Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What Happened to Ethiopian Youth National Movement?

What Happened to Ethiopian Youth National Movement?

Mankelklot Haile Selassie (PhD)
(June 29, 2012)

From the outset, the prompt response to this question is, it is sold out. To show the full picture in the building process of the Ethiopian Youth National Movement and now the Ethiopian National Transitional Council (ENTC), I am going to discuss, in my opinion, this very important and timely issue under four subtopics, namely: 1) The Formation of Ethiopian Youth National Movement, 2) The lay out of its organizational structure particularly for Addis Ababa, 3) Is the Ethiopian National Transitional Council needed now? and finally, 4) How Meles Zenawi killed the Diaspora Youth Movement.

1. The formation of Ethiopian Youth National Movement.
It is the product of the “Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia.” This Civic Movement was a very promising one to which I was a part at the beginning until I was deliberately pushed out. Then, I pushed for the decentralization of the activities, that is to let the civic groups that make up the umbrella organization spread all over the world, to act and plan independently when needed and as they see it fit, and, for the Civic Movement to focus on uprising. Certain individuals affiliated with certain political organizations did not like it. Unfortunately, through time the Civic Movement became the stepping and the recruiting platform for the so called political organizations. This promising Civic Organization was hijacked by certain political organizations and the movement finally fizzled out.

Coming back to the Youth Movement, at the beginning the intention was to organize the youth as part of the Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia. An individual who volunteered to handle it took the responsibility to work around the Ethiopian youth. Before it separated itself and started to act independently, it was reporting it’s activities directly to the Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia. For example to point out at least three of them: April 2, 2011, May 10, 2011 and May 17, 2011.

After certain period of time the individual who took the responsibility to organize the youth around the Civic Movement slowly started to separate and form an independent youth organization. It began the process of separation by declaring that it has its own logo, a modified logo of the Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia. Further along it changed the name the Ethiopian Youth Movement to Ethiopian Youth National Movement (EYNM).
Under its article “The Revolution Just Started,” April 2, 2011 it specifically pointed out its vision, mission, and objectives for the youths inside Ethiopia and in Diaspora. Here are what it declared in this article:
To be a leading galvanizing movement for the Ethiopian youth struggle to topple the TPLF tyranny and be a catalyst for the establishment of democratic society in Ethiopia .

To serve as a facilitating platform in bringing the Ethiopian youth together to network and build solidarity, brainstorm ideas, strategize long term and short term plans to shape the political, social and economic future of Ethiopia .
Goals and Objectives
Goal 1: Organize the leading change agents
a) Formulate long-term strategy plan on how to sustain democratic change in Ethiopia
b) Recruit change agents from across all groups of the Ethiopian youth. Create ad-hoc network structures for the change agents
c) Train change agents on the practical applications of non-violent engagement
Goal 2: Organize and mobilize the Ethiopian youth
a) Use the available technology to allow youth to interact, converse relevant issues, build solidarity identify initiatives and mobilize action
b) Provide practical training on nonviolent engagement
c) Create online advocacy kits to assist youth in the methods of nonviolent struggle
d) Create global alliances
e) Build advocacy campaigns to reach private, non-profit and
government entities in support of democracy
f) Expand and strengthen the leadership structure of youth through forming chapters
g) Mobilize the Ethiopian youth for goal-oriented action on the TPLF regime
Goal 3: Transform the movement as a civil society organization in the post-TPLF Ethiopia
a) Formulate long-term strategic plan on how to sustain democratic change in Ethiopia

2. The layout of its specific organizational structure particularly for Addis Ababa.
The setup of the organizational structure for the activities of the Youth Movement inside Ethiopia, particularly in Addis Ababa was divided into three sub-cities with their own liaison officers. Arada, Kirkos and Gullele as one group; group two included Kolfe keranyo, Akaki -kaliti and Nefas Silk -Lafto, and group three included Lideta, Bole, Addis Ketema and Yeka. Link these sub-city divisions with the above vision, mission, and objectives and notice the comprehensiveness of the layout.

Whether this lay out did have a well organized body behind it and therefore could have worked or not is an argument to be made. But what one could have surmised from the face value of the above is that had this organizational lay out followed through with commitment and dedication one can clearly see the impact the Diaspora youth would have achieved. I argue that this potential threat was well observed by Meles and his regime therefore Meles has to take an effective and efficient action to cripple and finally kill this Ethiopian Youth National Movement.

