Facts or Fiction

Ato Gemoraw Kasa
June 2, 2007

A response to Ato Zenebe Tasew a.k.a Ato Tezera Asegu, former Special Secretary of Ato Dawit Yohannes.

By Girma, London | June 02, 2007

I have read Ato Tezera’s article entitled DISTINCTION BETWEEN CIVIL SERVICE AND POLITICAL SERVICE posted on Ethiolion website with dismay and felt like replying.

Though Ato Tezera’s article is difficult to understand because of lack of clarity and coherence, it is full of malicious attacks on some of the people I have known, admired and respected. Just like me, I believe, most politically active Ethiopians in London also know the two gentlemen who have become the latest victims of malicious campaigns and innuendos.

It appears to me that, for very few people, spreading innuendos is not only a part time hobby but also a full time occupation. In any society, there are always some people who feel totally insecured and undermined by the commendable work and success of others. The only time they feel good about themselves is when they bring others down to their level. For these people, with low self-esteem, there is nothing more satisfying than finding victims and bring them down through a concerted malicious campaign.

The latest victims of these very few people happen to be Ato Wondimu Mekonnen and Ato Gemoraw Kassa. Character witness is not common in Ethiopian politics. Many of us prefer to talk about the weakness and wickedness of others rather than their positive contribution and achievements. Now allow me to say few words about these two gentlemen by breaking from the old-age political tradition.

Ato Gemoraw Kasa
Ato Gemoraw Kasa

Both Ato Wondimu and Ato Gemoraw are pioneers and a source of great inspiration to me and to most politically active Ethiopians in London, in the fight against TPLF’s divisive and stone-age ethnic politics. I am one of the privileged Londoners who happen to know and work with them on various projects. Unlike their detractors, for me, these guys do not talk the talk but walk the walk to achieve their goal. They do not waste their precious time spreading innuendos but they work hard to pay their dues to the society and the country they keep close to their heart. That is why they attracted malicious propaganda based on blatant lie and pure fabrication. The malicious propaganda leveled at them recently is nothing more than a blatant lie and pure fabrication, a cheap one at that. I believe that this kind of thrash can only come from the “usual suspects”. In a way, the fact that they have become victims of malicious attack is testimony to their hard work and achievement.

However, there is absolutely nothing Ato Wondimu and Ato Gemoraw can do about it, rather than humbly taking it as a compliment and redouble their fight against tyranny and injustice. Those few individuals who are trying to undermine Ato Wondimu and Ato Gemoraw have the opportunity to do as much or even better for the cause they claim they are fighting for. But Ethiopians in London haven’t seen a single positive contribution from them. Instead, what we witness is a concerted effort to derail those who are doing their utmost. Unlike most Ethiopians in London who are very grateful to the two patriotic Ethiopians, Ato Wondimu and Ato Gemoraw should accept the fact that there will always be people with low self-esteem who covertly enjoy undermining people who are doing their best to the good of their country.

The problem of these detractors has nothing to do with Ato Wondimu or Ato Gemoraw. Rather, it is their inability to make a positive contribution that haunts them and pushes them to make more unfounded allegations in the hope of getting some attention. They are not committed enough to the struggle, as they try to convince all of us, nor are they willing to admit and learn from their repeated past failures. So, they try to nurse and massage their ego and low self-esteem by constantly undermining those courageous and dedicated people who are producing tangible and measurable results.

The attack is not only directed to Ato Wondimu and Ato Gemoraw. The lie is sinister because it has to create a conspiracy theory by involving Ato Lidetu and European Trade Unions, who have been fighting for Ethiopian Teachers Association’s (ETA) right in Ethiopia. Ato Wondimu and Ato Gemoraw are just the icing on the cake. They know Ato Wondimu was one among many Ethiopians who worked hard to make the Martyrs’ Week a success but it was for good reason that he was picked and attacked.

Wendimu Mekonen
Ato Wendimu Mekonen

By any standard and which ever way one rationally looks at it, the May/07 Martyrs’ week in London was a spectacular success. The May 8th vigil in front of Ethiopian Embassy, the May 10th Conference in collaboration with National Unions of Teachers (NUT) at their headquarters and the May 13th discussion at the Ethiopian Community in Britain were a result of long and hard work of many people and Ato Wondimu is just one of among many. It is no wonder that the success of these events have taken the limelight out of those few who felt undermined. Their response is to level unfounded allegations against Ato Wondimu and by extension to the organizers, in the hope of besmirching their achievement.

What makes the attack very amateurish is that the Trojan horse they chose to make this allegation is a self-confessed “Special Secretary” of Ato Dawit Yohannes who is claiming to be a born again patriot. In a very twisted way, the “Special Secretary” of Ato Dawit Yohannes (I will leave the judgment to readers) and his mentors in London, claim to be closer to Dr. Taye than Ato Wondimu and Ato Gemoraw, who had fought tooth and nail for the release of Dr Taye including sleeping-rough for three days on hunger strike in front of Downing Street, organizing demonstrations and vigils, etc. This is very funny. This self-confessed “Special Secretary” and his new mentors call Dr. Taye “our leading hero”, but what have they done for the struggle to free Dr Taye? NOTHING! In fact the “Special Secretary” was working for the very people who imprisoned and tortured Dr Taye. How ironic for him to become defender of Dr Taye while slandering the very people who spent their time and energy to free him from prison. I can only advise Ato Wondimu and Ato Gemoraw not to be offended by this kind of amateurish joke.

The most spineless and senseless allegation is a remark about Ato Gemoraw and his family. The “special Secretary” and his mentor/s have no moral authority to try to soil Ato Gemoraw’s work and slander his character.

