Vision Ethiopia, an independent network of Ethiopian academics and professionals, in collaboration with Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio (ESAT), has previously announced to convene a conference on a theme of “Ethiopia’s National Unity and Federalism.” But, a number of disturbing events have occurred since the first call for papers was issued. Peaceful protests around the Addis Ababa Master Plan and land dispossessions have descended into open conflicts and, in practical terms, naked violations of civil and political rights, including indiscriminate killings of hundreds of unarmed peaceful protesters have continued unabated. The security and defense forces of the government are on a mission of wanton destructions of human lives and properties, and the government has become unaccountable to anyone. It has effectively declared war on any form of decent in Ethiopia.
As we are preparing this document the number of lives being lost is continuing to rise while the number of people imprisoned is exceeding 5,000 in the Oromia region alone. The explosion of a bomb in a major place of worship, presumably by the government itself, has brought an additional challenge for the country that used to pride itself for the co-existence of the two major religions of the world, Christianity and Islam. Therefore, Vision Ethiopia, whose primary mission is to engage Ethiopian intellectuals and professionals by creating an independent forum for developing policy alternatives that could lead to a better Ethiopia is forced to review the urgency of several other competing topics and themes that are more current and relevant to the conditions of today’s Ethiopia. Accordingly, it has decided to postpone the initially announced topic,“Ethiopian National Unity and Federalism”, for the time being and will instead convene a two-day long conference in Washington, D.C., March 26 and 27, 2016 under the topic and theme of “Transition, Democracy, and National Unity”.
The goal of the conference is to bring together different political and civic organizations, religious and community leaders, and activists as well as independent scholars and professionals to deliberate on the critical themes of ways and means of uniting the Ethiopian democratic forces, defending human rights and protecting the lives of the innocent and peaceful Ethiopian people, and maintaining the national unity of Ethiopia.
We invite all participants to use the forum and share their views based on substantive and well thought-out policy inquiries in search of short and long terms solutions to the current crises that have gripped the nation. Vision Ethiopia urges all participants to focus on issues relevant to:
- Creating unity and cooperation among the Ethiopian democratic forces,
- The technicalities of transitional period,
- Implementations and protections of democratic and human rights, and
- Preservation of national unity of the country in post conflict Ethiopia.
Potential presenters are urged to submit their completed abstracts to Visionethiopia2015@gmail.com on or before February 31, 2016. Papers may be written in Amharic or English. Vision Ethiopia does not claim copyrights on the papers that it receives. ESAT will transmit the entire proceedings and thus enjoys the exclusive right to broadcast the entire audio and video materials.