Stop Displacing Ethiopians!

Asfaw Regasa

It’s been reported in the news media that some 12 thousand residential homes at the outskirts of Addis Ababa (Legetafo) are being demolished and our fellow Ethiopians evicted from their decades of domicile by the local government under a shameful pretext of “developing a green area”. It is excruciatingly painful to watch on television children, elderlies, women and men thrown out in the streets under such lame excuses! One can only see bewilderment, helplessness and hopelessness on the faces of those fellow citizens who have been subjected to such draconian measure that has disrupted their lives! Children cannot go to school and men and women cannot run their daily routines and manage their families! Where are we headed as a nation?

First of all, it is conflicting to claim that the local government intends to “develop a green area” allegedly for its residents and concurrently evict the residents! It just doesn’t add up unless there is some hidden ulterior evil motive! This was common practice when the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) lords were in power. They dispossessed the lands of millions of Ethiopians in different parts of the country under similar pretexts to finally end up selling their lands to foreigners and/or handing them out to their criminal associates and amassing incalculable amount of money that they stashed in foreign banks. Is the current dispossession a replay of what we witnessed under the apartheid TPLF rule?

According to the media, it was initially reported that when those displaced citizens petitioned the office of the Oromia President Ato Lemma Megersa they were not given any remedy. Furthermore, it was reported that when they attempted to appeal to Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, they were told that he does not involve in matters of the Oromia region. It goes without saying that the offices of both Ato Lemma Megersa and Dr. Abiy Ahmed must be accessible to these fellow citizens and take an immediate remedial action to stop this madness! For Ato Lemma, it is an issue of great priority because the eviction is taking place in part of the region that he supposedly presides over. Similarly, for Dr. Abiy this is an issue of urgent priority because the eviction is taking place in the country that he supposedly leads. It is hard for me to comprehend why Dr. Abiy does not involve in matters of Oromia – it is simply laughable! As the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, isn’t he responsible for citizens in all parts of the country?

Of late, we heard the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Ato Nigussu Tilahun on Voice of America Amharic Service claiming that he and Ato Mesfin Arega, Oromia Region official, had visited the city where the eviction is taking place and spoken with the city administrators. According to him, the demolition affects those who built houses illegally, condoning the heartless actions of the city administration. In the same breath, he talked about the need for the city administration to protect the rights of those fellow citizens who have been thrown out in the streets. When asked what the Prime Minister’s position is in this matter he confirmed that he is on board with the city’s actions as long as the citizen’s rights is not violated.

It is oxymoronic to claim the protection of rights of the citizens while condoning (or even possibly being a part of the decision behind the scene) the eviction of those citizens. Mr. Prime Minister – these are our own fellow citizens, they are Ethiopians!!! Even if they built the houses illegally, this is not the way to treat them after living for decades and given ID cards by the city administration recognizing their status as residents!!! Their status should either be legalized for the mere reason that they have been given such recognition for decades, or moved to another place to reside as a community, without disrupting the fabrics of their social life, for example in an affordable condominium, with adequate advance notice (let’s say a year or two) at a time that does not disrupt children’s school (for example when schools close at the end of the school year). The Government should be able to fund such a plan from tax payers’ resources, or even through loans and have the residents pay reasonable amounts in mortgage over 20 to 30 years. There are all sorts of solutions if the Prime Minister means what he says about the protection of citizens’ rights!

What is more important??? The alleged green area or our thousands of citizens??? The piece of land (in the big scheme of things) or human beings that God created in his image??? It is truly painful to watch the children on television talking about their families’ dire economic situation and their inability to go to school because of their eviction. It is distressing to watch those women and young children confused by what has happened to them!!!

The Ethiopian people have embraced the Prime Minister due to, among other things (such as the release of political prisoners), his preaching of freedom, justice, equality for all Ethiopians and bringing back “Ethiopia” into the political discourse of our country after its decades of suppression by the brutal TPLF regime. However, he and his associates are expected to walk the talk!!!

The timing of the eviction of our citizens is also a matter of great concern! The TPLF mafia group has recently been beating the drums of war and reports indicate that they are actually been preparing for war. As if that is not enough to be worried about our country, destabilizing the nation through evictions such as in Legetafo could even worsen the political environment of our country. This is a time for the Prime Minister and associates to unite and not divide us!!!

Considering the predicament of our fellow citizens and in view of the above, as a concerned Ethiopian who loves my country dearly, I ask Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed and Oromia President Ato Lemma Megersa to stop the eviction of our citizens immediately and unconditionally!!!

May Almighty God protect our people and May He bless Ethiopia!!!

 

Asfaw Regasa

The writer can be reached at asfawregasa1@gmail.com

 

 

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