Ethiopia: Hailemariam Desalegn Unwelcome in New York City
by Tedla Asfaw
(New York) The rainy cloudy Sept. 28, 2012 was not a welcome weather for anyone. It was raining hard from early morning and we followed the weather hour by hour fearing for a washout of our rally scheduled for 3pm at 47 Street and 2nd Avenue at UN. Rain started to tamper down at noon but still the cloud was threatening. Hailemariam Desalegn the new Ethiopian PM, might have liked the rainy day to avoid any protest after he gave a very unwelcome interview to VOA’s Peter Heinlein yesterday which angered most of us.
Our protest rally was not organized to unwelcome or welcome Hailemariam. It was a Freedom rally which was dubbed as May 18 the Freedom rally which forced the late Meles Zenawi to bow his head in front of his foreign supporters at Regan Building in DC on May 18 this year. The slogan we prepared were calling for all political prisoners to be released and the backers of the Ethiopian regime to stop financing dictatorship that violated civil rights of its citizens.
However, after the Sept. 27 interview that accuses the jailed activists and journalists as people who carry two hats one for legal activity and another for illegal activity we have no choice but to respond in kind and our rally soon turned denouncing Hailemariam as another Woyane from South. Hailemarim Desalegn is a living Meles Zenawi. Hailemariam is Woyane was shouted at the UN.
Some who wanted time to be given to Hailemariam started distancing themselves from Hailemariam after his VOA interview. New York has to “update” its slogan accordingly. Around 1pm fellow Ethiopians have arrived from DC area in Manhattan two hours earlier than the protest time. Taking advantage of the brake in the rain we started gathering around 1:30pm and start putting our placards and flags in the designated area. The police let us gather even before 3pm and we took advantage of that.
The on and off slight shower did not bother us for the first hour or so. In fact we were energized by the shower and slogans to denounce the dictatorship in Ethiopia went on continuously. Stop terrorizing the people of Ethiopia !!! Shame on you Obama for supporting dictatorship in Ethiopia. Shame on You USA for selecting Ethiopian dictators behind the scene. Ethiopians did not vote for Hailemariam. The slogan went on like that.
More people started coming around 3pm and the slogans went on both in English and Amharic. A Swedish media had an interview with us for less than half hour. The journalist asked the aim of our rally and what we thought of the recently released Swedish journalists from Ethiopian jail. We informed them that the Western media heard similar story years ago but ignored it and now forced to hear from their own people who suffered in Ethiopian jail. Nothing new for us or the people of Ethiopia who have been abused for the last twenty one years.
Other medias also covered our rally without asking for interview. The UN diplomats were educated on what is going in Ethiopia. Around 4:30pm the time Hailemariam addressed the UN 67th General Assembly there was similar address for the Ethiopian people from the plaza. The address challenged Hailemaram Desalegn to tell the whole truth about the injustice, corruption and human rights abuse in Ethiopia and to resign from his position or “Mideba” in Amharic as a messenger of Woyane/TPLF.
Unfortunately Hailemariam missed this historical opportunity and officially declared himself another Woyane/TPLF from South at UN. Some Woyane/TPLF supporters were tearing the flyers they were handed out of anger. In reply they were condemned by the protesters as “Hodeaderes”. The shower has completely stopped and the huge crowd passing around UN was educated on what is going in Ethiopia until 6pm.
Hailemariam Desalegn led government is identical to that of the late Meles Zenawi’s government. its backers are the same. Its vision is the same. Hailemariam himself without any apology declared that he is another Meles Zenawi. Hailemariam should get what ever Meles got in the last two decades whenever he travelled out of Ethiopia. New York has given him the first unwelcome and this will continue until Hailemariam is alive or forced to resign.