Throughout the world the ideology of division and intolerance has permeated mainstream politics and poisoned societies; tribal nationalism, hate and prejudice are widespread, animosity and suspicion toward ‘the other’ commonplace. In Ethiopia this vile, fear based trinity appears to have become government policy.
The focus of the regime’s enmity is the Amhara people, a large ethnic group making up around 30% of the population. In the last four years Amhara communities living in the Oromo region have been subjected to sustained violence by Oromo nationalists; the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)/Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), together with Oromo Special Forces ((OSF) and the Queero (Oromo youth group) are behind the violence, with it seems, the approval, perhaps active participation, of the government.
Ethnic cleansing of Oromia is part of an OLF plan to create an independent Oromo nation (Oromia for the Oromo people), and reduce the overall number of Amhara in the country. Tens of thousands of Amhara civilians have been killed, thousands of homes destroyed on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa (which sits within Oromia), hundreds of thousands displaced (Ethiopia has around 5.6 million internally displaced people according to the UN). Anyone talking about the violence, journalists, human rights workers, lawyers or students, run the risk of arrest.
And in a dramatic inflammatory move, on 8 April the government moved the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) into the Amhara region with orders to disarm and dissolve the only body offering protection to the people, the Amhara Special Forces (ASF).
The government’s malicious move
Each of the 11 regions of Ethiopia has a paramilitary force of varying strength. Theysit somewhere between the police and federal forces, and form part of a complexnational security framework. After the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) were defeated by the ENDF in November 2022, and were forced to accept disarmament as part of the peace agreement (something which has still not happened), many called for a program to disarm all regional forces, not just the TPLF, as part of a larger constitutional review.
Prime-Minister Abiy Ahmed had made clear he intended to reform the system for some time, and on 6 April the government announced plans “to integrate all regional special forces either into the national army, or the federal or regional police.”
Fine, long overdue and a measure in principle that Amhara people and the Amhara regional authority support. So begin with the two major terrorist groups operating openly within the country, the TPLF and the OLF/OLA and then proceed within an agreed democratic framework; discussions with regional administrations need to take place, a clear plan laid out and consensus reached.
No such balanced steps have been taken, and the only force currently being disarmed/dissolved is the ASF, and the reasons are clear: It is not to dismantle an inherently flawed security apparatus, but to leave the Amhara region vulnerable to attack; whether from the TPLF in the North or the OLF/OLA to the South. The ENDF, which should be protecting the Amhara people, is not trusted any more than the government is; with a command structure dominated by Oromo personnel it is seen not as a national force, but as an ethnic army run by Oromo war lords.
This malicious move has been seen by the Amhara community as an invasion of the region by the ENDF, acting in collaboration with, the OLF/OLA and TPLF. Huge protests erupted leading to clashes with security forces in which live rounds were fired on demonstrators. It reinforced the view that, while the OLF/OLA/OSF are the primaryperpetrators, the federal government is complicit in the ethnic violence taking place in the Oromo region and elsewhere. Which, if true, begs the question: ‘why’? Why is the government allowing, indeed facilitating a genocide?
A coalition of the malign
The Ethiopian government is led by PM Abiy Ahmed, who is leader of The Prosperity Party, (aka the Oromo Prosperity Party (OPP)); a political alliance he established in December 2018, a little over a year after coming into office. It is, on paper at least, a broad coalition representing political groups from all the major regions except Tigray, as the TPLF refused to join. In practice though the OPP, and therefore the government, is dominated by one faction, the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), which, as chairman, PM Abiy led prior to becoming PM. This mirrors the previous regime, the EPRDF; another supposed coalition, in power for 27 years, that was in fact controlled by one group, the brutal TPLF.
When Abiy and Co. came to power in 2018, exiled opposition groups were invited back to Ethiopia. This included the OLF/OLA, who, unlike other parties were not forced to disarm. Since their return, the OLF has been classified as a legitimate political party, unlike their shadow, the OLA, which is rightly regarded as a terrorist group, and has established a close working relationship with the OPP.
They are driven by an extreme nationalist ideology; a divisive dogma that has blighted many nations in recent years, expressed in numerous forms. At its core is intolerance and hate; a misinterpretation of events and a disregard of facts. Underpinned by blame and anger at a particular social/ethnic group for the ills they, the believers, have suffered, perceived or real. The immigrant, the refugee, the metropolitan elite, or in the case of the OLF, the Amhara, who they associate with ‘The Evil Ethiopian State’, become the subject of their animosity and, in Ethiopia, their brutality.
The OPP (the ruling party) is, many believe, working in tandem with the OLF/OLA, indeed there are former members of the OLF now embedded within the Abiy government. Their fanatical doctrine has infiltrated the mainstream, their violent methodology countenanced in exchange for political support.
And where, within this cauldron of duplicity and violence, is PM Abiy? Like so many current ‘leaders’ he lacks principle, is politically and morally weak, and will do anything to cling on to power – including it seems, allowing a genocide to take place. Dishonest and manipulative, he is driven by personal ambition rather than a commitment to serve the people, unite the nation and create social harmony.
Beyond ‘the why’ is this happening, crucial as that may be, is perhaps the more significant question, certainly for the Amhara people living in Oromia: How can this brutal ethnic violence be stopped? And secondly, why have no foreign powers, Western or African, (openly) called for the assault on Amhara people to stop and the perpetrators be brought to justice? In contrast say to the recent violence in Sudan, which has rightly attracted a substantial response from foreign governments as well as global bodies such as the Arab League, the African Union, the UN, and generated a great deal of international media coverage, there has been little or no response to the Ethiopian/Amhara crisis.
Geo-politics is not animated by notions of brotherhood and compassion, it is motivated by self-interest, or perceived self-interest and short-term gain. Only when it is judged that US/western ‘interests’ (a reductive term based itself on global divisions) are threatened in some way, or an opportunity for greater regional influence/control presents itself, do these global powers act. Otherwise men, women and children can die in their thousands, particularly when they happen to be poor, and African; the same pattern of neglect and hypocrisy pertains to climate change. The result of this inhumane approach to global affairs is the same as it has always been, exploitation, injustice, and suffering of the most vulnerable.
Whilst all pressure should be applied to western governments, and the US administration in particular, the source of hope does not lie in Washington or Brussels, but rests firmly with the people of Ethiopia. Fanatical groups like the OLF/OLAplay on people’s fears, indeed they themselves exist only within an atmosphere of fear, and thrive when distrust and social fragmentation takes hold. It is the coming together of people from the various tribal/ethnic groups scattered throughout Ethiopia, uniting against division, duplicity and hate, that offers the greatesthope of peace and social harmony, not external intervention.
In whatever form it manifests, whether it’s distaste for foreigners, refugees and asylum seekers, a nationalistic economic policy or flag waving patriotism, tribal nationalism is a cancer upon the world. Violent, ugly, and often deadly, it creates and strengthens divisions, often resulting in war, one after another after another throughout history.
Ethiopia is a land rich with ethnic diversity: Some 70 tribal groups live within this ancient nation, all with their own cultures, traditions, and dialects. Tolerance, understanding, and cooperation are essential within such a bountiful landscape.
Since 2018, when the repressive, TPLF-dominated EPRD regime was swept aside and the current government, led by Prime-minister Abiy Ahmed, took office, Ethiopia as an integrated stable nation has been under attack from tribal nationalists of one creed or another. Having forced the US-backed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) terrorists to disarm, the threat facing the country nowcomes from extremists within the Oromo region: The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF); its armed wing the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA); the Qeerroo Oromo youth organization; sympathetic/coercedforces within the Oromo Regional Authority (ORA); radicalized elements within the district militia, the Oromo Special Forces (OSF); and many suspect, secessionist elements within the federal government itself.
This brutal coalition seems focused on eradicating the Amhara people from the Oromo region, reducing the overall Amhara population and forcing the creation of an Oromo Republic. They are engaged in a deadly campaign ofdestruction,threatening to tear the country apart, a project which by anydefinition qualifies as genocide.
Death, displacement and division
A significant date in the campaign to purge Oromo of Amhara people is the Burayu Massacre of 14-16 September 2018, five months after PM Ahmed became prime-minister and invited exiled political groups to return to Ethiopia. Buoyed by the return of the OLF, a gaggle of Oromo thugs (including radicalized youth), under the banner of ‘Abe Torbee’ (People of the Weak), attacked Amhara people, property and businesses, killing, mainstream media reported, 23 people. Since then thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, have died; hundreds of thousands internally displaced – in a country with the highest number of displaced persons in Africa.
The UN estimate it to be around 5.5 million, but when many of those scattered are living not in organized UNHCR refugee camps, but in makeshift shelters, abandoned buildings or simply on the land, collating accurate statistics is virtually impossible. Suffice to say, huge numbers of men, women, and children, who were living simple, often gruelling lives in rural/semi-rural Ethiopia, are destitute, traumatized, and frightened, as a result of the terrorist actions of either the OLF/OLA and associated gangs, or the TPLF.
Ethnic cleansing (a deeply repugnant, inflammatory term, like ‘genocide’) forms the cornerstone of a coordinated Oromo strategyaimed at igniting social unrest and institutional instability in which power becomes usurped, or consolidated. To this end, an assault was made on The Ethiopia Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) by Oromo nationalists on 22 January.
