Open letter to Professor Ephrem Isaac
Open letter to Professor Ephrem Isaac
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana
By Abebe Gelaw
Dear Professor Ephrem,
First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for the mediation efforts that you and other fellow Ethiopians have been undertaking.
|The release of some of Meles Zenawi’s political hostages, despite the ransom paid to the tyrant in the form of transfer of his guilt unto his victims under duress, is one little step in the right direction to resolve the huge political challenges facing Ethiopia.It is with a great deal of interest that I followed your interviews with ETV and Addis Dimits Radio. Unfortunately, the ETV show was done to brainwash the nation how merciful the tyrant is for releasing the most “dangerous criminals” in the country who were just condemned by the Kangaroo court to spend the rest of their lives in jails. I felt unease when I watched such eminent Ethiopians like you to have been used wilfully as propaganda tool.|
It was quite troubling to watch you on national TV heaping accolade on tyrant Meles Zenawi. According to your eminence, Meles Zenawi is a wise, visionary and magnanimous leader and his decision to release the popular leaders makes him a holy man. I have no problem with your assertions provided you can support your claims with hard facts. I am sure there is no single document or fact in any library in the world that can corroborate your unjustified and misplaced accolade.
As an eminent historian, you are fully aware of the fact that, even Col. Mengistu Hailemariam, as is always the case with other despots, became a bold dictator after his followers and admirers started calling him the infallible great leader whose crimes against humanity were the right measures to exterminate reactionaries and agents of imperialism. Be it for the purpose of diplomacy or for its own sake, praising destructive tyrants can only backfire with the undesired outcome of emboldening them to get more committed to unleashing even greater atrocities and terrorist acts.
Your interview with Addis Dimts was as good as it could have been. When you were asked what your views were on HR2003, you said that you had not read the bill. Well! That should not have raised any concern, had you not avoided direct questions whether you have been making any efforts to help the tyrannical regime to kill the bill. Though you spoke at great length expressing your patriotic thinking, you said that you would oppose the bill if it is a scheme to “enslave” Ethiopia.
As you are aware, Meles Zenawi, the man who has actually enslaves the whole nation, succeeded in frustrating HR5680 using highly paid agents and lobbyists including DLA Piper which is paid over $50,000 a month to do such a dirty job. Professor Al Mariam was honest enough to tell you that he found it hard to believe you did not have a chance to scan through the ten-page document. In case you honestly did not have time to have a look at HR2003, which is not significantly different from HR5680, before you allegedly went to the US Congress accompanied by Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York to discuss issues related to the bill, here are some of the most eye-catching phrases:
- Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 – States that it is U.S. policy to: (1) support human rights, democracy, independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, peacekeeping capacity building, and economic development in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; (2) collaborate with Ethiopia in the Global War on Terror; (3) seek the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia; (4) foster stability, democracy, and economic development in the region; and (5) strengthen U.S.-Ethiopian relations.
After your visits to the US Congress, it has been reported by credible sources that Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Tom Lantos was directed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer not to mark-up H.R. 2003 on July 31, 2007.
Why does the tyrant lose sleep over the good intention of the US Congress to help promote human rights, democracy, independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press and steady economic development in Ethiopia? What has HR2003 has to do with the release of political hostages? The answer is simple. Dictators love no one but themselves. Meles Zenawi knows full well that he will never have a place in a democratic Ethiopia, where nobody will be allowed to be above the law. His victims, dead, maimed and jailed, will be vindicated if democracy prevails. This may haunt him day and night.
Nobody should rush to condemn you as a mediator with a sinister motive. However, one might be tempted to point out the glaring fact that any mediator should make utmost efforts to remain neutral. If, at any time, you try to help the tyrant to derail a bill that can greatly facilitate the attainment of democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance, you will inevitably face the wrath of millions of Ethiopians who still respect you as an elderly Ethiopian scholar. The release of some political hostages, who should never have spent a single day in jails, cannot be exchanged for the aspiration of the whole nation to be free at last.
