The Destiny of Kemants From Bad to Worse

By Chambalala M
The Constitutional rights quest of identity recognition and self-rule of Qemant (Kemant) Nationality has spent many years with no ultimate response on the part of the both Regional and Federal States. We always hear the propaganda of the ruling government of Ethiopia that it is relentlessly working to enforce the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia. However, the reality seems to be conversed this time in the context of Qemant- Agaw case. Though the quest has been submitted to the Government in civilized and democratic manner as the constitution says so, the Government has preferred not to be straightforward to give positive response. The Government itself knows very well that this constitutional quest is in line with the legal spirits and all legal requirements are fulfilled more than enough. Nevertheless, it seems that the Government has favored to abort the quest for identity recognition by creating different groundless reasons.
More than many times, the Regional Government showed unwillingness and reluctance to treat the submitted quest in democratic and well-mannered way. We evidently observed that the quest is really headache for certain Government Representatives. Our Committee Members were harassed and insulted by them which is never expected from such high officials. This is one of the manifestations to their unwillingness. The other manifestation is their industrious work to delay the quest by creating techniques to convince the Committee members and some known figures from the members of the Nationality. Prof. Yigzaw Kebede and Ambassador Zemene Kasegn are being considered as key instruments to negotiate between the Committee and the Government in this case. Many deliberations were conducted between the Government and the Committee. During such deliberations the Government publicly pleaded these two arbitrators to come down the hot feelings of the people at large.

The Regional Government is working to delay the quest by the pretext of investigation. The Government is saying that it should prove whether the quest is in conformity with the requirements enshrined under Article 39(7) of the Regional Constitution. Accordingly, the Government has tried to study the case twice. But, the two studies were not successful due to a failure on the part of the Government itself. Finally, by the same technique and procedure, the government dealt the case with Committee members and the abovementioned figures and it was reached agreement that fresh study is to be conducted by the Committee members themselves, on behalf of the people at large. In this historical discussion which had been conducted on May 22, 2004 Ethiopian Calendar, Federal and Regional Political Figures, Mr. Bereket Simon, Mr Ayalew Gobeze and other officials had involved. These higher political figures insisted the Committee members along with Prof. Yigzaw and Ambassador Zemene that such study is going to be done by their own, regardless of the question of neutrality. Of course, the Committee members challenged the Government by alleging that the new study should be studied by other neutral body other than the owners of the quest. At this juncture, Mr Bereket inspired positive influence upon Prof. Yigzaw and Ambassador Zemene so that the study should be done by them in strict and evidently manner and at the end of the day, the result of the study will be challenged seriously. In the words of these higher officials, if the research result will convince the Govrnment, the response will be given automatically, and all costs of the research will be covered by the Regional Government. On the basis of such agreement, the Committee members and the two famous figures conducted meeting with representatives of the people from all angles. That day was very tough for all of us. There was strong opposition as to the agreement reached with the Government-that the fresh study should be conducted by the quest owners themselves. Why fresh study and how such study could be done by us neutrally were the challenging questions raised by participants. In the end, once the consensus has been reached, it was decided that the research is to be conducted in scientific and strict manner. Now, the research proposal is about to be submitted to the Regional Government according to the tangible information source. It is interesting to note that the quest is pending in this manner at this stage.

