Siye Abraha in Denver Colorado USA
By Tigrai Online editor
Jan. 19 2008
Siye Abraha the former Defense minister of Ethiopia who spent six years in prison for alleged corruption charges had held a meeting for all Ethiopians living in Denver and the surrounding area on January 13 2008. The meeting was held in the Jewish community center and the hall was filled to the maximum, infact many people were standing because they could not find sits.
Siye Abraha started with a long speech which dealt with numerous issues; about his and his family imprisonment, about the 2005 elections, reconciliation between Ethiopians, the Ethiopia and Eritrea war, Ethiopian involvement in Somalia, the roll of the Ethiopian Diaspora and about his personal vision and commitment to Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people.
Siye explained what the purpose of his tour of North America was a) to explain why he was thrown to prison; share his experience and his feelings with the Ethiopian people. b) Since he spent six full years in prison doing nothing but thinking and reflecting, he wanted to share his thoughts of “Peace, Love, Reconciliation and Unity of Ethiopians”. He said “unless we demolish the wall of hate between Ethiopians that has been there for ages, we would not have true democracy and development”. Every government that came to power for the last century has been using the wall of hate to manipulate the Ethiopian people to pit them against each other and he said it is about time we stop it right now. We should demolish the wall of hate with or without the participation of the EPRDF government. The Ethiopian Diaspora is in a great position to play its role of unifying the Ethiopian people if they chose to use the media tools they have in their disposal. Radio, internet, websites and other Ethiopian media should be used to unite and build peace and love among Ethiopians instead of using this modern media tools to build more walls of hate.
The former defense minister and Tegadalai (member of the polit bureau, and CC of Tigrai Peoples Libration Front) thanked the Ethiopian people every where for working hard for his release. He also said the government does not admit that there are thousands of prisoners in jail. The prisoners are locked up under false pretenses and under different names. “Even though I am freed and moving around, my movement is closely followed by the government agents” he said. “One time after I got freed I went to Tigrai and the house I was staying was under plain close government agents watch 24 hours. They were harassing and watching those who came to see me” he added. Siye criticized the EPRDF government severely for putting him and his family to prison and for not working for justice and democracy. He said there is no freedom of speech in Ethiopia and EPRDF did not want a genuine strong opposition.
“The Ethiopian constitution defines the official name of Ethiopia as Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, that means power is shared between the states and the people of Ethiopia but, the only effective power is in one person and that person is the Prime Minister” he said.
About the 2005 elections he said they were held when he was in prison however, it was a great opportunity for democracy but the opposition and governing party messed it up.
He also talked about the Ethiopian and Eritrean war. He blamed the government for stopping the war prematurely and he was labeled war mongerer and war lover for wanting to finish the war in a way that would guarantee the safety of the Ethiopian people and Ethiopian sovernity. He wanted to make sure the threat from Shabiya was destroyed once and for all but he was labeled bono partist, when he said that the whole house burst into a huge applauds. “I will never apologize or regret what I did or what I wanted to do to our enemies” he remarked with a very commanding voce. If the threat of envision from Eritrea becomes real, Shabiya should be destroyed and we should make sure that threat never arises again he added. The Eritrean and Ethiopian people deserve to live in peace he said.
There was so many questions raised by the house but due to luck of time most of them did not get an answer. To put down some of the questions that was asked by some people;
You were asked to provide a training manual and you fail to do so and you are one of the Signatories of the people to stop the war and the hasty withdrawal from Eritrea why are you blaming the EPRDF government?
You were a high official of the EPRDF government for so long including when Eritrea seceded and how do you feel for mistakes done when you were in power?
Do not you think EFFORT is illegally owned by TPLF?
How do you see the Ethiopian involvement in Somalia?
He thanked the accomplished banker Daniel Yohannes (who was the former vice Chairman of US Bank, former President and CEO of Colorado National Bank and now Chairman of the Board of New Resource Bank) for hosting him and helping his family when he was in prison.
We at Tigrai Online think Siye Abraha Deserves to be heard. We think despite his sever criticism of the government, which he has every right to do so, his over all message of “Love, peace, reconciliation and unity” should be welcomed by every Ethiopian. Siye should be commanded for not dwelling on his bitterness and willingness to move forward despite what happened to him.
We are reading and hearing from different sources that he is working with CUD but we don’t believe such a person as Siye Abraha would be trying to revive the dead body of CUD. If he is working with CUD behind the curtains and closed doors, it would not be hidden from the public eye for so long. Once we are sure he is part of CUD, we would take our stand and call him then for what he is. For the time being we think he has every right to share his thoughts with us, the public and he should be given a chance. He says he is trying to bring about unity of our people, if he can, why not let him try.