Vudozragore I would say yes. They are not in a position to turn the wave of the storm. That is why you have this inbuilt anger and madness that makes this ethnic divisions much bigger than they are and why they trigger this emotional reaction, because we have lost our basic moral compass and the concept of the rule of law. Retrieved 31 August The other issues to re-consider and worth discussing openly and frankly are points indicated below once again: Meles Zenawi, his one time close friend and would be ally. These were the options. Even if we live in Addis and visit our jailed leaders every weekend we never heard about the book.
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Unfortunately, his vision for Ethiopia would cause Berhanu to go through many hardships: from jail to escapes through the desert to exile to sitting in desolate trenches with his soldiers; his was a unique struggle. Recent developments in Ethiopia have the reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed vowing to create a political climate free from oppression, and this was exactly what Berhanu Nega had been waiting for all his life.
His welcome can only be described as one given to a hero. The thousands upon thousands of Ethiopians that flooded the streets proved that this man has the love and respect of Ethiopians throughout the country, but overwhelmingly within the Amhara region. A man that commands such support will inevitably be a political force to be reckoned with in the newly transitioning Ethiopia. Berhanu an ethnic Gurage, was born into a family that had amassed a large fortune from the various successful businesses they ran.
As a member of the upper class, one can characterize his early life as comfortable and devoid of serious worries. Growing up Berhanu would have been aware and interested in the Ethiopian Student Movement which began in The movement posed a challenge to the imperialism and monarchy at the time. The students, along with some teachers, played a vital role for paving the way for the revolution.
In December , students of the university college of Addis Ababa were the only organized group that gave public support to the abortive coup against Emperor Haile Selassie. The demonstration they staged was the first public defiance of the Imperial regime by students. The coup marked the birth of the movement and helped speed its development. This new phenomenon of students questioning the status quo of the feudal system must have interested young Berhanu.
By , the Imperial government of Ethiopia was overthrown by the Derg or Committee which were at first lauded by the members of the student movement. Finishing high school, Berhanu left his home in Bishoftu and began his studies at the same university housing the daring student movement. Berhanu began his lifelong political activism by being a part of these protests against the Derg government, during his freshman year as a student. Things soon turned ugly, and by , the Derg government had had enough with political dissidents and began to stamp out all opposition.
Unfortunately, his eldest sister, only 19 years old, was found, captured and made to disappear within the many prisons of the Derg. Her whereabouts continued to elude the family, causing untold grief, until later, when some of her cellmates spoke of her death. Suicide by cyanide is believed to have been the cause; most dissidents carried cyanide pills around their neck and used them to avoid the horrific methods of torture common at the time burning hot oil poured in ears, scorching metal rods inserted into female parts, etc.
They called for the fall of the monarchy, the removal of the feudal system and the creation of a democratic republic. By , the EPRP declared all out terrorist warfare against the revolutionary government, this conflict eventually led to the Red Terror, in which an estimated , people lost their lives. This group was at the time active in the Tigray and Gondar regions and they used guerilla warfare as a tool to combat the Derg government.
More importantly, he detested the many killings committed by the group and openly criticized them. This led to his first but not last experience with political imprisonment. Unafraid to fight for his beliefs, the young activist was fortunate enough to be released after being detained for only a couple of months. Shortly after his release, the guards shot and killed 15 of his cellmates, having seen enough, Berhanu planned his escape. Here he enrolled at the State University of New York at New Paltz and successfully completed their undergraduate program for economics, while also playing on the soccer team.
While studying to obtain his PhD in economics, he continued to give special attention to his homeland by helping organize the Horn of Africa annual conference. For a period spanning five years, the group conducted high-level meetings that examined the current cross-cutting economic, political and social trends happening in the east coast of Africa. The many political leaders, analysts, researchers and various other stakeholders would have provided Berhanu the perfect opportunity to create and enhance his political ideology for Ethiopia.
Back at school, the dissertation paper for his PhD program was on the failures of Ethiopian agriculture under the Communist Derg. Here he would be hired in as an Associate Professor in the economics department.