At the time of the discussion, the Government higher officials were asked by the Committee members as to Media and Good Governance issues. The media in general and FM 98.1 in particular, could not disseminate information about the quest and the situation existing in Qemant Region. The Committee insisted the media to disseminate information about the current quest and other important information in the region, but it failed to do so with no justifiable reason. It is the constitutional duty of media and media personnel to disseminate truthful and current information in any society which is also the pillar of democracy. The other important issue is related to good governance. There are long lasting good governance problems in the administration of Qemant District. All administrators, both Qemants and non-Qemants, at all levels of administrative hierarchy could not be in a position to solve such problems. Most of the administrators who are not Qemants, particularly at Zonal and Wereda levels, are prejudiced to treat all issues of Qemants in non-discriminatory and democratic way. On the other hand, most of those administrators who are Qemants are also the first instruments to suppress the interests of Qemants. They are always not conscious as to the constitutional duties to protect the rights of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples including Qemants. Most of Qemants administrators at all levels are not determined to raise issues of discrimination face to face based on the language of the constitution by which the EDRF and its members are tightly guided. It seems most of Qemant administrators have preferred live the lives of dependency and suppression though there are some changes as of some years. The higher government officials promised many times to secure media coverage and good governance however with no real minimal change in that respect.

Though many good governance problems in the region, there is an astonishing event occurred in the region of Qemants before some days-the intervention of military force! This is the main focus of this article. The military force, having an average numbers of seventy, intervened in the region of Qemants (Layarmachiho Woreda) with no sound and constitutional grounds as of June 17, 2004 E.C. The allegedly cited reason by the Zonal and Woreda government officials is that the Qemants are on the way to conduct public demonstration. However, there has been no any plan to conduct public demonstration on the parts of Qemants. As mentioned previously, the plan of Qemants at this time is to conduct research with collaboration of the Government as per the agreement reached. It is reported that these members of such military forces are demonizing the peaceful residents of the town of Tikildingay, Layarmachiho Woreda. Generally speaking, it is unjustifiable interference that there are no any factual and legal grounds to do so.
When we scrutinize the legality of the military intrusion, we automatically find it illegal. As per Article 51(6) of the FDRE constitution, the Federal State shall establish and administer national defense and public security forces as well as a federal police force. In the same vein, the Regional States shall have power to establish and administer a state police force and to maintain public order and peace within the state (Article 52(2) (g) of the Federal Constitution). This shows that the Federal and Regional States do have their own powers to establish and administer defense and police forces respectively. This, on the other hand, must be done in accordance with the principle of federalism. Federal and State powers are defined by the Federal constitution that the States shall respect the powers of the Federal Government. The Federal Government shall likewise respect the powers of the States (Article 50(8)). In case security issues, we can understand that no interference is allowed among Federal and Regional States. However, there is one exception that the Federal Government may intervene in the security issues of Regional States. This is as permitted under Article 51(14) of the Federal Constitution. According to this specific provision, the Federal Government shall deploy, at the request of a State administration, Federal Defense forces to arrest a deteriorating security situation within the requesting State when its authorities are unable to control it. From this specific constitutional provision, one can understand three important things: 1) the Federal Government can intervene in the security issues of Regional States 2) such security intervention is permitted when the concerned Regional State so requires 3) the said intervention is allowed if and only if the requesting Regional State is found to be unable to settle security problems by its own.
Based on the above legal parameters, there are no tangible factual security problems in the Region of Qemants to cause intervention of police forces even at Regional Level. The only allegation given by the concerned administrators for the deployment of military forces is that the Qemants are ready to conduct public demonstration. Conversely, there is no any plan to conduct public demonstration at this time. The other important thing is that there is no security problem which is beyond the capability of the Regional Government to settle down it by its own efforts so that the intervention of military defense at Federal level is permitted. By the current situation, there are no factual as well as legal grounds for the intervention of military defense in the peaceful existence of Qemants at large.
This situation has created fears in the minds of all Qemants. One of the fears is that whether the Government is doing an act of suppression over the Quest for identity recognition and self-rule by Qemants by the mere tactic of delay through the pretext of Study, followed by forceful measures. The feelings of the Qemants are not really good at this time. The other fear is that whether such civilized and democratic way of struggling for constitutional rights are going to be diverted to the opposite of that. The factual situations show that a single member of Qemans has already determined to secure his/her constitutional rights at any degree of expense. Any degree of intervention of military defense could not answer the Constitutional Quest raised. The true inter and correct intervention by the Federal Government should have been commended if such intervention had been to secure the rights of Qemants. The House of Peoples’ Representatives shall, on its own initiative, request a joint session of the House of Federation and the House of Peoples’ Representatives to take appropriate measures when State authorities are unable to arrest violations of human rights within their jurisdiction (Article 55(16) of the Federal Constitution). Identity denial and other human rights violations are the worst human rights violations which have been committed against Qemant-Agaw for such long period of time. So where is the timely intervention of the Federal Government to stop such human rights violations committed on Qemants? Rather, we are observing the illegal intervention of the military defense by the Federal Government to demonize and disturb the peaceful living of the peoples. This situation is making the people to lose confidence on the Governments and the peaceful way of struggling for constitutional rights. The Governments should be wise enough to treat the quest in constitutional manner. The military intervention must automatically go off the area!

