it was intended to be. The flag that is just tricolored without any symbol is one that is admired by a broad cross-section of Ethiopians whereas the one with the blue pentagram on it was an import of European backers and traces its roots to Masonic secret societies and has nothing to do with our history or diversity. Sadly, leaders infected with tribalism and their followers who blindly go along with them insist on putting political symbols on the flag the minute they gain power without realizing the root of that heinous symbol.

These are worrying times in Ethiopia, the new day that was promised last spring when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed captured the imagination of millions of Ethiopians is reverting back to the same despotism that shackled our nation for the past 45 years. Throughout the land, Ethiopian Orthodox Churches are burning at an alarming rate as hatemongers are given free rein to peddle ethnic grievances. The silence of PM Abiy on this front is deafening, while going after groups like NAMA and journalists with a hammer, Abiy and the Ethiopian government say nothing as Jawar Mohammed and OLF extremists are inducing strife throughout Ethiopia.

This is precisely why this latest development is so troubling, last week during the Irreecha festival, an event that we proudly celebrated on this page, authorities said nothing as worshipers displayed the Oromo flag throughout Ethiopia. A week later, the carrying of the very flag that our ancestors fought and died for is treated as an act of criminality.

Instead of putting symbols on our Sendek Alema, keep it clean so that our national pride can be a rallying point for Ethiopians.

As Nebiyu Asfaw, a prolific community organizer and a dedicated advocate for Ethiopians in Colorado noted, the unblemished Ethiopian flag is not just a political sign but a symbol of freedom and pride throughout the continent of Africa.

“The old flag is our heritage flag, it is one that is flown by countless African countries,” noted Nebiyu, “whereas the current flag splinters our community, the one without a symbol is one that brings Ethiopians together.”

It is not surprising that a Federal government that is built on the foundation of ethnic apartheid loathes anything that can actually rally Ethiopians beyond the narrow confines of tribe. There has been a sustained campaign to ghettoize Ethiopians behind the Bantustans of ethnicity, this latest ploy is yet another example that unity in the face of divisiveness is always seen as a “security threat” by those who wield power through brute force and intimidation.

Updated 9.6.2019 at 12:40 PM New York Time

A torture center that was once used to incarcerate political prisoners, interrogate dissenters and torment anyone who spoke a little too loudly against the excesses of the EPRDF government was shuttered last year and recently reopened as a museum. Instead of housing prisoners, Maekelawi now showcases paintings and has been turned into a tourist attraction of sorts.

Though some are marking the rebranding of Maekelawi as an occasion to celebrate, we see it as a continuation of a trend that started last year during the rise of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Glossing over the crimes of the past and giving Ethiopia’s gulag a new do is not only a missed opportunity to address and rectify the iniquities of the past, it does a grave injustice to the victims of the past 44 years who suffered for committing the cardinal sin of speaking their conscience.

The heinous policies of torturing Ethiopians and intimidating people into compliance cannot be forgotten nor can the pains of the past be painted over.

The inability to acknowledge mistakes and atone for past misdeeds is once again preventing people in positions of power in Ethiopia from leading movements of truth and reconciliation. What we are treated to instead are photo ops and sanitized truths; in a lot of ways, turning a barbarous institution that terrorized Ethiopians into a glorified art studio is endemic of leadership in Ethiopia. Unable or unwilling to explore root causes and offer solutions that remedy illnesses, all too often the answer is to hack at branches and tend to symptoms.

The same way “medemer” gave lip service to unity without altering an iota of ethnic federalism, which was the virus that divided Ethiopians, reforming a prison’s aesthetics without reforming a governance that vilifies dissent and imprisons people who question authority is nothing more than a public relations stunt. What Ethiopia needs urgently is bold leadership that is willing to risk political capital without catering to one side or another and one that is willing to tell harsh truths. More importantly, we need a long term vision with concrete economic policies that lead us away from being enabled to empowering ourselves.

Or we can continue to paint rosy pictures on the past and beautifying our streets by overlooking the struggling masses who are stacking up on the sidewalks. Pretending all is well without understanding the depth of people’s hurts and glamorizing sources of affliction by putting lipstick on it might earn plenty of good press, but it will do nothing but extend the misery for Ethiopians.

Shutting one prison down and turning it into an exhibit while continuing the policies of imprisoning dissenters will not lead to a better nation, it just makes life comfortable for the new wardens while indenturing #Ethiopia into… Click To Tweet

Updated 9.3.2019 at 11:20 AM New York Time

Here is an undeniable truth: the root cause of suffering—ranging from destitution, internal displacement and growing sectarian strife—is not ethnicity but economics. The lack of a coherent economic policies and the focus on “economic development” driven by debt and foreign exploitation has created a paradigm of multidimensional poverty and omnipresent hopelessness. But who has time to focus on these pesky facts when there is identity politics to fight over!

Focusing on identity gets in the way of addressing these festering socioeconomic issues. The reason why ethnic friction is increasing, crime is rising and violence is proliferating on a daily basis is due to lack of opportunity that does not discriminate based on ethnicity. More than 60% of the population is 24 years old or younger and the median age is 18; sadly, what should be a strength has been turned into a weakness due to mass unemployment. Instead of paying attention to these pressing matters and marshaling all resources to ameliorate these core issues that are eroding civility, most politicians and activists are trafficking in identity politics.

Identity politics and the separatism that it breeds is not a path to liberation but a road map to perpetual poverty and national privation.  

Waging battles about which languages are “official”, creating churches based on ethnicity, fighting about which symbol to have on our sendek alama, declaring war over religions and ideologies do not feed hungry mouths nor will they enrich our nation. Bickering about which “tribe” felt injustice more and trying to monopolize pains will not lead to healing but will only amplify wounds. The only way for us to mend as a society is by listening to each other instead of yelling past one another. Tragically, too many Ethiopians would rather hold on to ethnic grievances instead of working together to better our nation.

There is a reason for this myopic focus on ethnicity and the incessant chatter by the political class about identity; as long as people are talking about our differences and fighting over politics, we are distracted from realizing that we are all in the fire together. Marcus Garvey once noted that too many “black” folks contribute to their own oppression by acting like crabs in a barrel, instead of helping each other out of bondage, some would rather act like crabs, claw at each other and pull others down when they try to escape out of the barrel.

This exact scenario explains what is going on in Ethiopia at this precise moment. If Ethiopians realized the value of collaboration and creating synergies through cooperation, the sky would be the limit for our nation. To the contrary, we are being conditioned on a daily basis to fight over our differences and brawl over crumbs. There is a reason why demagogues peddle ethnic grievances and why politicians embrace identity based rhetoric, they gain through our disunion. There is a lot of money to be made by preaching from the pulpit of intolerance and pushing messages of resentment and tribalism.

But for the average Oromo, Amhara, Tigray, Sidama, Somali or any of the 88 communities that call Ethiopia home, identity politics is a poison and a lethal form of self-medication. Whereas hatemongers like Jawar Mohammed make a lot of money and are treated as royalty for infecting the minds of their followers with ethnonationalism, the everyday Ethiopian who clings to tribalism over unity only gains more tribulation. Expending energies hating other Ethiopians who suffer and demonizing people based on their ethnic affiliation is not only immoral, it compounds suffering for all except the political “elites”.

Colonization requires tribalism to distract the people and manufacture compliance and demands an import/export compact that is truly insidious. Let’s tackle the economic aspect first because at the root colonization is nothing more than a few profiteering at the expense of many. By turning countries into exporters of raw resources, colonial powers are able to import commodities on the cheap. The raw resources are turned into finished goods in countries like France, Italy, the UK, China and the United States where corporations make fortunes and only pay pennies on the dollar to their suppliers. The finished goods are then sold back to the exporters of raw resources.

This two-way fleecing of “developing countries” is perpetuated by inducing tribalism and ethnic friction. Not only do colonial powers export finished goods to the countries they are keeping in economic bondage, they also inundate them with armaments. Identity politics is the key to destabilizing countries and keeping countries in Africa and beyond in perpetual cycles of violence and warfare. The ethnic zealots who have managed to gain high visibility in Ethiopia did not get there by mere happenstance, they are being financed and promoted by their wealthy backers in order to sow animosity and incite factionalism.

As much as we are proud of saying that Ethiopia has never been colonized, which is true thanks to the bravery of jegnoch during the Battle of Adwa and arbegnoch who resisted fascists during the 1930s, the truth is that we have become colonized and are currently entangled in the web of globalists who have sank their teeth into our nation’s heart. We have two choices before us, continue down this path of ethnocentrism and identity politics while boasting about past accomplishments we had nothing to do with or we can have an Adwa Awakening and drive out the poison of “ethnic federalism”—which is really ethnic apartheid— from our beloved Ethiopia.

Let us pray that we choose Ethiopiawinet instead of letting our differences and fighting over identity politics be the reason for #Ethiopia's colonization. Click To Tweet

Updated 8.30.2019 at 1:20 PM New York Time

It’s worse than voodoo economics. At least in America, supply-siders made a pretense of society benefiting by derivative and stuck to their talking point that money would trickle down to the proletariat from the overflow of riches given to the plutocracy. In Ethiopia, the government and the benighted gentry don’t even pretend to care about the plight of the vast majority of Ethiopians who are beset by financial anxieties or getting swallowed whole by poverty. Instead, economic progress is counted by the number of skyscrapers and the material possessions obtained by only a fraction of society.

Whenever the Ethiopian economy is mentioned in the news, the focus is always on the influx of foreign investment or the “liberalizing of markets”. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Abiy Ahmed has made it his singular focus to “privatize” as many sectors as possible in the hopes of opening up Ethiopia’s economy. If you listen closely to people who cheer on the “economic development” of Ethiopia by attracting foreign capital alone, they always talk about benefits in terms of macroeconomic growth but rarely if ever do they talk about how these policies will advance the interests of the poor and working class alike.

Improving Ethiopia for the sake of attracting investors and tourists while discounting the needs of the sons, daughters, mothers and fathers of Ethiopia who are being hammered by skyrocketing inflation, overlooking corruption that makes it nearly impossible for Ethiopians to open up their own businesses and turning a blind eye to the suffering of the destitute is not governance but criminal negligence.

Nine in ten young Ethiopians are mired in multi-dimensional poverty, the majority of young Ethiopians are unemployed and the number of internally displaced Ethiopians reached a record high this year as people compete over scare resources in a land of abundance. Instead of declaring a national emergency and implementing a Marshall Plan to ameliorate these issues that are making the lives of the average Ethiopian untenable, the focus is always outside in.

The truth is that the vast majority of Ethiopians have been turned into renters in their own country. The desires of the insider mob and the wishes of the investor club are slavishly tended to yet the dire straits of most Ethiopians is relegated to the sidelines. Some peddle the false notion that lavishing wealth on a few will boost all; we know better, a rising tide built on the waves of neoliberalism/neoconservatism only lifts yachts and sinks all other boats.

