ESKINDER NEGA AND ANDUALEM ARAGE: Men for all Seasons By Tecola W. Hagos
“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the Spider to the Fly, “Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain, For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
Mary Howitt (1799-1888)
I. Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage: Men for all Seasons
I am truly saddened by the imprisonment of Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage and the many patriotic and courageous young Ethiopian journalists and political leaders. I am truly fond of Eskinder Nega and his family, for I read in every piece he wrote, since I came to know of him from 1910, his nobility of spirit and his indomitable courage that matches those of legendary warriors even though he neither commanded an army nor lead a government. No less do I admire the young and articulate Andualem Arage, the Deputy Chairman of Andenet, in whom I have great trust that he would be our salvation and our great leader some day. My first reaction when I heard the news of the arrest and imprisonment of Eskinder and Andualem and other future young leaders of Ethiopia was to dash to my computer to write my condemnation of Meles Zenawi and his Government for such wanton abuse of power and disregard of fundamental human rights. Then I reconsidered half way through my writing whether I will be adding fuel and giving munitions to a leader well known for brutality and violence. I was fearful not to create any kind of situation that could be construed by the twisted mind of Meles Zenawi as acts of terrorism under his draconian law. But reading the recent article by Serke-Alem Fasil, Eskinder Nega’s spouse, about her husband and young child (Serkalem Fasil: Eskinder’s Path in Abugeda.com), I am reassured that my act of support will not negatively affect the future of Eskinder Nega and his fellow prisoners.
The accusations leveled by the Government of Meles Zeawi against those political prisoners are totally ludicrous, for Meles Zenawi seems to have lost the little credibility that he might have even in the eyes of the terrified Western Leaders. Some three weeks ago, on 21 September 2011, the venerable Ephreme Madebo wrote a heart wrenching cry of a truly loving soul, on the pain of the imprisonment of such honorable and heroic men and women. “My heart moves for Skinder Nega, Andualem Arage, Debebe Eshetu, Wubshet Taye, Reeyot Alemu and for every hero, every survivor of Zenawi’s horrible crime, and every citizen of Ethiopia. May God bless Ethiopia- We shall overcome!” [Ethiomedia] I believe that the first and foremost duty of all of us who support and admire Eskinder and Andualem and the many journalists and political leaders who are illegally imprisoned by Meles Zenawi is to get those courageous and true heroes of Ethiopia out of the clutches of Meles Zenawi and his enforcers. However, I am not in any way suggesting that we preempt the families of the imprisoned heroes in trying to help Eskinder and Andualem and all political prisoners, but rather take note what to do from their instructions and statements.
I have concluded sometime ago that most Ethiopians of my generation may not be worth the sacrifice of any of us because of their narrow mindedness, ethnic divisiveness, lack of commitment to a cause, their fearfulness and tendency to betray friends, and cowardice excepting such heroes who are in detention right now, such as the Eskinders and Andualems of Ethiopia. This unadulterated or unconditional admission of my serious contempt for my generation of fellow Ethiopians in general, may not come as a surprise to many. I would rather save the known already quantified individuals who are in prisons than try to save the amorphous, overwhelmingly narcissistic and morally corrupted and ignoramus Ethiopia’s general population. I know this type of statement would horrify honorable and patriotic individuals, such as Eskinder and Andualem. Some might even consider my statement anti-people and fascistic against helpless poor people. And I would not be surprised or disappointed if Eskinder and Andualem publicly reject my support or advice in my type of compromise to save them from the clutches of the worst leader in the history of Ethiopia only second to Mengistu Hailemariam. Be it as it may, by saving the lives of the likes of Eskinder and Andualem, at the very least, I would have saved the most precious lives that will be most helpful in rebuilding our fragile, shattered, and fractured nation of Ethiopia.