The decreeing a law to criminalize independent telecom use, CPJ/IFEX, June 18, 2012, partly could be to block the free communication between the youths inside Ethiopia and in Diaspora. It appears that the regime did realize that the Ethiopian youth movement to have the potential threat to the throne of Meles Zenawi and therefore has to deal with it immediately, by any means necessary, effectively and efficiently.

The purposes of the above two subtopics is to show, a) how the Ethiopian Youth National Movement have became an independent, solid and formidable, short of extensive youth mass base particularly here in the Diaspora. The absence of youth mass base is one of the weaknesses that I pointed out in the suggestion paper to EYNM. And, b) for one to superimpose the above organizational situation of the Youth Movement on that of what it is doing now, that is, the formation of Ethiopian National Transitional Council and further on to Ethiopian Government for the Interim period, and see how the leadership in this fatal affair it is pursuing became the deliberate instrument of destruction by diverting the focus from the activities of the Youth Movement. Therefore “What happened to the Ethiopian Youth National Movement” becomes relevant and timely question.

3. Is the Ethiopian national Transitional Council (ENTC) needed now?
The leader of the Youth Movement and myself have discussed this same issue perhaps a couple of times before Dr. Fesseha Eshetu came to the United States. Then I stressed that it is not the right time to do it now. My argument was based on the lack of strength of the activities in general, the lack of strength of the communication between the Diaspora Youth movement and the Youth inside Ethiopia, and above all on the lack of strength of the relationship between the Ethiopian Youths in Diaspora and that of the Youths inside Ethiopia. It was not ripe then to call for ENTC nor it is ripe now given the above reasoning. However, it became clear that one of the thrusts of the argument for pushing for the formation of ENTC is to divert and inhibit the independent activities of the Ethiopian Youth National Movement tantamount to letting it die its natural death. The organizers of this Formation Conference know that it is so. It is a blatant insult to the Ethiopian community in general and the Ethiopian youth in particular to pretend that it is not so.

When I visited the newly opened office by the invitation of Masresha Tilahun, this same issue became the core of our discussion. Three of us, Dr. Fesseha Eshetu, Masresha Tilahun and myself argued about it very strongly.

There was a fourth individual almost as an observer who did not utter a word. Then I argued that the timing is not right to form ENTC. My reasoning was based, as it was between Masresha and myself long time ago as pointed out earlier, on the importance first to organize the youth inside Ethiopia and let them confirm whether the political situation is ripe or not. That is whether particularly the people of Addis Ababa was ready for an uprising or not. If the information became positive, then it will be logical and of course essential to form the Transitional Council. Or one can call it transitional government. Of course the urgency of the time will determine the composition of the body to be formed.

Since there are mature and well seasoned opposition political parties, who are gauging the political situations inside Ethiopia very carefully, at least one would assume so, both inside and outside of Ethiopia if uprising took place it would not be like Egypt. I believe the opposition political parties will take it to be their responsibility that the uprising is lead properly and achieve the desired objective which is the empowerment of Ethiopian people. In my opinion the coming forward to lead it by even one bold political party would accomplish the purpose. In fact, there could be the potential for the Transitional Government to be initiated and formed by this bold single political party. Or, another potential is that the Youth Movement would provide its own leader and run the process.

4. How did Meles Zenawi killed the Diaspora Youth Movement?
What I am going to discuss under this topic is exactly what I discussed with Masresha Tilahun, here after the leader, privately, in two very open and blunt conversations the two of us have had. One of the conversations was face to face after he invited me to see their new office. The second one was telephone conversation.

The crippling and then the killing of the Ethiopian Youth National Movement was initiated when the leader was contacted by Dr. Fesseha Eshetu. After he was personally contacted by Dr. Fesseha Eshetu the two of them started to initiate the formation of Ethiopian National Transitional Council (ENTC) obviously on the grave of Ethiopian Youth National Movement. Dr. Fesseha Eshetu was the messenger of Meles Zenawi to kill the Ethiopian Youth National Movement. This was what I told the leader in our face to face over dinner conversation on the day I visited their office. Later on, during our telephone conversation I told him to stop this Ethiopian National Transitional Council thing, get rid Dr. Fesseha Eshetu and concentrate on the Youth Movement. At no time did he try to challenge what I said.

Please picture this. Dr. Fesseha came all the way from Addis Ababa with a mission. The target for accomplishing his mission was Masresha Tilhaun, the leader and the main organizer of the Ethiopian Youth National Movement. This leader was disseminating strong revolutionary slogans and videos which should have been noticed by Meles and his regime. As far as the regime is concerned there is no reason for not targeting the Diaspora Youth Movement, hence Masresha Tilahun.

