My Tribute to the Victims of Mengistu Hailemariam and His Bloody Collaborators By Tecola W. Hagos

November 27th, 2014 Print Print Email Email

I. Introduction

For the last six years every year, Engineer Girma Haile-Leul has been commemorating the brutal murder of the Sixty Ethiopian High Officials by the blood thirsty Mengistu Hailemariam and Collaborators. This year Girma has produced a video to commemorate the 40th Anniversary. In this noble effort he was assisted by Andenet TV of Seatle producer Woynegus Debebe and Ethiomedia. If it were not for Girma’s effort and such dedicated Ethiopians, this monumental national tragedy and national shame would have passed without much notice by the Diaspora Ethiopians or back home by the Ethiopian public. Shame on us all that we do not stand for justice, forget vengeance. We are something else, that we have the gall to tear down a national flag, scream at leaders in conference halls, endlessly demonstrate at the State Department on some abstract concept of freedom and justice to a people we will not even touch with a ten feet pole, and yet do not have the common decency to remember those victimized by Mengistu Hailemariam and his bloody Collaborators.

This form of devotion shown by Girma and his compatriots in their making sure that we remember the victims of the Derg far exceeds the raving and ranting of Diaspora politicians in their blind pursuit of political power by shouting and flinging insults and invalid rhetorical arguments et cetera. Not long ago, I wrote about my disgust with the Ethiopian Government pardoning of some twenty high ranking convicted Derg Officials some three years ago. I consider such pardon to be unjust and a violation of the rights of the victims and a permanent threat to our humanity. We are hypocrites to the bone. Those Derg Officials, now pardoned, had murdered and tortured countless innocent Ethiopians from 1974 to 1991 when they were in power. They showed no mercy or any humane consideration to any of their victims. Let me state again that the blood that was socking Mengistu’s hands and the hands of the convicted Derg Officials, released from prison, was not that of dogs, but of human beings—of our heroes and our fellow Ethiopians. [This article is adopted from my article of a couple of years ago:”The Courage to Swallow the Bitter Truth: A Response and a Cure.”

I write with great vehemence because of the fact that we are morally neutered and frozen in fear, and that we do next to nothing when our people are dehumanized and our heroes thrown into prison, while murderers and torturers are freed from prisons. This is also a chance to channel our resistance and opposition in the right direction away from the distortions of old ideology and possible usurped power structure in the hands of political predators.

II. How Responsible Nations Dealt with Mass Murderers

We find similar situations of the pursuit of justice in our own time in different countries especially in the West. The Government of Israel has hunted down Nazi Military Commanders and officers who committed war crimes of the Holocaust and brought such criminals to justice. Adolf Eichmann is one such criminal we all have heard or read about. The United States Government after the 9/11 attack in New York, Arlington et cetera where over three thousand United States Citizens and other individuals from different nations died, went to war in order to punish such criminals. In pursuing to bring to justice those who harmed its citizens, the United States Government was overwhelmingly supported by its citizens. The Government immediately launched massive attack on those who harmed its citizens; it annihilated a Government in Afghanistan, hunted down Al-Qaida’s founder Bin Laden and killed him where he was hiding in Pakistan. The United States Government’s record of hunting down such terrorists is exemplary. Whether it is President Bush or President Obama, they did not just say let bygone be bygone and let murderers go free, but they made those who hurt American Citizens pay the ultimate price for their crimes.

In 1661 England, the punishment for treason and murder was severe, but necessary and vindicated those who promoted social responsibility. It brought a degree of closure to the violence committed against the established order by Cromwell and his supporters. By contrast, in Ethiopia what we have is a very weak and abusive Government that is willing to forgive Derg Officials who committed no less crime than the Nazis did or the recent terrorists of 9/11 did, and yet let such criminals go free after serving a mere twenty years whereas justice would have demanded most of them to be hanged. Letting go free such convicted criminals, like the Derg Officials on some administrative ground of good behavior, regrets, apologies et cetera is not an advanced form of ethics or morality but a manifest weakness of a government that has no respect for human life or dignity.