Three Orthodox bishops unilaterally declared the creation of the “Holy Synod of Oromia”; arguing that their decision was prompted by the failure of the EOTC to offer religious services in tribal languages. This is a hollow justification: EOTC priests routinely preach in regional languages, and have always done so. To the dismay of many, the government in the form of PM Abiy, appeared to support the ‘rebel bishops’. Amhara Association of America (AAA), an Ethiopian NGO based in the US, is one of a growing number who believe the government was party to the action. In a statement they condemned “in the strongest terms the Abiy Ahmed regime’s ongoing persecution of religious leaders and attempt to divide the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC).”
This attack, on the most trusted national institution, had nothing to do with the church, rather it is part of a political campaign to divide people along ethnic lines and control the populace by infiltrating the EOTC, which is a cornerstone of life for millions of Ethiopians. The ‘rebel bishops’ were swiftly excommunicated by the Tewahedo Church, and across the country hundreds of thousands of people united in solidarity with the EOTC.
Aggression and hatred
At the violent core of Oromo nationalism sits the OLF, regarded (erroneously) after their return to Ethiopia in 2018, as a legitimate political party, and the OLA, officially labelled as terrorists. The OLF and OLA are two arms of one entity united by a single ideology of aggression and hatred. Their primary goal, as spelt out on the OLF website is: “To lead the national liberation struggle of the Oromo people against the Abyssinian colonial rule [a ‘struggle’ that would not exist save for the OLF]……to exercise the Oromo peoples’ inalienable right to national self-determination to terminate a century of oppression and exploitation.” They talk a lot about the ‘empire state of Ethiopia’ (which they appear to associate with Amhara people), policies of ‘divide and rule’ and ‘oppressed people’.
Under the former TPLF-dominated EPRDF government, a brutally repressive dictatorship, the Oromo people, like many others, were cruelly persecuted and oppressed – see Amnesty International report. Anger (widespread among Ethiopians) towards the TPLF, would then be understandable. But far from attacking them, the OLF stood with the TPLF during its two year war (2020-2022) against the Ethiopian State, and is now carrying out ethnically driven atrocities, primarily (but not exclusively) against Amhara people.
These are civilians, not members of an ‘evil empire’, who are being killed and terrorized, their livestock slaughtered and homes destroyed: AAA estimate that in January alone “over 5,885 houses [in Sheger City on the outskirts of Addis Ababa] belonging to non-Oromo owners (mostly ethnic Amharas) were demolished,” resulting in tens of thousands of displaced Amharas. “The demolitions [which are ongoing] were carried out by a task force from the Sheger City administration (Oromia Regional State) in collaboration with Oromia Special Forces (OSF), Oromia police, and local Qeerro (ultranationalist Oromo youth). The Oromia Region security forces [OSF] were also implicated in various abuses against residents including arbitrary arrests and bodily injuries.” The targeted actions, the killings, the destruction of property and false arrests are carried out with total impunity.
Where is the federal government, a government which promised so much when it took office in 2018? Where it should be protecting the Amhara community, arresting those responsible for the killings and dismantling terror groups, it appears largely impotent, or worse, as a growing number of Ethiopians believe, is complicit. The regional authority, the ORA, is undeniably implicated, and this body is accountable to the federal government led by Ahmed.
Thus, criticism and suspicion of the government, PM Ahmed in particular, is mounting; ranging from allegations of direct involvement in the Oromo nationalists’ plan, to criminal neglect; political weakness amid powerful Oromo voices (in the ORA and within the governing party); or total incompetence.
Accusations and mistrust that has been compounded in recent weeks by a series of repressive measures. In addition to the attempted church coup d’état, the regime has arbitrarily detained Ethiopian journalists/media workers, suspended media outlets, clamped-down on protests, arrested demonstrators and restricted access to social media; curtailed celebrations of Adwa (Ethiopia’s victory over the Italians at the battle of Adwa 1 March1896), a national moment of collective pride; and arrested anyone wearing t-shirts with the image of Menellik II, who was enthroned at the time of the battle.
These restrictive acts hark back to the repressive TPLF-led regime (in power for 27 years), when human rights were utterly ignored and fear was widespread. Some dictatorships are born into tyranny, others slide into darkness one repressive act at a time, until one day paranoia reigns.
The dark stain of duplicity
The first duty of government is to safeguard the populace. The Amhara people, persecuted on and off for generations, are being killed by terrorist gangs and radicalized Oromo groups including the OSF, and the Ahmed government is completely failing to protect them. More than that, by their inaction they are allowing the killings and demolitions to take place, day after day, week after week – giving the ethno-nationalists a green light for their barbarism.
Such criminal indifference by a government does indeed equate to complicity, and throws the light of suspicion directly on the PM. He doesn’t visit IDCs to speak with victims or initiate investigations to establish what happened, fails to offer federal support, reparation and, crucially justice.
A recent incident demonstrates the prevailing attitude of the Ahmed regime to the murders and suffering of Amhara people: In the first week of February the OLA attacked Amhara residents in an Internal Displacement Camp (IDC) in Anno town, East Wollega. AAA report that 41 people were killed by the terrorists and 12 left injured. At the same time the PM was in Europe visiting Heads of State in Italy and France, where he was filmed smiling happily as he sat in luxury, chatting. No mention was made in press statements or interviews of the murders that had occurred in his absence, or the ongoing ethnic slaughter. Why not? Safeguarding civilians under threat and hunting down perpetrators of mass killing/s should be his and his government’s absolute priority.
A word one hears routinely applied to Ahmed is narcissist – is he more concerned with his international image than the lives of his fellow Ethiopians? Like many such ‘leaders’, no doubt he his focused on his ‘legacy’. Well, unless he acts swiftly and resolutely to the mass killings in Oromo a dark stain of duplicity, and potentially genocide, will run across any such bequest.
The Ethiopian government is not alone in ignoring and thereby facilitating the killing of Amhara people. From what I can see, there has not been a single statement of concern, condemnation or support from the ‘International Community’, i.e. America and her mates. All of whom, following the US lead, were quick enough to make one false accusation after another against the Ahmed government when the country was under attack from the US-backed TPLF. Now, when criticism and suspicion is warranted and a degree of external (diplomatic) involvement justified, urgently needed in fact, not a peep, from any government, Prime-Minister or President.
And barely a by-line in the corporate media, certainly nothing in the world’s loudest voices, the BBC and CNN. Following the lead of the US State Department, both institutions consistently spread propaganda and lies about the Ethiopian government during the TPLF-initiated war. Western governments (and media) approach to foreign affairs is largely dictated by US foreign policy, which is rooted in arrogance and paranoia, and is currently obsessed with Russia and China.
The US administration, the EU, UK etc., are certainly not concerned about the killing of thousands of Amhara people. Unless of course it results in the total destabilization of Ethiopia and an opportunity presents itself for US intervention. Until then, the position seems to be, let the killing continue, after all the victims of tribal hatred are only poor black Africans.
Neglect by the Ethiopian government, Ethiopia’s neighbours, global powers, and the African Union (where, at the recent AU summit, while talking about finding ‘African solutions to African problems, Ahmed shamefully failed to mention the Amhara’s plight/problem), which has also been deafeningly silent, in public at least, arms the gunmen; encourages yobs to smash and burn homes; gives no value to the lives of those men women and children being attacked, and thereby grants license to the terrorists to continue. Stand up, stand up all who are aware of this horror in our midst and demand that the Ethiopian government acts to stop the carnage.
Where there is division there will be conflict. In a country such as Ethiopia with dozens of ethnic/tribal groups, the need for tolerance, cooperation and unity is essential if there is to be peace and social harmony. Where these are absent, where differences and historic grievances are enflamed by ideologically ambitious individuals/groups, fear hate, and violence flourish.
Ethiopia is a large country divided into 11 regions. Covering over a third of the total land mass Oromia is the largest and, with an estimated 35% of the total population (approximately 122 million),the Oromo constitute the largest ethnic group, followed by the Amhara (28%).
Within Oromia and neighboring regions (Afar, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz), a targeted slaughter, that many believe constitutes genocide,is taking place — perpetrated by Oromo extremists against the Amhara people.
The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) is the principle force behind the violence. During the recent war they allied themselves with the US-backed TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) terrorists, and have over the last four years carried out dozens of deadly incursions. Whole districts in western Oromia are being purged of Amhara people in a brutal campaignwhich, somefear,could trigger a civil war between the two largest ethnic groups.
The situation is complicated, contradictory narratives, denials and accusations abound; dis-misinformation is being propounded by the OLA through sympathetic media outlets such as the Oromo Media Network (OMN) and Kush Media Network (KMN). Spurious material which, according to Genocide Prevention in Ethiopia (GPE), an NGO collating data on the conflict, has previously “led to a massive campaign against Amharas across the entire Oromo Region”.
While the politics of the conflict, objectives and the line/s between tribal political alignments and terrorism may appear obscure, what is crystal clear is that the Ethiopian people, drained after two years of war with the TPLF (November 2020-November 2022), with many deeply traumatized, cannot withstand another bloody conflict.
The OLA militants
The OLA constitutes the armed wing of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Formed, according to their website, in 1973 by “Oromo nationalists to lead the national liberation struggle of the Oromo people against the Abyssinian colonial rule.” The fundamental objective of the OLF is, they say, “to exercise the Oromo people’s inalienable right to national self-determination to terminate a century of oppression and exploitation.” They routinely claim to be defending Oromo civilians from Amhara militia and federal forces, and maintain that, “the protracted armed resistance ……of the Front, [OLF] is an act of self-defence exercised by the Oromo people against successive Ethiopian governments including the current one, who forcibly deny their right to self-determination.”
