Defending the Indefensible, Yes we say Nay Mr. Assefa! ( Part 2) By Tibebe Samuel Ferenji
As I am posting the second part of this piece, it is worth to note that after posting the first part of this piece, I had an e-mail from Genenew. Although I was not surprised with his child like threats and attempted intimidations, I was very surprised when he said that “he is defending the Republic.” It is not clear to me how Genenew defends a “republic” that does not exist. One of the things that the 2001 TPLF split exposed was that there is no “Federalism” in Ethiopia. The so called “Administrative Regions” have neither independence nor power; the split brought to light exposing the fake federalism. We all became aware that behind each “Regional President”, there is a TPLF nanny controlling and maneuvering the affairs of the Regions. What we have known for years was confirmed publicly in 2001; the federation (the republic) exists only on paper; and the so called presidents were only clients of the TPLF mercenaries. What was true then is also true today. It would be interesting to know which “republic” my dear friend is defending.
The TPLF learned the importance of propaganda war at the early stage of its armed struggle against the Derg. Since taking power, the TPLF has not changed its propaganda war strategy. Instead of as a responsible government, it has continued to operate as a rebel force “targeting its enemies.” Since 1991, particularly the Diaspora community in the US has been a thorn in the eyes of the TPLF. It is with the objective of “shooting down” the Diaspora opposition that the TPLF began radio programs like “Selam Radio.” To some extant this radio program has achieved its goal by presenting distorted facts as truth. However, this propaganda machine is no match to the barrage of other media outlets operated by the opposition armed with the truth. Although the TPLF has found some surrogate radio programs operating particularly in Washington, DC area to promote its misinformation and propaganda, the hosts and producers of these programs lack the intelligence and the capacity to win any hearts. Just like Selam radio, they have continued to preach to their choirs.
Particularly the 2005 election has shown the EPRDF that the Diaspora sides with the opposition because the democratic governance that the Ethiopian people paid a heavy price for is hijacked by ruthless dictator. In a strategic move to “shoot down” these vocal opponents, the regime has deployed its “propaganda snipers” in every websites. Most of the “snipers” operate covertly using pen names; some write on websites that are established simply for propaganda purposes, and some are engaged in cyber guerilla warfare at various Ethiopian websites. It is with this in mind, that the regime dispatched Genenew Assefa not simply to defend the regime, but also to engage in character assassination to discredit and undermine the efforts made by those who are vocal in the Diaspora opposition. Granted, Genenew is a prolific writer who has impressive command of the English language. Regardless of his capability however, even writers like Genenew could not win any hearts in the Diaspora because the true nature of the EPRDF is as bright as the morning Sun. Whatever kind rosy picture is painted, its ugliness cannot be covered.
The people of Ethiopia are living the horrors of the TPLF’s Iron Fist rule, no amount of distortion and propaganda can change the fact on the ground. The people are well aware that betrayal is one of Meles Zenawi’s devious characters; they don’t need a confirmation from any Western Diplomats how Meles Zenawi betrays even those who are very close to him. The fact that Wikileaks exposed what Meles said to Americans about Sudan’s Al-Bashir, only confirms to what we have known for years. There is no surprise there. After all Meles is the architect of the massacre of the TLF leadership when the TLF leaders felt comfortable enough and slept in TPLF’s controlled territory after completing negotiation with the TPLF. Meles who turned his gun on his comrades like Kinfe Gebremedhen and Haielom Araya is no stranger to betrayal. Yet, Genenew tries to tell us that Meles did not betray Al-Bashir when he told the Americans to take him out. There is no misinterpretation about what Meles told the Americans; it is written in Black and White. Why would the people of Ethiopia be surprised by the cowardly act of Meles Zenawi? More than anyone, Meles has betrayed the Ethiopian people and their sacrifice for social justice and true freedom.
Genenew’s attempt to explain and justify what is in a Wikileaks cable is extremely saddening. It shows how indifference he is to the suffering of the ordinary people. It is ironic that Genenew uses terms like “turncoats”, “sellouts”, “House Nigger” and “Uncle Tom” to attack professor Al Mariam; it is equally ironic for Genenew to say “…… since he is by no means a disinterested snitch, the reward for his secret service can’t be more than thirty pieces of silver…..” to attack professor Merrara Gudina for his role in informing the US embassy about the bomb planted by the EPRDF and blamed the OLF for it. Before the Wikileaks cable release however, the people of Ethiopia already knew who planted the bombs which killed innocent civilians. The OLF that has never planted a bomb in the city of Addis Ababa during its struggle with the military junta could not have done the same at this juncture. As Genenew knows, every terrorist organization has its own signature. The only Ethiopian terrorist organization known to plant bombs and target none military assets is the TPLF. As a student of history, my dear friend is well aware of this fact; unfortunately, he chose to exercise willful blindness and blame the victims of such brutal act. Why would the OLF begin planting bombs now and kill civilians in the middle of the city?