We can do better than turning Ethiopians into cheap laborers, we must empower our people instead of impoverishing them thorough globalism.

What Ethiopia needs are economic policies that focus on empowering the average Ethiopian by injecting capital and resources directly into the hands of entrepreneurs and giving lands to people who can prove they can maintain it. Instead of turning Ethiopia into the sweatshop labor pool of the world, Abiy Ahmed and the Ethiopian government must focus on building and sustaining communities vis-à-vis microfinancing and giving grants to individuals. Instead of selling off key sectors to foreign investors with zero strings attached, the aim must be on creating industries that are owned and operated by Ethiopians. Instead of being exporters of raw resources overseas—which is a primary indication of colonization—we must be exporters of finished goods and brand our products on the international markets.

Ethiopia has enough natural resources and intellectual capital to become an economic engine of Africa. It is an imperative to emerge from the shadows of AID and overseas loans that are chocking the life out of our economy. In order to do so, we need a vision that leads us away from being a donor nation and instead be hub of industry and innovation. This requires that we stop treating the average Ethiopian as a prop and instead see our people as part and parcel of a broader effort to revitalize our country.

Economic development that does not develop the people is nothing more than exploitation; it is time for the #Ethiopia|n government to work for Ethiopiansinstead of catering to the every whims of foreign investors . Click To Tweet

Updated 8.26.2019 at 3:20 PM New York Time

A most shocking video has emerged from Addis Abeba this morning that is jarring to watch. After two police officers arrest a man and put shackles on him, one of uniformed goons starts to violently beat the man. Amid a sea of onlookers, a brave Ethiopian woman ran to the defense of the man who was viciously being assaulted by the very police who are supposed to keep law and order.

Because cowards drunk on power have no shame, the same police officer who was beating a defenseless man turned around and started to assail the woman who was trying to intervene to save a man from getting beat to a pulp. The other police officer, instead of restraining his collegue, shot his machine gun in the air in order to keep witnesses at bay. The days of repression that were supposed to end upon the emergence of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed never went away; after promising to be a reformer who would respect press freedoms and respect human rights, Ethiopia is right back into the fire of coercion by way of guns and batons.

If you want to know why the internet was shut off for six days two months ago during the supposed “regional coup”, this video should be serve reminder that power does not like to be embarrassed with the airing of its excesses. What is becoming more and more evident is that Ethiopia is lacking leadership that is interested in representing the interests of the people. Rather, we have demagogues who incite emotions for the sake of distracting society only to turn around and impoverish all by implementing policies that enrich few and sells Ethiopia’s natural resources to the highest multinational bidder.

This video above is not an outlier but the norm, as the 2020 federal elections come into focus and more and more people are seething as a consequence of being marginalized, authority will respond not with a vision of progress but with the myopia of brute force and deadly violence. This is a grave mistake that the Ethiopian government is making, as John F. Kennedy once said, “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”. People in power in Ethiopia would do well to reflect on these words, those who rule by guns and intimidation will be ushered out by those same tactics.

Updated 8.21.2019 at 2:15 PM Addis Abeba Time

Governments that censor lose the moral authority to govern. Throughout history, authorities who have reverted to news suppression and harassing dissent have one thing in common, they use the lie of security to nullify privacy and free speech. Such is the case in Ethiopia where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s regime has shed its reform agenda and embraced the repressive tactics of Hailemariam Desalegn, Meles Zenawi and Mengistu Hailemariam.

Yesterday afternoon, journalist Mesganaw Getachew was arrested on trumped up charges using the ever amorphous “Anti-Terrorism Proclamation”—egregious laws that were implemented by the previous TPLF junta—because Mesganaw had the temerity to record an interview outside a courthouse in Addis Abeba. Remember when PM Abiy promised a new day in Ethiopia,released all political prisoners and swore to respect and preserve a free press? That was so 2018 ago. Abiy has taken Ethiopia back to 2008 as he targets journalists for daring to question government positions.

For the past 44 years, Ethiopia has been shrouded under the blanket of fear, suspicion and repression ushered in during the Derg era, perpetuated by the TPLF and now embraced by the OLF/ODP led Ethiopian government. In Ethiopia, one is safe to stoke ethnic tensions and foment violence the way that Jawar Mohammed does as long as one does not question the Federal government’s plans and policies. However, if one is of a different ethnicity and speaks against the ongoing Bantustanization of Ethiopia, one is labeled a terrorist and treated as a scourge.

After shutting off the internet nationwide for close to a week, arresting activists based on ethnic affiliation and terrorizing Ethiopians by plunging the whole country into an information abyss, Abiy and his cohorts have zero credibility to be fair arbiters of justice. Alas we live in Orwellian times in Ethiopia where government can carry out acts of terror under the guise of security and those who demand security are persecuted as terrorists.

About a month ago, in a fit of anger, Abiy noted that he has limited means to coerce Ethiopians in the diaspora the way that he intimidates dissenters in Ethiopia. A few hours ago Ethiopia signed a deal with the United States to exchange terrorist screening information, this is a development that should send shivers down the spines of Ethiopians living in America who dare to criticize the Ethiopian government. It has become abundantly clear that “anti-terrorism” is a euphemism to single out people who demand fairness and accountability from the Ethiopian government.

When a government goes after journalists, it is admiting a failure to lead and reverting to despotism in order to manufacture consent through intimidation.

We once again call on the international community and the free press to pay attention to what is taking place in Ethiopia. Just because Abiy Ahmed has become the golden boy of foreign interests who stand to reap tremendous profits by exploiting the natural resources of Ethiopia and leverage Ethiopia’s strategic location should not give the EPRDF carte blanche to detain journalists and harass activists.

It is time to call people who are being imprisoned selectively based on identity and political ideology what they are, political prisoners and targets of ethnic discrimination. #Ethiopia Click To Tweet

Updated 8.10.2019 at 6:35 PM Addis Abeba Time

Around this time last year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was flying high. Appearing out of nowhere as Ethiopia was nearing an implosion after 27 years of TPLF hegemony and tribal chauvinism, Ahmed gave Ethiopians at home and abroad hope that a new day of tesfa (hope) and andinet (unity) had arrived. So broken thanks to decades of brutal repression and ethnic division, countless millions of people latched on to Ahmed’s rhetoric of “medemer” without questioning his motives.

A year later, it has dawned upon Ethiopians that Ahmed’s promise is not jiving with reality. Gone is the talk of medemer, the EPRDF has returned to the failed tactics of Meles Zenawi and Hailemariam Desalegn. After Ahmed released countless numbers of political prisoners, welcomed home dissidents and liberalized the media, he has countermanded his reforms as he persecutes his political opponents, intimidates the media and jails Ethiopians based on ethnic affiliation.

Was last year nothing more than a ploy to consolidate power and marginalize his foes? Is Ahmed Africa’s next dictator? Was Ahmed nothing more than a rebranding campaign for a system of ethnic apartheid that was foisted upon Ethiopia by outside forces at the London Conference in 1991 at the behest of globalists like Herman Cohen and Henry Kissinger? With each passing day, and as he continues to target his opponents and free speech with force, the questions continue to multiply about Ahmed’s true intentions.

The key to deconstructing Ahmed’s mind is to understand the political landscape in Ethiopia that he is intent on mastering. Instead of dismantling “ethnic federalism” and ridding Ethiopia of the cancer that is zeregnenet (tribalism), he has decided to double down on the politics of ethnocentrism. Forget medemer (adding), what Ahmed is unleashing is division through ethnic nationalism. Politics has always been the science of splintering people, fostering a base, cobbling a coalition and demonizing the other side. “Us versus them” is a prerequisite for any leader who has aspiration of governing without consent. Instead of transforming Ethiopia, Ahmed has decided to win through the same apartheid tactics of keeping tribes apart that was rejected in South Africa.  

There were signs all along that Ahmed was intent on ruling through division. Even last year, during the apex of his “medemer” campaign, he never fully embraced the Tigray region. A lot of people went along because they thought he was marginalizing the very institutions that oppressed Ethiopians for close to three decades. But it’s one thing to go after the TPLF, it’s another thing to give a cold shoulder to a whole group of people based on their ethnicity. What started off with Tigayans metastasized as Amhara people started to feel the brunt of Ahmed’s iron fist.

Using the so-called “regional coup” as a pretext—which is like saying a localized pandemic—the Ethiopian government went after a group called NaMA, an opposition party that is comprised of Amhara ethno-nationalists, with a vengeance. In the span of the past couple of weeks, hundreds of NaMA leaders have been jailed along with countless number of journalists and political activists. While the hateful demagogue Jawar Mohammed is given free rein to preach violence and advocate terrorism against Ethiopians, people who demand accountability and transparency are censored, intimidated and imprisoned with impunity.

How does one make sense of this level of uneven treatment? Why do Tigray, Sidama and Ahmara activists get the iron fist while Jawar and firebrands within the Oromo community get wide latitude to do and speak as they please? The answer is easy, Ahmed is playing politics. Ahmed knows that he cannot rule by appeasing Oromo extremists alone, after all the Oromo community makes up 40% of the Ethiopian population, especially if a viable alternative exists for the Amhara and Tigray communities to gravitate to. Instead of broadening the tent and inviting all Ethiopians inside, Ahmed is catering to people like Jawar in hopes of fortifying his standing with the Oromo people while doing all that he can to nullify opposition within other ethnic communities.

What Ahmed is practicing in Ethiopia is the essence of divide and dictate. When the elections take place next year, he has no incentive to delay the elections seeing that there really is no viable alternative, he can claim that he was elected democratically. To ensure this reality, Ahmed is sparing no effort decimating his opponents and heightening ethnic frictions in the process.

Medemer is no more, we have returned to the days of Meles Zenawi in #Ethiopia. The only difference is the acronym and personality; from TPLF despotisms to ODP hegemony, new boss same as old boss after all. Click To Tweet

Updated 8.2.2019 at 7:05 AM New York Time

A month the supposed “regional coup”—which is akin to saying “localized pandemic”—Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took questions about his decision to take draconian measures by shutting down the internet throughout the whole of Ethiopia. When asked why he thought it was wise to plunge 105 million people into an information blackout, Ahmed rationalized the actions of the EPRDF government by citing national security.

“For sake of national security internet and social media could be blocked any time necessary. As long as it is deemed necessary to save lives and prevent properties damages, the internet would be closed permanently, let alone for a week.”

He then went on to dismiss the inalienable rights Ethiopians have to speech and free association by noting that the internet is neither water nor air and that Ahmed would cut off the internet forever if needed in order to ensure public safety. Instead of taking a step back after the international community and a large swath of Ethiopians condemned the rash decision to block the free flow of information, Ahmed doubled down and let it be known that he is the decider when it comes to the internet in Ethiopia.

