by Samson Seifu
It is to be recalled that Norway (the previous Red-Green coalition government) and the repressive regime in Ethiopia (which is in power for over 25 years) signed a five years bounded memorandum of understanding in January, 2012 with the aim of forcefully repatriating the Ethiopian asylum seekers in Norway. This agreement has been met and contested with fierce protests from a number of angles such as among others:
- The asylum seekers themselves through their association called ‘’Ethiopian Asylum Seekers Association in Norway’’;
- The Ethiopian Community in Norway;
- The Task Force against Forced Repatriation of Ethiopian Asylum Seekers in Norway;
- A court case initiative by Professor Girum Zeleke against the Norwegian government both in Oslo, Norway and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France;
- The Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers (NOAS);
- Association of January 12;
- Amnesty International, Norway;
- Norway based Ethiopian oppositions’ support organizations and
- Ethiopians all over the world.
These protest voices played a very instrumental role in preventing the implementation of the infamous forced repatriation of the Ethiopian Asylum Seekers to one of the world’s worst repressive regime. As a result of all these efforts, up to the present time no meaningful implementation of the agreement has been effected.
However; what has become an eye brows raising matter once again is the recent appearance of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Joran Kallmyr, in one of the country’s TV, Radio and internet broadcasting agency called NRK where the minster pinpointed his successful working visit (9 February 2016) in Ethiopia in connection with the reinstating of the already signed agreement which has been ineffective so far. As a result of the mutual communique between the two, it has been mentioned that the two sides agreed to begin the forced repatriation.
Honoring Dictatorship and Repression
The new incumbent conservative government which is a coalition of the two far right parties of the blue party (Høyre) & the progressive party (FrP) as its foreign policy considers Ethiopia its focus country for aid-recipient, contrary to its previous promises to focus on the regime’s basic human-rights violations. The prime minister’s party, i.e. the blue party’s representative in 2013 had promised his parties commitment to challenge the human rights abuses of the regime in Ethiopia in a public debate with the then incumbent government’s representative where he criticized the unjust practices of the then government when it comes to Ethiopia. But what is being observed and practiced is the opposite of what has been promised that is rewarding the human-rights abuses of the TPLF regime in Ethiopia once again by the new government.
The political Situation in Ethiopia
The TPLF regime after having claimed a 100% victory in the 2015 country-wide parliamentary election, which is an embarrassing improvement from the previous parliamentary election in 2010 where the TPLF regime claimed a 99.6% victory, has completely controlled the country. The regime among a number of other evil doings has:
- Opened fire and killed peacefully demonstrating people,
- Incarcerated journalists, bloggers, political activists and religious activists on bogus accusations,
- Closed down all critical free-presses,
- Prevented the different opposition political organizations from holding public meetings and peaceful demonstrations,
- Stifled political opportunities to the people,
The opposition seems to have lost all hopes for a fair political playground and completely abandoned the so called peaceful and legal opposition and opted for other means of struggles like armed resistance.
The Role of the Ethiopian Diaspora in Norway
The TPLF regime is getting it extremely difficult to pursue its diaspora politics to what it calls ‘’the silent majority diaspora Ethiopian community’’ due to a strong political opposition from the Ethiopian diaspora. Especially in Norway, it has almost been impossible to conduct any fundraising event by the regime’s operatives thanks to the fierce resistance waged by the Ethiopians residing in Norway in which the Ethiopian asylum seekers are a part and parcel.
The regime’s operatives living in Norway tried two failed fundraising activities in 2013 both in Oslo and Stavanger for the so called ‘’Nile renaissance dam project’’.
The task force set up by the ‘’Democratic Change in Ethiopia Support Organization, Norway (DCESON) mobilized Ethiopians and successfully thwarted the planned fundraising events in Oslo and Stavanger (20 and 28 April 2013 respectively).
TPLF agents were furious to retaliate the failed fundraising events for ‘’the Grand Millennium Dam Project on the Blue Nile River’’ they planned to organize in Stavanger and Oslo in April 20 and 28, 2013 respectively. This time they planned to sabotage the fundraising event organized by the opposition support organizations in Norway to support the armed resistance against the regime in Ethiopia.
The TPLF agents bluffed the Nordberg Church administration by threatening to stage a huge protest demonstration at the church compound if the fundraising event is allowed to be conducted as planned. They also fabricated a false story to a daily newspaper called Vårt Land in order to get it published just a day before the event day with the news of the cancellation of the fundraising event as confirmed by the administrator of the Nordberg church, Olav Lende. The TPLF agents’ website known as ‘’www.abesha.no’’ published the cancellation of the fundraising event stating and siting the story covered on Vårt Land internet newspaper (http://www.vl.no/troogkirke/leide-menighetshus-for-a-samle-inn-penger-til-krig/). It was the TPLF agents who tipped off the misleading information to the news outlet Vårt Land Avis in the first place.
The Task Force in anticipation of the possible attempt to sabotage and thwart the fundraising event by the TPLF agents and operatives in Norway had a second plan (Plan-B) which had been kept secret until the event day i.e. 28 September 2013. The fundraising event was successfully conducted without any disruption at a venue envisaged as per Plan-B at Galgeberg Meeting Hall.
The successful accomplishment of the fundraising event was broadcasted to the Ethiopian People both at home and in Diaspora by ESAT Radio and Television both in headlines and full reportage. The famous anti-Government Paltalk media ECADEF and Zehabesha.com have also posted about the fundraising event on their websites.
The TPLF agents and their handful of supporters in Norway did not have the political will and the moral courage to come to the arrangement venue and protest out in public and hinder the fundraising event that was successfully conducted as per ‘’plan B’’ the way DCESON successfully disrupted at theirs planned fundraising events for the Grand Millennium Dam Project.
Norway needs to reconsider its policy of co-operating with the repressive regime
The regime in Ethiopia employs all forms of brutal means in order to cling on to power. The ‘’forced repatriation of Ethiopian asylum seekers’’ is one of the means to silence the Ethiopians’ opposition to the miseries being committed by the repressive regime. These asylum seekers are very active in exposing the regime’s atrocities to the Norwegian public in particular and the world community in general thereby playing a pivotal role by becoming a voice for the voiceless Ethiopians at home who are suffering in the hands of their brutal rulers.
The Norwegian government has a moral responsibility and an obligation of respecting the international human rights law of not putting the lives of Ethiopian asylum seekers into danger by forcefully surrendering them to a regime which is very well known for its brutal deeds against its opponents in the last 25 years.