Ethiopia: Emotional Public, Ineffective Govt - Bad Combination

Kenya: Chief Justice Maraga Launches Bench Book for Criminal Cases

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I was at the Department of Immigration & Nationality Affairs to renew my passport early Monday morning when I found myself in the middle of an emotional rally.

It was an absolute nightmare to watch the frustration of the people and scary to witness police shooting into the air. I froze, unable to do anything. Nothing seemed real. It filled me with heartbreak and so many questions.

Participants of the rally were vocal about the need to respect the constitution and rule of law and demanded justice. There was uncalled for disparaging remarks that generalised people, but many were out to condemn mob attacks that have become frequent in our country.

My nightmare did not stop there. I went to meet my brother, who was on duty at Zewditu Hospital, where young and old injured people from the rally were being treated, which included reports of five deaths.

The names of two people that died were posted on the gates of the hospital to their inform families. Everything felt like a bad dream. But it was real, and it may just get worse.

The incident in Burayu, one of the special zones of the Oromia Regional State, was just the latest case of horrific attacks against innocent civilians. I was filled with shock when I visited the temporary shelters set up for victims of the attack and heard their hardships. These are people whose country could not keep them safe.

Where is the respect and dignity for human life? Where is the Ethiopian harmony and love our parents, society and our leaders preach to us? How did we come to harbour such hatred for each other? And why is the government failing at its most basic job: protecting its citizens?

Criminal behaviour will thrive as long as the government is unable to keep its people safe. Equally disturbing has been the neglect of handling such matters before they materialise. This has led individuals to abuse and violate their fellow citizens' rights with impunity. This is unconscionable and irritating.

The cruel acts of murder, rape and physical and psychological torment inflicted upon people have rarely been unaccounted for. In the face of this, it should not be surprising that the perpetrators would be incentivised to commit such acts again.

This is a failure by law enforcement forces that are paid out of the public coffer to keep citizens safe. The excuse the police have presented for being unable to deal with the Burayu incident is absurd. It does not explain why they have been unable to put a pin on a conflict that has persisted for the past few months.

Liberty and democracy are indivisible. When a single liberty is threatened, all liberties are threatened. The government is clearly failing at its most fundamental social contract, which is maintaining its citizens' security.

It is equally absurd that our government is dreaming of fostering the path toward a more stable Horn of Africa. Our leaders should look inward at their house. It is in a massive crisis.

Citizenship should be the common thread that connects all Ethiopians. We should not be an intolerably divided nation bound by ethnicity, politics or religion. We rather should be bound by shared values of humanity, freedom, liberty and equality. We should strive to build this nation whose citizens are deprived of basic needs.

This is a defining moment for us all to build a free and democratic nation not by attacking one another but by working together for the common good. The "my way or no way" attitude has never been healthy for the nation.

Our fundamental objective as citizens should be to realise democracy, prosperity and equal human rights. Violence should be the exclusive prerogative of a responsible government; otherwise, everyone will lose. The public should act responsibly, whether on the streets or on social media.

The attitude of looking down upon others and the feeling of superiority is destroying national consensus. And I wonder if such issues are what really upset Ethiopians.

Is that not just a result of political and economic bottlenecks, such as unemployment, injustice and lack of reliable institutions?

What the country needs is to stay in one piece, pursuing freedom, peace, the rule of law and raising the standard of living. It is necessary for us to be more restrained, less prone to conclusions and better informed to work together and realise our fundamental dreams. The government ought to appropriately enforce the law and ensure that its citizens are able to thrive in their own country.


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Publish date : 2018-10-08 10:14:22
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