Messay Dejene’s Straw man Argument Tecola W. Hagos
The brief article by Dr. Messay Dejene is an ad hominem focusing on my person rather than focusing wholly on the contents of the articles I wrote. Even more distressing to me is the typical straw-man argument Messay chose to adopt, wherein he distorted the words and meaning of my article and then proceeded to refute such artificial constructs. I never painted a “rosy picture of Ethiopia under Hailemariam” or anybody else for that matter. In my articles, I pointed out clearly several times that Hailemariam inherited a terrible record of human rights violations and abuses. Moreover, I am advocating an approach that is far more realistic and appropriate to the political condition in Ethiopia at this time of our history. In order to counter simplistic and unrealistic advocacy of changing the Ethiopian situation through violence and revolution, I cautioned the importance of taking “baby-steps” in bringing about lasting changes.
There are no magic formulas that could solve our national problems as easily as conjuring up a fantasia—a magical place. Is there a way to solve our problems with minimal death and destruction. If there is I would like to hear it. But what Messay is writing about is about bundles of silly assertions that “Woyane is unreformable entity,” that “Woyane-appointed tribal riffrafs of whom most have barely seen the four walls of high schools” et cetera. I wonder how anyone can make any progress in convincing even friends let alone enemies to accept one’s political goals with such type of juvenile writings. I am not defending the record of the Government of Meles Zenawi or his policies dealing with the integrity and sovereignty of Ethiopia. I have stated clearly in countless articles how much I am opposed to the Kilil system and vehemently opposed dividing Ethiopia by language groups. I even went to the extent of writing several times that we need to establish administrative systems that reflects the Tekli Gizatte systems or close to such a system.
About exiling Eskinder Nega, Andualem Aragie it is not meant to be as solution to help the Ethiopian Government but rather to save very courageous individuals from being imprisoned in harrowing prison cells in an Ethiopian jail for years. I clearly stated that my suggestion is in “desperation” to free two individuals and others I greatly admire and respect for their love of Ethiopia and the people of Ethiopia. I know what it means to be imprisoned in the Ethiopian Prison systems. I spent in Alem-Bekagn prison detained without trial for the period 1974-75 by the Derg. Losing one’s freedom and liberty under constant threat of violence is no easy matter. I was in the same prison compound when the Military Junta wantonly and criminally murdered sixty Ethiopian officials including two Prime Ministers, generals and great patriots who fought the Italians during the occupation. The horror of hearing all that gunfire, and listening the gruesome description of the massacre by fellow prisoners who collected the bodies of those murdered and buried them in a mass grave was most traumatic to me that even all these years after still relive the horror now and them. I do not want anything to happen to such great heroes like Eskinder, and I do not want them to suffer. In my suggestions for exile my concern is to get these heroes out of hellhole. I am not in any way undermining the human rights and political rights of any Ethiopian including Eskinder and Andualem. I would ask Messay, if he would be willing to substitute himself for these heroes even for a week of imprisonment. Of course, he will not. He is just a paper-lion (paper-tiger) and roars on paper with “zero” courage.
Meessay called my writing “gibberish,” then if that was the case, why did he bother to write back to me with such ostentatious public manner. If I want to go back home, this is not the way to do it by publicly stating controversial suggestions. A few others like Messay in different Websites have asserted that I was seeking public office, may be even my old position. Such irresponsible statements tell me that we are still infants in our political thinking and writing as well. Mind you all that I am dealing with in all of my essays are serious national issues of administrative reforms, leadership changes, the direction of national policy changes, et cetera. And here I read such banal and self congratulatory statements by the likes of Messay Dejene. What is tragic in all these bantering, the use of foul language, and self mutilation is the fact that such individuals have minimal impact in the life of Ethiopia. However, I do not want anyone to read my response as if I am censoring Messay Dejene or anyone else from writing critiquing my work, but that they do it intelligently without insulting me. Ethiopia will persist, its people will work out the problem facing them as they always have done for thousands of years. We, in the Diaspora, are the losers for we have turned ourselves into paper-Tigers.
Tecola W. Hagos