I was wondering why there hasn’t yet been any visible reaction to the verdict here in Addis. Some say that the post-election momentum is gone and most have forgotten, but I know otherwise. I know that people still care, and will say so as often as they think it safe.
So why didn’t spontaneous protest erupt on Monday afternoon?
Well, the current crackdown is the 6th that has occurred over the past two years. Thousands have been imprisoned and countless tortured. Far more have died than have been reported, and in Ethiopia today, we are forced to learn from this. (I am ferenj, and I too stay inside more and talk less. ) I was reminded today that, including those taken during the initial crackdown, this means 1/10th of the city’s population has been imprisoned at some point during this period.
Immediately following the elections, there were dozens of papers to report the fraud, the injustice, the truth. Now such outlets are distant memories, and news obviously travels slower.
Before, one could feel an electric undercurrent of awareness here—even as recently as September, when the words of Dr. Berhanu gave the most faint-hearted among us courage—and it didn’t matter if there were no demonstrations; we knew who our real leaders were. There was still hope. We wanted peace.
Now, it seems people have reverted to a state of learned hopelessness, underscored by the increasing American support for this nation’s tyrannical ruler. What chance do we have as mere pawns in a far greater geopolitical scheme? How can we help ourselves if we cannot even gather for public discussion or peaceful demonstration?
I honestly don’t know. I do know that violence is NOT the answer (once embraced, it cannot be controlled, and we will all be at greater risk) but beyond that—I can’t see the way out from here.
(Not today, anyway…)