Impending massacres in Ethiopia, as citizens gear up for further protests via tax revolt, despite 9-month old martial law!

19 Jul

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
 
For this article, the past is its guide — Ethiopia’s tragic experiences during 2016.

There being no direct and open communication at all between society and the state, the only resource left for citizens is to go out in a mass strength to give signal of disapproval or rejection to the the powers to be.

Surely, there is something badly wrong with this sort of governance, most of all the TPLF’s reliance on state violence to obtain citizens’ fear and servitude!

Since October 2016, Ethiopians have found themselves under severe restrictions that curtail their fundamental human and civil rights. Because of the accumulated popular anger, tempers have been rising and citizens getting angry.

The tragic result, which the regime does not regret at all, is shooting and killing, the harsh policies of the state locking both the victim and perpetrator of violence into the cycle of more fear, more anger, more protests and still the state killing more citizens.

Against this backdrop, information coming out of Ethiopia these last few days show that strikes, encouraged by both fear and fury, are underway by businesses though limited. However, by the sign of things and the repeated calls that are being heard in different parts of the country, there is clear possibility for more coordinated strikes and protests in days and weeks ahead.

In Ambo, business were closedagain for the whole day Tuesday, while transport to Western Ethiopia, i.e., Addis Abeba-Wollega direction was disrupted, as have in and around Woliso.

It is reported that in Ambo stones were thrown at a minibus and incurred some damages, for failing to heed the call for protests and strike.

Daniel Berhane, an insider with the TPLF, wrote on his Facebook Monday that since Friday several cars have been broken in Ambo, Burayu, Kofele, Shashemene, and the road to Bale was closed by protesters.

As of late last week, there have been sporadic reports about the TPLF commandos and police being deployed in different districts and towns in Oromia region, according to BBC.

As stated above, the present contention between businesses and those in power is about the new hefty tax burden the people believe is unfair, unjust and lacking basis in reality.

Below the surface, however, the reality is that the present crisis is coming on the eve of the first anniversary of last year’s bloody massacres by the TPLF security forces against largely peaceful protesters, chanting in Amhara and Oromia hostile slogans and demanding freedom, democracy and removal of the TPLF regime.

Angering most Ethiopians is that, by the admission of the TPLF regime itself on April 18, 2017 in a report to parliament, “at least 669 people [were] killed from August 2016 to March 2017.”

Irrespective of the manipulation of the number of those massacred by the security forces, it is reasonable to assume that every article on Ethiopia ever since has been about cruelty of the TPLF regime in Ethiopia. Only foreign investors and their respective countries have given more weight to the profits they could make, not Ethiopian lives.

On its part, the United Nations since August 10, 2016 has been demanding the TPLF regime to allow UN human rights experts to investigate the situation; this request has been declined and resolution of the problem seems remote.

Right at this moment, Ethiopians are agonising in their homes and in secret over their loses of family members, the deaths of relatives, neighbours’ children to TPLF guns and tortures and those wallowing in prisons — both marked and unmarked.

The original causes of the protests a year ago — the Addis Abeba Mater Plan, land grab and displacements and the TPLF’s stinking corruption as well as the cruelest human rights violations Ethiopians have encountered so far in a quarter century — now lurk in the background, without the cause they represent not diminished.

It is in response to that cruelty on August 10, 2016 in an interview with Stephanie Nebehay of Reuters the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein was compelled to pronounce himself on behalf of the United Nations regarding the August 7, 2016 massacre — in most instances of peaceful protestors — in Amhara and Oromia:

“The use of live ammunition against protesters in Oromiya and Amhara, the towns there of course would be a very serious concern for us.”

Unfortunately, we have not seen the last of that situation, as the ruling party continues to wallow in its arrogance of power, unwillingness to reform society and continued robbery of properties of the poor acquired through inheritances and traditions such things as lands, houses and businesses, without fair compensation.

For Ethiopia’s present leaders, the answer to the whole problems of society is the use of more force, imprisonments and killings, which neither has taken the nation into peaceful life nor the ethnic minority leaders’ dream to reduce Ethiopia into their feudal fiefdom.

It is, therefore, inevitable that Ethiopia does something about the hiccup its politics and governance once again seem to suffer afresh.

