The chairman of Blue party, Mr. Yilkal Getnet, who is currently on work visit in Canada held the first public meeting with Ethiopians residing in Toronto area. Several Ethiopians attended the meeting that was organized in the form of official reception to introduce the chairman and make acquaintance with supporters of the party. The reception is a precursor to the main event scheduled to be held on Saturday, July 9th, 2016. Ethiopians have showed their support to the party in a large turnout.
The event which was organized by the Toronto chapter of the Unity for Democracy and Human Rights (Unity) has attracted Ethiopians from various walks of life. Unity, a registered charity has been instrumental in financially supporting families of political prisoners in Ethiopia. The Head of the office, Mr. Esayas Teshome, who welcomed the chair, elaborately listed the effects of arrest and detentions on the entire families of political prisoners. In a bid to make its support regular, unity has called its supporters to make a conscious effort in raising funds as part of the ongoing struggle to ensure democracy in Ethiopia. Mr. Esayas indicated that seven families have been receiving financial support over the last couple of years. He has urged all the participants to extend their helping hands to the families who had risked their life for the liberty and freedom of all Ethiopians. Activists also discussed on the need to establish a committee that would coordinate future fund raising in order to ensure continuity.
Mr. Yilkal’s tour was an opportune moment as it happened at a time when the 33rd Annual Ethiopian Sports festival (ESFNA) is being held in Toronto. The event attracted political activists, journalists, and other Ethiopians from across Canada and North America. Among others, Mr. Yifru Hailu, Mr. Abebe Blew, an activist and CEO of Addis Dimitse Radio, and other prominent Ethiopians have attended the gathering. Mr. Yifru, in his remark appreciated the level of commitment of the members of Blue party in courageously challenging the brutality of the regime. As they are at the frontline of the struggle the sacrifices and hardships they would have endured are understandably hard. In a poem entitled “Ethiopia who Cursed you; who cried upon you” he has encapsulated the current political predicament as well as the aspirations of Ethiopians for democratic change.
The MC of the event, the Toronto based lawyer and Human Right activist, Tekelmicheal Abebe, has briefly outlined the current political and human rights violations in Ethiopia and noted the ever deteriorating conditions of Ethiopian human right situations. He also condemned the current spate of demolitions in Addis Ababa, the denial of basic rights of Habtamu Ayalew, arbitrary arrest, torture and extrajudicial killings of Oromo and non-Oromo Ethiopians. Representatives of the Shengo, a coalition of civic and political parties in the Diaspora, expressed their firm belief on the need to have peaceful struggle in Ethiopia and called upon the Blue party to work with them.
On the peaceful struggle, Mr. Daniel Tilahun, a lawyer and panelist in the event has said peaceful struggle has a cost as any struggle does have. One of the crucial things, he further insists, is a peaceful political struggle needs intellectual upper-hand over the enemy. He underscored, peaceful struggle as a non-violent struggle has an additional ethical dimension and all the people should build their capacity to effect a democratic change through peaceful struggle. He also called upon Ethiopians to support all forms of political struggles as a matter of principle.
Journalist Abebe Belew, on his part expressed his unwavering belief in peaceful political struggle. Although peaceful struggle seems impossible to implement in Ethiopia he expressed his commitment to continue in a nonviolent struggles. He said peaceful struggle is equally important for the regime. Non-violent change, at least, will maintain what has been achieved so far. It is not a zero-sum-game and all including the current regime has to support it.
Mr. Yilkal Getnet, humbled by the warm welcome, appreciated all participants for their passionate welcome. As the event is an informal gathering, the chairman of the Blue party has a very fruitful discussion with the supporters of the party and various activists both from Canada and United States. He assured the gathering that, he believed whole-heartedly that the party he leads is made up of Ethiopians who are ready to sacrifices their life to see a democratic Ethiopia that would accommodate its diverse culture and people. He said as part of the peaceful struggle people should actively participate. Both, the struggle in Ethiopia and outside the country by the members of the diaspora have to be complimentary and needs to understand the level of its current needs. He called upon all the people and political parties to work in unison to bring the desired political change.
Regarding the current arrest of its members in Bahir Dar, Engeneer Yilkal briefed the gathering that the party as an asset has young, energetic and knowledgeable members. Most of them joined the party with the full knowledge of the brutality of the regime and are determined to make sacrifices to bring democratic change in Ethiopia. Because of difference of political beliefs, Yeshewas Assefa, a father of two has been forced to abandon his work, his Development related office were closed and finally arrested by bogus charges and as a result of the tortures he endured, he had developed a problem in his leg which made him limp when he walks.
Mr. Yilkal condemned the massacre of Oromo protestors and called upon the government of Ethiopia to stop using excessive force against peaceful protestors. Mr. Yilkal also condemned the unlawful detention of nine its members who were promoting the party’s public meeting that was scheduled for last Sunday, July 3rd, 2016. The meeting has been cancelled since due to the detention of the party officials since last Friday. Mr. Yilkal said the narrowing for the field for peaceful struggle will only force Ethiopians to choose other forms of struggle over peaceful struggle.
Mr. Yilkal appreciated all party members who are working as he called “beyond the call of duty”. The main event of Mr. Yilka’s tout, the public meeting will be held on Saturday, July 9th, at East York Civic Center, 850 Coxwell Avenue, Toronto. The event has been waited anxiously by many. It will have briefings as well as answer and questions sessions. The chair person also will have similar meeting in Ottawa (July 13), Buffalo (New York – July 15) and Vancouver (July 16).
E. Akele, July 6, 2016, Toronto, Ontario