The desiny of Qemants’ is… from bad to worse; the Constitutional rights quest of identity recognition and self-rule of Qemant Nationality has spent many years with no ultimate response on the part of the both Regional and Federal States. We always hear the propaganda of the ruling government of Ethiopia that it is relentlessly working to enforce the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia. However, the reality seems to be conversed this time in the context of Qemant- Agaw case. Though the quest has been submitted to the Government in civilized and democratic manner as the constitution says so, the Government has preferred not to be straightforward to give positive response. The Government itself knows very well that this constitutional quest is in line with the legal spirits and all legal requirements are fulfilled more than enough. Nevertheless, it seems that the Government has favored to abort the quest for identity recognition by creating different groundless reasons.

More than many times, the Regional Government showed unwillingness and reluctance to treat the submitted quest in democratic and well-mannered way. We evidently observed that the quest is really headache for certain Government Representatives. Our Committee Members were harassed and insulted by them which is never expected from such high officials. This is one of the manifestations to their unwillingness. The other manifestation is their industrious work to delay the quest by creating techniques to convince the Committee members and some known figures from the members of the Nationality. Prof. Yigzaw Kebede and Ambassador Zemene Kasegn are being considered as key instruments to negotiate between the Committee and the Government in this case. Many deliberations were conducted between the Government and the Committee. During such deliberations the Government publicly pleaded these two arbitrators to come down the hot feelings of the people at large.

The Regional Government is working to delay the quest by the pretext of investigation. The Government is saying that it should prove whether the quest is in conformity with the requirements enshrined under Article 39(7) of the Regional Constitution. Accordingly, the Government has tried to study the case twice. But, the two studies were not successful due to a failure on the part of the Government itself. Finally, by the same technique and procedure, the government dealt the case with Committee members and the abovementioned figures and it was reached agreement that fresh study is to be conducted by the Committee members themselves, on behalf of the people at large. In this historical discussion which had been conducted on May 22, 2004 Ethiopian Calendar, Federal and Regional Political Figures, Mr. Bereket Simon, Mr Ayalew Gobeze and other officials had involved. These higher political figures insisted the Committee members along with Prof. Yigzaw and Ambassador Zemene that such study is going to be done by their own, regardless of the question of neutrality. Of course, the Committee members challenged the Government by alleging that the new study should be studied by other neutral body other than the owners of the quest. At this juncture, Mr Bereket inspired positive influence upon Prof. Yigzaw and Ambassador Zemene so that the study should be done by them in strict and evidently manner and at the end of the day, the result of the study will be challenged seriously. In the words of these higher officials, if the research result will convince the Govrnment, the response will be given automatically, and all costs of the research will be covered by the Regional Government. On the basis of such agreement, the Committee members and the two famous figures conducted meeting with representatives of the people from all angles. That day was very tough for all of us. There was strong opposition as to the agreement reached with the Government-that the fresh study should be conducted by the quest owners themselves. Why fresh study and how such study could be done by us neutrally were the challenging questions raised by participants. In the end, once the consensus has been reached, it was decided that the research is to be conducted in scientific and strict manner. Now, the research proposal is about to be submitted to the Regional Government according to the tangible information source. It is interesting to note that the quest is pending in this manner at this stage.
At the time of the discussion, the Government higher officials were asked by the Committee members as to Media and Good Governance issues. The media in general and FM 98.1 in particular, could not disseminate information about the quest and the situation existing in Qemant Region. The Committee insisted the media to disseminate information about the current quest and other important information in the region, but it failed to do so with no justifiable reason. It is the constitutional duty of media and media personnel to disseminate truthful and current information in any society which is also the pillar of democracy. The other important issue is related to good governance. There are long lasting good governance problems in the administration of Qemant District. All administrators, both Qemants and non-Qemants, at all levels of administrative hierarchy could not be in a position to solve such problems. Most of the administrators who are not Qemants, particularly at Zonal and Wereda levels, are prejudiced to treat all issues of Qemants in non-discriminatory and democratic way. On the other hand, most of those administrators who are Qemants are also the first instruments to suppress the interests of Qemants. They are always not conscious as to the constitutional duties to protect the rights of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples including Qemants. Most of Qemants administrators at all levels are not determined to raise issues of discrimination face to face based on the language of the constitution by which the EDRF and its members are tightly guided. It seems most of Qemant administrators have preferred live the lives of dependency and suppression though there are some changes as of some years. The higher government officials promised many times to secure media coverage and good governance however with no real minimal change in that respect.