II. The Violence of Meles Zenawi and Associates
a) The TPLF: House of Horror
What would it take to stand up to Meles Zenawi and his brutal enforcers? First, let us acknowledge the enormous capacity of Meles Zenawi for violence and abuse. What we have in Meles Zenawi is a narcissistic, uncouth, rustic, and sadistic individual whose moral life is as deep as those of an amoeba. No matter how powerful or wealthy he has become, and no matter how hard he tried to cast himself as an educated and sophisticated individual, his family background and upbringing has scared him deeply to be who he is now—a violent tyrant. Second, putting this in mind, I warn all that it is futile for anyone to confront Meles Zenawi and his circle of yes-men, without having first the support and backing of a dedicated percentage of Ethiopians both at home and in the Diaspora. A recent article by Gebre Medhin Araya, has described the types of brutality and violence inflicted by the TPLF Leaders on civilians, surrendering Government Soldiers, dissenters within TPLF, and captured resistance fighters from other liberation fronts such as EDU, EPRP et cetera. [See Gebre Medhin Araya, “አይጥ ለሞትዋ የድመት አፍንጫ ታሸታለች!!!”]
“የህ.ወ.ሓ.ት አረመኔ ስራ በተመለከተ ለወደፊቱ በዝርዝር የማቀርበው አሰቃቂ የወያኔ ህ.ወ.ሓ.ት. አመራር የፈጸመው ደርግ በቀይ ሽብር ያስደነገጣቸው ልብ ያለሰሩ ታዲጊ ወጣቶች ወደ ትግል ከተቀላቀሉ በኋላ በነዚህ ላይ አመራሩ ያሳለፈው (ከ1970 ዓ.ም-1972 ዓ.ም) የርሸና ውሳኔ አቀርባለሁ። እነኚህ የሞት ቅጣት የተወሰነባቸው እና እርምጃ የተወሰደባቸው ታጋዮች ዕድሜአቸው ለአቅመ አዳም ያልደረሱ የ13 እና 14 ዕድሜ ወጣቶች ናቸው። ሁለም የበረሃው ኑሮ መቋቋም አቅቷቸው፤ወላጆቻቸውን የናፈቁ ህጻናት ነበሩ። ወሊጆቻችን ናፍቀውናል እና ወደ እየ ትውልድ ቀያችን መመለስ እንፈልጋለን የምትሉ አስታውቁን ይፈቀድላችኋል ብሎ አመራሩ ካታለላቸው በኋላ፡ እንሄዲለን ብለው እራሳቸውን ያጋለጡ ልጅ እግር ታጋዮች ከየቦታው ከሠራዊት ማሰልጠኛ እና ከታጋይ ጋር የተቀላቀሉትን ሁሉ እየተለቀሙ ተረሽነዋል። አረመኔው ወያኔ እነኚህ በጥይት ደብድቦ የገደላቸውን ህጻናት “ናብ እነይ” (ወደ እናቴ) በሚል ቅጽል ይጠራቸዋል።” [Gebre Medhin Araya, “አይጥ ለሞትዋ የድመት አፍንጫ ታሸታለች!!!” p14] [This should have been published some twenty years ago, which would then have saved us from making serious errors in judging the leadership of the TPLF.]
Though late in the realization, it is absolutely clear to me now having read such reports and books about the inner workings of the TPLF in the last couple of years that the TPLF has been and continue to be a house of horror. Despite the fact that there were, and may even still be found true believers, who sacrificed their youth even their lives believing they were serving the larger community of Ethiopia or the narrow expanse of Tigray Province, the fact remains that they were all used by their unscrupulous, narcissistic, and greedy leaders who murdered, tortured, imprisoned countless individuals in the name of party-discipline and narrow nationalist cause.
It is absolutely revolting to witness individuals who were directly involved in carrying out some of the atrocities, murders and tortures as leaders of the TPLF involving themselves now in various political organizations and forums as if they have not participated in horrendous criminal activities especially during the early life of the TPLF. Just like the blood socked hands of those of Mengistu Hailemariam and the Derg Members, Meles Zenawi and the Members of the TPLF and their affiliated Political Parties should be tried some day for crimes of murder, torture, false imprisonment, looting of the national wealth et cetera. Due to the seriousness of their crimes, even their children and grand children must pay the price for the criminal activities of their parents.