As much as Ahmed might try to minimize its importance in Ethiopia, the internet is a vital infrastructure that is used for commerce, communication, news and health services. Shutting the internet is not some minor nuisance, it has dire consequences for tens of millions of Ethiopians at home and abroad who rely on computers and cell phones for day to day transactions. It was estimated that the six days of internet shutdown cost Ethiopia more than $25 million.

The way to solve social unrest and tamp down ethnic violence is by addressing the root causes instead of using a machete to attack the symptoms. Skyrocketing poverty, unemployment that is truly ghastly and strife that is caused in large part by ethnic apartheid; unless these issues are tended to, no amount of censorship and news suppression will quell the people’s simmering frustrations and the strife that is produced as a consequence.

History has shown time and time again that the will of the people cannot be stifled by brute force, guns and intimidation do not birth national security.

What is worrying about Ahmed’s assertions is that he is setting the pretext for yet more internet shutdowns. As tensions in Sidama and beyond continue to fester, Ahmed is preparing Ethiopians for yet more governmental overreach. It is beyond worrying that one man can have so much power as to decide the fate of 105 million people’s ability to participate in the 21st century by having his fingers on the internet’s off button.

Beyond mass censorship and returning to the failed policies of his predecessor, Ahmed is displaying erratic traits that are endemic of despots not befitting of a leader who aspires to lead through inclusion. Throwing out unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, dressing up in military garb and targeting specific ethnic groups for persecution is an ominous foreshadowing of bigger repressions to come. It would be wise to return to return to the Abiy of 2018 instead of promising to subdue a nation with Kalashnikovs.

The free-press and the international community should keep an eye out and observe what is taking place in Ethiopia beyond the media sensation of 200 million trees being planted. Over the coming days and weeks, there will be more flair ups that will cause the Ethiopian government to take yet more drastic measures. Will Ahmed be a reformer or return to the heavy hand of repression? Time will tell.

We remind Ahmed and the #Ethiopia|n government that collective punishment is unjust and persecuting people based on their ethnicity or beliefs is immoral.   Click To Tweet

Updated 7.24.2019 at 7:45 AM New York Time

This is a most ignoble distinction, the type that we should all be ashamed of. Ethiopia is now the world’s leader when it comes to conflicts and the number of people those conflicts have subsequently displaced. As of the latest count, Ethiopia has more than 3.1 million people displaced from their homes and living in makeshift camps, tent cities or have become homeless sleeping on the streets. The next country behind Ethiopia in terms of number of IPDs is the Democratic Republic of Congo, their number of displaced citizens is nearly half what it is in Ethiopia.

The rise of Internally Displaced Ethiopians is not taking place in a vacuum; when people feel hopeless and their means to earn a living evaporate, violence rises in correlation. Even when Ethiopia was wowing the world with her pace of “economic development”, the perks were largely hoarded at the top and the people reaped marginal or zero benefits by derivative. The little that did trickle down to the masses has slowed nearly to a halt as economic policies are now aimed solely at attracting foreign investors by leveraging low wages and exporting Ethiopians, in what is tantamount to state sanctioned human trafficking, to the Middle East to become low skilled workers.

Bracketed by financial anxieties and economic insolvency, people turn to extralegal means to solve their problems. Lawlessness has gripped Ethiopia as bands of tribal thugs, inspired by hatemongers like Jawar Mohammed, rove from city to city kicking people out of their homes, dispossessing them of their lands and forcing them to flee to the safety of tent cities and refugee camps.

Violence begetting violence, hatred birthing hate, each conflict sets of a new wave of bloodshed as vengeance fuels the fires of ethnic strife. #IDP #Ethiopia Click To Tweet

There is only one way to stop this cycle of destruction that is threatening to unravel a nation that has existed intact for thousands of years. The Ethiopian government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has to make the development of Ethiopian people the top and most urgent priority. What will it profit us if Ethiopia has shiny buildings and infusions of cash from foreign investors if our people are being displaced and dropping like flies away from their homes?

It is heartbreaking to watch as Ethiopians are fleeing by the millions to shelters and camps and being turned into statistics in their own country.

As much as the Ethiopian government has to act, we the people—both at home and abroad—must abandon our focus on tribe and honor the common blood we have. We have been conditioned for too long to view ourselves through the lens of ethnicity; though it is important to celebrate the broad diversity of our cultures and the beauty of our 88 communities, placing value on ethnicity above Ethiopia is a recipe for national suicide. Irrespective of our various faiths, Ethiopia is a land that honors God, let us remember the teachings of the Torah, Bible and Quran and love our neighbors before we all become displaced citizens without a country to call home.

Updated 7.20.2019 at 6:15 PM Addis Abeba Time

“A thousand spiders can tie up a lion.” This is a famous saying in Ethiopia that speaks to the power of unity and what can happen when people band together. Our forefathers were able to defeat would be colonizers at the Battle of Adwa not because they had superior weaponry or enjoyed tactical advantages; jegnoch repelled Italian invaders because they were united as one under a clean Sendek Alama.

Imagine if it was this generation of Ethiopians who had to face off against the Italians. Instead of coming together to defend our homeland as one nation, modern day Ethiopians would have joined the battle under different flags and different divisions comprised of different ethnic groups. Go a step further and imagine if these ethnic divisions started fighting each other on the way to the battlefield. Do you think a fractured Ethiopia would have been able to defeat the Italians and remain free from colonization?

Sadly, we don’t have to imagine by looking back for this very scenario of factionalism and tribal infighting is taking place in Ethiopia at this present moment. What started off as Ethnic Apartheid 27 years ago has morphed into ethnic nihilism. The latest development on the disintegration front is emerging from the Southern region of Ethiopia as the Sidama community are now agitating for statehood based on one ethnicity.

Instead of working together, more and more Ethiopians are being conditioned to stand apart, our national identity is being erased and replaced with tribal affinity.

Tribal chieftains who stand to gain wealth and clout have convinced the struggling masses in Sidamo that their best chance towards prosperity and self-determination is through separatism. While the rest of the world is realizing the value of collaboration, Africa is the one continent that continues to break apart and compete. This is what African leaders, who are on the payroll of outside forces, have wrought us, they have trained too many within the content in general and inside Ethiopia specifically to value tribe above nation.

Though some will try to place all the blame on Sidama people for the violence that is currently rocking Hawassa, the finger should point primarily at the EPRDF government. After all, the Sidama community are pursuing what is guaranteed to them in the constitution. The problem is Ethnic Apartheid itself and for this Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the EPRDF are directly responsible. Instead of unleashing the military to kill dozens of Ethiopians, Prime Minister Ahmed should immediately disavow Ethnic Apartheid. Given that Ahmed vowed that he was ready to fight not with a pen but with a Kalashnikov, it is doubtful that Ahmed has the fortitude and patience to guide Ethiopia away from the abyss of tribalism that is threatening to rupture the entire nation.

One of the main reasons why Native Americans were subdued and eventually annihilated was their inability to form a united front. Millions of Cherokee, Apache, Navajo, Lakota and endless tribes throughout America insisted on fighting for their particular nation instead of forming a coalition that could have repelled foreign invaders. One by one, they got picked off as genocide after another wiped out the Native American population. The fraction who remain true to their heritage live in reservations in bleak conditions where poverty, alcoholism and depression are prevalent.

This is the fate that awaits Ethiopia as more and more people are conditioned to form their own nation. If we continue down this path of separatism, Ethiopia will be no more and our country will be Africa’s version of Yugoslavia. A thousand spiders refusing to work together, each spider instead wants to form its own web only to realize in time what the Native Americans know now: it is better to unite than to live in poverty and hopelessness apart.

Updated 7.18.2019 at 5:35 PM Addis Abeba Time

Given the way Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has recently decided to lower the hammer and return to the repressive tactics of Meles Zenawi and Hailemariam Desalegn, it is becoming more and more evident by the passing day that he has morphed from being a progressive champion of liberties to an autocrat hidden by smiles and photo ops. When the layers are pealed back to inspect the reasons for Ahmed’s decision to impose his will upon Ethiopians through sheer force, the picture that emerges is even more nefarious.

What is so striking about the recent turn of events in Ethiopia is the disparate treatment where tribal identification and political affiliation determine whether one gets an iron gloves to the face or soft kisses on the cheek. Take for example Jawar Mohammed, who made a name for himself in Minnesota by being Ethiopia’s version of Rush Limbaugh. An extremists through and through, he preached for years from the pulpit of Oromo exceptionalism and animosity for everyone else.

In Ethiopia, justice is dispensed through a tribal lens where some like Jawar are given preferential treatement and others are treated to torment.

The list of offensive statements made by Jawar are too many to quantify, he once advocated that Oromo youths should take machetes to people’s throats and goes out of his way to imbue a sense of vitriol and vengeance among his followers on a daily basis. Of course, this is why he was given a platform to begin with, Jawar did not get elevated in America without certain players pushing him to the forefront. This is how Africa was subdued, hateful demagogues are adopted and promoted by foreign interests in order to spread the virus of tribalism within the country that is in the crosshairs of mercenaries.

This same radical chauvinist was invited with open arms by Prime Minister Ahmed last year. At first it was understandable, the era of “medemer” meant including even the most zealous voices back home in order to stitch the country back together again after 27 years of Ethnic Apartheid that was foisted upon Ethiopia by the EPRDF. But Jawar did not return back home to reconcile hope and give rise to a new era of unity; rather he exported his bigotry and hostility with the intention of inciting Oromo people and pouring fuel on the ethnic strife that is threatening to unravel the country.

Which then begs the question, why are the leaders of NAMA and Amhara activists in general being dealt with harshly as they get locked up in droves and freedoms are rolled back for most Ethiopians while Jawar is free to roam around the countryside evangelizing intolerance and bloodshed? The answer is evident, Ahmed has made the strategic decision to pivot to his flank and embrace hardliners within the OLF/ODP wing because he has lost credibility with most Ethiopians.

RIP “medemer”—which means addition in Amharic—Ahmed is reverting back to the tried and true tactics of divide and conquer by catering to his base and vilifying his opponents. This is the same “us versus them” ploy that is endemic of American politics; Ahmed came in promising “hope and change” only to return to the failed schemes of his predecessors—sound familiar? There is a reason why Ahmed is not going to lay a finger on the minister of contempt who goes by the name of Jawar; doing so could threaten his position within the OLF/ODP camp.

Instead of choosing courage to unify Ethiopians, Ahmed has opted for political expediency in order to retain power.

We yet again ask the free press and the international community to pay attention to what is taking place in Ethiopia. The time for giving Ahmed wide latitude is over, it is time to scrutinize his every moves and hold him accountable. Even his détente with Eritrea must be assessed with a healthy dose of skepticism given Ahmed’s recent transformation from a sojourner to a strongman. Is Ahmed warming up to Isaias Afwerki, another African despot, a bold peace imitative or is he trying to shore up his eastern front in order to encircle his political opponents in the highlands of Ethiopia?

