Alliance with ostracized despot of a troubled state – By Robele Ababya

July 30th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

To begin with

The ongoing debate of forging some sort of alliance with Isaias as a strategy for evicting the tyrant Meles from power is capturing headlines in some pro-democracy media outlets. (more…)

To begin with

The ongoing debate of forging some sort of alliance with Isaias as a strategy for evicting the tyrant Meles from power is capturing headlines in some pro-democracy media outlets. Civilized dialogue is good and it should be done without fear or shame of historical facts of which Ethiopia is rich.

I have sincere respect for the people of Eritrea. In fact I hold the belief that ordinary people everywhere are basically good unless misled by their despotic rulers holding complete monopoly over all the pillars of democracy and strict control of national wealth.

I am not alone in the belief that knowledge of history is imperative both to leaders of a nation and followers. Unfortunately objective recording of history was difficult in the absence of democracy in Ethiopia and indeed in countries in the Horn of Africa. We were made to glorify rulers rather than critically examine the performance of governments of the day as loyal listeners to selectively disclosed information to the public.

The new generation is demanding freedom of the press as assurance to safeguard its freedom by ensuring that the atrocities of the past must not repeat. This is why knowledge of the history of the past is essential; one must have the courage to read even the shocking ones perpetrated by despotic leaders. People of independent mind liberated by education and appreciative of the realities of this age of knowledge and information have nothing to fear. Of course opportunist elites serving tyrant masters may as usual insult or threaten me for my views.

Admirable tolerance of the great Ethiopia People

There are episodes signifying the greatness of the Ethiopian people in terms of among their tolerance, bravery, hospitality and love of independence among other enviable virtues that I would like to bring to the attention readers.

Episode (I): The first one was the act of forgiveness to the captured Italian soldiers in Ethiopia after the defeat of the Fascist regime of Mussolini at the end of WWII. The Monarch immediately after His return to Addis Ababa issued a decree that soldiers of the invaders taken prisoners should be treated humanely and handed over to the central government safely. A renowned guerilla fighter during the resistance told me that he and his compatriots travelled far and wide in western Ethiopia and collected prisoners and delivered them safely to the nearest provincial capital as decreed. Everyone knows that those Italians who wanted to stay in Ethiopia did so holding lucrative jobs and married to Ethiopian girls and producing children. No Italian was forced to go nor abused despite the suffering perpetrated on the Ethiopian people including spraying of poison gas on poorly equipped patriots and innocent civilians. The great people understood that the soldiers were executing the cruel orders of their brutal commanders.

The above is in sharp contrast to the grisly treatment unleashed by Shaebia on the Ethiopian soldiers taken prisoners of war – after the victory of the former with significant assistance of TPLF without which defeat of the latter would have been impossible. It is impossible to forget among other atrocities:

• The gruesome barbaric massacre in cold-blood of surrendering soldiers;
• Ordering Ethiopian soldiers to walk through the dessert barefooted leaving their personal properties behind;
• Spraying bullets with machine guns on soldiers ordered to walk barefooted across the desert ;
• Extracting gold-filled teeth of soldiers to remove the gold;
• Looting and gross violation of basic human rights of Ethiopians in Eritrea after the end of the war.

I got first hand information from my own adopted grandson was a victim among those who, with their valuables confiscated, were forced to walk barefoot across the desert. That was a draconian act of savage brutality.

Episode (II) The second one was the cruel eviction by TPLF regime of Eritreans from Ethiopia. Prominent scholars like the legendry Professor Mesfin Woldemariam vehemently opposed the ethnic cleansing. Citizens of Addis Ababa witnessed the exodus of their neighbors in tears. There were good times when our children played harmoniously together and even took turns to spend nights in the residence of the other over weekends. I know so because I was a host as were my Eritrean friends. Such was the extent of trust before the Meles regime culminated it albeit for a short time in the sense that there are encouraging signs that people bound by blood, common culture and history are trying to revive that common bond.

