More Power to Dashen Brewery!!
By Gudu Kasa
In the last 10 days I have been following Ato Amare Aregawi’s arrest and release on bail with amazement. His arrest has triggered a number of indignation and questions about “existence of the rule-of-law” and “respect for constitutional rights of ordinary citizens”.
Many put disclaimer first stating that “this is not about Ato Amare Aregawi”, a former freedom fighter who was also in charge of EPRDF’s propaganda machinery during the liberation struggle and now turned editor and proprietor of the biggest newspaper in Ethiopia. Indeed, I have no reason to doubt.
So to say, every cloud has a silver lining. As a result of this highly publicised arrest and discussion on various web pages, including EthiopiaFirst and Aiga forum, something good is going to emerge. That is why I want to say more power to Dashen Brewery, of course, tongue-in-cheek.
Since the birth of the free press, 17 years ago, many journalist have been arbitrarily arrested for reporting minor events, trying to expose corruption and unfair practice by local and Federal officials. Many have gone out of business for criticising someone high and above their sizes. For example, a journalist, who exposed Prime Minster Tamerat Layne’s involvement in corruption was arrested and convicted of “defamation” and subsequently sent to prison.
Not surprisingly, long before the journalist left the prison gate, Ato Tamerat Layne was deposed and fast tracked to be convicted of multiple charges of corruption to become a cell mate of the journalist in Kerchele.
Then, one may ask, can the journalist claim damage for wrongful conviction and demand compensation or apology? I do not think so. If he had tried out of insanity, the officials would have “cried with laughter” and the public too would have considered him a fool.
There was no precedence for a person high on the ladder to go down and apologise for his wrong doings to his “subjects” We have a one way hierarchical society, where punishments are handed down while apologies flowing up the stream. So, survival is all about climbing the ladder to have more of the authority and less of the apologising.
Now, the Dashen Brewery authorities naively broke one cardinal rule of this hierarchical society by picking a fight with one of their own size and perhaps of higher in the pecking order. Of course, it is a well acceptable norm to harass, arrest or abuse anyone down the food-chain. Don’t get me wrong, this is not limited to the government. It is widely prevalent in the opposition, in office management, private sector, domestic employments and including within a family.
The maximum one can try is picking his own size. When one tries to eat up in the food chain, he himself may end up being chewed. That is exactly what we begin to witness in the last few days.
If Dashen Beer had picked, say, Tobia, Addis Zena or some “feather weight” editors, then no body would have questioned whether it is wrong to drive someone 750 km in a company car. In all honesty, many could have seen the bright side of it to praise the Brewery for saving the prisoner from being marched 750 km on barefoot.
A month or two ago Tedie Afro’s lawyer and one editor was sentenced for one and two months prison term for contempt of court. The lawyer was given sentence for commenting about the case on the newspaper and the editor for publishing a pending court case.
Now thanks to Dashen Brewery’s lack of perspective of itself, the rule book has been torn apart by the “Reporter” to launch a comprehensive counter attack on “Jurassic park of Gonder”.
As we stand, it is not the Reporter in the dock, but Dashen Brewery officials, the driver, law enforcing officers and judges, for doing exactly what Tom and Jerry had been doing across the width and breadth of the land.
Behold, the best outcome of this incident is that Ato Amare Aregawi, on his interview with EthiopiaFrist, pledged to fight back.
Bless him! Amare said, his arrest has “opened his eyes” and it was a “wake up call”. Hence, Amare pledges to fight not for Amare, the editor, but for the cause of the people down in the food-chain in the Jurassic Park. He suspects that dinosaurs could be all over the country and pledged to send more reporters to regions to investigate and report the suffering of the people and squandering of constitutional rights of ordinary citizens. Behold citizen, what else one can pray for!
The crux of the mater is that, this is a monumental task and Ato Amare needs partners and supporters for his crusade to bring about the supremacy of the law, protection of constitutional rights of ordinary citizens and building institutions that would guarantee protection of rights of the smallest creatures in the Jurassic park. I must confess that he has already won my support and that of Ethiopiafirst and Aiga forum. However, I guess, we need more of such people. We need people, people with power to confront dinosaurs in the wider Jurassic Park. Those people who are in the heavy weight category admittedly cannot see.
This brings us back to the tricky question of who else can help. I think our most important partner would be the Dashen Beer Factory. So I also plead to Dashen Brewery to send its drivers at least once a month to Addis, to pick a few heavy weights to Gonder, so that they too can see how their subjects live in the land.
So, I say, Dashen Brewery deserves praise – not for taking the law into it’s own hands – but for helping others to see. If the rule of the law can be helped through this practice, so be it.
“The lesson learned from this is that there is more work ahead of us as journalists. People have so much to say about their plight and only because they are far away from the capital and have little or no access to an information outlet, they are forced to accept injustice,” Amare Aregawi
Till next time, all the best