On the Blood Bath in Ethiopia and the Selective outrage: Multiple Wrongs that don’t Make a Single Right – By Fekade Shewakena

May 2nd, 2007 Print Print Email Email

As one who abhors violence as a means of pursuing political goals, I see the carnage committed at a Chinese oil prospecting camp in the Ogaden recently with utter disgust. (more…)

As one who abhors violence as a means of pursuing political goals, I see the carnage committed at a Chinese oil prospecting camp in the Ogaden recently with utter disgust. It is despicable and whether the dead were combatants or civilians does not even matter to me. The death of the 68 people including the Chinese whose greedy and misguided government has put them in harms way despite warnings and public knowledge of the instability in the region is tragic to say the least. The dead are poor people, soldiers or civilians, trying to eke a living and they deserved to live. The Chinese government and Meles Zenawi’s regime also share responsibility for their death. In the lawyers lingo what they did was criminal negligence. But more importantly, we should understand that disgust at this killing is meaningless if we look at it in isolation and ignore the source of such violence in the country. The selective outrage at this particular incident as if it is the only one occurring in the country or even in the Ogaden region is the height of hypocrisy and opportunism. As deplorable as it is, this incident also gives us an opportunity to look into the nature of the engine of trouble and violence in Ethiopia and the fuel that powers it.

My prediction is more of this is going to come if the regime does not change direction. Many people who stood for peaceful politics in the country are now disillusioned, particularly after what the regime did to Kinijit-CUD and its leaders, which include life long advocates of peace. I have many young people emailing me from Ethiopia, who think all civilized options are closed by Meles Zenawi and think it better to pick up arms and try the rout that brought Meles Zenawi to power. I have heard from many that the Shabia-Shabia, mantra is not going to stop people from going to Eritrea if they can get some help to help them fight back a regime that believes in brute force.

While no justification can make the Ogaden killing right, I am sure the ONLF can point to the same crimes the TPLF committed against the people in the Ogaden or innocent people elsewhere in the country to shrug off our selective outrage. Obviously this is another wrong that cannot right the regimes wrongs but expecting that such carnages will remain the monopoly of Ato Meles Zenawi and his certified violent regime is foolish as this incident proved. We should be able to see all sorts of political violence including that of the regime as one single whole if we sincerely hope for peace and prosperity in this country. Violence is a self-feeding animal. It begets itself. It is that simple.

That is why the rush of a herd of regime benefit peddlers and opportunists who compete among themselves on being louder on the condemnation and calling everybody to condemn it is becoming nauseating. Many of these “outraged”? idiots think it is ok to condemn one liberation front (ONLF) and look the other way when another LF, the TPLF, runs a monopoly of the killing of far more innocent people simply because it runs and rations their fodder. Many of these pretentious “patriots”? and “humanitarians”? were having their mouths shut when more horrific genocidal massacres were committed by the regime elsewhere in the country repeatedly. Some were even trying to make tenuous cases to absolve the regime of its crimes including by blaming the victims of the regime’s violence themselves. This includes these hypocrite donor groups, the lords of our poverty, and the enablers of our misery. There is a long list of crimes in virtually every part of the country where the regime has engaged in mass killings including the horror against the Agnuak in Gambella, Awassa etc and, of course, the murder of at least 193 unarmed protestors in Addis Ababa that is still fresh in our minds.

The current problem in the Ogaden has its source in the failure of what Meles Zenawi told us was his signature political agenda ““ the respect of the rights of nations and nationalities to self determination and the continuing zero-sum game politics he keeps playing. What happened to all that promise about imposing peace on Ethiopia by respecting the rights of nations and nationalities? The fact of the matter which now has become clear is that Meles Zenawi is actually interested in the form and not in the substance of what he has been preaching all along. He has marginalized the more independent ethnic political organizations that could become the back bones for peace building and reconciliation and replaced them with selected scumbags from every ethnic group believing that showing their picture would do the trick for him.