Though many good governance problems in the region, there is an astonishing event occurred in the region of Qemants before some days-the intervention of military force! This is the main focus of this article. The military force, having an average numbers of seventy, intervened in the region of Qemants (Layarmachiho Woreda) with no sound and constitutional grounds as of June 17, 2004 E.C. The allegedly cited reason by the Zonal and Woreda government officials is that the Qemants are on the way to conduct public demonstration. However, there has been no any plan to conduct public demonstration on the parts of Qemants. As mentioned previously, the plan of Qemants at this time is to conduct research with collaboration of the Government as per the agreement reached. It is reported that these members of such military forces are demonizing the peaceful residents of the town of Tikildingay, Layarmachiho Woreda. Generally speaking, it is unjustifiable interference that there are no any factual and legal grounds to do so.
When we scrutinize the legality of the military intrusion, we automatically find it illegal. As per Article 51(6) of the FDRE constitution, the Federal State shall establish and administer national defense and public security forces as well as a federal police force. In the same vein, the Regional States shall have power to establish and administer a state police force and to maintain public order and peace within the state (Article 52(2) (g) of the Federal Constitution). This shows that the Federal and Regional States do have their own powers to establish and administer defense and police forces respectively. This, on the other hand, must be done in accordance with the principle of federalism. Federal and State powers are defined by the Federal constitution that the States shall respect the powers of the Federal Government. The Federal Government shall likewise respect the powers of the States (Article 50(8)). In case security issues, we can understand that no interference is allowed among Federal and Regional States. However, there is one exception that the Federal Government may intervene in the security issues of Regional States. This is as permitted under Article 51(14) of the Federal Constitution. According to this specific provision, the Federal Government shall deploy, at the request of a State administration, Federal Defense forces to arrest a deteriorating security situation within the requesting State when its authorities are unable to control it. From this specific constitutional provision, one can understand three important things: 1) the Federal Government can intervene in the security issues of Regional States 2) such security intervention is permitted when the concerned Regional State so requires 3) the said intervention is allowed if and only if the requesting Regional State is found to be unable to settle security problems by its own.
Based on the above legal parameters, there are no tangible factual security problems in the Region of Qemants to cause intervention of police forces even at Regional Level. The only allegation given by the concerned administrators for the deployment of military forces is that the Qemants are ready to conduct public demonstration. Conversely, there is no any plan to conduct public demonstration at this time. The other important thing is that there is no security problem which is beyond the capability of the Regional Government to settle down it by its own efforts so that the intervention of military defense at Federal level is permitted. By the current situation, there are no factual as well as legal grounds for the intervention of military defense in the peaceful existence of Qemants at large.
This situation has created fears in the minds of all Qemants. One of the fears is that whether the Government is doing an act of suppression over the Quest for identity recognition and self-rule by Qemants by the mere tactic of delay through the pretext of Study, followed by forceful measures. The feelings of the Qemants are not really good at this time. The other fear is that whether such civilized and democratic way of struggling for constitutional rights are going to be diverted to the opposite of that. The factual situations show that a single member of Qemans has already determined to secure his/her constitutional rights at any degree of expense. Any degree of intervention of military defense could not answer the Constitutional Quest raised. The true inter and correct intervention by the Federal Government should have been commended if such intervention had been to secure the rights of Qemants. The House of Peoples’ Representatives shall, on its own initiative, request a joint session of the House of Federation and the House of Peoples’ Representatives to take appropriate measures when State authorities are unable to arrest violations of human rights within their jurisdiction (Article 55(16) of the Federal Constitution). Identity denial and other human rights violations are the worst human rights violations which have been committed against Qemant-Agaw for such long period of time. So where is the timely intervention of the Federal Government to stop such human rights violations committed on Qemants? Rather, we are observing the illegal intervention of the military defense by the Federal Government to demonize and disturb the peaceful living of the peoples. This situation is making the people to lose confidence on the Governments and the peaceful way of struggling for constitutional rights. The Governments should be wise enough to treat the quest in constitutional manner. The military intervention must automatically go off the area!

