Mr. Tesfaye, Speak the Truth! by Wondemhunegn Ezezew

February 13th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Note: this article is a response to Tesfaye Habisso’s e-mail reaction to my earlier article on his argument about the convicted former Derg officials.

Thank you for your reaction. Actually when ever I raise an issue on Ethiopian economy or politics I do not expect any response from any TPLF/EPRDF supporter; even those who happen to drop me email have nothing to say except “chauvinist, ex-Derg, feudal, etc.” none of which has anything to do with me.

Though barking up the wrong tree is in our tradition, a person like you should not accuse me of discussing people as if ideas are inherently exotic and independent of one’s mental process. Good people have good ideas, good intentions and honest message. Crooked people emit bad ideas and present them to advance their greedy personal interests. My respect or contempt for people is based on their ideas, their outlook, and their mission which together define their personality. I do not say «I like Tesfaye, but I hate his ideas,” which is self-contradictory! Thus, if we follow your line of reasoning, we would conclude that the oppressed people of Egypt “respect Mubarak but hate his oppressive ideas and policies!” By the way, even after Mubarak promised reforms, the angry people still insisted, “Mubarak get out of our sight! Go! Go! Go!” Ideas and personalities are intertwined.

You may have heard of Thomas Carlyle, 18th century racist intellectual (a bizarre combination?), who believed that “blacks were subhuman (“two-legged cattle”), who needed the tutelage of whites wielding the “beneficent whip” if they were to contribute to the good of society.” His subhuman mantra was not limited to black Africans but at times was also applied to the Irish people in his immediate neighbourhood. Now, my question is that in what way should we respect the originator of these ideas while at the same time hate his ideas? Isn’t it the philosophy (ideas) of Hitler and a handful of his spin doctors that led to the worst crime against humanity ever? Did the Allied powers go after their ideas or the originators and implementers of those ideas? Please be honest with yourself. Returning to home, why don’t your comrades “convict the ideas” and set the Derg officials free? Does it sound sensible? But then, Mahatma Gandhi, as honest as he was, left us the following lesson, “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”

Though literally you have the inalienable right to express your ideas, you should have known that we also have the inalienable right to oppose your ideas—that is to say that you are lying, falsifying, concocting facts and figures ,etc. If to say that “someone is a lier,” is to attack one’s personality, it should be understood as that. One of your darlings was once overheard from Ethiopia that “not a single Ethiopian was taken up by Sudanese soldiers!” The following day 28 Ethiopians, who were taken hostages by Sudanese army, were telling the whole world on DW Amharic Radio that the Sudanese had occupied Ethiopian farms and captured whoever was working on the farms. So to say that such people are ‘wushetam’ is attacking their personality? I think you must be kidding!

That word in bracket (obscure) must have offended you badly and SORRY for that. By the way, I have no problem if you were the spearhead leader of that fateful Ethiopian Student Movement. Even Wallelign Mekonen is not my hero. What did we get out of that revolution? Personally, I have no ambition for political power, at least am not very hungry for it right now. All I scribble is out of my concern for my people as a whole. You may not have been to Debark (my home town) but the trials and tribulations my father underwent while working in Debark and Mekane Birhane was really unconstitutional and tragic. There are many other similar stories. My father’s experience was a turning point in shaping my political consciousness. You mentioned the word constitution 15 times in a country where people are arrested without warrant, arbitrarily demoted from their position and their properties confiscated without giving them the chance to respond or to stand for the peregrination of the typical court litigation.

On a personal note, please understand that I have no grudge because Meles or someone outside my ethnic group is in power. But I believe that we must sometimes risk our personal interests to speak the truth, at least once in our life. That is the only way that I can repay my gratitude to the bare-footed farmer in Simien or the clothless fisher in Debub, who for now do not know whether their sesame or coffee is the source of former Ambassador Tesfaye’s salaries and his other employment benefits.

