The Dictator’s Doublespeak; Lies, Lies, and more Lies! By Tibebe Samuel Ferenji
“Prime Minister Meles is not capable of telling the truth, even when you ask him his name, he doe’s not tell you the truth.”
In 1995, I had the honor and immense pleasure of interviewing Professor Mesfin Woldemariam when I was working with “the Hibret Radio”. During that interview, he told me that Mr. Meles Zenawi is someone who is incapable of telling the truth. This statement was made by the well known Human Rights activist four years after the Zenawi regime took power in Ethiopia. About 17 years after the remark made by Professor Mesfin, things remain the same. At least in telling lies, Mr. Zenawi’s behavior is consistent. It is not surprising that those who serve the ruling party with loyalty display similar behavior like Mr. Zenawi.
Recently, several ethnic Amharas were unjustly uprooted from their home by the Southern Ethiopian Nation Nationalities Regional Administration president direct order. These Ethiopians were even turned away from the church when they sought refugee. Because they did not have any choice, they went to the office of All Ethiopian Unity Organization (AEUO). Some of the people who were uprooted with their families, including infant children, were interviewed by the VOA and other media outlets form AEUO office. To hear the outcry of the children is heart breaking; to hear grown men sound helpless because their basic human right and dignity was violated by a government that is supposed to protect them is equally heart breaking. As the news of such brutality was spreading all over the world, the EPRDF and its surrogates were at work to discredit the victims and to debunk the opposition. Mr. Shegute, the president of the region, issued a press release about a week ago stating that no one was uprooted from the region. His despicable lies were repeated again and again in the airwaves that the EPRDF and its surrogates control. What a shame! Adding insult to injury, the EPRDF completely denied the illegal eviction of Amharas from South Ethiopia and blamed the opposition for “spreading false propaganda. I don’t know how the regime could be such arrogant and oblivious in this information age.
Such behavior is not unique to Mr. Meles and his cronies; such behavior is a typical character of dictators. When you examine the typical characteristics of world authoritarian regimes, you begin to see consistencies in the way that authoritarian leaders and the people who serve them rationalize their brutal action. They tell the world that their subjects are better off because “their regime has established a stable government, there is economic progress, and the opposition is controlled and influenced by foreign enemies….. and so on.” Such dictators claim to believe in the basic principle of human rights protection, democracy, justice and liberty. They claim that to achieve such objectives, the culture and the behavior of their subjects must change through the divine intervention of their iron fist rule. Because they believe that they are above everything, they consistently defy public opinion, distort history, defy human decency and orchestrate lies to excuse their brutal behavior and action. Some of their mode of operands is to doublespeak, deny, and blame. These are the exact behaviors that we witness in today’s Ethiopia.
The Zenawi regime unashamedly try to tell us that “democratic” progress is made in Ethiopia despite the fact that there are more prisoners of consciousness in Ethiopia today than at any time in the history of our country; there are more people abducted, killed, uprooted, and exiled during the rule of the EPRDF regime than at any time in the history of Ethiopia. Although the Zenawi regime is one of the most brutal regimes in the world, Zenawi himself tells the world the undemocratic nature of the Eritrean regime; and he preaches about “regime change” in Eritrea. In one of the most dramatic event in Ethiopia, last year, Eritreans in Ethiopia were give permission to hold a protest against the Issaias regime. The Eritreans held a slogan that says “YEAKEL” (ENOUGH) and burned Issaias’ picture in the middle of Addis Ababa, while Ethiopians were denied any permit for protest in their own country. Although the Constitution gives Ethiopians the right to hold a protest and to petition their government, the Zenawi regime denied these basic and fundamental rights to its own citizens while allowing foreigners (Eritteans) to exercise these basic rights. No one denies that Zenawi’s intention, when orchestrating the “Eritreans protest”, was not holly, but it is a clear example of hypocrisy. If the Eritreans in Ethiopia are allowed to hold a protest, why are Ethiopians in Ethiopia denied permission to hold a protest in their own country? Talk about doublespeak.
The history of EPRDF clearly indicates that it was established based on lies. At least during its armed struggle era, the EPRDF could lie and could get away with it. In this time and age where information is at our finger tip, I don’t know how the EPRDF assumes that it can simply lie and get away with the lies that it is telling the world. The entire world is watching with great sadness and disappointment the rampant corruption in Ethiopia; however, if you had the opportunity to visit Ethiopian embassy websites, this is what you read as one of the 10 reasons to invest in Ethiopia: “• Absence of corruption – Ethiopia is described by the U.N. and ICC as “exceptional…in its almost complete absence of routine corruption ”today than at any time in its history”. Such daring and bold statement is coming from a government immersed in corruption. Global Financial Integrity in its report stated that Ethiopia has lost $11.7-billion to outflows of illicit funds in the last decade. If this is not an indicative of a corrupt government, I don’t know what is. It is not only GFI that is sounding the Alarm about corruption in Ethiopia; Janice Winter, a South African journalist, wrote an opinion piece on Daily Maverick titled ‘Climate of Corruption in Ethiopia. In her article, Janice highlighted the state of corruption in Ethiopia and called for strict examination of Melese Zenawi’s regime before the release of the Green Climate Fund. The fact is according to the Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Ethiopia ranks 120 out of 182 countries and territories in the world. Does this sound an absence of corruption in Ethiopia?
Of course, EPRDF apologists and Mr. Zenawi’s cult builders would like the world to believe that Ethiopia has established a stable, corruption free government, and a pluralistic democracy. One of the supporters of Mr. Zenawi wrote “Ethiopia today is a pluralistic democracy and as such would not sit on its hands while others try to circumvent democracy for there cannot be such thing as lawless freedom.” This is a comment made by an EPRDF apologist called Mulugeta in one online forum. It would be interesting to see how this apologist defines what he termed “lawless freedom.” Dictators and their mouthpiece ardent supporters interpret the basic principle of democracy as it fits them. May be they do not understand that there cannot be democracy in a country where freedom of speech is termed as terrorism. The notion that Ethiopia has it is own version of “democracy” contrary to the universally accepted basic democratic principles is as foolish as daring attempt to make us believe Black is White. Dictators and their cronies always have double standard and doublespeak to justify their fatal action. Their interest is to prolong their grip on power by any means necessary. It is up to concerned citizens and democratic forces to expose the lies and to strive for a regime change to establish democratic governance in the country. We are duty bound to vehemently oppose the human rights violation in Ethiopia and struggle for democratic change. We are also duty bound and the current condition in Ethiopia demands that we clean our act, stop bickering on irrelevant issues, focus, refine our strategy, and take the struggle against the brutal regime in Ethiopia to the next phase. It is time for action!