The terms that Genenew used to describe Professor Al-Mariam and Dr. Merrara Gudina are appalling to say the least. He only has to look into a mirror to see who really is a “snitch who got paid thirty pieces of silver for “his secret service”. Genenew did not only debunk and resorted to personal attack against opposition organizations, he went into a rampage to attack Human Right organizations; these are the same human rights organizations which advocated for the release of Genenew when he was detained by this brutal regime in 1993. Genenew and others were detained by the regime in 1993 when they went to Addis Ababa for “Peace and Reconciliation Conference.”
No one knows better than Genenew that this regime uses brutal methods to silence its critics; no one knows better than Genenew this regime will do whatever is necessary to continue to cling to power. The fact the opposition is “clueless” as Genenew described it, the fact that the opposition is disorganized, the fact the opposition is not united does not give the regime in Ethiopia to resort to illegal detentions of innocent citizens, extra judicial killings of its opponents, harassment and other brutal methods to silence dissent. What Genenew is intentionally distorting or he is intentionally misleading us to believe is that there is a conducive political atmosphere in Ethiopia for peaceful political discourse to engage the EPRDF. Genenew knows that the EPRDF does not allow any dissent, and the political space for any opposition does not exist any more. Genenew knows to well what the ramification would be when the political space continue to narrow. He should be concerned more what the out come of the poisonous ethnic seed sowed in the country would be once the EPRDF is long gone. One wonders if the objective of Meles is to intentionally create chaos in the country so he can have an excuse to continue to rule beyond 2015; or as Mr. Yamamoto said it, if Meles is working towards destabilizing Ethiopia by “design.”
In order to protect the regime’s survival using Western countries aid fund, Genenew try to tell us that sanction will not work and that the Ethiopian government cannot be pushed around by Westerners. He considers the belligerent behavior of Meles Zenawi as courage. The fact that is well known to the world is that Meles Zenawi has held the Ethiopian people and the nation at large hostages threatening its disintegration unless the EPRDF continue to rule. Meles is intentionally working to destabilize Ethiopia unless he or one of his puppets continues to rule. Although Mr. Yamamoto confirmed it, the people have known this for years. It is with this in mind Meles injects the fear of Interahamwe in Ethiopian politics. As a student of history, Genenew is well aware that economic and other sanctions have helped South Africa to be free of Apartheid. African Americans have used their purchasing power to achieve some civil rights and political objectives. Sanction forced Gaddafi to give up the Lockerbie Bomber and to scrap his Nuclear weapon program; sanction also forced Robert Mugabe to change his political discourse.
It is disappointing to read the intentional distortion about the effects of sanction in any country to force despots to change their belligerent behavior. It has worked before, and there is no reason why it will not work in Ethiopia. What Ethiopians in Diaspora are asking is for the Western governments to stop funding the police state in Ethiopia. Independent journalists have repeatedly confirmed that the aid fund provided to the regime is used to train and arm the police and the security apparatus in Ethiopia with the sole purpose of cracking down any dissent that might arise. That is why we say Nay to the funds provided to the regime. Although Genenew lambasted the BBC and other independent journalists for exposing what the aid fund is used for, he did not mention what the motive of these independent journalists is.
Genenew mentions the British official’s claim that the Britain government have investigated the matter and proven that the allegations are false. What he failed to mention is that the British government has keen interest in maintaining a “good relationship” with the regime and would not tell us the truth. This is like the Chicken watching the Hen’s house. After all the Brits are well known for speaking with “Fork Tongues;” what they say and do are often different and contradictory. What the opposition is demanding is for the Westerners to stop funding, training, and arming this brutal regime. For this end, we will continue to say Nay.
The last few years, the regime in Addis Ababa has been a center of gravity and a hub for opportunists who could not make it in the United States and other Western countries. I can understand why these failures ask how low when ordered to bend over to please the regime. Some have become “more Christians than the Pope.” What I can’t understand is why someone as capable as Genenew is bending over so low, and degenerate to such low point to please these “new juntas.” What would be the logical explanation other than insanity when a man who stood for justice at one point of his life is standing with criminals that perpetrated untold crimes against innocent Ethiopians.
In his attempt to enlighten us about “the wise and courageous leader”, Genenew has informed us the praise that Mr. Meles is getting from the likes of Hillary Clinton omitting the fact that we have a ruthless dictator who failed to listen to the crying voices of our people. At one point of our country’s history, we had a “leader” called Mengistu Hailemariam who claimed to hove won 99% of the people’s vote in “an election,” and whose “wisdom, courage and patriotism” was widely preached by his propaganda machine. Those of us who understand how the Westerners behave do not give any credence to their tainted opinions. Knowing that Mubarak, Ben Ali, even Gaddafi and Sadam Hussein were praised and supported by the US and its European allies for years while sucking their people’s’ blood, gives us some comfort when we here that they have praised Meles. It is never surprising to learn that the United States and the Europeans are “sleeping” with one of the most brutal dictator that the world has ever witnessed. After all, the United States and the European governments are more interested in protecting their interests than the interest of the Ethiopian people. We know to well that the governments of these nations have sold themselves to the highest bidder and serve only the interest of their multinational corporations and their corrupt financial backers.