I am your son and I will always respect my elders. But I want to remind you that seniority does not give us the immunity from criticism and I criticize not only the ideas but also the originator of those ideas. No hide-and-seek behind the tautology between ideas and personalities!

Regarding the Derg officials, in your latest article you said, “…Above all, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity are international crimes. These are crimes against international humanitarian and customary law. No one has the authority to forgive these crimes on behalf of all humanity. These crimes are both unforgettable and unforgivable in the realm of politics and international law.”

1. If no one gives you the authority to forgive them on behalf of humanity, who gives you the authority to pursue them on behalf of humanity? Did the dead choose you to represent them on their behalf?

2. If you believe that international laws and conventions are so sacrosanct, why cannot we see G. W. Bush and T. Blair being tried at the ICC for all the crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan? You may tell me that they were looking for WMD and dangerous terrorists who were threats for international peace and security. But where are the bogeymen? Where are the WMD? By the way, our former butcher Mengistu Haile Mariam would also tell you that he was fighting secessionist elements in Eritrea and Tigray, much like PM Meles Zenawi’s excuse for what has been happening in Ogaden.

As far as the former Derg officials are concerned, it takes soft hearts, not obsession with technical formalities. I think no amount of philosophical speculation or playing with words would diminish or magnify their crimes. If the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (I mean Woyane) chooses to evaporate them in jail, that is none of my business. But I still insist that it would be better for the common good to forgive, reconcile and move on. That would be a great lesson for the ethnically-intoxicated generation of mine. We cannot dwell on crimes committed two decades ago while Ethiopians, including women, are being tortured at Maekelawi RIGHT NOW.

Finally my message to you is speak the truth; the ordinary Ethiopians, I am sure 97% of them, have no appetite for power politics (according to psychologists 3% of the population in any society are “mad”). Most people need food, shelter, decent jobs, clothing and clean water. They need justice and freedom from arbitrary arrest and incarceration. As an ardent TPLF/EPRDF supporter, do you really believe that 20 years is not enough to deliver on these most basic necessities of life? Something is wrong with the philosophy of your rule and it is high time that you and your comrades made introspection and adopted major changes in governance and policies. Do you have the gumption to write on EFFORT and its devastating effect on resource mobilization, domestic production, competition and allocative efficiency? Would you ever venture to speak against torture in Ethiopia which has been the talk of the town recently? If and only if you raise such issues that I would believe your rhetoric that you are “a retired citizen who propagates his own independent views and not a ‘cheerleader’ for Meles or any other person on earth.”

Wondemhunegn Ezezew
For comments

  1. Oda Tulu
    | #1

    This is an excellent response to the despicable opportunist Tesfaye Habisso; he said once in contempt: “Where are the oppositin forces so that we can meet them half way to welcome them”. He will accountfor his crimes in the service of the brutal regime that he served in positions of power.

  2. Ketete
    | #2

    The writer talks so much about “truth and lies” to conclude by asking how twenty years of EPRDF did not eradicate hunger or provide “basic necessities of life.” By that logic, the lack of “basic necessities” is only a new phenomena to Ethiopia under this regime. By implication, the 17 or so years of Derg and the countless years of Feudal regime were boom times for our country. Does the writer believe the progress which is being made for the last 20 years is short of the previous 20 years under the previous regime? If there is a common place where intellectual dishonesty and a blank lie meets, this will be find in the writer’s summation of his article. Be honest to yourself before you try to justify the unjustifiable, sir. If you can’t be trusted in one front of your basic argument, how do you expect anyone with sane mind will take you seriously?