Exiled in Eritrea/Kenya until 2018, when, under an amnesty introduced by the current government led by Abiy Ahmed (an Oromo), thousands of political prisoners, journalists and critics of the previous regime (a coalition of which Abiy, as leader of the Oromo Democratic Party, was a part) were released, and opposition parties located abroad, welcomed home. Upon their return a number of OLF politicians are said to have secured influential positions on the fringes of the government, whilst some of the more military minded, were assimilated into the OSF. Since the arrival of the OLA on the scene, unlike other armed groups, they have not only been allowed to retain arms, but given the space in which to radicalize, recruit, and train young Oromos.
Since 2018, when the violence began, it is impossible to know the number of people (mainly Amharas) killed. GPE estimates it to be around 30,000, other sources put the figure much lower; the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project e.g. shows that from August 2021 to July 2022 alone “there were 3,784 deaths linked to the OLA.”
What is undisputed is that it is overwhelmingly Amhara people who are being murdered (sometimes in the most barbaric, horrific fashion), women/girls raped; hundreds of thousands displaced, countless homes destroyed, livestock stolen; and that, despite their claims to the contrary, the OLA/OLF are responsible. The OLA is supported by regional terror groups (Gumuz Liberation Movement and Gambella Liberation Front), criminal gangs and, it is widely believed, factions within the Oromo Special Forces (OSF), acting on orders from the Oromia Regional Authority (ORA).
The ORA is widely thought to have been infiltrated by Oromo nationalists, and is not under the control of the federal government. In July 2022 an elected member of the Ethiopian parliament, Hangaasa Ahmed, accused the (Oromo) regional administration of coordinating attacks in Wollega, where many of the killings have taken place. Elements within the regional body (not the federal government) are said to be conspiring with the OLA, and radicalized OSF fighters.
One such incursion, with witnesses asserting OSF involvement, took place on 10 December in the Kemashi Zone of Benishangul-Gumuz region (bordering Sudan). The Amhara Association of America (AAA), a human rights group based in the US with a small team of investigators in Ethiopia, relates claims that the OLA were supported in the attack by Qeerro, a notorious Oromo youth group, which was instrumental in removing the previous EPRDF regime in 2018, and, eye witnesses claim, by members of the OSF. “They killed at least thirteen Amhara civilians, injured five more.” Over 500 houses were deliberately burned [forcing around 2000 people to flee] and over 3,000 farm animals were looted.” A survivor told AAA’s investigators: “There were both Special Forces and Shene (OLA) united to eliminate Amharas.”
There have been many such attacks over the last three years or so, too many to recount: the Gimbi massacre however stands out. It is one of the few incidents to be widely covered by western media, and highlights the brutal nature of the Oromo nationalists’ campaign, and the degree of human suffering inflicted.
On 18 June 2022, “OLA militants entered Tole Kebele (district) [West Wollega Zone, Oromia Region, Ethiopia] and opened fire on Amhara civilians in a nine hour long killing spree which spanned ten villages.” AAA relate witness statements — “First, the militants began shooting people and then used machetes to finish off victims whom they suspected had not died from the gunshots.” The NGO estimate around 503 Amhara civilians were killed, while elsewhere it was reported that, “more than 1500 ethnic Amhara were massacred, including children and women.”
True to formthe OLA denied any involvement; their spokesperson, Odaa Tarbii, told AP that the Gimbi attack, “was committed by the regime’s military and local militia as they retreated from their camp in Gimbi following our recent offensive.” Local residents however confirmed that the OLA were behind what one survivor described as a “massacre of Amharas.” Prime Minister Abiy condemned the “evil force” and vowed, to “eliminate” the OLA. A pledge, like political statements made the world over, easily made, but more difficult to accomplish.
Amhara homes demolished
In addition to attacking unarmed Amhara civilians, a house demolitions program, which has existed in and around Addis Ababa since 2018, is intensifying.A detailed investigation by AAA found that, “At least 3,415 houses belonging to non-Oromo owners (most of them belonging to Amhara owners) were demolished” this year alone — properties owned by Oromo were left untouched. The human rights group claims that, “Oromia Special Forces [OSF], Oromia Region police, government representatives, and local youth” are responsible for the demolitions in various parts of “the newly established Sheger City administration”; an area populated by both Amhara and Oromo, where control switched from a local administration to the Oromia Regional State in August 2022.
According to AAA, when people asked the authoritieswhy their houses had been destroyed, their personal belongings trashed. The response was swift and ferocious: “At least 40 individuals were arrested and their whereabouts remain unknown. Another 10…were brutally injured by security forces of the Oromia Regional State.” A local resident whose home was levelled, relates that on 3 January, “hundreds of local youth, police and special police came to the Enku-Gabriel area (Betachignaw side),” they opened fire on those trying to stop them and proceeded to “abscise the roof and doors of houses and took the tin to the Oromia Region with the help of 11 [Isuzu] FSR trucks.”
The houses, many occupied by the same family for 30/40 years, may, as some claim, have been built illegally, and some will no doubt argue that demolitions were based, therefore, not on ethnic hatred but on legality of ownership. Where a legitimate question of ownership exists the matter should be properly investigated; there is no justification for such wholesale vandalism, and, in a country seeking to strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law the perpetrators of such destruction should be held to account.
Many of those affected believe the demolition campaign is an attempt to eradicate Amhara people and “Oromize the area”. A plan, which, some hold, included the recent introduction of the Oromo national anthem and display of the Oromo flag in schools in parts of Addis Ababa. An illegal move that triggered powerful popular resistance forcing the policy to be withdrawn; a triumph for community action and common sense, which could empower people to take further action against ethnic nationalism and communal division.
Building unity creating peace
Although the OLF (regarded as a legitimate political party) and OLA appear to be two distinct groups, they are but opposite sides of the same violent tribalistic coin. Sharing a flag, a hatred and resentment of Amhara people, and a divisive vision of Oromo Statehood; an expanded Oromia that would swallow up territory of neighboring states (Amhara, Afara, BSG, Gambella, Ogaden) and include the capital, Addis Ababa.
Whether theiraim is self-determination as stated on the OLF website, or an independent (enlarged) Oromo Republic, the need for urgent government action to stop the killing/displacement and destruction of homes is clear. Long-term grievances can be examined and dealt with after the guns have been silenced, the machetes laid down, those responsible arrested and prosecuted. This requires government to act decisively, to powerfully condemn OLA attacks and loss of life — something routinely lacking— enforce law and order effectively and consistently, and to safeguard the community. As The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission rightly states: “The killing, maiming and displacement of civilians in the [Oromo] region……calls for immediate action by the federal government and a concrete and lasting solution.”
To date, the government’s response has been disappointing. This may be partially explained by the demands the TPLF conflict placed on federal forces and officials; some, however, believe it shows political weakness in the face of Oromo nationalist influence at the heart of government; other, more critical voices, suggest that through neglect and omission, the government is complicit. GPE for example, claim that government agencies are implicated in OLA/OSF incursions, cutting telecommunication, electricity/water supplies and blocking roads in preparation for an impending attack.
Such accusations, if truedo not prove federal government involvement; they may point towards participation at a local administrative level however, and thereby reveal the degree to which regional administrations and some (Oromo) ethnically aligned voices within the federal government are able to act independently. If this is so, again strong decisive government action is required to weed out such voices.
Immediate substantive action mustbe taken to stop the carnage. It can be done if the will is there: when the TPLF attacked in November 2020, the government initially responded decisively and swiftly. The OLA and their allies are just as great a threat as the TPLF; they, too, must be stopped.
In the long term, constitutional reform is required, ethnic federalism jettisoned, all regional militia disarmed, and a national debate around democratic participation and regional governance initiated. Nothing lasting can be achieved in the country without first peace; no prosperity, no social changes, no lasting democratic developments. These will not be created by gesture politics or flamboyant speeches, but through inclusive policies that encourage broad democratic participation; by building relationships based on respect and trust and creating a vibrant sense of national unity.
As we look atthe various interconnected crises facing humanity, from poverty war and displacement to the environmental emergency, it becomes clear that they all stem from the same source, from a particular approach to life and way of living. An extremely narrow, largely false view that has led to wholesale environmental vandalism, acutelydivided societies with people living under enormous stress; competition and material success relentlessly promoted, desire for things and stimulation continuously agitated. Everything is regarded as a commodity to be profited from – including health care, education and the natural world – and everyone seen as consumers.
All wonder and mystery has been consigned to the margins, unjust, corrupt systems and practices developed, a set of destructive values adopted, and, consistent with the Doctrine of Division, selfish defensive attitudes and behavior have become commonplace, cynicism endemic.
If, as a global community, we are to face the challenges of the time, which are immense, a fundamental change in approach is needed. A major shift in attitudes and values and a movement away from conditioned, reductive patterns of thinking that focus purely on the self, to inclusive ways of living that promote cooperation and unity. A change leading to systemic re-designs, that inculcates what we might describe as ‘the spiritual’, in the individual and by extension in the wider group that we call humanity.
Simplicity and sufficiency
Throughout the world, well, the western world specifically, this time of year, Christmas, is the peak time to consume, to shop and overindulge. Despite the associations with the birth of Jesus, very little reflection and even less worship occurs. This is reflective of a broader decline in people identifying with ‘the church’ and organised religions more broadly; the numbers of people who profess to have some form of spiritual framework to their lives however is stronger than ever. ‘Spiritual’ is even included in data lists or online dating sites as an option under ‘religions’, and it’s become commonplace to describe something, some experience or event, a color, a piece of music, a building or person, as ‘spiritual’.