Given his preferential treatment of @Jawar_Mohammed and his prejudice against #Amhara and #Tigray activists, everyone should be leery and question @PMEthiopia’s two day visit to Asmara #Eritrea. Click To Tweet

Updated 7.16.2019 at 12:55 PM Addis Abeba Time

There is a facet of Apartheid that is rarely discussed and goes largely unnoticed.  The heinous practice of keeping South Africa’s indigenous population imprisoned behind the ghettos of race was meant to keep “black people” divided as much as it was implemented to keep “blacks” apart from “white” Afrikaners. Ethnic homelands, also called Bantustans, were designed along tribal lines; each ethnic group was given their own state and sold a facade of freedom while they were walled off from society. This barbarous practice of segregation was sold to the world as self-determination for “blacks” by Hendrik Verwoerd and the racist National Party.

Ciskei and Transkei for Xhosa people, Bophuthatswana for Tswana people, KwaZulu for Zulu people, Lebowa for the Pedi and Northern Ndebele, Venda for Vendas people, Gazankulu was for Shangaan and Tsonga people and Qwa Qwa for Basothos. In all, South Africa had 10 Ethnic Homelands, each one meant to Balkanize the “black” population along ethnic lines in an effort to create animosity among 95% of South Africa’s population.

The locations, times and actors change but the tactic is always the same. The only way a fraction of society can subjugate the vast majority is by splintering them along artificial lines and keeping them at each other’s throats by inducing tribalism. This philosophy of “apart hoods” worked brilliantly, as much as “black” people in South Africa were resisting state sponsored terrorism, they expended precious energy fighting one another. Untold number of “black” South Africans died in what was tantamount to fratricide as they turned guns on each other instead of uniting to train their guns on their tormentors.

“Black” South Africans regularly turned on each other as conflict along ethnic lines flared up and took the lives of countless people.

This same diabolical plan of keeping marginalized groups segregated along ethnic lines was imported to Ethiopia in 1991 and given a marketing facelift by calling it Ethnic Federalism. The same way the racist National Party sold Apartheid in South Africa as a form of local empowerment, the tribal TPLF government, installed at the behest of Great Britain at the London Conference, foisted Ethnic Apartheid upon Ethiopia in order to induce perpetual strife and sectarianism.

Afar region for Afar people, Amhara region for Amhara people, Benishangul-Gumuz Region for Gumuz people, Gambela region for Anuak people, Harari region for the people of Harar, Oromio region for Oromo people, Somali region for Somali people, and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region for Sidama, Welayta, and Gurage people. In all, 9 Ethnic Regions designed to segregate Ethiopians along ethnic lines. Are you seeing the connection between “Ethnic Federalism” and “Apartheid” yet?

This is the same racist and ethnocentric ideology that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the EPRDF government embraces as a model of regional control. In reality, Ethnic Apartheid was always meant to cleave Ethiopians along tribal lines and keep them fighting each other so that they can’t unite to demand a better government. The TPLF had no choice but to revive Apartheid in Ethiopia, the Tigray population constituted only 6% of the population and the only way to subjugate 94% of the population was through tribalism and keeping Ethiopians based on ethnicity. Sound familiar?

The violence that is on the rise in Ethiopia is not taking place in a vacuum; the upheavals in Addis Abeba, Dire Dawa, Oromia and the record number of Ethiopians being internally displaced is a direct outcome of Ethnic Apartheid. When people are conditioned to put ethnicity first and programmed to view justice through tribal lenses, they have a tendency to turn on each other as the virus of sectarianism mushrooms and envelops society.

Unless and until the Ethiopian government disavows “Ethnic Federalism” and abandons the nefarious practice of segregating Ethiopians along ethnic lines, the animosity that is threatening to turn Ethiopia into a conflict zone in the mold of present day Sudan or Rwanda of the 1990s. We urge Prime Minister Abiy to take a bold step and renounce Ethnic Apartheid and to stop pandering to ethnic extremists like Jawar Mohammed and sectarian groups like the OLF and ODP. Abiy noted last year that Ethiopia will heal through “Medemer” (addition), the only thing that has been added over the last year is more violence and more tribalism that is tearing Ethiopia apart.

This is a reminder to @PMEthiopia: one can’t add by dividing; either unite #Ethiopia|ns or you will be remembered as the politician who divided Ethiopia and turned our nation into #Yugoslavia. #EthnicApartheid Click To Tweet

We also ask of the world to put pressure on the Ethiopian government; the only reason the racist National Party dismantled Apartheid is because a boycott and divestment campaign delegitimized the South Afrikaner government. That same type of pressure must be brought to bear against the Ethiopian government, instead of coddling Abiy Ahmed for his rhetoric, it is time to judge him based on his record.

His record on Ethnic Apartheid is clear, he is a proponent of keeping Ethiopians in “hoods apart” by furthering ethnic homelands the same way Verwoerd did in South Africa. Will the world accept Apartheid revived or will the international community rebuke a discredited system of ethnic segregation?

This is a reminder that Ethiopia is not about tribe, through we must acknowledge our differences and celebrate our unique heritages, at the core Ethiopians are united as one through our common blood and our spiritual bonds.

Updated 7.14.2019 at 6:01 AM New York Time

For years, Ethiopia was touted by globalists and corporate opportunists as the poster child of “economic development”. In the fanciful minds of neoliberals and neocons, all developing nations had to do was “liberalize” their economies and “privatize” their resources and magically society would be transformed and a middle-class will be created that will enrich everybody. What they wanted us to believe was the same bankrupt ideology peddled by Bush and his “conservative” cronies in the 1990s, “a rising tide lifts all boats” they said, as they pushed policies that enriched the few in order to benefit the rest.

The last two decades have proven the opposite; instead of enriching society, globalism has become the key driver of social inequalities around the world. Top-down investment does not work; shoveling money to the 1% while giving austerity to the vast majority is a blueprint for economic disaster. Statisticians can perform their magic and point to “economic indicators” like GDP growth, market valuations and “consumer confidence”, but if the poor, working and middle-class are not sharing in the wealth, what we get is a dystopian society where the rich live like sultans while too many are turned into beggars.

The scale of economic inequalities in America and around the world is comparable to the period before the French Revolution.

This has turned out to be the case in America where the middle-class has been decimated, the working class living in perpetual financial distress and the poor have been turned into lepers as they live in tent cities from DC, San Francisco and towns and cities throughout the United States. This same virus of social imbalances has morphed into an economic Ebola in Ethiopia. According to a new UN Development Program report, 90% of Ethiopian children under the age of 10 are “multidimensional poor”. That is another way of saying that almost every child in Ethiopia is mired in abject poverty that impedes multiple facets of their lives.

What is Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Ethiopian government doing to address this dire situation? Instead of declaring a national emergency, which this is, and initiating a Marshall program of sorts aimed at alleviating poverty and joblessness, Ahmed has been touting the virtues of the same bankrupt neoliberal ideology that created the problem to begin with. Two days ago, Ahmed announced the shipping of 50,000 Ethiopians to the United Arab Emirates in what is tantamount to a government sponsored human trafficking initiative (see below). Next, he plans on selling 49% of Ethiopian Airlines, the one cash cow we have in Ethiopia, to the highest bidder.

Enrich the rich and give lip service to Ethiopians; Ahmed is following in the footsteps of bank puppets from Obama, Macron, Trudeau and now Trump who came in promising “hope and change” and to “make their country great again” only to deliver society on a tray to globalists. “Privatization” that leads to multinational corporations owning industries and monopolizing key sectors is not economic development at all but colonialism hidden by catchy slogans and $20 words. It is time for people around the world to wake up to the cancer that is globalism; the aim of the corporate cabal that is driving this theory of voodoo economy is not to benefit society but to inflate profits by enlarging the supply of labor and eviscerating the bargaining chip of workers.

Instead of giving people hope and an equal opportunity for success, the virus of globalism has turned humanity into mere cogs in the machine of corporatism.

It is high time for people of all stripes, irrespective of race, gender, orientation of beliefs, to put away our differences and focus on the plague that is globalism. This is not to say that we should retrench to the era of isolationism; we are an interconnected world and that is a great thing for our children and future generations. However, the central flaw of globalism is that it has taken humans out of the equation and only focuses on aristocratic enrichment.

If workers have zero leverage, workers become indentured servants of a New World Order that gives preferential treatment to the wealthy and impoverishes the masses. Economic imbalances and social inequalities are the root sources of most of this world’s ills, addressing these dire issues is not a “liberal” cause nor a “conservative” concern but a human imperative. As Lij Teodrose Fikremariam noted in his communique yesterday, we must stop focusing on our divergences and understand our commonalities of pains and aspirations.

Again, we ask Ahmed to stop giving away the store and turning Ethiopia into the world’s sweatshop labor pool destination. Economic development that is gained by a race to the bottom of wages and workers’ rights is not only immoral, it is the source of conflict and injustice. Instead of turning to the ways of neoliberals and neocons, it is imperative for Ahmed and the Ethiopian government to truly develop Ethiopia by focusing economic policies on these four areas:

  1. Give lands to Ethiopians in order to form an ownership society
  2. Reverse the brain drain by implementing low to zero taxes for small businesses owned by Ethiopians
  3. Microfinancing for Ethiopians to incentivize innovation and entrepreneurship
  4. Cut red tape and eliminate graft that makes it nearly impossible for Ethiopians to start a business back home

The only way to alleviate poverty and to build a society that is fair is to invest directly in the people and address the needs of the underserved. We have tried top-down policies for too long only to see the world be marooned on the island of wealth inequalities. We must stop judging the health of nations by how well the wealthiest few are doing but by the plight of the least among us.

We ask our readers to stand up not only for Ethiopians but for your own self-interests, the same scam globalists are pulling off in #Ethiopia is being foisted on your necks. Demand better or else be ready for more austerity for many… Click To Tweet

Updated 7.13.2019 at 11:44 New York Time

Read the latest communique by EFCM’s chair Lij Teodrose Fikremariam as he asks a brutally honest question given the upheaval taking place in Ethiopia and the virus of tribalism that has infected too many people: is Ethiopia worth saving? Read the article that was just published by clicking HERE.

Updated 7.12.2019 at 6:35 AM New York Time

As much as one wants to give Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed time and space to implement his agenda and turn around from his recent decision to revert to Meles Zenawi’s draconian tactics, his latest jobs announcement is one that is truly befuddling. In another indication that Ahmed’s economic policies is effectively turning Ethiopia into a sweatshop labor factory, it was reported yesterday that Ethiopia would send 50,000 workers to the United Arab Emirates.

The decision to send Ethiopia’s workforce to the UAE was conveyed as a short-term program to send “skilled labor force” to foreign countries as a way to boost their capacities and ease the unemployment crisis that is gripping Ethiopia. The 50,000 workers who are being exported overseas is but a down payment as discussions are being held to send another 200,000 over the next three years.

