The Demise of Ginbot 7: Rest in Peace (R.I.P.)

The editors of Strathink believe that Ginbot 7 is largely irrelevant and we have little to say about an organization that has become inauthentic and illegitimate in today’s Ethiopia. However, the extraordinarily revealing interview of Ginbot 7 leader Neamin Zeleke was hard to ignore. 

by the Strathink Editorial Team

Last week’s historic transition resulted in the fulfillment of Ginbot 7’s stated mission, which is the realization of a national political system in which government power and political authority is assumed through peaceful and democratic process based on the free will and choice of citizens of the country.

The leaders of Ginbot 7 should now understand that raising an army, no matter how small, and attempting to make change through the barrel of a gun will not work in Ethiopia. That time has passed.

Does this mean the end for Ginbot 7?

Not so, says Neamin Zeleke, Ginbot 7’s Foreign Affairs Representative on the BBC’s HARDTalk. On April 10th, Neamin Zeleke’s defiant defense of Ginbot 7 ran into some trouble under the questioning of HARDtalk host Stephen Sackur.

Mr. Sackur began the program asking if Mr. Neamin Zeleke agreed with him that the appointment of Dr. Abiy Ahmed as Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister represented a moment of hope and opportunity for Ethiopia? Hesitantly and as if in pain, Neamin admitted to “some opportunities and definitely hope.” Sackur further pressed Neamin on the significance of this event asking, “Would you accept this [the election of Dr. Abiy Ahmed] does indicate a wind of change?”

Confusingly, Neamin Zeleke responded by saying that this [the election of Dr. Abiy] was “as a result of the internal struggle,” that EPRDF was “the dominant party” and that there was still not “a genuine political order.”

What does this all mean?

Isn’t democracy the struggle of opposing views, the tensions between various interests being resolved within a constitutional political framework? Isn’t the United States currently governed by a dominant party—the Republican Party—that controls the House, the Senate, the Executive Branch and the majority of state legislatures?

And what does he mean by “genuine political order”?

Furthering pressing his point, Sackur asks the question, “Is not the message here that civil disobedience, mass peaceful protests can work and you guys in exile calling for armed resistance have not been the agent, the vehicle for change?” It is, says Sackur, “people inside the country committed to peaceful resistance who have achieved this change.”

“No,” says Neamin. I think you have your information wrong.”

Neamin Zeleke then proceeds to appropriate the civil disobedience campaigns that have taken place in Ethiopia during the last several years. At the same time, he cannot help himself from mentioning the armed “movements” of Ginbot 7 in the northern part of the country.

According to Neamin, the political activists who have carried out these peaceful campaigns of civil disobedience are members of Ginbot 7. Of course, it would have been much more believable if Ginbot 7 took (dis)credit for the violence that took place. It strains credulity to even suggest that Ginbot 7 was the driving force behind the peaceful protests.

It gets even uglier.

Sackur asks Neamin, “Where is your leader?”

And so begins the discussion of Ginbot 7’s treasonous relationship, says Sackur, “with “a country that is the most hostile to Ethiopia.

With a textbook answer from the mercenary’s handbook. Ginbot 7 Foreign Affairs Representative Neamin Zeleke replies, “They support us.”

Neamin tells us that Eritrea is supporting “thousands of Ethiopians” fleeing Ethiopia to find safe harbor in Asmara. This, despite the fact that 5,000 Eritreans cross the border into Ethiopia every month. The irony is just too much to bear.

And that pretty much says it all. Sackur presses Neamin about how much money they are given by the Eritrean government and, after initially denying it, says he doesn’t know the amount.

The Ginbot 7 leaders, spending most of their time in Eritrea living off the largesse of one of Africa’s most notorious regimes, have, says BBC journalist Stephen Sackur, taken the side of Eritrea against their own people.

Moreover, argues Sackur, following Prime Minister Abiy’s pledge to “end the years of misunderstanding with the Eritrean government,” Ginbot 7 will become a bargaining chip for Isayas.

Sacker questions Neamin about support from Egypt, another hostile country to Ethiopia. While Neamin denies any support coming from Egypt, he offers this: “We will accept support from anyone except terrorists.”

In a mind-boggling defense of the indefensible, the Ginbot 7 leader tried to deflect Sackur’s astonishment over the hypocrisy of dismissing the terrorists as potential donors.

When Sackur reminded Neamin of Ginbot 7’s avowed goal of taking power in Ethiopia by any means necessary, including launching gun and bomb attacks against civilians, the Foreign Affairs Representative gave him a lecture on the international right of self-defense. According to Neamin, Ginbot 7 conducts “armed activities in self defense.”

This interview was a painful reminder of the state of Ethiopia’s exile opposition.

Ginbot 7 clearly is a relic of the past. It is an anachronism in today’s climate of political change.