Together with that much maligned word ‘meditation’, misunderstood and nebulous, ‘spiritual’ has drifted into everyday vocabulary, and is routinely applied, or rather mis-applied to everything from Hatha Yoga classes (particularly when taught by misty-eyed Westerners), self-proclaimed sages (there are lots of them around – also often Westerners), dance retreats and healing festivals to clothing, children (she’s soo spiritual) and shampoo – I kid you not!
As a result of this widespread and largely inappropriate use, the term has become almost meaningless, and, like every aspect of life, all things ‘spiritual’have been assimilated into the socio-economic system. A suffocating paradigm in which monetary value, status and influence/power are the goals of all activity – the ambitious yoga teacher e.g, not satisfied with just giving exercise classes to stressed-out mothers, begins to aspire to guide those stretching and breathing along a ‘spiritual’ path, to collect ‘followers’. ‘Spiritual’ events, which are more closely connected to the leisure/entertainment industry, (mediation retreats, yoga classes, healing festivals, all manner of courses, talks, etc) proliferate; they charge a fee and look to generate profit – financial and status, for the ‘speaker’, coordinator, facilitator; and those attending look for a reward of some kind in return for time and money spent.
So, in a materialistically orientated cynical world, where consumerism, selfishness and status have for many become the hallmarks of daily life, is this interest in all things spiritual positive; what does it mean to live a spiritual life, and in a time of global tumult, of what practical use is it to do so?
The source of all good
The ‘spiritual’ we could say, relates to the source of all that is good in us, that seed of purity and unconditional love that sits within each and every human being, but is for much of the time hidden. Despite the colossal pressures felt by most people virtually all the time, expressions of ‘the good’ take place day in, day out; expressions of goodwill and brotherhood, humility, tolerance and understanding, creativity, service and unity. Where these qualities are absent, and where, in their place, the negative tendenciesof selfishness, fear and desire, ambition in all areas including the ‘spiritual’ (where desire for ‘success’ is as strong as within any other area) are evident, ‘the good’ is not.
Within the current order, shaped as it is by materialistically orientated values, self-centred behavior dominates and we suffer as a result. Take the greatest issue facing humanity, the environmental catastrophe. Caused by the rabid consumerism within developed nations, as part of an ideology rooted in injustice exploitation and greed.If the devastation is to stop and healing is to begin, a wholesale shift in attitudes, government/corporate policy and behavior is urgently required. But, despite the fact that the house is burning around us, politicians, business leaders and many individuals, driven by short-termism, complacency and selfishness, refuse to act responsibly; as one environmentalist put it, “Everybody wants to save the whales but nobody wants to change their behaviour.”
Simplicity of living and sufficiency is needed in place of abundance; de-growth replacing perpetual development, and instead of self-centred activity and personal ambition, the cultivation of social and environmental responsibility. Such steps follow naturally when the focus is decentralized, towards the group – the community, society or nation, as opposed to the desires and demands of the individual. These are choices between, what we might term ‘spiritual’ values and materialistic values.
Currently, whilst there are many examples of ‘the good’ and many people everywhere trying to live decent lives, the constant demand to consume, to succeed, to be something, are great and hard to resist or even be aware of. Societies, and the individuals within them are overwhelmingly materialistically orientated – this includes the images we have of ourselves, ambitions and attachment to ideologies of all kinds. The focus (broadly) is not on the well-being of the group, the health ofsociety and/or the environment, but the fulfilment of the individual, the exploitation of the weak and the industrialization of nature. This dominant way of life, which is strengthened through education systems, governments and media of all kinds,is not spiritual, no matter how its defined.
A spiritual life, lived daily and consistently, runs contrary to the prevailing conditioning of material achievement, the pursuit of pleasure and the accumulation of stuff, of wealth/power. It refers to a de-centralized life of self-sacrifice, not of self-aggrandizement; a life of sustained effort and dispassion, in which selfish desires are seen for what they are, and given up or ignored; a life where honesty of mind and clarity of motive is cultivated, and service to others, to the community, the country or world is the driving force. As the great teacher Maitreya has said, “Take your brothers need as the measure for your actions and solve the problems of the world.”
Given the prevailing divisions and gross irresponsibility at all levels, personal, corporate and political, shifting focus may appear unattainable, idealistic even. But as the global crises grow and deepen, there are signs, tentative but strong, that such a collective shift is underway; a growing awareness that something fundamental needs to change. A reorientation in attitudes and values that enables a re-imagining of the socio-economic-political systems; a move away from injustice, selfishness and greed, towards the ‘spiritual’ or ‘the good’, call it what you will; that center of goodness, innate but buried, which sits within each and every human being.
As COP 27 drew to a pitiful close with no action on emissions or reparation, I met a friend in a cafe in West London. Distracted by our discussion, we failed to notice his Earl Grey being served in a takeaway cup; aghast, I requested a china mug for mine. Blowing and sipping, we grumbled about the lack of environmental responsibility, including the now widespread use of plastic cups in cafes.
These cups give the impression ‘happy to be recycled’, but on the whole they cannot be; and even if they could, most staff and customers would likely throw them in with general rubbish, to be buried. Probably in the ground of a poorer country, that needs the trade, albeit in environmental vandalism.
In the UK an estimated 2.5 billion takeaway cups are annually thrown away; it’s more than 50 billion in the US apparently, mostly going to landfill. In addition, half a litre of water and 61 g of carbon dioxide are used in the manufacture process. They are an environmental sore, one of many daily irritants that together constitute a chronic planetary disease, The Environmental Crisis.
So why I asked don’t cafés use china — don’t they realise the plastic paper-looking cups are bad for the environment? They don’t care, was my friend’s blunt reply; same as the water companies that routinely pump sewage into the seas, the CEOs of the energy companies swimming in money, the fast fashion bosses, everyone who makes and eats animal produce, and most politicians, especially those in developed nations.According to the evidence, they just don’t care. The question then becomes, is it possible to make people care. Care about the environment, about one another, about rain forests, sea, air, climate, animals, ecosystems, etc. To which old friend replied, no, you can’t.
Certainly most politicians show little or no interest; Corporate Man and Woman don’t seem to care a jot, and the majority of individuals are too overwhelmed with the demands of life to be unduly concerned.
COP27 has reinforced the notion that, ‘caring’, certainly by the nations chiefly responsible for the mess (and now haggle over paying to mitigate the impact), is totally absent. And that the environmental crisis is just another annoying consideration to be juggled within an economic framework of perpetual growth; perpetual that is until the moment when all the natural resources are used up, global warming has reached unbearable levels, 3/4oC maybe, land masses submerged, hundreds of millions of people displaced, ecosystems andremaining animal species wiped out.
Caringis a driver for action and, as is repeatedly chanted and consistently ignored, without urgent action the cause is lost. Children are striking from school, because they care deeply, also because they are furious at the adults, who a) caused the catastrophe, b) aren’t doing anything much to address it, and c) because they want to envisage a future for themselves. Heartfelt caring fuels not just everyday action, but action of a certain type or quality – Right Action, based on, imbued with, love.
So, make people ‘care’ through raising awareness of environmental issues (local and global) and the consequences of (their) behavior, and ‘The People’, with a small and large ‘P’, will wake up and change their habitual, often destructive ways. That’s the theory, well that was my theory in the Portuguese café.
We can determine what someone cares about and what they value by their actions – most often its themselves. Businesses are driven by the determination to make money; politicians want votes so they can stay in power, and individuals, most of whom are physically drained and emotionally battered, care about their families/the people they like and depend on, and creating some level of security in, what is for most, a hostile, uncertain world.
If caring — the carrot, isn’t on the table as an effective motivating force, certainly not within the time scale required to Save Our Planet (SOP), then the only option is the stick, heavy and painful. Legislation, my friend asserts, is the only way to curb destructive environmental behavior; and, to a degree, he is right. Pass a law that CEOs of companies polluting the air, water, soil will be imprisoned if such behavior continues and they will, he believes, be more inclined to clean up their act.
But, effective as such legislation might be, the flaw in this approach is that it doesn’t impact on the legislative body itself, i.e., governments. In addition it requires that these governments, are not corrupt, i.e., are free from corporate influence — energy companies, big banks, private water companies , etc. But as we know, far from being independent of such bodies, politicians are usually snuggled upin bed with them.
Notwithstanding these drawbacks, legislation is a powerful stick, and applied vigorously would, could, should, be an important tool in changing behavior. But,and here I’m afraid we are back to caring, given that governments don’t care enough to employ the stick, pressure needs to be applied to force them to wield it. And for this to happen ‘the populace’, or large enough numbers of the weary masses need to care sufficiently to mobilize and act; to protest, to boycott polluting companies, petition politicians, to engage.
To a degree, a larger than ever degree, this is now happening, but despite powerful campaigns by e.g. Extinction Rebellion (XR), Just Stop Oil (JSO), and the brilliant Schools Strike for Climate, very little is changing and the scale of the environmental emergency/crisis/catastrophe grows daily. We are, it seems, back at the beginning.
Who caused the catastrophe?
Thepeople responsible for the catastrophe live in developed nations, particularly the richest people in the richest countries. It’s not the behavior of those in Sub-Saharan Africa, or Bangladesh, it’s not the poor of the world that are driving climate change, and for the record the environmental crisis is not in any way caused by over-population (birth rates are now falling in every country, including India and China), as many in developed nations seem to believe. Blame ‘the other’ always, the brown/black ‘other’ usually; don’t look at yourself or the facts, don’t accept responsibility, simply blame someone else.
