Violence Meets Vacuum of Information

Feb 1 , 2020
By Eden Sahle

From murders and abductions to the destruction of property and churches, what we have to live with in Ethiopia is an absolute nightmare. We are consistently filled with heartbreak and many unanswered questions. The country is starved for security, transparency, the rule of law and justice.

Security forces and the government are settling in their usual routine, while citizens all across the country are left in darkness. Except for the terrifying news we hear daily, we rarely are told who the perpetrators are or the appropriate actions the state is taking. Confusion has erupted due to the security forces and the government's sluggish response in dealing with various crises.

Under these shocking, grave safety crises that keep getting worse by the day, our political leaders are showing us how much they do not care. The officials’ rigidity and a lack of transparency and accountability to the general public mean problems can fester hidden away until it is too late to save lives. The fact that major security failures like this are allowed to be concealed for this long shows deep-rooted administrative, accountability and security shortcomings.

Where is the respect and dignity for human life? Where is the transparency, the rule of law and peace we were promised? How did the security forces and government keep on neglecting the public outcry, allowing violence to thrive? And why is the government persistently failing at its most basic job of protecting its citizens?

In the face of this, criminal behaviour is thriving as the government is unable to keep its people safe. It has permitted individuals to murder and violate their fellow citizens’ rights with impunity.

Cruel acts are allowed to flourish, inflicting physical and psychological damage to victims' families and communities. Perpetrators are incentivised to commit crimes again as the government keeps quiet.

What the security forces and the government should do in cases of security failures - a recent example in the case of the abduction of the Dembi Dolo University students - is issue public calls to support the investigation. They should have kept the public informed about their actions although they might hold details of the case until they complete their investigation. Their silence, disorganisation and the conflicting information they provide is cause for mistrust of government.

But they are losing face, given the security forces' repeated failure to keep citizens safe. There is no way of justifying why the government has been completely unable to put a pin on the repeated bouts of unrest and violence that have visited the country. We do not even understand why they are happening.

When we are left in darkness for far too long, it is being proven to us how our country gives less value to citizen’s lives compared to partisan agendas. We are learning that we are on our own even when we need support from the country. The government is revealing to us how it cannot be trusted even in our time of panic.

It is the government's responsibility to create a stable country for everyone to live in, free from any harm and fear. Our leaders should give ample attention to the massive crisis and solve it once and for all. We should strive to build this, instead of hiding its problems in the hope that they will be forgotten.

The country cannot build a free, prosperous and democratic nation without first appropriately handling the safety crisis. The government must work with the public to create a country that citizens will be happy to live in instead of endlessly fleeing. The my-way-or-the-highway style of leadership has never benefited the nation or the people.

It is not just the government that should be held responsible for the cycle of violence. We must also end the flawed cultural and social view that perceives violence as strength. A culture of discussion and debate must arise in order to value human life and escape the crisis of violence.

Building a country requires people who have the freedom of life. It is only then that we can aspire to create a civilised and prosperous nation.

PUBLISHED ON Feb 01,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1031]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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