Emergency Declared in Ethiopia but the decree means nothing to those who have lived with inhumanity worse than death.
Tsegaye R Ararssa 10 October 2016.
This morning, Ethiopians woke up to the news that the Council of Ministers of the Federal Government has passed an emergency decree that may last for the coming six months. The official text of the Decree is not yet published in the official legal communicator, the Negarit Gazetta. (As it has now become customary, it may never be published at all; the regime does what it wants to do nonetheless.) That it is so declared today is announced to journalists by the Prime Minister in Cabinet on the state television. The Prime Minister spoke in order to announce the decision to journalists as the primus inter pares, the first among equals, in the Cabinet. The reason given by the Prime Minister for issuing the declaration is that there is a breakdown of law and order that threatens the safety of citizens and the integrity of the constitutional order….
….As we all know, the regime has virtually banned all forms of demonstrations, political meetings, associations, etc for a long time. We know that there is no press freedom in the country. Ethiopia is one of the top four jailers of journalists in the entire world. Arbitrary killing, mass arrests, detentions, tortures, discrimination, have been a matter of routine practice throughout the 25 years tenure of the regime, only exacerbated now in the context of the open mass revolt in the last couple of years.
The regime has always been confrontational with religious groups because it routinely and unscrupulously interferes with their freedom of religion.
Demanding the right to self-determination as per the constitution automatically renders one a terrorist because apparently, in EPRDF’s book, the right to self-determination is already exercised by all. As a result, identity is securitized, i.e., it is handled as a matter of threat to national security.
The right to one’s distinct language—e.g. the right to a choice of script—is routinely violated, a striking example being the regime’s denial of the right of the Erob people of Tigray Region to adopt a Latin script for their language.
In its total lawlessness, the regime had left no right unviolated be it bluntly or systematically. It is because of this that in terms of what rights it limits or what new power it confers on the executive, this declaration is inconsequential. There is nothing it changes on the ground. The resistance was happening while a full military rule organized by a Command Post chaired by the Commander-in-Chief himself was already in place. In the name of taking a “merciless and definitive” measure on protestors, the army and its Agazi Regiment, the Regional Special Forces, the Federal Police, the States’ Police Forces, Prison officials, and the Local Militia have all taken ultimate measures on civilians, children, mothers, and the elderly. They have applied the most barbaric methods of execution, massacre, torture, and abuse. Surely novelty will elude them in this regard. They have practised abuses that the world’s ghastliest torture centres and killing fields have witnessed in history.
The only question that remains now is why the regime issues this declaration now? What do they want to achieve? There are two possibilities: 1) to give a retrospective legal cover to atrocities they have been perpetrating so far and to exculpate the more extensive barbaric measures they are preparing to take in a last vindictive act just before they vacate power; and 2) to terrorize the public into temporary silence during which time they will dismantle major infrastructural facilities and move to the home base of the TPLF core of the regime. These possibilities are mere speculations, of course, but these are speculations that are hardly without reasons rooted in the conduct, words, and attitudes of the key figures in the regime.