His area of specialty was the popular elective of African Economic Development, in which he outlines development policies in sub-Saharan Africa. With a comfortable home in a wooded neighborhood just five minutes from the Bucknell campus in rural Pennsylvania, Berhanu would now start a family of his own.
His wife, Dr. Nardos Minasse whom he married a year earlier in , is an Ethiopian born optometrist who bore him two sons, Noah and Iyassu. Always concerned with current developments in his beloved homeland, Berhanu would also take time to create a popular bi-monthly magazine, called Imbilta. An avid reader and never one to have much free time, Berhanu would also become the co-founder of the EEA or Ethiopian Economics Association.
Berhanu knew Meles Zenawi, the intelligent and charismatic man now in the forefront of the current Ethiopian political scene.
He believed Meles was someone that could create a political climate far removed from the previous oppressive regime. With this in mind, in , Berhanu Nega would leave his job, pack his bags, and along with his wife and two young sons, head to his cherished homeland. One cannot say this man, was not actively engaged in the betterment of Ethiopia. Attempting to stay away from politics, he was an entrepreneur, teacher, consultant, researcher, and analyst; all for the creation of a democratic and developed Ethiopia.
Berhanu wholeheartedly believes that democracy and development go hand in hand. Berhanu the Activist By the spring of , things took a turn for the worse, the now 43 year old Berhanu Nega was in for a shock.
Up to this point, he was optimistic that his conflict ridden country was finally making a positive comeback. Wanting to create a free and open educational system in Ethiopia, he and the notable, Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, used the National Lottery Hall in Addis Ababa for a day-long forum discussing the heated topic of academic freedom, with university students and various other stakeholders in attendance. Hours later, Berhanu would travel to Paris for a business conference, and while still at the Charles de Gaulle airport, turning his phone on, he would hear of the calamity taking place at his university.
The day of the student protests in Addis Ababa University saw more than 50 students being injured and a week later, at least 40 people were killed during raids at the university. This horrific act was followed by widespread riots around Addis Ababa as protesters disaffected with government policies joined the mayhem in support of the students.
Beginning as a peaceful student protest, it soon turned into a national crisis, and the government is purported to have used this as an excuse to crackdown on all government opposition. More than 2, students and about political activists and journalists were arrested. Fortunately, for Berhanu, he was released only a day later on bail, and was never tried in court.
These developments lit a fire in Berhanu and it caused him to leave his job as a lecturer and an entrepreneur to pursue politics full time.
The reality became so terrible that we had to do something to try to change it. Berhanu Nega Berhanu Nega as a would be Mayor through to would see Berhanu Nega actively engaged in politics by becoming the founding chairman of the Rainbow Ethiopia: Movement for Democracy and Social Justice, which in , preparing for the elections would join three other opposition parties and form the CUD or the Coalition for Unity and Democracy.
The elections were intended to be free and open with European Union election observers in attendance. It was an exciting time for Ethiopians, who never had the opportunity to view political debates on television.
Largely due to these televised debates the CUD rocked the elections, with Addis Ababa voting almost unanimously for them. The CUD called for country wide protests and the boycotting of businesses owned by the members of the government. The protests turned deadly, and almost all the CUD leadership was arrested, Berhanu being one of them. Unfortunately for Berhanu, his third time around at political imprisonment would have him stay for a much longer period, as he was charged with genocide and treason.
While at the infamous Mahakelawi or Kaliti prison, Berhanu had the chance to congregate with various members of society viewed by the government as enemies of the state. In the popular book entitled Yenetsanet Goh Siked The Dawn of Freedom which he wrote while incarcerated, Berhanu speaks of his experiences: What shocked me and subjected me to many sleepless nights, even more than our detention, was the kind of individuals in detention, the reasons for which they were detained, and their opinions about their detention and the [Ethiopian] government.
Most detainees were Oromo nationals suspected of supporting the OLF…. As of that time, I became convinced of the fact that the Oromo issue is deeply rooted and that if such hateful feelings are allowed to continue unabated, unity of the country will be in grave danger.
