Sunday, January 26, 2014

What about the right to be heard?

Following the 2010 national election, I have crunched the numbers of votes in Addis Ababa to find out that '11 out of 23 seats should've be taken by oppositions had it been proportionally that our voices are counted or represented.' Knowing that almost half of Addis Ababa's election participants in 2010 voted to oppositions, it is sad to also know that their voices are represented by only a single man in the house of representatives.

In addition, no one has the confidence to say the dissidents in Ethiopia either have other means to express their alternatives as to how they want their country should be built or even how they want to live their life. The public school of discourse, which is the media, and civil societies are incapacitated.

Nevertheless, the question is not limited to have a means of expressing oneself. People manage their ways of doing it anyway. That's how and why social media are now playing pivotal role in breaking news and creating hot discussions especially in authoritarian countries including Ethiopia. So, the question remains to be: 'is the government listening?'

The constitution grants the freedom to expression and when it is violated, people shout out referring to the article. If democracy is about popular participation and if Ethiopia didn't shut its doors for democracy then how is it possible to ensure that the people's voices are heard?

Freedom of speech is crucial. However, what is most crucial is to be heard. Where is this 'right of people to be heard' by the government they appointed? Or, where is the obligation of the government to hear its people? Because, last time I checked, people speak to be heard.

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