Ethiopia vs Obama’s speech at West Point By Robele Ababya
First and foremost, I am sincerely pleased to congratulate the President on all the successes of his Administration in the fight against the ruthless Al Qaeda as mentioned in his speech. At the same time I cannot help but submit my disappointment that Ethiopia is not mentioned by name not even once in the speech given the multiple gruesome violations of human rights of the last 23 years – the latest one being the cold-blooded murder of university and high school students in Ambo and other places in the Oromia region in May 2014 – by the notorious agazi forces of the EPRDF regime.
The 9/11 event marked a horrendous crime that had shocked our global community and messed up our lives beyond measure in practically every aspect: security, instability, and economy to mention but a few.
In the speech I noted the applause of the “class of 2014” when the President said they may not have to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. I too am happy for them for in the words of President Eisenhower quoted in the speech: “War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.” I wish there shall be no more wars so that resources are diverted to human development thus sparring the loss of limps, other vital body parts, and most of all the lives of young people.
The 9/11 catastrophe provided the opportunity for terrorists like the former tyrant Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia to jump on the bandwagon of “Coalition of the willing” put together by the former President George W. Bush. The then dying regime of the tyrant resuscitated by the political support and financial handouts it received from the American taxpayers. That support is still available to this day and is advancing the destructive legacy of the tyrant. For his heirs are perpetrating the incalculable damage inflicted by the tyrant to vital national security and economic interests of Ethiopia not to mention the gruesome blatant violations of fundamental human rights well recorded in the annual reports of the State Department.
In the speech of the President, I like the part: “A new century has brought no end to tyranny. In capitals around the globe – including some of America’s partners – there has been a crackdown on civil society. The cancer of corruption has enriched too many governments and their cronies, and enraged citizens from remote villages to iconic squares. Watching these trends, or the violent upheaval in parts of the Arab World, it is easy to be cynical.”
But Ethiopia today where tyranny is spreading like bushfire and corruption is rampant is not mentioned by name. This is sadly another example of double standard.
Ethiopia is a classic example of where corrupt neuveau riche generals, almost all from a minority ethnic background, collude with the EPRDF regime in plundering the country. This is unfortunate in that US taxpayers generously contribute to the financing of personnel training and equipping of the security and defense establishments of the brutal regime, which recently killed Oromo students for no other reason than staging a peaceful demonstration to protest eviction of Oromos from their ancestral homeland around Addis Ababa (Shagar)
Syria is mentioned about ten times in the speech, far more than any other states on our globe embroiled in political unrest. Syria proved to be a failure on the part of the USA to take firm action to stop the human tragedy there that the Bashar Al Assad regime has inflicted on its own people. Lack of unity on the part of the several opposition Syrian forces is also to blame, which to a considerable extent should serve as a lesson to some of our own Ethiopian opposition forces.
The President underlines in his speech by stating that “the final element of American leadership is “our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity”. He goes on to state that “America’s support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism – it’s a matter of national security. Democracies are our closest friends, and are far less likely to go to war. Free and open economies perform better, and become markets for our goods. Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability, and the grievances that fuel violence and terror.”
But this utterance is inconsistent with the support that the USA has so far been giving, and continues to give, to the ruthless EPRDF regime.
I welcome wholeheartedly the President’s statement to the effect that American leadership encompasses its “willingness to act on behalf of human dignity.” He goes on to state: “America’s support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism – it’s a matter of national security. Democracies are our closest friends, and are far less likely to go to war. Free and open economies perform better, and become markets for our goods. Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability, and the grievances that fuel violence and terror.” This is interesting for the reason written in the paragraph below.
The President said that “In Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests – from the peace treaty with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism. So we have not cut off cooperation with the new government. But we can and will persistently press for the reforms that the Egyptian people have demanded.” This is of interest to Ethiopia bound to Egypt by the Blue Nile River. One would hope that the President will push for political and land reform in Ethiopia too in order to put in place two democracies that are unlikely to go to war.
Ethiopian elections 2005 and 2010: Reminder to President Obama
I have reproduced the following from my article titled “Open letter to the AU Chairperson” dated 08 February 2013:-
Quote On that historic day of 07 May 2005 before the election on 15 May 2005, a truly mammoth crowd estimated at 2.5 – 3 million inundated the streets and squares of Addis Ababa to support the now defunct Kinijit Party (Coalition for Unity and Democracy). That sea of humanity was acclaimed internationally for its magnificent display of decorum and civility; it ended peacefully without a single incident of violence.
The unprecedented massive support for Kinijit was followed by an unprecedented turn out of massive voters on 15 May 2005 in which the ruling party suffered a humiliating defeat failing to win a single vote in Addis Ababa where the AU Headquarters is located.
Unfortunately tyrant Meles declared a state of emergency and swiftly implemented his plan B that resulted in killing close to 200 peaceful protesters by trained snipers; throwing the victors to filthy prison; incarcerating tens of thousands of opposition supports, mostly young shaving their heads with unsterilized blades without regard to widespread STDs of that time.
What is really shocking is that the African Union which had sent its observers to the above election pronounced the election free and fair and recognized the TPLF party as the winner. Unquote
Election 2010 was rigged so much so that the brutal ruling party unashamedly claimed 99.6% ‘win’ of the 547 parliamentary seats. The 170-member EU Observer Mission declared that the election was not free and fair. The White House agreed with the EU Observer Mission.
What is heartbreaking is that the EPRDF regime continued to enjoy the generous support of the EU and the USA – politically and financially. The EPRDF repressive regime is now showing the video in which its late master Meles Zenawi was praising election 2005 as the first ever in the history of Ethiopia that marked a peaceful transfer of state power. The late tyrant in the same vein crowned election 2010 as flawless thus insulting the intelligence of the Ethiopian people and the international community.
In spite of the above self-aggrandizement, EPRDF dictators, in May 2014, committed: a killing spree on Oromo students; imprisonment of journalists; incarceration political activities; reinforced the gagging media; prohibiting freedom of speech and assembly – in short paralyzing all instruments critical to the building of a democratic and prosperous society caring for all of its citizens under the rule of law.
Role of USA in the victory of TPLF rebels
The citizens of Addis Ababa met the EPRDF’s entry to their city with strong hostility staging a large protest at the USA Embassy as witnessed by its senior diplomat on the BBC’s “Witness” program aired on 30/5/2014. The diplomat said that he reported about the demo to Herman Cohen, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, who was in London mediating between the Derg and the EPRDF rebels. According to the senior diplomat in Addis, Ambassador Cohen disclosed that the United States government has recommended that the rebels advance to and capture Addis Ababa in order to avert bloodshed.
So the EPRDF is at the helm of power because the USA catapulted it to that position and turning a blind eye to its heinous crimes committed in the last 23 years and counting. Will that change now as a result of President Obama’s Foreign Policy speech?
It is absolutely true that in the 21st century, American isolationism is not an option. It cannot walk out of the world affairs that it had shaped up after the end of World War II. In the words of the President, the values of the founding of the USA “inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe”. So it would be in the best interest of the USA to remain engaged in world affairs as a leader of the free world – and lead fairly consistent with the President’s belief that “ a world of greater freedom and tolerance is not only a moral imperative – it also helps keep us safe.”
The President is so right in saying that “the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism. But a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naïve and unsustainable. I believe we must shift our counter-terrorism strategy – drawing on the successes and shortcomings of our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan – to more effectively partner with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold.” But I warn that partnering with the TPLF/EPRDF repressive and corrupt regime will be a disaster.
All political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia must be released immediately and unconditionally!
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!