What is coming into clear focus is that Ahmed’s vision for Ethiopia is to build up Ethiopia by leveraging its supply of workers to attract low wage and labor intensive employers. This gambit is now being utilized to also draw the interests of host countries who are in dire need of maids, construction workers, cleaners and other meager wage jobs. Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that the 50,000 workers who are being sent to UAE are going there to work desirable jobs; they are going to take jobs that Emiratis do not want.

It must be noted that the UAE and a host of Middle East countries have abysmal track records of mistreating workers from Ethiopia and Africa writ large. It was only last year that Ethiopia imposed a ban on Ethiopians taking up jobs in the UAE due to non-payment of wages and denial of health insurance. There are large document abuses recorded in the UAE and throughout the middle-east, including incidents where maids told of beatings, humiliation and no food in the United Arab Emirates. Two years ago, an Ethiopian maid was filmed by her Kuwaiti employer falling seven floors, instead of helping the woman in distress, her boss callously filmed the incident and posted it on social media.

This is yet another insidious facet of globalism that has arrived at the doorsteps of Ethiopia and is being exported around the world. Preferential treatment for the wealthy and austerity for the poor, working and middle-class; these are the economic policies of neoliberal/neocon leaders who keep foisted upon nations around the world by the invisible hands of the global oligarchy.

"Democracy" and the pretenses of "representative government hide the nefarious agendas of the corporate plutocracy, they are intent on turning humanity into subservient cogs in the machine of corporatism. #Ethiopia #USA #Globalism Click To Tweet

The country club of politicians who are employed by globalists use terms like “comparative advantage”, “privatization” and “economic development” to hide their true intentions. It’s time to call these initiatives what they really are; heads of state around the world—including their newest poster boy PM Abiy Ahmed—are endeavoring in government sponsored human trafficking in order to enlarge the supply of labor globally, lower the bargaining power of workers and restrict the benefits of capitalism to the wealthiest 1%.

It does not have to be this way, Ethiopia can address its high employment issue by implementing a jobs program and investing directly in our people. Instead of turning Ethiopians into low-skilled and low wage employees, the Ethiopian government can utilize micro-financing to boost entrepreneurship and leverage Ethiopia’s vast reserves of land to implement Africa’s version of a homestead act whereby Ethiopians are given small tracts of land in order to give her people a sense of agency. Instead, Ahmed has made the strategic decision to attract foreign employers like Ivanka Trump by using Ethiopia’s large supply of labor as bait for companies and countries looking for least cost workers. Sad day for Ethiopia indeed.

Updated 7.10.2019 at 6:15APM New York Time

A new day in Ethiopia has reverted to the old era of repression and iron fists. A year after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed swept into power promising a liberalized Ethiopia that respects free speech and human rights, we are right back to the days of heavy handed treatment of dissenters, journalists and anyone who does not toe the junta line.

Ever since a farcical “regional coup” conspiracy theory was propagandized by the Ethiopian government and accepted with nary a question by the supposed “free press”, Abiy Ahmed’s administration has unrolled a new policy of mass arrests and prosecutions that has sent ripples throughout Ethiopia. Yesterday, Committee to Protect Journalists finally acted and sounded the alarm; using the draconian and ever ambiguous “anti-terrorism” law, Abiy Ahmed has made the strategic decision to exit the path that Nelson Mandela walked on and instead chosen to return to the repressive tactics of Meles Zenawi and Hailemariam Desalegn.

Governments that cannot inspire their constituents through good works invariably resort to fear and regressive tactics. This is precisely what Abiy Ahmed has elected to do; after shuttering the internet for nearly a week and plunging Ethiopia into grips of anxiety and uncertainty, a string of arrests—which largely targeted one ethnic group and one political party—were unveiled in an attempt to dictate public discourse through the gun.

Amnesty International also weighed in and roundly condemned the latest government crackdown and wave of arrests in Ethiopia:

“After making great strides on press freedom, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government received glowing tributes, and the honour of hosting this year’s World Press Freedom Day event,” Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes said.“This new round of arrests is a hugely regressive move that risks rolling back the progress witnessed in 2018. All journalists arrested must be immediately released and all charges against them unconditionally dropped.”

We once again call on the international community and the free press around the world to pay attention to what is going on in Ethiopia. The same way Abiy Ahmed was praised as a champion of free speech and a bold reformer last year when he released political prisoners and made the commitment to respect human rights, he must now be held accountable for reneging on those promises and reverting back to the coercive practices of his predecessors.

What is happening in Ethiopia should be of concern not only to Ethiopians but to people around the world who defend the very essence of liberty and free speech. More and more governments are using the pretext of security to erode privacy and basic rights. As Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”. From accessing driving license records in America without consent to massive surveillance camera intrusions in China, governments around the world are in a sprint to control the public through a digital fist.

We must push back against the normalizing of an Orwellian “security” state, governments should be protecting our privacy not intruding in our lives.

In this race to dictate public opinion through intimidation and intrusion, Abiy Ahmed and the Ethiopian government writ large are in full gallop leading the pack. If Ahmed’s actions are ignored, he will continue to take nibbles and chunks until one day Ethiopia is once again shrouded in a state of totalitarianism. We continue to plead with Abiy Ahmed to reconsider his tactics and return to his promises of respecting free speech and human rights.

We ask the rest of the world to put pressure on @PMEthiopia and speak up for 105 million people who are being slow walked back into the era of Ethnic Federalism authoritarianism in #Ethiopia. Click To Tweet

Updated 7.8.2019 at 12:45 PM Addis Ababa Time

Yesterday, more details were revealed behind the move by the Ethiopian government to “privatize” Ethio Telecom. In a bid to “modernize” Ethiopia, Ethiopia’s largest telecommunications company—which effectively has a monopoly in Ethiopia by way of government control—is about to be sold off to the highest bidders on the international market. Although the government will still retain controlling authority by maintaining 51% of the enterprise, the truth is that foreign interests are about to gain a large chunk of Ethiopia’s vital infrastructure and will be the ones managing its direction once the sale is finalized.

The words privatize and modernize were put in quote marks earlier because there is nothing private or modernizing about this gambit. By selling Ethio Telecom and eventually Ethiopian Airlines to foreign interests, Ethiopia is effectively giving away the few industries we do have domestically to cartels that only care about profits and care nothing about the Ethiopian people. If you love seeing Ethiopians working long hours for menial wages, seeing sweatshops popping up all of Ethiopia and austerity measures being enacted to pay off onerous debts, you will love privatization.

We have seen what “privatizing” has done for America and the rest of the world; multinational corporations, in a race to make the next marginal dollar and maximize profits for their shareholders, are willing to do cut corners, minimize salaries and eradicate competition. The end result has been the hollowing out of the American middle-class, the wholesale destruction of cities and municipalities and the transformation of high paying careers into minimum wage service sector industries. Privatizing is nothing more than profiteering for corporations by pilfering the people.

This bid to privatize vital transportation and communications industries in Ethiopia is especially egregious when it comes to Ethiopian Airlines; at least one can make an argument that Ethio Telecom is in urgent need of outside influence given the shoddy state of internet and overall communications services. However, the same cannot be said of Ethiopian Airlines which is a profitable business and a model of reliability and efficiency when it comes to the airline industry as a whole. Ethiopian Airlines is the crown jewel of not only Ethiopia but Africa as a whole. There is no rationale to sell 49% of Ethiopian Airlines to foreign interests other than enriching insiders in Ethiopia and global financiers while impoverishing the Ethiopian public.

There is a smarter way of realizing market efficiencies; instead of “privatizing” sectors in Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed and his administration can do as the Chinese did and insert clauses where companies that want to do business in Ethiopia must share their technology. No one is arguing for Ethiopia to become a hermit state, however we must make deals with multinational corporations that ensure more and more goods are made and produced in Ethiopia by Ethiopian companies instead of being exporters of raw resources and importers of finished goods. The former ensures that we empower Ethiopians and encourage entrepreneurship among our people, the latter is nothing short of neo-colonization. As Lij Teodrose Fikremariam noted in his communique yesterday, Ethiopia has been sold a bill of goods and we are letting our love for foreign ideologies destroy our nation from within.

We don’t need foreign mercenaries who come to Ethiopia looking for the cheapest source of labor, we need to build up our own industries and stop relying on sweatshop owners.

More importantly, Abiy Ahmed and his administration must take bold steps and start motivating Ethiopians to become self-sufficient by giving them access to small business loans and granting Ethiopians small plots of land instead of enabling our people by making them dependent on AID and foreign charity. We don’t need to be a beggar nation, we can be a better nation if we arm our people with the tools, know-how and the mindset to be business people instead of giving them pennies and teaching them to be dependent on NGOs, IMF, World Bank and PBC loans.

The road to economic independence is not through reliance on currency dealers but through self-empowerment and by making fishers out of #Ethiopia|n men and women. #RestoreEthiopia Click To Tweet

Updated 7.6.2019 at 10:20 AM New York Time

We are a country, and a continent writ large, that is being led by political abortionists. Instead of guiding us towards the promise land of unity, we are being shepherded by demagogues on all side who preach from the pulpit of exclusion and division. The same virus of tribalism that was the source of Africa’s demise has now been fully loosened upon the one nation that repelled colonialism for centuries.

The Battle of Adwa followed up by an invasion of Ethiopia by Mussolini’s fascist military; twice attempted, twice turned back by jegnas (warriors). Where European mercenaries could not subdue us on the battlefield, they reverted to cunning and diplomatic chicanery to colonize through ethnic politics. What started with the subversion of the Ethiopian monarchy in 1974 where Marxists thugs murdered over 500,000 Ethiopians was continued by other means when globalists selected the tribal chieftains who are the TPLF to lord over Ethiopia. At the London Conference in 1991, initiated by George Bush and led by the two-faced Herman Cohen, Western powers foisted the TPLF upon Ethiopia and paved the way for Eritrea to break away from Ethiopia.

The TPLF eventually rebranded themselves as the EPRDF and implemented Apartheid 2.0 by way of Ethnic Federalism. Meles Zenawi and his junta will forever be remembered as the killers of Ethiopiawinet; they picked up on the racist agenda of Afrikaners and created homelands in Ethiopia based on tribe. The same way Africa was fractured along artificial lines at the Berlin Conference, the EPRDF manufactured artificial states and named them after tribes. Their gambit was to monopolize power at the Federal level by letting ethnic homelands fight over crumbs.

It worked exactly as planned; opposition parties, instead of uniting to stand against the fracturing of Ethiopia, created political parties based on ethnicity in order to keep the little power they had. We are now seeing the manifestation of this diabolical agenda that was the brainchild of colonial powers; every major “tribe” in Ethiopia is now forming their own bloc and flushing the notion of Ethiopiawinet down the toilet. OLF, ODP, TPLF, NAMA, the list of tribal based acronyms is one too many to count. Separatists, with their worthless acronym based factions, are nihilists who would rather burn Ethiopia down in order to maintain their influence amid the ashes of our homes.

