Ethiopians in Finland in talks with Tampere University of Technology to persuade the officials not award HMD honorary degree

20 Feb

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

The Tampere University of Technology (TUT) deciding to confer upon its alumnus Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn an honorary doctorate degree is a developing story, which has troubled the Ethiopian Community in Finland. Accordingly, the Community has been following up and is in consultations with the university officials through the Committee responsible for the Conferment of Doctoral Degrees.

On February 20, 2017, the Chair responsible as the Master of Ceremonies and of the Conferment of Ceremony Committee notified the Ethiopian Community representation that decision on the Community’s letter of concern was being awaited from “responsible persons in our university.”

Without a doubt the Ethiopian Community is pleased with TUT criteria for bestowing such honors on honorable people. The Community members understood that to be in accord with the achievements of luminaries and honorable persons who have made contributions to societal betterments and improvement of human conditions all over.

On its part, the Tampere University of Technology has made the world understand that this year it would confer such honors upon eleven awardees on May 20, 2017 in “recognition of excellence [they brought forth] in fields represented at the University and other exceptional scientific, artistic or social merits.”

After its consideration of the meaning and implications of such an award to the Ethiopian prime minister, the Ethiopian Community in Finland has now decided to go public about its engagement with the university. In so doing, the Community’s objective – in keeping with the laws of Finland – is to ensure that human rights violations perpetrated against individuals – in this case against the Ethiopian people in violation of all the norms and principles of all international law the country has voluntarily signed and ratified – should be held accountable, instead of being rewarded for their crimes. The crimes of the TPLF regime, with the prime minister as the head of government is very well-known to the international community (United Nations, European Union, African People’s and Human Charter Committee, USA, etc.) and international human rights organizations and almost all of them have openly criticized.

The Ethiopian community in Finland has been quiet during its consultations with the authorities at TUT, hoping to give them time and definitely aiming to dissuade them not to go ahead with the planned honorary degree award to Hailemariam Desalegn. The Community’s reasons for its opposition of the award to the said nominee are predicated on the following:

(a) Ethiopia since October 2016 has been placed under the most drastic draconian of marital laws in any country to date;

(b) Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) regime, has publicly claimed responsibility for giving the security forces full authority: (i) to detain anybody with no interference from other state institutions; (ii) the security forces have been given a cover of law and the necessary protections not to be sued or challenged at present or at a later date for killing citizens as they see fit; and, (iii) the security forces have been publicly authorized to effectively deal with anyone raising questions about or demanding respect for the fundamental human rights and freedoms of citizens under Ethiopian or any other laws.

Because of these actions not only that Ethiopia has lost fresh crops of its young generation, many shot freely and out of inhuman considerations. But also, university lecturers have been humiliated under imprisonment and torture, its persistent practice by the TPLF has won it notoriety.

A well-publicized case is that of a longstanding professor by the name Prof Merera Gudina, who has been speaking to all sides in the disturbing Ethiopian political crisis, with his balanced views about the consequences of violence, irrespective of its perpetrator. He has now become its latest victim, following his return from Brussels in December 2016 after attending EU-organized seminar, where he had made a presentation on the situation in Ethiopia.

Numerically speaking, Hailemariam’s marital law has nipped in the bud over two thousand Ethiopian lives, injured and disabled several tens of thousands and incarceration of 50/60,000, who are languishing in concentration camps throughout the country; and,

(c) With this action Hailemariam Desalegn, and the TPLF on whose behalf he operates, has endangered the peace and stability of the nation going forward, fanning ethnic hatreds, tensions and conflicts. Such is the determination of the nation that in the face of the martial laws, university and high school students are still daring to engage, at huge cost to their lives, in mass protests around the country, the apparent objective of which is a fervent desire of the broader society seeking to see the end of this regime.

Seen against this backdrop, the argument by the Ethiopian community is a stand against the violation of the human rights of the Ethiopian people. On August 30, 2016, the Ethiopian Community in Finland had addressed a letter to Foreign Minister Timo Soini; its members were also at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain their concerns regarding the overall situation in Ethiopia.

Two days later, the Finnish foreign ministry web page published travel advisory prohibiting travels by Finnish citizens to and in Ethiopia, which covered most of the country, its assessment closely resembling the community’ views.

Moreover, Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs only last January 5, 2017 further updated its readers about the deepening political crisis in Ethiopia as follows:

“Ethiopia has been increasingly embroiled in internal unrest and conflicts between ethnic groups. Beneath the surface is the packed voltage that is discharging violence and demonstrations that the administration has forcefully repressed.”

While extremely concerning this crisis situation has been, given the freedom the regime has assumed to snuff out the lives of citizens in disregard of all laws of the nation, the Ethiopian Community in Finland only hopes that the authorities at the Tampere University of Technology (TUT) would make the right decisions, the aim of which is to deny a promoter and practitioner of state violence room to hide, or cover-up to his crimes.

Irrespective of the outstanding TUT decision, the Ethiopian Community in Finland is of the view, as it has made clear in its letter of February 12, 2017 to the officials, it can hardly see in the perpetrators of those barbaric actions in Ethiopia either a luminary or excellence the university has been claiming.

Therefore, the Community firmly holds the view that, associating TUT’s name with such an individual whose hands have been stained by the blood of his innocent Ethiopian victims is likely to besmirch the name of and harm the interests of this prestigious academic institution, something its faculty and its students would not like.

The Ethiopian Community awaits with great curiosity the university’s decision.


PM Hailemariam Desalegn’s Finnish alma mater to confer honorary doctorate on its former student

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