Ato Gemoraw is one of the very few Ethiopians I have known and respected for his commitment and dedication for the cause of Ethiopia. Ato Gemoraw arrived in London like thousands of Ethiopians chased out of their country by the TPLF. What made Ato Gemoraw standout among the crowd is his determination not to abandon the cause he is forced to flee for personal comfort and gain. He is not only fighting tooth and nail for his democratic and Trade Union’s right but also has transformed the face of Trade Unionism along with his ETA colleagues. As a result, ETA’s struggle has become a textbook example and inspiration for Teacher Unions all over the world. If Ato Tezera and his mentors do not know that or prefer to ignore it, I kindly refer them to some of Education International and NUT publications.

For me, Ato Gemoraw is another Aklilu Habtewold in his own ways. He arrived in a foreign land as nobody, with only the cloth he wore, no penny to spend, no contacts and friends but worked diligently to earn millions of friends for ETA across the Globe.

He knocked every door he came across and made them open. Contrary to those very few individuals with a proven track-record of failure, he was an original Ethioiyawe down to his bones. He didn’t try to impress his audience by quoting Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln to say – look at me – I am as ‘civilised’ as you are. He remained original, honest, dignified and proud Ethiopiawi. He would rather beg from his fellow Ethiopians to cook and entertain his guests than let some European pay for his tea and biscuits at meetings.

It is Ato Gemoraw’s honest and dignified approach that helped many to see the good old Ethiopian values and give everything they can to help their fellow teachers in Ethiopia. In short time, he won friends for ETA from England to Brazil and from South Africa to Norway. It is this trust that Ato Gemoraw has built on personal level that enabled the likes of Mr. Steve Sinnott (current Secretary General of the National Unions of Teachers in the UK) to risk everything and smuggle miniature camera to the Kerchele Prison where Dr. Taye Woldesemiat was detained. The world wide distribution of the report he prepared together with the pictures of Dr Taye and the horrendous condition he was kept in prison have generated a tremendous amount of support for the cause of ETA and human rights in Ethiopia.

In his short stay in the UK, Ato Gemoraw opened every door which these very few individuals failed to do in their entire life time. From Sir Bob Geldoff to Lord Triesman, from Mr. Jonathan Dimbliby to Foreign Office officials have to sit on Ato Gemoraw’s terms and conditions to listen to his appeals. By being honest and committed with Ethiopiawi dignity, he deservedly commanded respect among friends and enemies.

A simple and down to earth English teacher that fate landed him on this island turned out to be an accomplished Diplomat and an Ambassador to his country. That is why now Ato Wondimu and others can pick up a phone to ask NUT not only to give them their meeting halls but also invite MPs, Journalists and the establishment to listen to the plight of Trade Unions in our country.

His hard work and tangible achievements are there for any rational person to see. Of course, the positive contribution he has made is a source of jealousy to those individuals who have a track record of failures and lead them to throw this senseless allegations and character assassination. Their lack of achievement makes them feel undermined, so they have to tarnish the good name of other people in order to make them feel better.

In my view, the secret of Ato Gemoraw’s success is that he has remained a proud, committed and honest Ethiopiawi. More than everything else, he wouldn’t change his words. True to his Ethiopiawinet, as the old Ethiopian saying goes, he observed: “Yalute Kemitefa Yeweledut Yitfa”. He came for political reasons and appealed to each and everyone he met to help him fight for the freedom of his President, Dr. Taye Woldesemiate, and help him return to his country to fight for the cause he is committed to.

When his immediate dream (the release of Dr Taye) realized, he didn’t want to make up stories so as to stay in the UK and pursue his personal comfort like every one of us. Oh no, he is too proud to do that! He possesses a rare quality, which we all have arguably lost long time ago. He asked his ETA colleagues in Addis Ababa to find him a service-room in someone’s compound and rent it for him. Thus, he left his comfortable life and his beloved family behind in a foreign land to live in a service-room and continue the fight against injustice. Of course, doing this kind of courageous work can be construed as a crime for his detractors and I say please GROW UP!

True to his nature Ato Gemoraw didn’t say, I can now work for a year or two and get some money to rent a better house or take a car to drive around in Addis Ababa, etc. He didn’t want to stay a single day more than necessary in a country that gave him protection. He was very proud so he had to send his travel document and ask his passport back to return to the life he left many years back, to face the arduous challenges ahead.

Against everyone’s advice he chose to return to Ethiopia to face persecution, live in a service-room, iron and cook but continue the fight for the right of Trade Union’s and emulate the cause of his fallen comrades like Ato Assefa Maru, Ato Shimelis Zewde, etc. This is what I rightly call commitment, bravery, magnanimity and exemplary deed!!! By any standard, is this a sacrifice or privilege?

It is this man, Ato Gemoraw Kassa that the “Special Secretary” of Ato Dawit Yohannes and his mentors in London want to undermine. It is sickening to see so many dedicated and honest people like Ato Wondimu and Ato Gemoraw being attacked by individuals who not only feel overshadowed by them but has nothing to show up except failure. They are so twisted; they spread their usual malicious lies around to cover their incompetence and to massage their self- inflated ego in the hope of hurting patriots like Ato Wondimu and Ato Gemoraw.

Finally what I would like to say to Ato Wondimu and Ato Gemoraw is, to ignore these good-for-nothing rumour-mongers. Continue what you are best at – working diligently until justice and rule of law prevails in our country. No doubt you will make us and Ethiopia proud. May the Almighty God be with you!

Hands off our patriotic Ethiopians!!!

Girma, London.