 The shift from the Ethiopian national Movement to Ethiopian National Transitional Council (ENTC), in fact, it has further moved up a step to form Ethiopian Government for the Interim Period, which is a government in exile, with its charter are concrete indications to have already thrown the Ethiopian Youth National Movement under the bus. The here and there injection of the Youth Movement issues is a blatant intellectual dishonesty that is being committed against the Youth Movement hence against the people of Ethiopia. In addition, the agenda of the ENTC Formation Conference of July 1 to July 3, 2012, in Dallas, Texas, clearly shows how the Ethiopian Youth National Movement have been deliberately undermined and killed by the leadership of the organizers, hence Meles Zenawi.

Calling for press conference on June 24, 2012 about the Ethiopian Youth National Movement is the mother of all dishonesty and very cheap political propaganda, which was being done while stabbing the Youth Movement in the back. Above all it is an insult to the intelligence of those particularly watching, reading, and listening to every move made and information disseminated by the leadership of the Youth Movement.

Believing that the Ethiopian Youth National Movement will follow through it’s kind of blueprint I copied above, based on its organizational structure and based on very serious discussions we have had between its leader and myself, I contributed $1800.00 within a period of seven months. At the beginning one thousand dollars as seed money, then $500.00 and later $300.00. My proposal and our agreement was strictly to be used for the activities of the Youth Movement inside Ethiopia. Do I regret it now that the Youth Movement is sold out? Absolutely not!!! I did what my conscious told me to do and took risk. In my opinion, sometimes, one has to take risk in politics too.

 I have always stressed the financial need of the Youth Movement in Diaspora to be fulfilled by its members. The greater the number of its members the greater the Diaspora Youth Movement financial satisfaction. In fact, had the Diaspora Youth Movement recruited large number of youths in Diaspora they would have come to the aid of the Youth Movement inside Ethiopia in a very substantial manner.

I have also provided the Ethiopian Youth National Movement a five page written suggestion titled “My Observation” on Dec. 3, 2012. In there I suggested what and how to do things. I also suggested specific organizational structure that deals specifically with the Youth Movement in Diaspora. I have also suggested how and what to do with the youths inside Ethiopia. The following was my suggestion:

4.2 Organizational structure of the Ethiopian National Youth Movement inside Ethiopia. The activities of the Movement in the Diaspora is quite different from that of the activities of the Movement inside Ethiopia. The actual uprising, its planning as well as the strategies and the tactics as to how and when to execute it is done by the Movement inside Ethiopia. Therefore, there are at least two important matters for the Ethiopian National Youth Movement in the Diaspora to note:

a) it is about time, if they have not done it already, the Ethiopian National Youth Movement inside Ethiopia to form a clandestine strong and impenetrable collective leadership made up to four or more committed and possibly sharp individuals. They can choose their chairman/woman, the secretary and the treasurer from among themselves. Naturally, the most active and with progressive, and the one with constructive, ideas will be chosen as a leader. It is very important for them to be in a position that if and when one of them is jailed or suspected by the regime they should be able to replace him/her fast.

It is the responsibility of the Ethiopian National Movement in Diaspora to work with its existing contacts very carefully and clandestinely, to encourage, in fact must insist, the formation of the collective leadership immediately. When there is a well organized and disciplined body that is capable of providing continuous, constructive and farsighted leadership, it is inevitable those who do the grassroots level of activities will be disciplined and very vigorous in their day to day activities because they have full confidence in the leadership.

 b) Do not interfere in what the youth Movement inside Ethiopia plans, organizes, and acts upon. As stated in the public meeting of Nov. 27, 2011, there are 360,000 facebook users inside Ethiopia and the Ethiopian National Youth Movement has 13,000 facebook members inside them. And most of them are in Addis Ababa. Here, one can vividly see the potential for action. It should not be wasted by not involving them with some kinds of clandestine type of activities. Keep them on their toes, so to speak, until such time that the major activity arrives, which is the uprising. When and if this body is well organized it is a sufficient force to plan and execute uprising. Don’t waste time by immersing yourself in just organizing, organizing, and organizing.

Finally, it appears it is too late to revive the Ethiopian Youth National Movement and bring it back to its original position. Meles Zenawi has succeeded in killing it. The Ethiopian National Transitional Council’s conference of July 1 to July 3, 2012 to be held in Dallas Texas is an extended arm of Meles Zenawi to do a final touch on the burial of the Ethiopian Youth National Movement. It is a subtle and well calculated move.
Mankelklot Haile Selassie (PhD)
June 29, 2012
Posted at Ethiopian Semay www.ethiopiansemay.blogspot.com

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