It is the comfortable and complacent in developed nations who caused the mess and continue to fuel it. And, spoilt, deeply selfish and with a myopic view of the world, they refuse to change behavior, refuse to give up anything. To stop eating animal produce, to cut back on air travel, to stop buying stuff they don’t need, to stop driving fossil fuelled vehicles, to shop responsibly, and to engage. Because, and here we go again, ‘they’ don’t give a damn, or not enough of a damn to take the uncomfortable steps and make the boring changes required.
Absence of caring hasn’t happened accidentally, it has been deliberately cultivated to strengthen an unjust socio-economic system of exploitation and division. Whole societies have been conditioned into selfishness, greed and (sensory) pleasure; taught virtually from birth to be competitive and ambitious and to do whatever it takes to get what they want, irrespective of the damage to others, society or the natural world. Materialism and consumerism, two sides of the same rusty coin, form the ideological framework of this cynical ugly world view; a view that, via globalization has been spread far and wide, polluting every nation in every continent. Encouraging the same hollow values and cynical outlook that has not only resulted in the destruction of the natural world, but has created unhealthy unequal societies.
Change the environment people are living in, remove the fear and insecurity, reduce the competition — the dog eat dog mentality, be kind, tolerant, gentle and compassionate, and people will naturally care, about others, about society and the environment.
Individuals caringis essential if governments are to be impelled to take the steps needed to impact on corporates/businesses and effect widespread community change. Both are required, and while ‘people’ cannot be forced to care all efforts should be made to present information and raise awareness of the severity, scope and interconnected nature of the issues; the house,our house is engulfed in flames, the children are inside screaming while we stand around debating whether water will damage the furniture.
There is perhaps just a moment left in which to Save Our Planet, but it will not be salvaged unless we — governments, businesses and individuals, make the environment our first priority, the principle consideration of every decision and action: how does this impact the natural world, is it positive or negative? This is what it means to care; to live responsibly, to govern and manage responsibly; conscious action that proceeds from and is an expression of brotherhood and love, both of which are innate but buried.
As the inspirational Kenyan climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti said at COP 26 in her moving address: “I believe in our human capacity to care deeply and act collectively; I believe in our ability to do what is right if we let ourselves feel it in our hearts…….if you allow yourself to feel it, the heartbreak and injustice [felt across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Sea Islands and elsewhere] is hard to bear…please open your hearts” and act. Act now with environmental responsibility at the core of ones daily life; act now to force governments and businesses to respond, or look around in ten years and see ashes in your hands. https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/11/25/copout-in-cairo-they-just-dont-care/
Faced with imminent defeat, on 2 November the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) finally agreed to stop their vicious attack on Ethiopia. Theyhad little choice in the end, the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) had taken TPLF strongholds in Tigray, and encircled the regional capital Mekelle.
The great tragedyis that fighting could have ended months ago, saving thousands of lives, had the TPLF grasped the hand of peace repeatedly extended by the government since the conflict started. Instead of responding to an open invitation to talk “anywhere anytime”, the TPLF set impossible conditions for engagement; used ceasefire time to rearm and recruit fighters – forcing men and children to leave their families (‘join up or we will kill your family’ type recruitment), take up arms and risk their lives for the ambitions of a few greedy men.
Engagement and inclusion have been central to the approach of the Abiy Ahmed government since they took office in April 2018. And, to the outrage of many, this included reaching out to the former regime officials. But the TPLF leaders (and their US backers), have never wanted peace or national unity for Ethiopia, and certainly did not want Abiy to succeed. From the moment they were ousted, it seems the TPLF have been plotting and scheming, gauging the level of US support – which was, it appears a good deal weaker under President Trump – and waiting, discussing when to emerge from the shadows and act.
That moment came on 3/4 November 2020 (coincidentally the very day Biden became president), when the TPLF launched a cowardly coordinated attack on the ENDF Northern Command in Mekelle, and bases in Adigrat, Agula, Dansha and Sero in Tigray. This heinous act of treason, resulted in the deaths of unsuspecting ENDF soldiers and the theft of military equipment. PM Abiy Ahmed said that extrajudicial killings had occurred during the attacks. He stated that the “TPLF identified and separated hundreds of unarmed Ethiopian soldiers of non Tigrayan origin, tied their hands and feet together, massacred them in cold blood, and left their bodies lying in open air.”
It was this despicable act that triggered the war, something that is routinely overlooked by western governments, media and commentators alike; an act of terror by anyone’s definition (imagine a similar attack taking place in a Western nation – outrage there would be), for which – and of course the TPLF knew this – the Ethiopian government had no choice but to respond with force. So they, the TPLF leadership had the war they had been longing for, and had been preparing for. The propaganda campaign started, favors were called in, sympathizers mobilized, money spent. Their aim was to either overthrow the government, or if that failed, and they made this plain, cause chaos in the country, fragment it totally and make it virtually ungovernable.
But despite US support in their vile plans theyfailed resolutely, for now at least. Sadly, we mustadd this restraining condition, because as long as the TPLF exists as an organization, the threat of violence and disorder will hover over the country. And one of the most troubling details contained within the peace agreement signed in Pretoria is that the government shall (Article 7 paragraph 3b), “Facilitate the lifting of the terrorist designation of the TPLF by the House of Peoples’ Representatives.”
Looking for justice
There is a list of key points within theAfrican Union led agreement, including: “The Parties commit to and declare an immediate and Permanent Cessation of Hostilities, and undertake to disengage forces or armed groups under their control” (article 3 paragraph 1); The recognition and “Respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE)” (article 2 paragraph 1), i.e., that Ethiopia is one integrated nation; Parties sign up to “Agree and recognize that the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has only one defence force” (Article 6 paragraph 1); and that the TPLF will disarm. TPLF combatants will then be integrated into the ENDF.
Within Article 10, ‘Transitional Matters’, it is made clear that elections in Tigray will be held, however no time frame is given, and until then an “inclusive Interim Regional Administration will be settled through political dialogue between the Parties [TPLF and Government].” The TPLF is not banned from taking part in this transitional body, or from standing in any future elections; so the organization, with existing personnel, is not only allowed to persist, but it seems will continue as a political group. Where, then, is the accountability, the justice?
Compromise within such talks is inevitable, but given the fact that the TPLF had committed an act of treason and widespread atrocities throughout the war, the level of Government concessions appears over generous; this was clearly the result of US pressure, threats amounting to intimidation. Despite such external meddling the TPLF has been forced to disarm, to recognize the (democratically elected) Ethiopian government and told to stop undermining the country “including [via] unconstitutional correspondence and relations with foreign powers” (article 7 paragraph 2). But TPLF bosses were responsible for the conflict (and 28 years of terrorizing the populace when they were in power), and widespread atrocities, and they should, at some point, face justice.
The agreement does contain the objective to “Provide a framework to ensure accountability for matters arising out of the conflict” (article 1 paragraph 7). And to this end, Article 10 (paragraph 3) states that the government “shall implement a comprehensive national transitional justice policy aimed at accountability, ascertaining the truth, redress for victims, reconciliation, and healing, consistent with the Constitution of FDRE and the African Union Transitional Justice Policy Framework …….developed with inputs from all stakeholders, and civil society groups through public consultations and formal national policy-making processes.” Sounds positive, but such investigations tend to take an age, result in broad general findings, and all too oftenallow the individuals responsible (the leaders) to get off scot-free.
So, flawed (as all such processes are) but tremendously positive, the agreement is an important step in the transition to peace and away, not only from the TPLF initiated war, but from ethnic fragmentation and unrest more broadly. To this end the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), which has been carrying our atrocities in Amhara for some time, must also be disarmed and broken up.
It is also significant that the Ethiopian government turned to the African Union, which has as its principle vision the creation of: “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens”.Ethiopia was a founding voice of The African Union (AU), the AU headquarters are located in Addis Ababa, and as African nations increasingly turn to one another and the momentum for Pan-Africanism grows, the AU will become more important.
War is chaotic, and no doubt atrocities were committed and mistakes made on both sides, but the Government should be commended for their patient resolute approach: For resisting foreign intervention and repeatedly and powerfully exposing it; for consistently calling for and working for peace, and in the end, reaching an agreement.
This is an important moment for the country, a time for healing, reflection and collective action. There is much to be done, a massive program of reconstruction is urgently needed; if this is delayed, for whatever reason, there is a risk that people affected by the fighting, will begin to feel angry, allowing for criticism of the government to surface, and social splinters to appear and be exploited. Homes, schools, health facilities etc, all need to be reconstructed, repaired and refurbished. This creates a wonderful opportunity to mobilize one of Ethiopia’s greatest assets, its young people; a youthful army of workers could be assembled from within affected neighborhoods, creating work and generating a sense of purpose and community responsibility.
In addition to the essential work of rebuilding, this time also presents the opportunity for debate and creative discussion around a variety of issues: Development. The western model of development is unjust, environmentally destructive and in many ways, broken. Let development be re-defined based not on economic markers, but on social harmony, collective happiness and group integration; how to develop in a just and inclusive way that creates opportunities for everyone and does not create/increase inequality could be explored. Democracy; the nature of democracy in a country made up of many ethnic groups; the importance of civil society/independent institutions, and the observation/monitoring of human rights; how to maximize participation and involve people from all backgrounds and regions in the governance of their area and the overall direction of the country.