For all his clever talks and appearance of sophistication Meles tries to sells us, he has never produced a single serious politically mature deal with any opposition or interest group contending his regime. None. We all know by now what he did with the OLF, the ONLF and many others. Instead of producing a win-win deal expected of a mature politician, he replaced them with some morally degenerate and incompetent individuals who can be manipulated to even kill their own children for the government. To virtually every challenge Melese’s solution has been military and the use of force. And all these idiots who admire him as a politically savvy person cannot point to a single act of statesmanship and tolerance he has shown. Even the most peaceful of all peace advocating political groups in Ethiopia ““ Kinijit CUD is not spared of his violent reactions. I cannot think any group of statesmen and reasonable people more than the leaders of CUD now languishing in prison on trumped up charges who could be negotiated into resolving conflicting ideas peacefully. I will never believe for a second that Mesfin Woldemariam, Berhanu Nega, Yakob Hailemariam and Befekadu Degife, only to mention the few that I very well know, ever contemplated violence as a means to resolve political differences. These were the antiviolence geniuses, people who saw the future, and tried to find a permanent solution to abolish the cycle of violence in Ethiopia. Meles Zenawi threw them to jail simply because he could and resorted to torturing their nonviolent followers.

Only a few weeks ago in parliament, the place meant to be the people’s house, Meles was speaking about cutting off limbs and fingers of his opponents. We even have seen how he tried to belittle the suggestion of the elderly parliamentarian, Ato Bulcha Demeksa, who suggested to him to find ways to negotiate with the Ethiopians whose limbs and fingers Meles plans to cut off. The old man to his credit, must have seen that the people Meles was trying to kill are also capable of cutting fingers and limbs.

And these days I hear another “smart talk”? from Meles and his supporters. There is an undeclared push for people to give up their rights and desires for freedom and justice for a supposedly fast growing economy. People who are not absolutely silly and dumb know that the so called economic growth is mere delusion and I think every Ethiopian who lives the reality can attest to that. The structure of Ethiopia’s sad economy is still there. Development is not aid and foreign dependent construction and grossly concocted statistics or increasing agricultural yield with the help of God’s rains and through heavy use of chemical fertilizers. Any African country even Idi Amin, Bokassa or Mengistu could have achieved the same thing if they were the largest recipients of Western Aid in sub-Sahara Africa.

For all his pretending to be an economics professor, Mr. Zenawi has forgotten to learn some basics. This man has traversed advocating all nation building models and idiologies known to man. From an almost lunatic anti imperialist Marxist through a fan of Albanian socialism to East Asian green revolution and an advocate of what he called white capitalism, he has now come back full circle to becoming Mr. Bush’s poodle in the Horn of Africa dragging Ethiopia to a senseless and shameful war.

The following quote from a 17th century British satirist, Jonathan Swift, on an article on the American Debate blog is quite pertinent to Meles and his blind supporters.

“When a man’s fancy gets astride on his reason, when imagination is at (odds) with the senses and common understanding, as well as common sense”¦the first (convert) he makes is himself, and when that is once (achieved), the difficulty is not so great in bringing over others – a strong delusion always operating from without, as vigorously as from within.”

Here is a more realistic current idea for Mister model-freak Meles. Economic development is unthinkable without resolving outstanding conflicts in a country and creating a consensus among the population and this can only be achieved when people are guaranteed the rule of law and spared of government violence through creating independent institutions. Virtually all countries that have succeeded in transforming their economies in recent decades are countries who managed to resolve conflicts or reduce them to bare minimum and without the use of arms.

Even the idea of the so called “developmentalist state”? Meles Zenawi is mulling now (did I hear that he has already made it a cadre training manual?) presumes the resolution of conflicts using the head rather than the gun. Meles Zenawi can do us and himself a lot of favor if he stops pretending to look like a professor who has spent all his life in research institutes and libraries. Please. We know he spent it either in human killing fields or places of manipulating power. I only wish he only understands the basics of civilized governance and engage all his opponents in a negotiation.

Civilized negotiations to resolve conflicts around a table don’t kill people. Not doing this does. At the end of the even dictators will loose from the use of violence as a political tool as history has shown so repeatedly.


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