Both in European countries and also in the United States crimes committed by military officers and/or civilian officials is a crime prosecuted in those countries; there are instances of deportations based on such findings of war crimes and crimes of atrocities against protected groups. Such legal prosecutions against war criminals and those who committed atrocities against innocent people is a mark of a just and strong society and state. It is only weak and degenerate societies that have no respect for human life that always resolve such issues the easy way out—letting go or pardoning vicious criminals, murderers and torturers of innocent people. The moral of all my presentations drawing from historical incidents in the treatment of mass murderers and those who committed treason is that the game is not over yet for justice for the tens of thousands murdered, tortured, and dehumanized Ethiopians..

As to the former Derg Members, especially Mengistu Hailemariam and his close associates that are taking refuge in foreign countries, I recommend that they be hunted down and either deported or taken care of wherever found. The reality out there of pardoning murderous Derg Officials is an injustice that simply affirms the baseness and also the weakness of some Ethiopians in the Diaspora. Capital punishment is justified in some of the cases of the criminal Deg Members, for such just punishment establishes the parameter of law and order. If individuals are pardoned after few years of imprisonment for horrendous crimes of mass killings, what is there to deter others from doing the same in the future?


In an article I wrote about three years ago titled “Forgiveness, reconciliation, and pardon: a challenge to a just society” (January 25, 2011), I emphasized that “forgiveness is hardly a political solution.” I elaborated on that theme further by writing that in a strong democratic society crimes are well defined in administrative traditions, in statutes and in case laws in advance. The legislative body in such a community is distinct from both the judiciary and the executive organs of the government. The judicial system is well developed, transparent, and independent of the executive. Prosecutors and investigators are well trained professionals with great moral integrity and abide by rules of procedures of the judicial system et cetera.

By contrast, in a society or community where the government structure is weak, such society or community tends to be despotic where the executive body has as its primary function to stay in power through illegal and undemocratic means. In such system of government, the individual citizen is subordinated to the interest of the state (the dictator) and the in-group. There is no consistent application of law if there is any law at all. Citizens are insecure, apprehensive of government representatives, and very fearful of their leaders. When I look back into the last twenty years in the life of Ethiopia, what I see is a wasteland of missed opportunities. The same type of justice that I am demanding for the victims of the Derg, may well be demanded by victims of the current Ethiopian Government Leaders.

Tecola W. Hagos
November 23, 2014

  1. Girum
    | #1

    Mesfin Haile – you gave a ‘wonderful’ analysis of my profile indicating that my training goes back to the dismantled communist East Europe. However, let me give a piece of advice. If you carefully read Tekola’s script you’d find the best example of what had been exercised in the East block during the cold war era. Assassination of once political enemie wherever they maybe without due process of the law. Remember how Trotsky was taken care of? Tekola, instigate clearly that someone should ‘take care of Mengistu’. By stating that he disqualified himself from being someone who can call for justice. This script will be a good reference point about Tekola’s infantile concept of justice. Mind you if Tekola was assigned as a minister of justice in Ethiopia – just imagine.

    Otherwise, I‘ve never been to any Eastern Europe territory, and I don’t think anyone needs to be there to learn what has happened in the world.

  2. Tecola W. Hagos
    | #2

    Girum at #46 stated pointing at me, “Bragging about justice when his cousins are slaughtering poor Ethiopian in every corner of the country.” Other than the fact that the sentence is problematic to understand because it is a fragment and grammatically incorrect, it has also problematic content of a morally convoluted insinuation of guilt by association.

    Girum, the individuals you identified as my “cousins” that you claim are “slaughtering poor Ethiopians” are your “cousins” too, unless you are an Arab, or a Bantu from the Ilemi Triangle, or a Nilotic from Southern Sudan; for most Ethiopians i.e., over ninety percent are Agew and Agew admixtures that includes all of the original people of Ethiopia such as the Amharas, The Tygreans, The Oromos, the Omotic, the Sahos, the Somalies, the Afars, the Issases, et cetera. In antiquity, some ten thousand years ago, some of the same Agew (Ethiopians) migrated out to the rest of the world creating the Sumerian civilization, the Pharonic civilization, the Great Zimbabwe et cetera civilizations.