In addition, and importantly, the Federal Constitution needs to be looked at. There has been a great deal of criticism of the existing Constitution, written in 1994 by the former TPLF dominated regime, with many people believing that lasting peace and stability is impossible until the treatise has been reformed, and the pervasive, and highly divisive ideology of ethnic federalism, which shapes its direction, is removed. In a nation the size of Ethiopia, with dozens of ethnic groups, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with federal governance, but when power is disproportionately held, injustices rooted in ethnicity (jobs, university places, housing etc) either perpetrated or perceived to have occurred, and ethnic differences are emphasized over national unity, there is a danger of social divisions, anger and conflict. The system of ‘ethnic federalism’ was utilized by the EPRDF as a mechanism of control; competition over land/resources/government support was encouraged, divisions exploited, ethnic identities strengthened.
The notion of ethnic conflict was, and remains a common construct of the war widely presented by western voices allied to the TPLF. The image presented – false and unfounded – is of a repressed and threatened ethnic group (Tigrayans) under attack by a genocidal government, protected by a courageous rebel force – the TPLF. Utter nonsense; the government was fighting the TPLF, not the people of Tigray. And the TPLF, as has been said many times, is an insurgent force, a terrorist group that started the war and was intent on overthrowing the democratically elected government and stealing power. This false narrative forms an intrinsic part of the dis/misinformation campaign carefully designed by the TPLF, no doubt with foreign input, taken up and delivered by media, the US and her puppets, certain voices within the United Nations (Dr Tedros at the WHO e.g.) and various international bodies – e.g. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International.
The aim was to undermine the Ethiopian government, engender international support and provide justification for TPLF violence and US sanctions/criticisms. Confusion about actual events and belief in the fantasy was created, but as more and more details of what actually happened emerges, this will be shattered. From the outset however, the effect of such propaganda onEthiopians and friends of Ethiopia at home and abroad has been to unify and galvanize them. Powerfully united against what are widely regarded as common enemies: the TPLF, America, and western media; a renewed sense of nationhood has been fostered, and hands of love and friendship extended to people from all groups, including of course Tigrayans.
In light of the way certain powers (US, UK, Ireland, EU), not only responded to the terror attack on the State, but facilitated it, relations with foreign governments will no doubt be re-examined. Ethiopia was betrayed by these nations and many people feel deeply hurt, bemused and angry at the actions taken and the lies perpetrated. Ethiopia is the Mother of Africa and the betrayal hasbeen felt across the region and the continent. The undermining of a democratically elected government and the meddling in a nation’s affairs reveal once again that these dried-up colonialists, arrogant and devious, continue to believe that they can control, exploit and manipulate Sub-Sharan African nations.
Ethiopia has stood strong against such interference and emerged more united than ever. A peaceful, integrated Ethiopia is key to the health, stability and prosperity, not only of the country itself, but of the Horn of Africa region. All must work now to support those most affected by the conflict, ensure the agreement reached in Pretoria is fully honored, and a lasting and robust peaceis created throughout the country.
Nobody, well nobody in their ‘right mind’ can anymore deny, ignore or escape the burning fact that the natural world is being battered and vandalized by humanity; not all of humanity, just a certain subset. Air, water and soil polluted, forests levelled, ecosystems disrupted, animals species killed off, climate patterns altered.
And yet, and yet, nothing, or very little, certainly nowhere near enough, is being done to mitigate the effects and address the underlying causes of the crisis – a word we hear used a great deal these days. And when does a crisis become a catastrophe – how bad does it have to get before everything changes to meet the challenge? The house, our house is literally on fire, and we are standing around sprinkling cups of water on the flames, whilst complaining about the heat.
So, what can be said, written or done to engender substantive change, to shake up complacent corporate-orientated governments, profit obsessed businesses and weary anxious individuals?
As the concerned, the indifferent and the angry pack bags and head to Egypt for COP27, a new United Nations (UN) report, the most recent of many, finds, unsurprisingly, given the level of indifference, that: “There is no credible pathway to 1.5°C (of global warming) in place today.” It’s a stark statement, which, like previous warnings by climate scientists, environmental groups and school children will no doubt be completely ignored.
The 1.5°C figure, is the level of post-industrial warming that, according to climate scientists, is the limit of what is acceptable – i.e., yes, it will be life changing, but manageable, and would not, may not, result in coastal cities and low lying islands being reduced to water parks, millions of people being displaced, and a wholesale increase in the extinction of species. It is the target agreed at COP21, held in Paris in 2015; legally binding promises were made, jubilation expressed, optimism engendered. But as yet, seven years on, the positive words and back patting are yet to be translated into substantive action, or in some cases, any action at all.
As result of this collective failure, another UN report, aptly named The Heat is On finds that current “national climate pledges combined with other mitigation measures put the world on track for a global temperature rise of [not 1.5°C, but a sizzling] 2.7°C by the end of the century”. The text goes on to relate that, shockingly, “the world’s planned fossil fuel production by the year 2030 will be more than twice the amount that would be consistent with keeping to the 1.5°C target.”
One would imagine that, governments and corporate bosses reading such findings, and let’s hope they do actually read them, would be shocked, and take drastic action, but not a bit of it. Apathy and complacency rule within the corridors of power, where short-term gains determine government policy and drive business decisions.
Another depressing fact
In order to reduce global warming, we need, how many times must it be said, to stop pouring poisonous greenhouse gases (GHG), carbon (CO2) and methane (CH4) and nitrous dioxide (N20), into the atmosphere while simultaneously set about capturing the stuff that’s already there. As Greta Thunberg puts it, “For us to have even a small chance of avoiding setting off irreversible chain reactions far beyond human control, we need drastic, immediate, far-reaching emission cuts at the source.”
Sounds simple, and few would disagree, but as the UN projections of global temperature rises indicate, far from reducing, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are in fact, yes, another depressing fact, rising, year on year, month on month, week on week. Because the causes are not being addressed.
All three dominant GHGs hit record levels in 2021, with global CO2 emissions “from energy combustion and industrial processes [reaching] their highest ever annual level,” according to the International Energy Association (IAE). And despite the essential need to consign fossil fuel use, exploration and funding to the murky past, countries including the US, UK and some EU member states are increasing fossil fuel production. Justified under the dubious reason that, due to gas supplies being threatened as a result of the Ukraine/Russia war, which was caused in large measure (we can argue of the actual percentage)by the US, and perpetuated by them and the UK, nations need to become energy independent.
Indeed, but energy needs must be met by renewable sources, and not from yet more fossil fuel use. But fossil fuel companies do not want to give up even a smidgen of their mammoth profits; they have huge political influence, governments are weak and wedded to an economic model obsessed with perpetual growth. The Ideology of Money, Greed and Selfishness is the common doctrine of choice; Market Fundamentalism is a perverted form of capitalism in which everything is seen as a commodity, including the natural world – rain forests, oceans, rivers, the soil – to be bought, sold, raped, utilized, profited from and discarded. And as long as this system persists it is hard, if not impossible to imagine how the urgently required steps, and changes in behaviour, will be taken to save the environment and prevent global temperatures soaring to 3°Cor 4°C.
Climate change and the broader environmental emergency is the result of human activity; of destructive self-centered behavior, not of all of humanity, but of the relatively small percentage of some within wealthy nations; it is the consequence of a particular way of life; a mode of living rooted in consumption. The largely unnecessary and irresponsible devouring of stuff, and of diets based predominantly around animal food produce, the majority of which is derived from industrial agriculture; and it is this way of life that needs to change.
It is not possible to save our planet and continue living this way; a way incidentally that, in addition to fueling climate change and the extinction of species, destroying ecosystems and poisoning the air, water and soil, has also created societies full of sick people, mentally and physically.
The basic premise that growth should be continuous is anathema to environmental salvation and social well-being. De-growth, sustainability and simplicity of living need to become the aims; development re-imagined and democracy, so-called, expanded, or rather resuscitated. Common-sense suggestions, which probably many would agree with, but, with few exceptions, the current crop of political ‘leaders’ don’t appear to possess this much under-rated quality. Neither do they have a great deal of integrity; duplicity, yes, but honoring their word, being consistent, responsible and showing compassion, well, very little. They sign agreements, make pledges to cut emissions (National Determined Contributions NDCs) and invest in renewables, then fail to enact policies to meet such laudable, but largely empty promises.
Radical change is needed, change in attitudes and behaviour. But who is up for that? It is the lifestyles of millions within developed countries that is responsible for the mess the whole world is in. But, as has been said many times, and ignored just as often, it’s the poorest nations that are being most heavily battered by the consequences. They need support from the wealthy to adapt to extreme weather and help with the devastating impacts of climate change. But, in a powerful signal of indifference, governments of rich nations, don’t even honor commitments to fund mitigation programs; schemes that are only needed because of the collective way of life their socio-economic model encourages and in fact demands.
These governments, and CEOs, shareholders of big business cannot be trusted; they care not for the poor in their own countries, let alone in Sub-Saharan Africa, or it seems for their own grandchildren; they are driven by one thing, and one thing only, profit and power – so two things actually, which are tied at the hip.
So, as delegates prepare for COP27 and fossil fuel companies report record profits, the environmental emergency couldn’t be more pressing; the need for action by governments, corporations and populations more urgent, and the stench of complacency more pungent.
First things first: as I write so-called peace talks are underway between the democratically elected government of Ethiopia and The Terrorist TPLF. That in itself is a bizarre sentence, and prompts an array of related questions, and issues around law and order, justice, national governance. To be clear, the TPLF have never wanted peace, and are not in South Africa (where the talks are taking place) to find a way to end the conflict that they started and perpetuated for two long and deeply painful years. They want power, they have engaged in talks because they have been defeated, but talks about what?