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2 Responses to The Destiny of Kemants From Bad to Worse

  1. Worke says:

    Thank you for such the objective report. The struggle will continue till the aspiration for liberty is met.

  2. Kamazana says:

    The issue involving the rights of Kemant Agaws should not be treated as a security risk for the nation at all. The Kemants are basically the most ancient and most peaceful people. They should be given credit for the long many years of patience they endured despite severe repressions. The present government must be seen as fair to the issues the Kemants have raised. The issues raised by the Kemants are basically based on the basic quests of the Tegrai people and all others who suffered under the yoke of oppression. The leaders of the kemant people must show reservation from judging the cautious moves of the government officials in dealing with the request they have posed. It generally takes time to convince all sides of the equation. Kemants should not forget the wisdom of their fathers in applying caution and advance their cause in a manner that does not offend the government that is in favor of their issue and offend their own constituents in the final analysis.
    Kemants living abroad are behind the issues posed for the government to solve. We urge the government to swiftly treat the issue before it becomes a point of frustration for the Kemant Agaws. These people deserve descent treatment as they have suffered tremendously and paid dearly in their lives. We know the government is capable of handling such cases that involve an ethnic entity in its complexity. EPRDF is itself composed of ethnic constituents that achieved their goals via a protracted struggle. You have carried the cross for all ethnic peoples of Ethiopia and you should be credited for it.
    Kemant Agaws have contributed immensely to humanity in general and to the Ethiopian state in particular. They are the original developers of the area they live in. Though for political reasons their numbers have decreased to its present level, all residents of Gondar were Kemants in the remote past. Those residents of Gondar and the neighboring areas who think they are different from the Kemants are victims of millenial political propaganda that was thrown at Kemants who remained with their old faith. When many of their constituents changed their religion to the newly emerging ones, those who remained truthful to their original system of faith were treated harshly by the powerful state of the time. Those Kemant Agaw elements who preserved the old tradition give a clue to many answers of the past in many ways. Those who migrated from Ethiopia centuries ago now can find their dilemma of who they were by studying the preserved traditions of the Kemants, Oromos, Tigriyans, Amharas, Afars, Sidamas etc. The world is looking up to us to find their own true identity. Please give the Kemants the allowance to once again be themselves. They are not asking for more.

    Peace and love to all.

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