First, Ethiopia’s aging exile opposition has to face the reality of contemporary Ethiopia. The country has moved beyond the tactics of the 1970s where groups picked up the gun to wage armed struggle. Today’s opposition is armed, more than likely, with a smartphone than a Kalashnikov. Today’s opposition is sitting at the table, literally and figuratively, with representatives of the government at the highest levels. Today’s opposition lives in Ethiopia and not Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, London or Asmara.

Second, the international community needs to recognize the inauthenticity and illegitimacy of Ginbot 7. The United Kingdom’s advocacy on behalf of self-confessed Ginbot 7 terrorist Andargachew Tsige is an embarrassment to the genuine pursuit of human rights. The residency of his wife and children should not negate the violent activities of Andargachew in seeking to inflict terror in the hearts of ordinary Ethiopians.

The same can be said of the U.S. Congress and its continued support of the Ethiopian diaspora opposition. The resolution just passed by the House of Representatives, H.R. 128, was a symbolic nod to their voters who have the time and money to lobby U.S. government officials. There is no substance to the resolution and the House passed it because it is meaningless.

Third, Ethiopians in the diaspora finally should let go of their illusions and cast aside vestiges of the past that put the gun over democratic change. These Ethiopians, who reap the benefits of peace and prosperity in a democratic culture, seem to resist constitutionally sanctioned change in Ethiopia. Their minds are stuck in the 1970s, unable to move forward and embrace the new realities of Ethiopia today.

The aging exile Ethiopian community might not ever let go of the past. They will continue to raise money for Ginbot 7, a deduction under the charities line item on their tax form. They will continue to listen to Berhanu Nega on the Voice of America. They will meet in bars and coffee shops decrying everything “weyene”. Every so often, one or two hundred people will march against Ethiopia in front of the Ethiopian embassy or the U.S. Congress.

When it comes down to it, Ethiopia does not appear to be held hostage to the past. Ginbot 7 and everything it represents has now been relegated to the dustbin of history. They will only be sure, though, when they hear it on the Voice of America.

5 Responses to “The Demise of Ginbot 7: Rest in Peace (R.I.P.)”

  1. Berhane says:

    I think it is indeed realistic response. It is time for the opposition to make a pouse on miss guided opposition.

  2. Dawit Gedamu says:

    Ginbot 7 has never posed a real existential threat to the Ethiopian state. It has been a proxy for external powers who have a stake in what they hoped that Ginbot 7 could create lawlessness and anarchy in Ethiopia. Thank goodness, this has not happened. Eritrea provides money, military training, and propaganda and place to hide, particularly. for aging leaders.

    Egypt has since the mid 19th century attempted to control the source of the Nile and Ethiopia’s conquest was part of their strategy. They were beaten twice in the battle of Gundet and Gurae (1875, 1876) under the able leadership of Emperor Yohannes. Egypt’s desire to undermine Ethiopia is stronger now since Ethiopia in the last several years since has been building dams, roads and improved overall its economy. Thus Egypt’s activities in a project to destabilize Ethiopia has shifted to a high gear. So Ginbot 7 is a messenger boy in its evil agenda. So Ginbot 7 is rewarded generously so as its leaders can live luxuriously in Washington D.C., London, as well as in the God forsaken place called Eritrea. Ethiopia is a stable country; its economy is growing in double digits. Ethiopians are getting jobs, poverty is reducing. Schools are mushrooming in all corners of the country. When I was in Ethiopia decades ago, there was only one University. Now the country can boast over 30 public universities and private universities and colleges are numerous.

    The government spends a good percentage of its budget on education and Health care. Clinics that provide basic health care needs are opened everywhere. As a result death rate of children under age five has dramatically decreased. The rate of mothers who die in childbirth has also gone down. Overall life expectancy of Ethiopians has risen to 61 years in a very short time. These are real changes happening in the country. Ginbot 7 and others in the diaspora can be part of the solution.

  3. ህወሓት ገዳይ says:

    የወያኔ አሽከር ሁላ- ግንቦት 7 የቆመዉ ለፍትህ፥ ለነጻነት፡ ለእኩልነትና ለዲሞክራሲ ነዉ- ግንቦት 7 በቃ የምትሉት እነዚህ እሴቶች ኢትዮጵያ ዉስጥ አይኖሩም ማለታችሁ ነዉ? ያበቃዉና dustbin of history ዉስጥ የገባዉ የናንተዉ የዘረኛ ስርአት ነዉ

  4. wedinakfa says:

    LOOOL, “yerawua arobat yesew tamasilalech”, ale Amhara language, al wey-ane boys for real who is on death row? Who has prepared a 6ft next to Chiwawa, TPLF, who has prepared floral tribute and guard for the grave TPLF funny things happen only in DEDEBIT land!!

    Keep on dreaming baby till the GAME IS OVER!!!

  5. Nana2 says:

    I saw that shabian pretender fried ,roasted and grilled by the expert journalist .He thought steven will ask him silly qiestions .

    Inshort , thr ugly mercinary was told by steven
    “You are a paid teriorist with no future “


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