As everyone would recall, the fate of Ethiopians evicted from Eritrea by the Shaebia regime; was to live in squalid conditions in improvised shelters in Addis Ababa in full view of their fellow citizens and the international community for many years. This surely attests to the decorum and compassionate nature of the Ethiopian people including Eritreans I knew then and I now know in exile. It is unfortunate that dictators created the barrier between people bound by blood and common history.

Episode (III) The tyrant Meles allowed evicted Eritreans to return, reclaim their appropriated property, live, work and invest in Ethiopia. Ethiopians hardly showed any sign of xenophobia. There is no denying the fact that Erireans during the Imperial regime enjoyed lucrative positions in government and business.

It is true that the Derg committed cruel atrocities in Eritrea that evoked anger among the people. Even then prominent and or patriotic Eritreans with vision and foresight chose to struggle for unity. One example is that, the speech made by the renowned “Lion of Ogaden”, General Aman Michael Andom at the fully packed Saba Stadium in Asmara in favor of unity, the speech sent shiver to the camp of Shaebia. The maverick General was acclaimed Ethiopians as their hero and beacon of hope in restoring peace and territorial integrity of Ethiopia. I was among those who coined the phrase “Rising Star” in praise of the General and he knew it. I intend to write an article on this subject.

Ostracized dictator

Relationship between Eritrea and the defunct OAU, and later now with its successor the AU, was seldom cordial owing to the habitual arrogance of Isaias. If anything it has worsened due to the destabilizing role he is playing in the entire region of the Horn of Africa. The AU has recommended appropriate action to be taken on Eritrea. The Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD) has suspended its membership.

The United States of America is openly complaining of the direct assistance of the Eritrean regime including supplying weapons to the extremist Alshabab insurgents linked to Al-Qaida.

The proxy war in Somalia instigated by Isaias has caused enormous humanitarian crisis in terms of death, hunger, dislocation of people and other calamities. There is no doubt that the proxy war lords, Isaias and tyrant Meles, will be held accountable for such heinous crimes against humanity. It is not surprising therefore that Bashir of Sudan received the very first official visit to Eritrea notwithstanding the summon served on the latter by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to answer for his crimes against humanity – especially for heinous crimes perpetrated on the black Africans in Darfour. It is not also surprising that Meles gave Bashir a lavish state dinner in Emperor Menilik’s Palace in Addis Ababa, which dinner was boycotted by Western Diplomats.

The point I want to make is why engage with the dying regime of Isaias at this late hour given that he left no stone unturned in his entire life to destroy Ethiopia.

‘Eggs’ in the basket of Isaias

Eritrea has been home to several dissident groups bent on the destruction of Ethiopia. The Oromo Liberation Front was one of the first to open its office in Asmara even when its leaders were part and parcel of the TPLF government until they were disgracefully expelled from power and sent into exile. The secessionist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has been a welcome guest in Asmara as is the faction of Dahir Aweyes in Somalia fighting the Transitional Government.

So Isaias has all ‘eggs in his basket’ that he can treat as he pleased. If he had really wanted to mend relations with Ethiopia, he could have broken or sent the dissidents back to where they came from.

It is too late for Isaias to remedy his colossal political mistakes and forge normal relationship with Ethiopia that he hated all his life. It would be folly to regard him as a repentant leader instrumental for the birth of a strong democratic Ethiopia.

The way forward

Isaias and tyrant Meles are two faces of the same coin. It is only the removal of the duo from power by their respective peoples under their tight grip that would bring sanity to the politics of Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as end the proxy war in Somalia and bring regional stability.
As I was always saying we Ethiopians have only God and ourselves to usher in the rule of law and genuine respect for universal human rights. The right of the individual guaranteed by law of the people, made by the people, and for the people should be our guiding principle on the way forward. We should not rest in our struggle until individuals with merit, regardless of their creed or ethnic origin, have equal opportunity in all spheres of activity in the Ethiopian society.

The foremost burning agenda is to struggle for the immediate and unconditional release of the icon Judge Birtukan Mideksa and all political prisoners. It is difficult to hold back ones tears while reading the various articles about Birtukan. She is a hostage of a coward regime; she, her septagerian mother, and 5-year old lovely daughter are being physically and mentally being tortured by the merciless ruling regime.


Robele Ababya (

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