  3. Gash Polisu
    | #3


    As a TPLF footsoldier no one expects you to admit your weaknesses. except Derg and TPLF, when was the last time that Ethiopians were unable to feed themselves? Ethiopia’s name bacame synonymous with famine from 1974 on wards. Derg was engaged in expensive, protracted, and multi-front wars which consumed the country’s limited resources. Without TPLF, EPLF, OLF, WSLF, ALF, SLF and other liberation fronts to fight, Derg would be more than able to feed the country’s population. Nonetheless, Ethiopia has been relatively calm and peaceful since TPLF seized power–except the war with Shaebia 1998/2000. You must be one of the dumbest cadres on this world to believe that a nation cannot produce enough food in 20 years. For your information, it was in 20 years on average that Britain, France, Germany et cetera achieved their industrial revolutions. Here we are not demanding Ethiopian Industrial Revolution, though it is possible with the right leadership.

  4. Handeso
    | #4

    Tesfaye Habiso is one of the few woyane thugs who sold out his conscience for a dime and crumbs of power.His opportunism dates back 1n 1991 when woyane the child killer usurp power by force of arms.Tesfaye and Beyene petros took no time to be recruited as a foot soldier to serve their new master as home niggers to difuse the struggle of the people for genuine democracy.Habiso and petros joined the so called transitional govt in 1991 and played pivotal role in conspiring with TPLF and ELF in the scramble and fractionalizing as well as in selling Eritrea. without the conscent of the people, behind back door. Habisso, time and again, was fully engaged in undermining the demands of the people for democracy and label it “nonsense” and even has gone to the extent to say democracy in Ethiopia is “a luxury”.is it the question of democracy a luxury Mr Habisso? i know opportunists have no the slightest conscience when putting on market to sell themselves for the highest bidder.Thus your attempt to accuse these monsters,derg criminals ,is futile since you are the one in the WANTED list for being accomplising with woyane who commited a day light killings and torso murder of thousands of innocent citizens in Addis Abeba and else where in Ethiopia.Mr Habisso you and your master woyane are loosers and thus your are counting down that you will definitly see your day in court.

  5. Ketete
    | #5

    Gash Polisu, your revisionist history and lack of common knowledge should put you at the bottom of everything moving on this planet including all animals. For you there is either a “TPLF footsoldier” or YOU and Your backward thinking of yesteryears. For your information, your messiah Haileselassie was feeding his dogs while the poor were left starving to death left and right. Well, why waste time trying to wake up a person condoned to remain backward.

  6. Anonymous
    | #6


    Why are you trying to divert the discussion into another direction? The main issue was “pardon” for the Derg officials. Please tell us what you think about that (if you have some personal opinion on the issue).

    As to this pardon, it was part of the famous arsenal of the TPLF propaganda department: they gave us a topic to shout about and divert our attention from their other mischiefs.

    Whoever wants to talk about ‘pardon’ should first talk about national reconciliation. I have no problem if those killers are pardoned as part of a national healing process that includes ‘redesigning’ the political arena in our country.

  7. Moshe Denbel
    | #7

    You are one of the blind followers and supporters of the fascist and racist, Meles Zenawi. Meles Zenawi has been enjoying the generosity of the west and recieves billions of western dollars every year. No previous government has had the chance to get so much aid as does the ethnical-fascist regime of Meles Zenawi. Your ethnical fascist boss Zenawi is receiving all this money on behalf of the Ethiopian poor but hunger and poverty are getting worse and worse in the country. Do not tell us Ethiopians that the buildings the TPLF thugs and their beneficaries are building are improvements in the standard of living of the great majority of Ethiopians.

  8. ፍትሕ
    | #8


    እባካችሁ ንገሩኝ; መነቃቀፍ; በስድብ መራቀቅ; መናቆር; መተናኮልና አንዱ ሌላውን ማዋረድ ምን ይጠቅማል?! ምን ፋይዳ አለው?

    ፍሬ-ነገሩ ላይ በማተኮር በቁም-ነገርና በጥሞና ብንወያይና ብንማማር አይሻለንም? የበለጠ አይጠቅመንም?