Holding hands with the TPLF men at, or more likely, under the table — out of sight — are US/UN ‘observers’. The reason for their attendance is, one assumes, to ensure TPLF bosses are kept out of prison and allowed to slip away in the night and find amnesty somewhere. Canada has been mentioned as a possible destination, although why the Canadians (or anyone else in fact) would want them is a mystery. A cell in the Hague would be my choice as they eke out their days waiting to be tried in the International Criminal Court.
In the days and weeks leading up to the negotiations, the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) has taken control of remaining towns in Tigray, has surrounded the capital Mekelle, and, for the time being at least, fighting appears to have subsided. The only thing left to negotiate, then, is what to do with the TPLF leaders; this is not a difficult conundrum that requires hours or diplomatic chit-chat, and foreign advisers. They, the TPLF are terrorists, and should be treated in the same way that say, ISIS commanders would be, i.e., like criminals — arrested, imprisoned and tried. Their foreign assets (they stole an estimated $30 billion when in office) frozen and seized, and the monies utilized to fund rebuilding work.
The TPLF may have a few members of the “international community” rubbing up against them in Pretoria, but the Ethiopian government sits proud with millions and millions of Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia packed into the room, and they are roaring! Wide-ranging support for the government, and love for their countrymen and women, of all ethnic backgrounds, was displayed on 22 October, when, in cities throughout the land people, young and old, assembled, marched, sang and danced. Massive crowds demanded an end to foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation, and wrapped their arms around the government as it prepared for the African Union convened ‘peace talks’.
No US support no war
Throughout their destructive 27 year reign, the TPLF worked relentlessly to divide communities; systematically setting ethnic groups, that had for generations lived together harmoniously, against one another. But nothing unites a nation more than a shared enemy, and Ethiopia has had two since November 2020 – the TPLF and America/The West, three if we include corporate media. The people are now united, and that sense of fellowship includes the people of Tigray – all are Ethiopians, all share the pain of the nation and all long for peace. The TPLF is the enemy, the US is the enemy, corporate media is the enemy, not Tigrayans.
Without US support — militarily and politically — the TPLF would have been unable to wage war on the Ethiopian State; no war, no death, no rape, no displacement of persons, no destruction of property burning of land, killing of livestock, no national trauma. The US is not simply complicit in the terrorism carried out by the TPLF over the last two years, and indeed during their 27 years in office, they are the enabler. The US Policy of Aggression and Derision directed against the Ethiopian government and the people, the economic sanctions, against one of the poorest nations in the world, the conspiring and duplicity, the misleading briefings and media dis/misinformation campaign emboldened the TPLF and granted them false legitimacy.
And where the US goes her allies and puppets, follow, including corporate media, which has been integral to the mis-dis information campaign, as have, somewhat bizarrely, the US Holocaust Museum, which has recently joined the party. And as talks go on these forces of duplicity and confusion continue to treat the TPLF as if they were an equivalent party to the government, rather than the monsters they are. It is shameful, but when truth and facts become a matter of opinion to be spun according to motive and self-interest it is extremely dangerous. Groups like the TPLF can only exist in the shadows, within Caves of Deceit; throw the light of truth upon them, and like the Many Headed Hydra, they shrivel up and die.
Looking for real friends
The US-supported war in Ethiopia has revealed, if demonstration were needed, in the most vivid manner, the fabric of US foreign policy and where American/Western loyalties lie. Unsurprisingly it’s with their own vested interests, or what they perceive these to be; geo-political reach, regional power, no matter the cost — human, environmental and/or social.
So, the lesson loud and clear, and perhaps this is something worth articulating in Pretoria, is the realization that, the US and ‘the West’ more broadly, including media and some institution are not to be trusted.This fact and the hurt caused by what Ethiopians rightly regard as a betrayal, will no doubt influence how Ethiopia moves forward, who it sees as ‘friends’ and allies, where it looks for support, and who it can trust and depend on.
Outrage has been felt, not just in Ethiopia but across Africa, both at the terrorist attack on their neighbour, and the response of the US/West. This will strengthen pre-existing suspicions and further energise Pan Africanism, already strengthened in recent years, and foster greater unity across the region and continent.
African nations have long been exploited by colonial powers, post-colonial institutions — the International Monetary Fund, World Bank etc, and imposed financial systems (the scandalous Structural Adjustment Programmes e.g.), which, while masquerading as ‘aid’ and/or ‘development programmes’, have ensured countries remain more or less poor, dependent and therefore malleable.
Former colonial bodies of repression and violence (US, European countries, UK), are now in crisis themselves. Economic and political instability, ideological failure and cultural insecurity abound. And as the socio-economic model that has dominated policy making (including foreign affairs) for decades disintegrates in front of our eyes, politicians, lacking humility and vision, wedded to the past, have no answers and continually stackfailure upon failure.
The legacy of the global Neo-Liberal experiment is deeply divided societies of largely unhealthy people, and a man-made environmental catastrophe. Mental health illness is at epidemic proportions and climate change/ecological breakdown caused by reckless consumerism threatens the very survival of the race.
A development model, shaped around the same socio-economic paradigm that has caused the chaos has been forced on Ethiopia and all Sub-Sharan African nations. Countries are not seen as nation states with rich individual cultures, but potential marketplaces and natural resource banks.
The model is inherently unjust, benefitting a few at the expense of the many, and is made more so when applied to so-called developing nations (such terms, like the ideals they refer to and the divisions they strengthen should be consigned to the past). It is a corrupt model that, as Ethiopia moves forward and African nations look increasingly towards one another, needs to be closely examined, and in the light of need, not exploitation and profit, re-defined.
Discussions around theses issues, as well as the nature of development, democracy, environmental concerns and regional/continental unity can slowly begin to be taken up, nationally and regionally. Platforms for debate and participation established throughout the country and a vibrant space created in which people from all ethnic groups can contribute. For now though, as Ethiopia gently emerges from the violent shadow of the TPLF, united but scarred, the focus must firstly be on healing and re-construction.
Many will be traumatized and recovery will take time; the rebuilding work will be immense (construction/repair of schools, health services, housing etc), and government will require substantial support, both financial, technical and practical.
But there is no limit to what can be achieved by a united populace, building upon a platform of peace and brotherhood. The people are resolute, weary yes, but strong, supportive of one another and deeply kind, and this is potentially (we must add that caveat), the beginning of a new chapter in the life of the country. An ancient nation with a rich diverse culture that has suffered much and for far too long; a new day, quiet and full of joy let us pray, a time free from conflict and the vile poison of the TPLF.
As Ethiopians celebrated the new year on 11 September, the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) issued a Stance on a Peaceful Resolution of the Current Conflict. Choking on hypocrisy it states that they were, are, will one day be, prepared to “participate in a robust peace process under the auspices of the African Union (AU)”. And agree to “abide by an immediate and mutually agreed cessation of hostilities in order to create a conducive atmosphere.” Utter lies; beyond the boundaries of such meaningless words TPLF violence continued unabated.
The AU organised peace talks (8/9 October) in South Africa; invitations were sent a hall booked, hotel rooms reserved and presumably dinner reservations made. But to the surprise of nobody, the TPLF refused to engage because of “logistical issues”. As a result the fighting, killing, and destruction goes on. Talks are now re-scheduled to take place in South Africa on 24 October.
The TPLF is in no position to set conditions for participation; they are a criminal organization, not a legitimate political group. They do not represent the people of Tigray, are despised throughout the country – including within Tigray; their army is in tatters, forced recruitment of children and other civilians is widespread. Far from making demands TPLF leaders should beg for forgiveness, before being hauled off to the International Criminal Court to stand trial for crimes committed during the last two years, as well as when they were in power.
Peace talks, anywhere, anytime?
In response to this latest TPLF initiated conflict, which started on 24 August, when they “broke the humanitarian truce declared by the Government in March 2022,” the Ethiopian Government issued (17 October) a Statement Concerning Defensive Measures in Northern Ethiopia. It makes clear that this is the third time in two years that the TPLF have “dragged the country into conflict” – something routinely overlooked by Western nations and media outlets; unprovoked attacks launched despite the government repeatedly proposing unconditional peace talks, “anywhere, anytime”. The official statement also relates that, astonishingly, “The PLF announced to the group of special envoys and Addis Ababa based diplomats its intentions to launch an offensive.”
Despite their complete lack of engagement in any reconciliation work, or adherence to government initiated ceasefires, the terror group claim (16 October) they “are ready to abide by an immediate cessation of hostilities [and], call on the international community to press the Ethiopian Government to come to the negotiating table.” Moreduplicity – the Ethiopian Government has been patiently waiting for the TPLF at said table for 18 months.
Such misleading carefully formulated statements are part of the TPLF’s Methodology of Deceit. Lies,manipulation, perversions of the truth, all are gobbled up by media and regurgitated by western governments and institutions, including some within the United Nations (UN): The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus specifically — a former TPLF minister (who should never have been appointed to the WHO job) he has shamelessly used his platform to spread false accusations against the Ethiopian government, and present the TPLF as victims.
The World Food Program (WFP) appears to have been compromised; hundreds of WFP trucks and thousands of litres of fuel, earmarked to distribute humanitarian aid into Tigray, were “stolen” by the TPLF, and aid sold to fund their terror campaign. The “disappearance” of the trucks, according to the UN, constitutes “the primary impediment” to the aid response. In an arrogant statement, the TPLF admit the theft of 570,000 litres of fuel in August, bizarrely stating that, “It was collecting on a debt owed to them by the WFP.”
War games not peace
Since they initiated the war in November 2020 the TPLF have done nothing to suggest they want to end the conflict, on the contrary. Their lack of participation in the AU convened negotiations (8/9 October)therefore, came as no surprise, because their actions make plain that it is not peace that they want, but power.