Secessionism is a divorce where all parties gain nothing, children become impoverished and the lawyers and judges are enriched while entire communities are demolished::

The sad part is that Ethiopians, who are otherwise spiritual people who believe in an amazing God, are falling for this deception of the devil. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all faiths that teach humanity started at one and then spread outward; we are all one people irrespective of our tribe. The key to Africa’s redemption is to unite and overcome borders that were drawn up by outside forces. Instead of seeking solidarity, we are being ministered by ethnic hyenas to embrace our differences and reject our similarities.

We are slowly becoming the Yugoslavia of Africa. In this paradigm, almost every institution within the Ethiopian community has become derelict. This is a national emergency, an existential threat that could witness the erasure of Ethiopia and replacing a blessed land mentioned in the bible more than any other nation into Balkanized territories.

Ethnic politicians, globalist interests and a sliver of society who live like Sultans in #Ethiopia will prosper when Ethiopia dies, the rest will become impoverished and countless many will perish. #SaveEthiopia Click To Tweet

As for the rest of us, Ethiopians abroad who lead lives of middle-class comfort and take Ethiopia for granted, if the day comes that our homeland fractures at the seams and dissolves into the abyss, the judgement of history and future generations will be on our hands. The choice before us is simple, marginalize tribal politicians, walk away from Ethnic Federalism and embrace Ethiopiawinet or keep silent and watch our motherland disintegrate. If the latter happens, all tears and public display of sorrow will be meaningless. Alas, we will most likely realize at the lekso of our country that these tribal leaders who have been inciting tribalism and antagonizing Ethiopians were nothing but murderers who are trying to euthanize Ethiopia and commit infanticide against future generations. #SaveEthiopia

Updated 7.5.2019 at 10:35 AM Addis Ababa Time

Though the situation in Ethiopia continues to be tense and our sources in Addis Ababa convey to us that the country is devolving into a police state, there is a glimmer of hope that was evidenced by a tweet that Fitsum Arega, Ethiopia’s ambassador based at the US embassy in Washington DC, sent. The reporting at this site has held no punches when it comes to holding the Ethiopian government, as well as factions within Ethiopia, accountable. However, as much as speaking truth to power is an imperative, it is important to also give credit where it is due.

Yesterday afternoon, Ato Fitsum attended an event in Atlanta, Georgia where he discussed the Ethiopian “Diaspora” Trust Fund initiative and the effort that the group is expending in order to effect a positive change from Ethiopians abroad for our people back home. In his post-event tweet, Ato Fitsum broke news and in the process shifted the conversation away from economic development that is dependent on charity and AID and instead focused on ways to empower Ethiopia through self-investment.

“No more foreign aid”, this was the sentiment that was expressed by the Ethiopian “Diaspora” Trust Fund group and echoed by Ato Fitsum. Though it is important to have alliances and be a part of the global community, being hooked on foreign aid is nothing more than capital colonialism. When a government official as visible as Ato Fitsum makes such a bold statement and declares that the way to restoration is through Ethiopians investing in Ethiopia, it is a milestone that must be noted and celebrated.

Ethiopia has enough natural resources and intellectual capital to feed the entire continent let alone our people. Our country can become the Japan of Africa if only we empower Ethiopians, invest in her people and start building industries instead of shipping our raw resources overseas and importing finished goods at a premium. The Ethiopian government should start an economic transformation program centered on these four tenets:

  1. Give lands to Ethiopians in order to form an ownership society
  2. Reverse the brain drain by implementing low to zero taxes for small businesses
  3. Microfinancing for Ethiopians to incentivize innovation and industry
  4. Cut red tape and eliminate graft that makes it nearly impossible for Ethiopians to start a business back home

It is high time for the era of economic development that comes at the cost of turning Ethiopians into low wage suppliers for sweatshop employers to come to an end. Creating millions of jobs that impoverishes Ethiopians no matter how much they work is not an economic plan but a social compact of bondage. The key to shared prosperity is to measure the wellness of our nation not through the number of shiny skyscrapers in Addis Ababa but by the plight of the least among us.

Focus on giving Ethiopians the tools and the know-how to develop themselves and they in turn will transform our nation and turn us once more into a land of opportunity.

If Abiy Ahmed and his administration take a turn towards empowerment and away from World Bank, IMF, NGO and Chinese loans dependence, he will deserve credit for being a visionary leader. If he decides to continue the status quo of shared poverty and hoarded wealth, then he will be judged according to his works. We ask Ethiopians at home and people around the world to observe the developments going on in Ethiopia closely and to put pressure on policy makers so that we get the former instead of the latter.

Updated 7.2.2019 at 5:50 PM New York Time

Abiy Ahmed made the grand announcement this afternoon that his administration’s “economic reforms” will create 3 million new jobs in the next 12 months. The way Ahmed plans on accomplishing this feat is by privatizing as many of Ethiopia’s public sectors as humanly possible. As always, the devil is in the details. How many of these jobs will pay Ethiopians decent salaries versus the number of jobs that will be paying sweatshop wages? How many of these jobs will allow Ethiopia to build and sustain localized economies versus jobs that can be eliminated at the whim of foreign interests?

Let’s get one thing clear, privatization is a bill of goods. In fact, the “privatization” that Ahmed is offering is actually selling off the nation’s infrastructure to foreign investors and turning Ethiopia into a wholly owned subsidiary of multinational corporations and sovereign wealth funds. You have to give it to marketers, they can sell air conditioners to Eskimos. By using the term “privatization”, plutocrats who endeavor to pillage the citizenry make it seem like they are transferring public goods into the hands of private citizens. To the contrary, globalists have been using the term “privatization” to steal the resources of endless nations and indenture people into debt and distress in perpetuity.

This is the ideology of capital larceny that Ahmed is promising to unleash upon our land and to turn already destitute Ethiopians into negligible wage employees. Globalization is nothing more than a race to the bottom where corporate interests hop around the world looking for the cheapest source of labor. By enlarging the supply of labor, they deflate the demand for workers and thereby decimate the leverage employees have against their employers. Want to know why cities like Pittsburgh, Toledo, Gary and Detroit have been annihilated and turned into economic ghost towns? No need to search far and wide for the culprit, the perpetrator is “privatization” as local economies get demolished the minute big corporations outsource jobs to the cheapest destination.

This sham of privatization is not good for the outsourcer nor for the insourcer, the citizens of both sides of the spectrum end up being pilfered. For outsourcing nations like America, Canada and European Union countries, wages are artificially depressed as jobs are shipped overseas. For the insourcing nation, localities are turned into cheap labor factories where low to zero standards and minimal regulations meant to protect workers are in place. Long hours and nominal pay, workers end up toiling while being caught in a vortex of poverty and hopelessness. These are the 3 million jobs that Ahmed is promising for Ethiopia.

It doesn’t have to be this way, Ahmed could go the other route and actually invest money and resources in the private sector, meaning the people of Ethiopia. Instead of taking billions in AID money from IMF, World Bank and NGOs, which is nothing more than currency colonization, Ahmed could give our people agency in their own country by giving a half acre of land to Ethiopians and microfinancing entrepreneurs. Instead of selling off Ethiopian Airlines and Ethiotelecom, imagine the reaction if Ahmed actually took those two companies private and sold share directly to Ethiopians. Ahmed could put a dent in the brain drain that is hobbling our country if Ethiopians were promised free shares of Ethiopian Airlines or Ethiotelecom if they come back home.

But Ahmed is no visionary, he is another byproduct of central bankers who has a nice smile, flowery rhetoric and photo ops that never end but no substance to speak of. Just like Obama, Macron and Trudeau, Ahmed will lead Ethiopia into a new age of “privatization” where outside interests will make fortunes while Ethiopians suffer the indignities of low wages and high costs of living. Medemer was nothing more than a marketing scheme cooked up by political operatives to lessen Ethiopia and reduce Ethiopians into sweatshop laborers.

Updated 7.1.2019 at 9:45 AM New York Time

Meet new boss, same as old despot. A year after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed liberalized media in Ethiopia, released political prisoners and made it a point to respect free speech and was deservedly praised as Ethiopia’s change agent, he decided to revert to the ways of dictators by shuttering the internet for six days and plunging Ethiopia into an information dark age. Last Thursday, Netblocks reported that the internet was restored in Ethiopia and the pressure was lifted off Abiy to stop collectively punishing Ethiopians for the sins of a few people.

What quickly became apparent, as Netblocks found out and reported, is that the internet ban was not lifted fully. Instead, Ethiopians could only log on to the internet using WiFi while text messages and mobile services were either severely restricted or blocked all together. Abiy Ahmed and his junta in Addis Ababa went one step further and blocked access to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube all together. Ethiopia morphed from a “leader of technology in Africa” to North Korea over night. Freedom we barely knew ye!

Freedoms are lost bit by bit, using the pretext of security, the Ethiopian government has decided to weaponize the internet by holding 105 million people hostage.

What the Ethiopian government is committing is information warfare against Ethiopians at home and practicing a disinformation campaign against the international community. By silencing speech and access to the public square followed up by a state propaganda campaign, Abiy Ahmed hopes to shape media narratives while suppressing news of mass arrests and targeting ethnic groups for repression. The Ahmed of 2018 is slowly morphing into Mengistu 2.0.

This is how tyranny is birthed, it is never through a big bang but through incremental losses of freedoms until despotism becomes the new norm. #QuestionAbiy #Ethiopia Click To Tweet

We urge Abiy Ahmed to cease and desist his disinformation campaign and to stop stifling the privacy and speech rights of Ethiopians. We also urge a full accounting of the 250 people who were arrested last Thursday, an explanation of the grounds of their arrest and to give all dissenters due process. We also urge the international community to put pressure on Abiy Ahmed; do not let him get away with his outrageous abuse of power and the breach of trust he is committing.

We ask Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia world wide to sign the Restore Ethiopia petition and to stand up for the people back home whose voices have been silenced. We also ask Ethiopians to stop reverting to tribal politics, do not fall for the trap that has been set a long time ago by foreign mercenaries in order to fracture our nation along ethnic lines (read yesterday’s update below for further analysis). This is a time that calls for national unity instead of bickering along ethnic lines. Lastly, we ask the free-press to grow a backbone and to stop echoing the talking points of the Ethiopian government and instead earn your paychecks by doing some investigative work.

Updated 6.30.2019 at 12:45 PM New York Time

Roughly a century and a half ago, Ethiopia was being decimated from within in an age that has been called Zemene Mesafin (the age of princes). Lacking a strong central government, Ethiopia was splintered into zones of influences with regional kings running roughshod over the people and the upper echelon of society living like royalty as they hoarded land, natural resources and Ethiopia’s treasures to themselves.