It is in recognising this that the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in winding his visit to Ethiopia from 2nd-4th, 2017 on his last day on May 4 in a press conference recommended to the regime what needed to be done, as follows:

“I strongly believe economic, social and cultural rights are inseparable from civil and political rights: if one set of rights advances, while another set of rights are not given the requisite attention, the social pressure which may result can be dramatic. I encourage the Government, having invited me to visit, to now ensure a greater investment in a far more substantive, stable and open democratic space for all its people.”

Since the introduction last month of a new business tax, the country has witnessed rising tempers and intermittent attacks against state-owned properties, about three weeks from last year’s killings of several tens of citizens by the security forces in just one day.

On the contrary, of late there have been numerous reports of arrogance of power in display once the TPLF has felt that it has consolidated its power by imprisoning of all ages of citizens, anyone and everyone it suspected of inciting protests. Many of these tens of thousands are still in prison, lucky that they still are alive.

BBC Monday reported that the new tax is being levied on small businesses with an annual turnover of up to 100,000 birr ($4,300; £3,300) in an effort to boost the tax base and raise much needed government revenue.

To-one-and-all dutiful Hailemariam handing over the illegally-collected tax revenues to the TPLF’s-substitute ideological father (Abdiwack Banti’s pictures)!

Various news outlets have reported the anger of businesses in Ethiopia after the introduction of these new tax hikes. Business, according to Addis Standard, accuse the TPLF regime of hugely over-estimating their revenues.

For instance, local papers quote the case of a hairdresser who has been asked to pay $400, which is not much less than her annual earning. It is also the case with an owner of a small diner, which has been widely reported in the local language.

When such crises hits, the government resorted to what it usually does: accusing the taxpayers of misunderstanding about the tax rates.

Last year, Amhara and Oromia regions were hit by a wave of anti-government protests that have led to the establishment of a state of emergency, nine-month later which is still in force.

Meantime, TPLF regime insider Daniel Berhane on his Facebook acknowledged that businesses are still shutdown in Ambo and Woliso.

While the road to Ambo-Nekemete, he confirmed, in the town of Bako businesses, are shutdown Tuesday, including Bajaj taxis being visibly absent.

The situation is becoming more tense with every passing hour in Oromia, the mother of 2014-2016 popular protests, which originated in Ambo University and later broke out like wildfire at Ginchi, now as well angered by the arrogance and corruption of the ethnic minority regime is moving to its second phase.

Various news outlets, quoting local sources, have reported that Oromia city police and special force are patrolling the roads.

Berhane seems to worry this becoming a remaking toward its replay.

The UN Human Rights High Commissioner did his best to convince the authorities during his visit in Addis Abeba last May about the indivisibility of human rights, failure of their recognition is behind this situation, as follows:

“As I have said in many countries since taking up this office, failure to uphold fundamental freedoms and rule of law always generates huge cost downstream. Repression of people’s voices and rights are damaging to public order; they contribute to tension, mistrust and defiance of the government; despair – and ultimately, this repression may lead to violence. When governments uphold the people’s rights to freedom of information, expression, peaceful assembly and association – including their right to demonstrate peacefully in defence of critical views – they are building the foundations of a stronger, more confident society.”

Of course, the TPLF regime thought it had something better to do now, instead of heeding the advise of the United Nations. The TPLF source reported Tuesday morning that TPLF court prosecutors in Amhara region have charged Semayawi party officials for he August 7 killings and demonstration in Bahir Dar city!

What is the purpose? The TPLF regime is aware that internationally there is pressure against it to open up for United Nations investigation. Therefore, to misdirect attention from itself it has put the blame on Semayawi Party. Here is how regime frontline supporter Daniel Behane has put it on his Facebook:

“It is to be recalled that a massive demonstration held in Bahir Dar city on Aug. 7, 2016 left at least a dozen people dead.
Semayawi party initially asked “permit” for the demonstration, even if it distanced itself at the last minute. The government, however, had insisted Semayawi party is responsible for the demonstration.”

My response was:

“The manner you wrote the above & your TPLF is behaving reminded me of the Liberian saying I read this morning on BBC: A goat cannot be presumed innocent nor receive justice, when the judge is a leopard! After all, is it not the TPLF that has refused to avail itself to United Nations investigation for it’s massacre of our youth in Amhara & Oromia?”

There has neither been independent investigation or redress of the situation, UN requests shrugged of.

Killing is no solution to Ethiopia’s problems nor to TPLF’s hunger for power and its other ambitions!
 

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