By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
Teachers in various school districts in Gojjam, Gondar and South Wollo, Amhara region, are in strike, in response to the TPLF regime reneging a promised pay raise during this year, according to Chokew’s, a reliable news source via social media from the hotbed of anti-TPLF regime activities in northern Ethiopia.
Several teachers in Quarit, West Gojjam, are reported to have been put to prison for their willingness to be on strike. Voices of teachers and students coming to us are saying, the Command Post has made it its duty to harass and beat teachers, although legally and technically the mandated period of the six-month martial law has already expired.
That notwithstanding today, the TPLF regime tried to appease teachers, as usually so badly, through the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) by denying it had ever given pay raises to civil servants in January 2017. Teachers say this was being stated to deny teachers any basis for their demands. The TPLF instead described its recent action to other civil servants in different government institutions as salary scales adjustments that teachers don’t buy.
As government employees, teachers in the country felt angry, considering the regime’s action discriminatory practice as one more eviedence of its hotility towards teachers and its revenge for their recent criticisms of its behavior and now their plan to strike.
Meantime, in Sinan, Gojjam, a school headmaster that teachers believe had been an informer to the regime’s security system about the anti-TPLF activities of teachers’, because of which teachers have been imprisoned, was shockingly beaten by angry teachers and was killed. Another teacher was also shot and killed by security forces.
This situation, wherein the confrontation between teachers and the mafia regime is evolving is thus made up of lethal combinations: pay issues and TPLF’s repression. History dictates common sense that the anger with which this is pregnant is likely to move into parts of a few remaining quieter districts such as in northern Shoa. If that happens, the protests and strikes, soiled by TPLF abuses, imprisonments and the bloodshed, could force a spillover into other regions, possibly engulfing the whole country.
In other words, current teachers’ frustration is partly spurred by the strong feelings of those who have lost many of their colleagues to beatings and marksmen shootings by the security forces even long before the martial law, intensified since October 2016.
Some of them have already been blacklisted for speaking out their opposition to the way things are in the country, especially in the education sector affecting generations of Ethiopians, while those in the top leadership are educating their children abroad in the best schools.
Another dilemma of teachers these days is how tempers run quickly at meetings, where as part of its control strategy they are often been forced to speak their minds. Earlier teachers adopted being in a silent mode, refusing either to comment on anything or oppose it.
Some how those in power got it their way into forcing teachers to say something/anything. This started leading to confrontations in meetings. The security people register everything and sometimes some teachers are picked up the moment they leave meeting places.
One source of the problem is that the TPLF cannot live without being praised. Whenever it gets a slight hint of praise, either news is made out of it or a documentary is prepared for political propaganda.
In a country characterized by ethnic discrimination and a minority ethnic group, about 5 percent, is in charge of the affairs of the nation and all the benefits of growth and privileges accrue to them, inequality and ethnic tension have become the defining characteristics of today’s Ethiopia.
Little informed authorities come from either the federal or regional capital and ask teachers to be in attendance of meetings. They pressure teachers to speak out, only to imprison them. This happens because the TPLF-led developmental state is constantly hungry for riches; it has insatiable hunger for praises and glory! That’s what a professor from Addis Abeba University last October chastised the entire leadership, as can be seen from the video hereunder.
It is possible that this latest ugly situation has now started to snowball into teachers’ rebellion in Ethiopia, its causes being the sort of such hypocrisy, bad practices and the corrupt behavior of this most hated ethnic minority regime in Ethiopia.
Meet Seyoum Teshome?Seyoum Teshome is a teacher. I would not know anyone who would not sympathize with him.
On March 7, 2017, he had to openly plead on Facebook to be given the chance to live in Ethiopia in peace, dignity and security, just like the people in other nations with law and order abiding governments.
In unspoken words, he seems to say, in those countries people are allowed to enjoy those fundamental human necessities/essentials, irrespective of one’s status, poor or rich.
Seyoum Teshome’s writing shows he is craving to be understood by the regime pestering him; also his fellow citizens to bear testimonies to what is happening in Ethiopia.
As a teacher/lecturer, Seyoum has become a bitter person, merely for allowing himself to be prodded and for speaking his mind in September 2016 at the Ambo University where he was teaching. The pressure he spoke about is the frightening state of the nation and what needs to change. At the end of his speech he said those words would lead him the next day. “አሁን በግድ ‘ተናገር’ ተብዬ ስለተናገርኩ ነገ እንደምታሰር አውቃለሁ!”
He says: Having been compelled to speak at a meeting the officials were in attendance, at the end of his statement he told them: “The pressure you put on me has in turn forced me into taking the floor. I was pushed into saying what I felt must be said. Having said that, now I know I would end up in prison tomorrow.”
Obviously, after a week he found himself in prison, where he spent 82 days of suffering, they exerted every effort to subvert his mind, in what they called re-education & training – በተሃድሶ ስልጠና!
A while later came, a new round where teachers are being called to meetings with the officials. Seyoum Teshome does not like a bit the sense of what was in air. The announcement is about participation in higher level ‘reformation’ of teachers and students – through what has now come to be called “ጥልቅ ተሃድሶ” – anomalous as it is, it could be called deep reform or profound reformation of the individual.
When the top mafia leadership in Ethiopia speak about themselves undergoing such transformation, honestly speaking I feel ashamed of their political theatrics – an awakening driven by a voodoo of sorts in the 21st century national leadership! The fact is that the thieves have come to grab, eat and feast and run away with what is left, when staying is not an option!
One penalty for those who would not attend the higher transformation ’tilk tehadso’ meeting, Seyoum Teshome writes, receiving strict instruction that any infringement would result in either pay cut or, at its worst, joblessness.
He is a courageous person, having resolved within himself to do as best in what he does, he says:
“ከተሳተፍኩ ከቀድሞው በባሰ ሁኔታ እውነቱን ፍርጥርጥ አድርጌ እናገራለሁ፡፡ስለተናገርኩ ደግሞ አሁንም በድጋሜ እንደምታሰር አውቃለሁ፡፡ በስብሰባው ላይ ካልተሳተፍኩ ደግሞ እንደተባለው እቀጣለሁ!!!”- “If I participate, I would tell the truth with earnestness and the whole truth. If I do not participate, I would be imprisoned again. If I do not participate, as they warned me, I would be punished!”
He concludes his thought with a plea to his tormentors:
ኧረ እናንተ ሰዎች…እስኪ ሕግን ባታከብሩ ፈጣሪን እንኳን ፍሩ!? “Ah You people! Even if you cannot respect the law, I plead with you to have the fear of The Creator in your hearts!”