It was in this paradigm that Atse (emperor) Tewodros II rose to power by taking on the regional kings and reuniting a fractured country. Atse Tewodros success was not due only to his superior military force and his exceptional war strategy, the people rallied by his side because he stood up for them and defended their rights. Atse Tewodros subdued the nobility in order to give Ethiopians hope in the face of aristocratic tyranny.

What we are witnessing in Ethiopia at this precise moment is Zemene Zeregnenet (age of tribalism). Ethnic Federalism, which is nothing more than Apartheid 2.0, is exponentially worse than Zemene Mesafint. By splitting Ethiopia into ethnic homelands, Meles Zenawi and his TPLF junta made an intentional decision to foster tribalism in Ethiopia in order to create factions that will be at war with each other instead of defending their common interests. They divided us, we conquered ourselves.

The idea of Ethiopianism was erased and replaced with the ideology of ethnocentrism.

What kept Ethiopia united and made our land a nation among nations for centuries was the unity of the people. Even though we had moments of adversity, the people identified with national heritage above and beyond tribal associations. It was our unity that enabled us to defeat would-be colonizers at the Battle of Adwa and the same unity was the reservoir of strength that fueled arbegnoch as our grandparents’ generation drove out Mussolini’s fascist military from Ethiopia. Our unity is being chipped away bit by bit by ethnic politicians who are willing to sell Ethiopia down the river in order to gain power. Ethnic Federalism was a creation of the TPLF and their globalist masters like Herman Cohen who have the deepest desire to see our country break apart and be no more.

It is this bankrupt ideology of Ethnic Federalism that is the source of friction in Ethiopia and the same ideology of ethnic segregation that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed refuses to disavow. To the contrary, Ahmed embraced the tactic of divide and conquer installed by his predecessors. We have morphed from the era of Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) hegemony to the age of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) despotism. This acronym based theology that worships at the altar of tribe and dismisses a national identity is the source of Africa’s suffering.

When a people put a premium on their "tribe", the outcome is mass-tribulation and sectarian strife. Click To Tweet

These supposed liberation fronts that are grounded in tribal identity are a lie straight from the devil’s lips. The people who sit at the head of these extremist clans are not worried about the plight of their people, they use their “base” as political stepping stones in order to enrich themselves and give nothing but empty rhetoric to the struggling masses in return. The same way that TPLF did not benefit Tigray people and only enriched a few within that tribe, Oromo people will likewise be left out in the cold while demagogues like Jawar Mohammed live like sultans.

By every definition, Jawar Mohammed is a hateful extremist who preaches terrorism and tribalism in Ethiopia and incites violence in the hearts of the people.

Ethiopia is slowly creeping towards an internal implosion as tribalism and sectarianism is breaking the foundation of our nation. If we are not careful, the era of Ethnic Federalism will turn Ethiopia into the next Yugoslavia. If things really get out of control, Ethiopia could very well relive the horrors that visited Rwanda in 1994. The victims in the end will be all Ethiopians regardless of tribe or ideology, instead of uniting to realize economic gains and prosper as a people, a Balkanized Ethiopia that creates autonomous regions based on ethnic affiliation will lead to perpetual conflict and pervasive poverty.

Zemene Zeregnenet greatly benefit the gentry and foreign mercenaries who enrich themselves while robbing Ethiopia blind, but the people will only gain genocide, starvation and poverty. In a time where people are coming together and realizing the value of collaboration, we are going in the opposite direction and regressing into the arms of narrow self-interests and vanity based ambitions. If we do not walk away from tribal politics and Ethnic Federalism, Zemene Zeregnenet will be the death of Ethiopia.

Updated 6.28.2019 at 8:15 AM New York Time

A new day in Ethiopia quickly turned back to the dark and repressive days of the previous regime. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came in like a March lion promising to liberalize Ethiopia, open up the press and allow political dissension. That era came to a screeching halt last Saturday and the funeral was held yesterday afternoon in Ethiopia while the supposed free-press was busy running with the nonsensical narrative that a regional incident involving a few people was a “coup d’etat”.

After Ahmed transformed from Ethiopia’s Mandela to a neo-Mengistu live on TV as he dressed up in military attire to present himself as Africa’s next strongman, his tribal administration then lowered an iron IP curtain over the whole over Ethiopia. In what could only be described as an egregious and extralegal abuse of power, Ahmed then went a step further in restoring the heavy hand once used by Meles Zenawi as he deployed federal forces to Bahir Dar to execute the hidden agendas cooked up by extremists within Ahmed’s camp.

That agenda came into clear focus yesterday as news leaked out that 56 members of the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) were arrested on trumped up charges of terrorism even though they were exercising their fundamental rights of free assembly and free speech that Ahmed said he would allow. This type of repressive treatment of political opponents was a favored tactic of previous regimes in Ethiopia and throughout Africa. This morning, the number of people arrested was upgraded to more than 250 and almost every one of the people arrested were Amharas. Sadly, the supposed free press like AFP are still reporting this story through the prism of a so-called “coup” instead of noting that Ahmed is targeting ethnic groups for persecution.

We yet again call on the international community and the free press to stop carrying the water of Abiy Ahmed and hold his feet to the fire. If Iran or Russia had cut off the internet throughout the country and targeted ethnic minorities, the media narrative would be radically different. Is this what journalism has become, instead of seeking truth is it all about reporting “news” through ideological and geopolitical prisms?

When truth has two standards, justice will always become a collateral victim. #QuestionAbiy #Ethiopia Click To Tweet

What is apparent is that Abiy Ahmed has made the strategic decision to abandon his empty slogan of “medemer” and instead has pivoted to cater to extremists within the ODP and OLF camps. Ahmed is no savior, he is just another politician who would rather fracture a nation in order to hold on to his power instead of taking courageous steps towards inclusion. We should have known that Ahmed was no reformer when he refused to scuttle the apartheid form of governance that is Ethnic Federalism. He has now doubled down on his processors’ bankrupt ideology of Balkanizing Ethiopia as he goes after Amharas with a vengeance.

Will the “free press” call out Abiy Ahmed and his naked power grab or will they just echo talking points and parrot government officials? We hope and pray that journalists, who entered the profession because they believe in truth and justice, will choose the former and hold Ahmed accountable or else the disintegration of Ethiopia and the horrors that will event will unleash will be on your hands.

To people all over the world who care about justice, we ask you to give voice to Ethiopians where the “free press” and the establishment ignore the plight of 105 million people who are being silenced. As evidenced by their refusal to question any aspect of the state propaganda that is being spun up by the Ethiopian government, mainstream media are not interested in doing investigative journalism and seeking truth amid a mountain of disinformation. Where the “fourth estate” have abdicated their responsibility, we ask you to be citizen journalists and use social media to spread awareness. Use #QuestionAbiy and share this article on social media to your friends, family and your network of associates. We ask you to give voice to the voiceless.

To Ethiopians at home and abroad, we ask you to please put away tribalism and hold tight to our common heritage. We are a people who pray together, eat together, dance together and cry together, do not let our differences erase our common identity or else we will pass on to our children a nation that is no more. Please stop trying to monopolize pains and work together. Instead of competing over who had it worse, let us mend through fiker and andinet. May God protect and bless Ethiopia::

Please watch this video with an open heart and mind and pay particular attention to the written message at the beginning and the end of the video, let us reflect on our greater common God and our common spirituality irrespective of our minor differences.

Updated 6:32 AM New York Time

**Inline revision** we just received an update from one of our sources in Addis Ababa, internet service is nowhere restored to full capacity and is sporadic at best. Wired access is still down and he was only able to access the internet through WiFi. The weaponization of the internet by PM Abiy Ahmed and the Ethiopian government continues unabated.

After plunging Ethiopia into an internet dark ages for six days and lowering an iron IP curtain over 105 million people, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the tribal cabal in Addis Ababa decided to restore service. Contrary to the rational that PM Ahmed will use, that of taking extraordinary measures for the sake of security, the truth is that the the Ethiopian government has weaponized the internet and has shuttered access to the 21st century’s public square and an essential means of commerce and communication on copious occasions. Besides the economic cost of self-imposing a digital blockade on Ethiopia, which is estimated to exceed $4.5 million a day, there is a psychological component that is rarely mentioned.

Elie Wiesel noted that collective punishment is evil; on this point rational people agree that it is immoral to wage a campaign of terror on many for the sins of a few. Yet this is precisely what PM Ahmed and his junta decided to do, after rushing to judgement and pronouncing erroneously that a localized conflict implicating a handful of people and did not involve an attack on the head of state was a “coup d’etat”, he decided to make all Ethiopians pay by isolating them behind firewalls. It is astounding that one man can unilaterally shutter an entire nation’s internet infrastructure and by extension induce anxiety and uncertainty in the public psyche, yet that is precisely what PM Ahmed has done before and once again did over the past six days.

We once again ask the international community to stop accepting “official” media narratives and hold PM Ahmed and the Ethiopian government accountable. Instead of accepting statements coming from EPRDF spokespeople as biblical truths, hold their feet to the fire and ask the tough questions that need to be answered. Two weeks ago, the internet was shut off and the only excuse given was that the government was trying to mitigate the risk of national exams being compromised. A week later, the entire nation was once again plunged into the digital abyss and this time the pretext was securing Ethiopia from a bogus media narrative of a “regional coup d’etat”.

This begs the question, was the first internet blackout nothing more than a trial run for the one that just took place over the past six days? Why was the radical path of denying service taken? Was this meant to curtail the free flow of information within Ethiopia or was the government leery of stories, pictures and video of atrocities being committed reaching the outside world? Is this form of information warfare the new normal, a means to collectively punish Ethiopians in order to enforce public compliance?

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has proven that he is not Ethiopia’s version of Mandela; to the contrary, after dressing up in military regalia and addressing the nation playing the part of a strongman, he is slowly morphing into the Pinochet of Africa. Before his transformation is completed and the Ethiopian government becomes another outpost of despotism, we urge the free press and the international community to stop treating PM Ahmed as a savior of Ethiopia and instead question his every step going forward

Updated 6.27.2019 at 7:25 AM New York Time

A coup d’etat is a category all together different than a localized outbreak of violence. Meaning “a stroke of state” in French, a coup d’etat is the toppling of the head of state and usually involves the following three components:

  1. a coordinated action that includes factions within the military, police or mobilized forces that is significant enough to challenge and/or alter the authority of the central government
  2. a move to consolidate power by taking over the public airwaves, controlling media narratives and dictating public discourse
  3. an extralegal action that seeks to change facts on the ground through overwhelming force

The so-called “coup” that occurred over this past weekend in Bahir Dar and Addis Abeba doesn’t qualify on any of these fronts. It is nonsensical that an outbreak of violence that is localized, implicated a handful of individuals and did not involve an assault on the central government is categorized as a coup d’etat. It is even more farcical that the supposed “free press” around the world has picked up on the outlandish narrative that is being spun by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his junta and are calling a regional incident a coup.