    At any rate, even though it does not phase me even if you are Mengistu Hailemariam writing under a cover name, the fact remains that you are defending the atrocities and mass murders of innocent Ethiopians by Mengistu and his bloody collaborators by arguing that other groups, such as the current Leaders of Ethiopia have committed similar crimes, that the United States has destroyed millions in Iraq and in Vietnam. This is a major fallacy of your argument, that you are claiming two wrongs make a right, And in logic we call such distorted reasoning a “Red Herring” or “Tu Quoque” fallacy.

    It amazes me when I read or hear people being sanctimonious and holy and advocating that we should forgive Mengistu and Collaborators and bygones be bygones of the atrocities committed by Mengistu and collaborators. Mind you, Mengistu abandoned you people who were his officials to your fate to face the rebel takeover on your own, without a single backward glance about your safety, in order to save his own rotten life and stealing millions.

    Girum and others, this holiness about forgiveness, that you promote, would you extend it too to the five vicious young Ethiopians who brutally gang raped a sixteen year old girl for days and later the girl died with raptured organ uterus/fistula? How about the tens of thousands of common criminals who stole, assaulted, et cetera law abiding people, crimes much less than the murders committed by Mengistu?

    I repeat my self here, a barbaric savage like Mengistu who directly murdered or indirectly caused the death and torture of millions of innocent Ethiopians should be hunted down like a rabid dog.

    Tecola W. Hagos

  3. Abdella
    | #3

    Masons? What can we say? See a psychiatrist man or other solutions. The habesha mind is prone to grand conspiracies

  4. Girum
    | #4

    Oh Tekola, thanks for the correction, I should have taken little more care when composing a response to your eloquently presented thesis. My problem with you is that you mizx up justice with vegeance, you are inviting for an action as good as only a vagabond can consider. When one asks for justice, it needs to be clear and clean – its not about an individual (whether its Mengistu or Meles), its rather about a closure of any violation of the law at the court of justice. ስለ ፍትህ መቆም እና ስለ በቀል መስበክ ሁለት የተለያዩ ጉዳዮች ናቸው። በደርግ ዘመን አንተ ባለፍክባቸው እስር ቤቶች ተስተናግጃለሁ። ምናልባትም በከፋ መልኩ ብዙ ፍዳ ተቀብያለሁ። አንተ ለእስረኛ ደሞዝ ይከፈል በነበረ ጊዜ ነበር የታሰርከው ፣ ባልሳሳት ፣ ጠበቃ ቆሞልህ እንደነበረም ጠቁመሀል። እኔ ለዚያ የታደልኩ ሰው አልነበርኩም።፡ይሁንና ህግ የተፈጠረው እንደ አራዊት መባላት እንዲቆም ነው። መንግስቱ ህግ ፊት ቆሞ ለፈፀማቸው ወንጀሎች ተገቢውን ቅጣት ሊቀበል ይገባዋል – በስቅላት ወይንም በቁሙ ተቃጥሎ አመዱ ይነስነስ ብሎ መወሰን ያለበት ግን ህጋዊ ፍርድ ቤት ብቻ መሆን አለበት። ይኼ አቋሜ እንደ መንግስቱ ተቆርቋሪ የሚያስገምተኝ ከሆነ ስለ ፍትህ ያለኝ ግንዛቤ ውሱን ነው ማለት ነው። ስሜታዊነት በጣም የሚያጠቃህ ሰው ትምሰላለህ – ረጋ ብለህ ስሜታዊነት የት እንዳደረሰን አስተውል።

    በመጨረሻም ‘…that the United States has destroyed millions in Iraq and in Vietnam. This is a major fallacy of your argument, that you are claiming two wrongs make a right…’ – you know why I brought this issue. Its because you started to talk about International Criminal Court… and my point was I don’t believe in the international institutions of justice; nothing else. So where is the fallacy of my argument? አለም አቀፍ ፍርድ ቤት ምናምን እያልክ መዘባረቅ ስትጀምር ነው ያንን ጉዳይ ያነሳሁት። ደግሞ are your “cousins” too ላልከው ወዳጄ እኔ ዘረኛ ወገን የለኝም – ፀረ-ኢትዮጵያዊ የሆነ ሁሉ ጠላቴ ነው ፤ ወያኔ ደግሞ በተፈጥሮው ፀረ-ኢትዮጵያዊ ነው።

  5. Fiteh
    | #5

    My compliments to Abugida for hosting a dialogue initiated by Prof. Tecola on an issue of great importance to Ethiopia, to such a lengthy extent. Prof. Tecola also deserves kudos for responding to a number of remarks and suggestions offered with regard to his article.