In your ETV interview, you also said that you would make efforts to reconcile the Meles regime with the Ethiopian Diaspora before the new millennium. Common sense has it that those of us, who have tasted the sweetness of liberty in exile, hate not the ethnic junta in power but their misdeeds and misrule. We hate their heinous crimes against humanity, injustice, corruption and their unacceptable dictatorship.
Who cares about the so-called new millennium if it doesn’t usher in a new era where every Ethiopian lives in peace and liberty governed by elected leaders? If our long and glorious history fails to make Ethiopia a country that its citizens are proud of, who cares about the millennium party that Meles Zenawi and his servants have hijacked for cheap propaganda ploy?
You should not also forget the fact Meles Zenawi should stop his futile effort to reverse the popular demand for a new Ethiopia where leaders are accountable to the people. You will also do Ethiopia a great service if you remind the tyrant to start living as a man of the new millennium rather than being a stone-age despot whose survival hinges upon the barrel of the gun. If he listens to this simple piece of suggestion and surrenders power to the elected, then we will all join you to praise him as “THE GREATEST EHIOPIAN OF THE MILLENIUM.” We will hang his pictures on top of every mountain for the whole world to appreciate and admire a great saint.
Here is what one of the greatest leaders ever born did before the festivities of the millennium. On the eve of the new millennium, December 31, 1999, Nelson Mandela returned to his prison cell in Robben Island, where he was locked up for 18 years to light a “flame for freedom”.
|Handing a big white candle to his successor, President Thabo Mbeki, he said: “There are good men and women around the world that will always keep that flame burning. It symbolizes that the freedom flame can never be put down by anybody.”|
The great man said with a great sense of humility: “In particular, let us make our country and the world a safer and more caring and respectful place.” He never said let us oppress, kill, maim and jail innocent victims. Meles Zenawi, whom some naively thought would be our Mandela, is a man who is out to turn the clock back to stone-age. He is the one who wants to put down the flames of freedom. What a visionary leader?
The new millennium can be a watershed in Ethiopian history only if every Ethiopian, regardless of their ethnic origin, social status, gender, age, educational background or political affiliation, gets equal opportunities to attain their fullest potential. The new millennium can only make sense only if Ethiopians will never be enslaved and brutalized by dictators who continuously shatter our hopes for a new era and condemn us to live under the darkness of tyranny and abject poverty. Celebrating the so-called millennium with the lords of poverty who are allergic to the dynamic changes of the 21st century is nothing but re-enacting April fool’s day in Ethiopia on September 12.
If the tyrant allows you a peace envoy to discuss what ordinary Ethiopians wish to have for the new millennium, please tell him to
- - free all political hostages without any preconditions and ransom
- - respect the sanctity of life and human rights
- - respect the rule of law and independence of the judiciary
- - respect the constitution and allow citizens to elect their leaders
- - allow citizens to stage peaceful protests or go on strike without any fear
- - give equal access to public funded media to all citizens
- - ensure freedom of the press and stop censoring the internet
- - close down illegal party run businesses that undermine free market economy
- - create an enabling environment to defeat abject poverty
- - start a comprehensive national reconciliation
- - and most importantly hand over power to those who have clear mandates to rule.
|As a historian, you should also remind Meles Zenawi, who does not seem to be interested in learning from the past, the simple truth that “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” as George Santayana said.|
An enlightened nation can no longer live under the darkness of tyranny. No leader can rule Ethiopia with arrogance and force but with humility and meekness.
If Meles Zenawi refuses to learn from history, I suggest that he should invite Col. Mengistu Hailumariam as a guest of honour to his millennium party. After all, they are two sides of the same coin that have turned poor Ethiopia up side down! Nobody with a conscience wants to rave, dance, wine and dine with bloody tyrants.
Finally, I would like to beg for your forgiveness for being too bold to say my mind, but have no intention of diminishing your great patriotic efforts and accomplishments. My intention is to make a small point so that your good deeds remain untainted with doubt.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
God bless Ethiopia.