It has been a long time since the United States government served the interest of its own people let alone the interest of the Ethiopian people. The “positive” remarks given to Meles by Western governments does not help to legitimize Meles’ rule. After all, they had positive remarks abut General Pinochet while he was murdering innocent Chileans. What matters is what the people of Ethiopia say and feel about the EPRDF and Mr. Meles. In his 9 page rampage, Genenew never mentioned even once what the Ethiopian people feel about Meles. Like the regime, he may have felt that the opinion of the ordinary Ethiopians does not matter. It is clear that the people of Ethiopia have said Nay time and again to the ruthless dictatorship of Meles Zenawi. Although Genenew criticizes the opposition for heavily “relying” on the foreigners to change the political landscape of Ethiopia, ironically, he gives too much weight to the opinions of foreign diplomats to tell us the “patriotism” of Mr. Meles. The regime and its defenders are well aware that the people of Ethiopia from all walks of lives have rejected the regime. As far as the majority of the people are concerned, Meles and his cronies have no legitimacy, and they are clinging on power only with gun barrel instead of with the consent of the people. It should be embarrassing for Genenew, the man who frequented the hallways of the US congress as foreign affair officer of COEDF to lambaste the Diaspora opposition for lobbying US congress demanding for the US to stop supporting the brutal dictators in Ethiopia. His hypocrisy only shows that Genenew has gave in to servitudes.
It is true that the regime cannot find any one better than Genenew to attack human rights activists in the Diaspora and political opponents in the country; he is capable of shooting anyone using “a cop killer” bullet type words to penetrate a Bullet Proof Vest. He is brilliant and a “master” of the English language. No one could be a better “General” for the TPLF in the propaganda battle field. What is tragic however is to see a person of Genenew’s caliber to be used by morons like Shimles Kemal, a spineless yes man, who will do anything to please his bosses for his own personal gains. There is no need to get in to what Wikileaks has exposed, or what other Western officials said or did not say about the EPRDF. What is clear to the people of Ethiopia is that they are ruled by a government that has no legitimacy. The notion that it makes Meles a “hero” for not listening the IMF and the World Bank only adds to the evidence how narcissistic and arrogant Mr. Zenawi is. It is because his failure to listen to experts, that Meles is taking the country into disastrous economic path using a Ponzi scheme and a highly inflated Real Estate deals in the name of development. We only have to learn from what is happening in Europe and the US where such fraudulent “economic development” is going to take us. It is paradoxical how a man who is fomenting ethnic division to divide and rule the country could be considered “smart;” How could any one with sane mind defend the EPRDF exclusivity and opposes the inclusive and the reconciliation political line advocated by the opposition?
What would internationally recognized credible Human Rights organizations would gain by standing against the regime if the regime had governed the country in universally acceptable democratic principles with transparency? As independent human rights groups repeatedly stated it, there is no freedom of speech, assembly, the press and organization in the country. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, CPJ and others have no ulterior motives other than the protection of human rights in Ethiopia. Even Genenew knows that this regime takes the life of its opponents and critics at will without due process. The character assassination campaign is designed to destroy the opposition. What they cannot silence with their guns, they are trying to silence with their degenerated name calling and labeling. It is only laughable that the regime and its surrogates are calling those who are fighting for the democratic rights of all Ethiopians and those who are striving for social justice “sellouts” and “traitors”. What my dear friend Genenew Assefa and his bosses should know is that they will never break the spirit of the opposition. The opposition will unite, rise to the occasion, and will continue to fend of the “silent war” that has been waged against the people of Ethiopia for the last 20 years.
I am certain that the regime knows that there is an enormous public discontent, and what is boiling beneath the surface would explode soon or later. The regime may prolong its life for a while through deception and fear. If any thing, the “Arab Spring” has taught us those who stand for justice will win at the end. Make no mistake, no one knows better than these ruthless rulers that change is coming. I hoped that people like Genenew who have the ears of the regime to be a bridge between the opposition and the regime to bring a lasting peace to our nation before it is too late. Instead, they got infected with the diseases that have plagued Meles and company; just like their bosses they have become arrogant and narcissistic.
Since Genenew is a student of history, it would be only fare to compare him with one of America’s great generals who betrayed his country and his people after he fought a great fight against the British and other enemies. Benedict Arnold was one of America’s greatest warriors who fought against the Spanish, French and British. He was frustrated by the US congress and began selling secret to the British government as a retaliation. When one of the British intelligence officers was captured by the United States army, Arnold’s role against the United Sates was exposed. Arnold fled to Britain. He wore the British Uniform and fought against his countrymen and his nation. After the war, he went to London where he died 20 years later forgotten by the British and despised by America. As far as I know, Genenew fought a good fight at one point of his life for freedom, democracy, social justice and the reign of the rule of law in Ethiopia; because of his disagreements with his comrades, he betrayed his country and now he is standing with those who have betrayed the sacrifice of millions of Ethiopians for justice and freedom. It is a tragedy to see someone like Genenew defending injustice and those whose hands are immersed with innocent people blood. If Genenew has an iota of integrity left, he should repent and stand for freedom before he ends up like Benedict Arnold. I am very sad to say DEZVEDANGNA to my dear friend.