Berhanu Nega: The Rebel Fighter By , an arduous 21 months later, in what could only be described as a "hell hole", with porous roofs, cramped conditions, and extreme temperatures, Berhanu, after numerous visits to Police Hospital was released. Immediately upon his release, he was exiled, and forced to flee to the United States, even though he had relinquished his residence permit; a requirement to hold public office in Ethiopia. The US government showed sympathy towards Berhanu by circumventing the law and issuing him a new residence permit while still in prison.
Back in the States, Berhanu would take up his old teaching position at Bucknell University, and never one to forget Ethiopia, he would continue his struggle. Only a year after being released from prison, in , Berhanu Nega and Andargachew Tsige would form Ginbot 7, registered in the US as a non-profit humanitarian organization actively engaged in Ethiopian opposition politics.
Ginbot 7 named after the deadly May 15th elections, enjoyed unprecedented support from the diaspora as well as clandestinely in Ethiopia. A short year later in , the Ethiopian government claimed it foiled a coup attempt orchestrated by Ginbot 7, and sentenced Berhanu Nega to death in absentia. With the subsequent arrest and detention of his friend and countless others, Berhanu had had enough.
Was I going to remain an academic, sitting in an ivory tower criticizing things? Or was I going to do something as an engaged citizen? We owe it to them to do everything we can…I have completely given up on the possibility of a democratic change [we have to overthrow the government] Berhanu Nega With these ominous words in tow, Berhanu would put his house up for sale and take an indefinite leave of absence from Bucknell University, where he became a full professor.
Noah, his son, had already taken up a position as an investment banker in New York. Leaving his family behind and a tenured position at the university, Berhanu would pack his bags and head to Eritrea to take up armed struggle against the Ethiopian government. Here several hundred soldiers would train and wait for orders of an assault.
Berhanu as the commander would also make contact with agents smuggling highly sensitive information about Ethiopian troop positions and about the abilities of the resistance cells within Ethiopia. Berhanu is not an American citizen and his US citizenship has been put on indefinite hold, but he uses an Eritrean passport along with his green card. Berhanu Nega and Abiy Ahmed has seen the widely popular Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed take bold steps to bring peace and reconciliation to all Ethiopians, both locally and internationally.
The time had finally come for Berhanu Nega to rejoice and return to his beloved homeland of Ethiopia to help build the type of country he has always envisioned. After witnessing the masses welcoming him back, it now stands to be seen how this brave idealist will attempt to help heal and develop a nation in turmoil.
Berhanu Nega and his family have a home in Pennsylvania, where his wife Dr. Nardos Minasse continues to practice optometry.
Berhanu Nega Biography: The Profile of a Professor Turned Rebel Fighter
Both Nega and his new deputy, Andualem Arage, have been prisoners of conscience at Kaliti prison, and both had previously been sentenced to death. Daily newsletter: join our subscribers! He was also involved in opposition politics, which saw him elected the mayor of the capital Addis Ababa in Genbot 7 15 May , the party Nega and Tsege founded, is named for the aftermath of that election, which led to the deaths of about people. Nega was jailed and released in , after which he went back to his job as an economics professor at Bucknell University.
Ethiopia opposition leader Berhanu Nega leads new party
Unfortunately, his vision for Ethiopia would cause Berhanu to go through many hardships: from jail to escapes through the desert to exile to sitting in desolate trenches with his soldiers; his was a unique struggle. Recent developments in Ethiopia have the reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed vowing to create a political climate free from oppression, and this was exactly what Berhanu Nega had been waiting for all his life. His welcome can only be described as one given to a hero. The thousands upon thousands of Ethiopians that flooded the streets proved that this man has the love and respect of Ethiopians throughout the country, but overwhelmingly within the Amhara region. A man that commands such support will inevitably be a political force to be reckoned with in the newly transitioning Ethiopia. Berhanu an ethnic Gurage, was born into a family that had amassed a large fortune from the various successful businesses they ran. As a member of the upper class, one can characterize his early life as comfortable and devoid of serious worries.