One of the TPLF’s reasons, petty and churlish, for not attending, was that they were not consulted by the AU before invitations were sent. The terrorist’s mouthpiece, Getachew Reda said, and in a text message no less; “You don’t just expect people to show up on a certain date as if this was some kind of get-together.” Why not? If a warring faction is serious about peace, surely they will do anything to bring it about. Something as trivial as not being included in organizing the guest list, would not deter them from participating, would it?
Another complaint, closely connected to the first one, was that it was unclear what role the “international community” would play. This is TPLF code for “where are our American supporters?” We, the TPLF – a bona fide terrorist organization that started the war when we attacked the Northern Command Base of the Ethiopian army, killing unsuspecting personnel and ransacking the site for weapons – we want “our” friends at the peace table in South Africa, our US minders and facilitators. Successive American administrations (plus the UK and EU), supported the TPLF throughout their brutal 27 year reign. And, since the conflict began in November 2020, the US and Co. have, to the astonishment of shocked Ethiopians and many naive observers — who, despite decades of evidence to the contrary, still believe America to be a force for good in the world — stood side by side with the terrorists.
TPLF and western collusion
In an attempt to discredit and isolate Ethiopia, demonize the government and somehow create a confused space in which the TPLF could magically be reinstalled in Addis Ababa, a false narrative around the war, the actions of federal forces, and the distribution of humanitarian aid by UN agencies, has been constructed and propagated. A western coalition, led by the US has been employed to throw a canopy of mis/disinformation over the conflict and the actions of the TPLF, who, far from being presented as the terrorist force they are, and always have been, are somehow elevated to a position equivalent to the democratically elected government of Ethiopia.
This orchestrated propaganda campaign has been funded by the TPLF using some of the huge sums stolen during their time in office. Ann Fitz-Gerald (Director of the Balsillie School of International Affairs) states in The Frontline Voices that, “What sets this insurgency movement apart from many others is the extraordinarily large budget that the TPLF amassed during its 27 years in power, and just prior to its departure…in 2018, which left the Government of Ethiopia’s coffers empty.” In addition to funding their armed wing and its “digital insurgency of unprecedented proportions…these funds also pay for Washington-based lobby groups and law firms that have issued threatening letters to individuals – and their employers – who dare depart from the TPLF narrative.”
Given such widespread western collusion, it is plain why the TPLF want American voices at the table, and it is equally clear what role the “international community” should have in any peace talks – none whatsoever. African countries have been exploited and manipulated by such nations (US, UK, EU nations) for generations; they cannot be trusted any more than the TPLF can, i.e., not at all. The AU and fellow Africans, are very familiar with despots like the TPLF. They are more than capable of staging peace talks without interference or involvement from dried-up imperialist forces, who care not for the Ethiopian people, or indeed anyone in Sub-Sharan Africa, are driven solely by self-interest and are therefore corrupted totally.
Ethiopia under PM Abiy is seen as far too independent and democratic for American sensibilities. Subservient regimes (aka the TPLF) lording over fragmented fractious nations of mostly uneducated poor: This is the sourAmerican Dream for so-called developing countries in Sub-Sharan Africa, not integrated societies cooperating with neighbors, building and strengthening relationships, as part of a Pan-African movement, diverse, independent but united. A movement that is gaining ground and all power to it.
Under the TPLF, division cruelty and animosity was the order of the day, inside Ethiopia and within the Horn region, and so (in line with US foreign policy) instability was maintained. It was the TPLF that initiated the war with Eritrea in 1998, and it was PM Abiy, together with President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, who ended the fighting – something it is hard to imagine being well received in Washington – and created peace. At the time of the accord, President Afwerki, pointedly referring to the TPLF, said, “Hate, discrimination and conspiracy are now over. Our focus from now on should be on developing and growing together.… Now is the time to make up for the lost times.”
The TPLF has constantly revealed that it knows only violence, suppression and lies. During their time in power acts of State Terrorism were commonplace, rape and sexual violence were employed (as they have been throughout this conflict) to induce fear and human rights were totally trampled on. All we might add with the support of the “international community”; that benign self righteous force, complicit in so much suffering, that, whilst proclaiming freedom, justice and democracy, moves within the shadows sewing seeds of chaos, death and destruction, seemingly wherever it goes.
For peace talks to be positive both parties must want the conflict to end. There is no doubt that the Ethiopian government is committed to peace, likewise it is plain that the TPLF is not; they cannot be trusted, not at all. TheTPLF is a deadly poison that has caused immeasurable suffering to the people of Ethiopia and the wider region for decades; in order for peace to gently settle and for social harmony to once again be established, the poison must be cut out completely. This requires the TPLF be disbanded, never again to cast their vile shadow upon the country.
Frustrated and angry, people everywhere are mobilizing, protesting, striking, demanding change, screaming out against injustice, suppression and control. The unprecedented global movement expands week on week; it will not be stopped, no matter the level of violence or intervention state bodies employ to silence people and maintain the corrosive status-quo.
In a dramatic Sign of The Times, despite the risks, which are great, women/girls and men in Iran are uniting; standing together, demanding an end to gender inequality, and in, some cases calling for regime change.
To the surprise of many who assumed any popular uprising would be led by academics, writers and the like, fearless women and teenage girls are leading the movement in what is evolvinginto a broad Coalition of Dissatisfaction. The protestors in Iran are both a symbol of the extraordinary times we are living through, and a source of power for all who long for different, just modes of living.
Iranian teenagers lead the way
As is so often the case, one diabolical act became the spark that fueled a raging fire of anger, suppressed for years and now unleashed. On 13 September, 22 year old Mahsa Amini was arrested by the so-called Morality Police of Iran’s Law Enforcement Command for not wearing the hijab (head scarf) in a way acceptable to the Islamic Republic of Iran – i.e., some hair, horror of horrors, was loose and on display. Regime thugs took her into custody, where, out of sight they beat her so severely that she fell into a coma. Three days later, on 16 September, she died in a Tehran hospital.
The brutal murder of Mahsa has led to massive protests across Iran (in at least 103 cities and towns in all 31 of Iran’s provinces) and cities around the world. Predictably Iran’s government has responded in a heavy-handed manner with violence and more violence. At least 154 people have been killed by security personnel, and an estimated 1,200 arrested. When they are not firing live rounds, the police shoot birdshot and metal pellets into the crowd; they fire tear gas and deploy water cannons; access to the internet has been restricted and apps like Instagram and What’s App shut down in an attempt to stop protestors organizing.
Journalists and workers in civil society organizations are being specifically targeted; the Centre for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) relate that (as of 6 October) an estimated “92 members of civil society who were not arrested at street protests, but instead arbitrarily detained at their homes or workplaces.” In addition 30 Iranian journalists have also been put behind bars.
This crude attempt to silence people isn’t working and it won’t work, in fact such actions by the regime will only further inflame people and strengthen the relentless march towards freedom.
The protests are not simply about gender inequalities and a woman’s freedom to choose whether to wear a hijab or not – important though this is, they are about freedom and the observation of human rights more broadly. Basic and essential human rights as laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory to, and as Iran, was one of the 48 nations that initially signed up to the charter in 1948. Freedom of speech; freedom of assembly; freedom of the media; freedom to live in a way consistent with one’s own values and beliefs free from the imposition of rules formulated and enforced by a violent authoritarian body.
Unity is rising
The Iran uprising forms part of a global movement for change that began inearnest in the mid 1980s and has grown in momentum year on year, month on month. In the last forty years or so people in virtually every country in the world have been uniting, demonstrating against repression, social injustice, environmental vandalism/inaction, political/corporate corruption and human rights violations.
Impelled by the forces of the time people are rising up and, as the extraordinary actions in Iran show, in spite of the risks and dangers inherent in challenging autocratic governments, and indeed so-called democratic bodies, people will not any longer be silenced, cowered. Shut away in front of their television sets or computer screens, to be fed and passively digest the propaganda of the corporate state.
Decades of repression, of being ignored and spoken down to by cynical politicians and corporate leaders, have led to this global moment of change and opportunity. It is a transitional time that will, or could, in time, usher in a creative fluid form of democratic living. Participation is an essential pillar of true democracy, but currently within democratic nations the possibility of contributing within the political, socio-economic space is almost non-existent, in authoritarian states like Iran, there is absolutely no space for any independent voices. Billions of people – the majority, are excluded, ignored and sidelined; individuals forced to live within structures and under inhibiting rules they do not agree with.
We are at the conception stage, the very beginning of a new order, a new civilization if you will, reimagined. Inch by inch the new order will need to be built, slowly, gradually. The architecture, tone and colours are clear: Freedom and social justice, true democracy in which everyone has the chance to participate, equality and peace. Such fundamental lasting changes will take time, rightly so, but look around, decay is everywhere, so too the calls for change. The existing systems and controls are not only being rejected, but they are collapsing under there own dead weight, failing to meet the basic requirements of the society, and unable to respond to the interrelated crises they have caused and continue to exacerbate.
Change then is essential, and in many ways it is now inevitable; an unstoppable force; it grows in strength and momentum with every protest march, every placard raised, every hijab removed, every action undertaken to highlight injustice, discrimination and abuse.
People, The People, will not any longer be gagged and manipulated, forced to accept the unacceptable, they will die first. But with every death, in Tehran or elsewhere, with every reactionary clampdown, whether it be arresting activists, stifling free speech, demonising people calling for change, outlawing protests and/or increasing police powers, the numbers demanding change increases, the outrage intensifies, the wave draws breath, rises and strengthens.