    የቀረበው መሰረታዊ ሐሳብ; የደርግ ባለሥልጣኖች ይቅርታ እንዲደረግላቸው ነው:: የዚህ ተቃዋሚ ሐሳብ; ባለሥልጣኖቹ የፈጸሙት ወንጀል ከባድ በመሆኑ; ፍርዳቸውን ያግኙ የሚለው ነው:: የመጀመሪያው ሐሳብ አቀንቃኞች; ያለፈውን እርግፍ አድርገን ትተን;ባሁኑ ወንጀለኞች; ማለት በወያኔ ባለሥልጣኖች ላይ እናተኩር ይላሉ::

    እያንዳንዱን ሐሳብ በመተንተን ስንመለከት;

    (ሀ)ወንጀልን በይቅርታ ለማለፍ የሚያስፈልጉትን መሰረታዊ ቅድመ-ሁኔታዎች ያካተተ ሁኔታ መገኘት አለበት:: እንደ ደቡብ አፍሪካ ማለት ነው:: በደቡብ አፍሪካ ወንጀለኞቹ ጥፋታቸውን አምነው ልባዊ ይቅርታ መጠየቃቸው ብቻ ሳይሆን; እንደ ማንዴላና ብፁእ አቡነ ቱቱ ጭምር ይቅር ለማለት ዝግጁ ነበሩ:: በኢትዮጵያስ? ወንጀለኞቹ የኢትዮጵያን ሕዝብ ይቅርታ አልጠየቁም:: እንዲያውም መሪው ወንጀለኛ; መንግሥቱ ኃ/ማርያም እንኳን ይቅርታ ሊጠይቁ; ተሸሽገው ከሚገኙበት ከዚምባብዌ “ዝንብም አልነካሁ” ብለዋል:: ሰዎች ያለፍርድ እንዲረሸኑ የፈረሙበት የትእዛዝ ደብዳቤ በይፋ እንደ ወጣ ስተውት ይሆን?!!! ለማንኛውም; ይህ አማራጭ አስተማማኝ መሰረት የለውም::

    (ለ) ወንጀለኞቹ ለፍርድ ይቅረቡ ከተባለ; ትልቁ ጥያቄ የትኛው ፍርድ ቤት ነው የሚለው ነው::ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ባሁኑ ገዢዎች የተክናወነው; የበቀል ነው እንጂ ፍትሐዊ ነው ማለት አይቻልም:: ወያኔዎች ራሳቸው በፈጸሙት ወንጀል ለፍርድ የሚፈለጉ ሆነው በደርግ ባለሥልጣኖች ላይ እንዲዳኙ ፍትሐዊም ሆነ የሕሊና ብቃት የላቸውም:: ያላቸው ጊዜያዊ ኃይል ብቻ ነው:: ስለዚህ የደርግ ባለሥልጣኖች ትክክለኛ ፍርድ እንዲያገኙ ከታመነበት; መቅረብ ያለባቸው ዓለም-አቀፍ ፍርድ ቤት ነው:: በተለይ መንግሥቱ ኃ/ማርያም እስካሁን ድረስ ለፍርድ ሳይቀርቡ በኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ ላይ እያላገጡ መክረማቸው; በፍትሕና በሰብአዊ መብት ለሚያምኑ ሁሉ እጅግ አሳዛኝና አሳፋሪ ክስተት ነው::

    (ሐ) በሥልጣናቸው እየባለጉ በዜጎች ላይ ወንጀል የፈጸሙ ሰዎች ለፍርድ እንዲቀርቡ ማድረጉ የሚጠቅመው ዋናው ምክንያት አሁንም ሆነ ወደፊት አገዛዝ ላይ ተፈናጥጠው የሚገኙ ሰዎች በደል ከፈጸሙ ወይም ክመፈጸማቸው በፊት ሊያስከትልባቸው የሚችለውን የሕግ የባላይነት በጥንቃቄ እንዲያስቡ አስገድዶ ከእኩይ ተግባራቸው እንዲቆጠቡ ሊያደርግ ስለሚችል ነው::

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