I have stated, in the past, in several articles that we Ethiopians have lost our way since the disastrous attack on our civilization by the Ottoman Turks using a local upstart from one of Ethiopia’s frontier tribes of Adal/Issa, Gragn Mohammed, in the destruction of one of the great civilization of the World. His barbaric destruction of great centers of learning, numerous Churches and Cathedrals, some of which dated back to the time of the Apostles, even though Christianity was officially declared as the State Religion of Ethiopia in AD 371, was vast and costly. It changed both the demography and the art of governance and high culture of the time, throwing us back to the dark ages of primitive and nasty life. To this day we are suffering from that horrendous destruction of twelve years exemplified now in the type of leaders we have had for the last two hundred years.
b) The Inequity of Freeing Murderers (Former Derg Officials)
My message as always is that we need to think in meaningful ways, rather than be overly emotional and foam from the mouth screaming meaningless words, threats, and false accusations against individuals who are already struggling in opposition to Meles Zenawi and his narrow and divisive political and economic policies. Members of the Ethiopian Diaspora Communities around the world especially those in the United States are predominantly undisciplined, under-educated, crude peasant stock with no political savvy or sense or anything else. My contempt for such loud-mouthed unprincipled individuals has no bound. For instance, I have not read any condemnation of the recent release, after mere twenty years in prison, of former high officials of the murderous Derg who had tortured and/or executed countless number of Ethiopians from 1974 to 1991. I must point out here that to his great credit and another demonstration of the nobility of his soul, Eskinder Nega wrote powerful essays promoting the idea of forgiveness and the release of the convicted Derg Officials. This magnanimity of spirit of Eskinder is very remarkable considering the fact that Eskinder Nega’s Family suffered greatly during the dictatorial rule of Mengistu Hailemariam.
Most of those convicted former Derg officials were recently released by Meles Zenawi. It is incomprehensible that in a short span of time of twenty years individuals that murdered without any court procedure Members of Emperor Haile Selassie’s Government and countless innocent Ethiopians during the Red Terror and after are set free. Individuals such as Legese Asfaw, Fikre Selassie Wogderes, Fisha Desta, et cetera who were at the top of the Leadership of the Derg should have been hanged in public for the heinous crimes they committed during the seventeen years of terroristic dictatorship of Mengistu Hailemariam whom they served in full, and never set free. Do not think the game is over, as they say in this part of the World, “until the fat lady sings.”
I am not writing here of imaginary crimes of the Derg Members who were just released, but of tens of thousands actual murders and/or tortures committed under their direct decisions against Ethiopians. Even though we may not give much credence to the Courts of the Government of Meles Zenawi, which just released those convicted criminals, we must acknowledge the fact that such Court had found every single one of them guilty of heinous crimes. Are these the types of Ethiopians worth saving? Such decision to release such criminals is a blatant disregard of law and justice, and Meles Zenawi is trampling upon the rights of the victims and their family members. One lame excuse that was given by the Government is that the convicted criminals have expressed their regret of their murderous deeds. “ወደሽም ቆማጢት ንጉሥ ትመርቂ” This verse from the bard says it all, which means more or less that even the Devil will quote the Bible to save his skin. Whether the convicted Derg officials asked for forgiveness and expressed their remorse is irrelevant to the legal duty of the Ethiopian Government and its leaders to follow through to the full the judgments of the Courts. Once again Meles Zenawi is sneering at all of us and abusing his power for some bizarre political goal. The cry for justice by the innocent who were butchered by Mengistu Hailemariam or Meles Zenawi will have their justice no matter how far delayed. Mark my word on that!
God Bless Ethiopia and Hail to all Heroes of Ethiopia of all time!
Tecola W. Hagos
October 14, 2011
III. Religious Leaders and the Release of Derg Members
IV. What to expect from Meles Zenawi on Eskinder, Andualem, and others
V. What must be done to help Eskinder, Andualem, and others?