    I continue to be concerned, however, that all the exchange of views may merely end in being no better than a noise emanating from an empty bottle unless some meaningful action is initiated to bring Mengistu to justice whether through the Genocide treaty or some other acceptable methodology.

    Prof. Tecola: I do hope that your concern with Mengistu’s criminal actions would not be expressed merely in terms of occasional articles but rather in a tangible step towards bringing the culprit to justice.

  6. aha!
    | #6

    I came to the end of the squabble with the response of prof. Tecola to Girum @#1 in the context about the Derg supporters “commemorating the brutal murder of the sixty Ethiopian High Officials by the blood thirsty Mengistu Haile Mariam and collaborators”, diverting from the situation at hand of the TPLF/eprdf regime of ex-liberation fronts with a constitution bearing the ideologies of ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism and/or state capitalism, denying the silent majority of Ethiopians private ownership of land anywhere in Ethiopia and subjecting them humanitarian, economic, political and environmental crises for the last 23 years and granting lands for lease to foreign corporations.

    At this juncture in the context of the commemoration, a comparative analysis between the Derg regime of Miltary Dictatorship, which fought against Somalia and the liberation fronts to maintain unity, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of Ethiopia and the TPLF/eprdf regime which fought against the previous regimes for the oppression of nations and nationalities than EPRP which fought the Derg and the previous regime for land reform and workers rights I presume, and continued to engage the Derg regime to yield to a civilian rule. What both the Derg and the TPLF/eprdf regime have in common is the perpetration of human rights crises, where the first undertook extra judicial killings and the latter used the seemingly judicial process under its non-independent branches of the government and at times extra judicial killings along with its security apparatus silencing the masses and arresting journalists and politicians for dissent as slow grinding strategy leading up to the disintegration of Ethiopia, if there no elites left to fight for the unity, territorial integrity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians against those with ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism and or/state capitalism towards individual rights-centered constitution to bring about democracy, a rule by the people and for the people to put in place a democratic government that rules by the consent of the governed.

    Your concern about the Derg Officials, and simultaneously the TPLF/eprdf Officials will be dealt with when there comes a government with independent branches of government and parties aligned with the national agenda, but not along ethnic lines to avoid ethnic rule and/or ethnic dictatorship.

  7. Samuel
    | #7

    to Abdella:-
    ማሶን ማለት በጣም የቆየ ድርጅት ነው:: በክርስትና ሃይማኖት ተከታዮች ሃገር ውስጥ በደንብ አይታወቅም:: ኤነሱም ኤንዲታወቁ አይፈልጉም::
    ማሶን የተፈጠረው የአለምን ህብረተሰብ ሚስጥራዊ በሆኑ ድርጅቶች በመደገፍ የአመራር ስልታዊ መንገድ ነው:: ለምሳሊ አለማችንን የሚመሩአት 13 ነገዶችን ይመልከቱ ሙሉውን ስም ዝርዝር ከፈለጉ ኤዚህ ጋር አንብበው ይረዱ: የበለጠ ግንዛቢ ኤንዲኖርዎት ደግሞ:
    “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way”. 1933-1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd. President

  8. የሃገር ጉዳይ
    | #8

    ከ23 አመታት ስደት በሃላ መንግስቱ ሃ/ማ በቁም እስር ዚምባቡዬ ከመሆኑም ሌላ ;ድንገተ እንካ ሃራሬ ዳውን ታውን ሽርሽር ቢፈልግ አህያዋን መምሰል እንዳለበት እሱም ያውቃዋል::ይህን የታሪክ አተላ ሰላም ስጡት እንጂ!

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