But if we accept the half-baked notion that an attempted coup d’etat can target a region of a country as opposed to targeting the head of state, it is instructive to revisit the narrative and examine who exactly is the entity that is attempting a coup in Ethiopia. Consider the following facts:

  • Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has dispatched federal forces into Bahir Dar in an attempt to suppress political opponents and quell popular discontent through fiat
  • Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in a most egregious matter, has directed Ethiopian telecom to shutter the internet throughout Ethiopia in order to nullify dissenting voices, control media narratives and dictate public discourse
  • Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is the one who is resorting to extralegal means to change the facts on the ground as he exceeds the powers granted to the federal government and interferes in local matters for the explicit purpose of changing the “facts on the ground” through overwhelming force

The regional coup d’etat, as it is being spun, is not being conducted by rogue forces but by the Federal government itself. While Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed plunges the whole of Ethiopia into an internet dark ages, he and a handful of moneyed elites reserve the means to peddle propaganda through social media. This is the same Abiy who rose to power claiming to liberalize Ethiopia and loosen state control over the public airwaves. He has reneged on all his promises and is now showing his hands as he resorts to the practice of despots in silencing dissent and dictating public discourse.

It must be noted that we have no idea what is taking place in Ethiopia at this moment. While the supposed free-press has abdicated its duty in refusing to keep the Ethiopian government accountable and refuses to ask hard questions, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is given free reign to do what he wants in Ethiopia after he lowered an iron IP curtain to prevent public scrutiny on his actions. Every day a new assertion is put out by the Ethiopian government that directly contradicts their previous statements, first a collaborator is caught, then he is killed only to assert that he committed suicide. This has turned into comedy hour with tragic repercussions. We have no way of knowing if the Ethiopian government is currently committing atrocities in the name of security. Rumors are rampant that federal forces are resorting to draconian measures as PM Abiy rolls back the freedoms he granted last year.

We ask the international community stop acting like poodles and instead demand that the internet service be restored, we demand a full accounting of what occurred over the past week and most importantly we demand an independent body assess the facts on the ground in Ethiopia. As Lij Teodrose Fikremariam noted in his most recent communique, will the world abandon Ethiopia now like it did in 1936?

Updated 6.26.2019 at 9:01 AM New York Time

We now move into day four of an internet blackout throughout Ethiopia and the world watches in silence as an act of mass-terror is deployed against the civilian population. Consider the following:

Despite the fact that all Ethiopians are plunged into a complete internet blackout, the EPRDF apartheid government headed by prime minister Abiy Ahmed is using Twitter and Facebook to conduct propaganda overseas.

The mendacity of this consolidation of power by Prime Minister is audacious in scope. While Ethiopians are prevented from getting independent news and are prevented from using the internet for commerce and communications, PM Abiy’s foreign mercenaries are inciting ethnic conflicts and stoking tribal animosities in order to pit Ethiopians against one another, this is a tried and true tactic of bureaucrats as diplomacy has become the new form of colonization.

As Lij Teodrose noted in his tweet this morning, the entire premise of Prime Minister’s ascension to power has now come into stark focus. Ahmed appeared like a savior on a white horse promising a new day of unity and shared prosperity, a year later he has been exposed for the Trojan horse that he has always been. Refer to the tweet below that deconstructs Abiy’s rise and his current power grab. Click on the tweet below and read it as a thread.

As all these dubious developments are taking place, the free-press, which is supposed to be the last line of defense between liberty and tyranny, is busy echoing Ethiopian government talking points instead of doing their job and verifying facts on the ground. This is a day of shame for all media personalities around the world, it is becoming more and more clear by the moment that “mainstream media” is nothing more than a megaphone of government and the status quo.

The issue taking place in Ethiopia is not a concern for just Ethiopians and Africa, this should be of gravest concern to everyone including Americans and Europeans. If you are not aware of what a beta test is, let us introduce you to the concept. Technology is tested on a smaller scale before it is scaled up and used on a wider basis. The fact that Abiy Ahmed could shutter the internet for 105,000 million people at the flip of a switch is an egregious affront to the very essence of freedom.

As Haile Selassie once warned Europeans when Italy invaded Ethiopia and committed a chemical holocaust against millions of Ethiopians, ignore the plight of Ethiopia at your peril. What is taking place at this exact moment in Ethiopia is but a practice run of a wider use of censorship and mass-intimidation. We urge all people around the world to stand up and be counted on the side of liberty and justice. Speak up for Ethiopians where our voices are being silenced.

Where the mainstream media is ignoring our plight and Abiy Ahmed and the EPRDF government has silenced the voices of 105,000,000 people in Ethiopia, we ask you to speak on our behalf. Please save the picture above on your desktop and use it as your profile picture on social media. Moreover, share this article and the picture as well using #QuestionAbiy #RestoreEthiopia

Update 6.26.2019 at 2:01 PM New York Time:

We call upon the international community and especially journalists everywhere to pause and fully assess the facts on the ground before rushing to judgement. It is a miscarriage of justice and journalistic malpractice to take government positions without doing the due diligence to independently validate and verify the narratives that are being spun by EPRDF officials. Specifically, we call attention to the following areas which require further explanation before we accept the account being spun by Prime Minister Abiy and his administration.

  • A coup d’etat is by its very definition an attack on the head of state or a toppling of the central government. In this instance, the government of Ethiopia has already affirmed that the incidents that occurred on Saturday were localized to Bahir Dar and Addis Abeba and did not involve a wider assault on Prime Minister Abiy or any facet of the Federal Government. As such, it is patently false to call what occurred on Saturday a coup d’etat. If the governor of Texas was attacked, that would not constitute a coup d’etat, in the same way, an attack isolated to one region and involving a few people as opposed to a wider conspiracy that involves military or paramilitary forces is not a coup by any stretch of the imagination and pushing that narrative is akin to peddling state propaganda
  • Where did Prime Minster air his televised address from and why was a civilian leader of a nation dressed up in military uniform? The timing of the two attacks as well as PM Abiy’s decision to address Ethiopia is military regalia is an awkward attempt to control media narratives and should invite thorough investigation by journalists and independent parties to find out what did PM Abiy and the central government know and when did they know it
  • Why is the internet still shuttered in Ethiopia? A week ago, the internet was blacked out and the only explanation given by the Ethiopian government was the national examinations. A week later, yet again the internet is shut down. The fact that an entire nation’s network can be taken offline is an egregious assault on free speech and freedom of assembly. In the 21st century, access to the internet is not just a convenience, it is a vital tool of communications and its impediment is tantamount to mass-censorship and psychological warfare against the public. Moreover, the timing of last week’s internet blackout and this weekend’s blackout also require further investigation

Again, we ask the free-press throughout the world to stop rushing to judgement and to stop accepting the government’s account without doing basic investigative work. Journalism requires layers of verification before narratives are printed as truths. We remind media in Ethiopia and beyond that the job of journalists is to question people in power and to have an adversarial relationship with public officials, it is your responsibility to thoroughly scrutinize stories instead of just pressing record and passing on information.

As Lij Teodrose noted in his article this Sunday, this is not a time to make wild speculation but a time to pray for our common humanity, in that light, it is vital that responsible parties be held accountable instead of sweeping things under the ruf and enabling parties from leveraging this tragedy for their own gains. The ground could very well be getting set for a state of emergency in Ethiopia that will witness the nullification of the sweeping reforms that PM Ahmed introduced last year, will you ask the hard questions to ensure the rights of Ethiopians are being protected or will you run interference for the government?

Update 1:05 PM Addis Abeba Time:

  • Gen. Seare Mekonnen, Ethiopia’s Army Chief of Staff shot dead, alleged assassin was his bodyguard
  • The “Ahmara state” president Ambachew Mekonnen, was also confirmed killed in Bahir Dar along with his advisor Gize Abera
  • The internet has yet again been cut off by the Ethiopian government

It must be noted that what took place yesterday was not a coup d’etat. By the very definition, a coup is an overthrow of the head of state. It is extremely irresponsible to call what took place yesterday an attempted coup when the facts have not been gathered and even more negligent to cut off means of communication and induce anxiety by giving Ethiopians the idea that the country is under siege.

Painting this as an attack against the “Ahmara state” is nothing short of political expediency, the government of Ethiopia should know better than to fan the flames of ethnic tensions by deliberately stoking tribalism in a time that calls for national unity. Instead of moving Ethiopia towards solidarity, there are too many who wish to exacerbate the broken ideology of apartheid that is “ethnic federalism”

We urge Abiy Ahmed to stop wearing his military uniform and remind him that he is the Prime Minister not the general of Ethiopia’s armed forces. We also urge all politicians to excerise utmost restraint and to not fan the flames of factionalism during a time that calls for national unity. We will keep updating this page as we get more information.

Update 6.24.2019 at 5:00 AM Addis Abeba Time:

According to news reports emerging from Addis Abeba, an insurgency occurred in Bahir Dar this afternoon. We are doing our level best to determine the underlying cause of the shootout amid conflicting reports that range from an “attempted coup d’etat” to government authorities initiating the conflict by forcibly trying to detain an opposition member. We have sources on the ground in Ethiopia who are keeping us informed and we will pass on the latest news as soon as we verify its veracity.

At this time of uncertainty and turbulence in Bahir Dar, we urge all Ethiopians to observe maximum restraint and to not fuel paranoia by spreading rumors and false news. More importantly, we ask all Ethiopians to stop feeding into the virus of tribalism that has gripped our nation.

This is a time that calls for prayer and a reflection, if we continue down this path of divisive politics and self-centered thinking, the situation on the ground in Bahir Dar and beyond will only continue to worsen. We implore political leaders on all sides, from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to the opposition, to tamp down the focus on ethnicity and to instead rally around our common nationality.

Ethiopia stands at the edge of peril, a land that survived intact for more than 3,000 years is bearing the full brunt of ethnic factionalism. As noted in an article titled “Aybekanem“, it is time for us to stop focusing on our differences and rally around our common identities. Now is a time that calls for unity, if we don’t pull together it will be our sons, daughters, fathers and mothers who will suffer.

We are not a land of tribes, we are a people of diverse communities. It is irresponsible to isolate this attempted insurrection to the “Ahmara region”, discussing events and developments through tribal prisms is the reason why Ethiopia is slowly slipping into factionalism. If this keeps up, Ethiopia will soon turn into Yugoslavia where ethnic enclaves will supersede our common heritage.

Let us pray today not for Ahmaras, Oromos, Tigrays or any one ethnic group but for all Ethiopians. Regardless of our dialects or our religions, we are a land that is deeply spiritual. Let us remember this, may God continue to keep and protect Ethiopia.

This video below is a dedication to ALL Ethiopians and a reminder that we are one before we became many. Zelalem tinur Ethiopia.