Dr. Colin Darch responds to ambassador Tesfaye Habisso

February 3rd, 2015 Print Print Email Email

“When you are in a hole, better to stop digging.”

A note to readers: In a lengthy diatribe full of contradictions and dishonest assertions, former ambassador Tesfaye Habisso tried to defend and justify the art of plagiarism. His astounding thesis, “Plagiarism is not such a big moral deal: a belated rebuttal to Abebe Gellaw’s allegations” (Tigrai Online, January 29), contends that it is okay to plagiarize willfully and recklessly. Instead of making a few humble confessions and apologies, he accused me of deliberately defaming him regardless of the fact that I only reported the truth like any journalist is supposed to do.

He seems to be very unhappy with any media reference to the scandal of the serial plagiarism involving him, which only came to light when he took complete ownership of Dr. Colin Darch’s 35 year-old academic paper on the Ethiopian student movement and published it as his own without contributing a single sentence.

As I had reminded Mr. Habisso over three years ago, what I reported was actually the tip of the iceberg. His email in response to the reminder was quite direct. “Let us bury it there!” I still have the emails!

Unfortunately, the former ambassador’s new denial contains one important sentence which has resurrect the issue: “I did not plagiarize Colin Darch’s paper wholly or partially. Full stop!” He even expressed remorse that he did not issue his denial soon enough.

According to Ambassador Habisso, who was once a prolific writer on Aigaforum and Tigrai Online, there was something sinister I copied from Joseph Goebbels. “His strategy copied from his role model Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister for Hitler and the Nazi Party, is quite evident: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it…,” the ambassador wrote.

As far as I am concerned, I prefer to echo what Dr. Darch advised Mr. Habisso: “When you are in a hole, better to stop digging.” In any case, I wish the good ambassador all the best and would rather concentrate on more important projects that call for my attention.

Instead of responding to Mr. Habisso’s denials and accusations, I invited Dr. Darch, whose intellectual property was stolen in broad daylight, to revisit the serious issues at stake.
It is said that facts are always irrefutable despite anyone’s best efforts. Here is Dr. Darch’s response that he delivered within a few hours after I sent my humble request to respond to the former ambassador, who seems to have forgotten the abc of diplomacy. “In the world of diplomacy, some things are better left unsaid,” as Lincoln Chafee once said.

Thank you so much Dr. Colin Darch! (Abebe Gellaw)

Dear Abebe Gellaw,

Thank you for your e-mail drawing my attention to Ambassador Tesfaye Habisso’s latest article “Plagiarism is not such a big moral deal: a belated rebuttal to Abebe Gellaw’s allegations”, published on the Tigrai Online website on 29 January. I should say from the start that I have never met Ambassador Tesfaye, I have no particular opinion about him as a person other than in connection with this issue, and I do not wish him harm. I had also assumed that this matter was closed several years ago.

There are two interwoven themes in his new article, politics and plagiarism. Having been brusquely dismissed right from the start as merely “some foreigner”, I refrain from comment on Ambassador Tesfaye’s remarks about Ethiopian domestic politics, or on his analysis of the motivation of those who have criticised him. Rather, I restrict myself to the question of his already freely admitted plagiarism of my 1976 conference paper “The Ethiopian student movement in the struggle against imperialism, 1960-1974”. Ambassador Tesfaye apparently regards this as only a “silly allegation” and defends himself by claiming that he distributed an “abridged version” of my paper which was subsequently posted by persons unknown under his name and with an altered title on the EPRDF-Supporters Forum website. One problem with this claim is that the paper as posted was not abridged or edited in any way, other than changing the title and attribution. It was the full text, including uncorrected typos. Regardless of how it happened, the fact remains that it appeared under his name and not mine.

In his article, Ambassador Tesfaye mentions peripheral questions of work-for-hire and intellectual property. First of all, plagiarism is not an issue of intellectual property rights as commonly understood – it’s perfectly possible to plagiarise from the public domain. It’s rather to do with the so-called “moral rights” of textual integrity and assertion of authorship, and the universally accepted conventions of scholarly communication.

Be that as it may: ghostwriters, for example, or speech writers, knowingly surrender their work-for-hire as part of a contract; no such agreement existed between me and the Ambassador when he appropriated my work – or perhaps I should say, when my work was anonymously appropriated under his name. He also mentions the idea that India, for example, has developed economically through “plagiarism”, but what he is really referring to is the violation of patent rights, and this is widely known about as a development strategy. As it happens, I have published on this topic myself, so I know what I’m talking about. Nevertheless, it’s hard to see its relevance to the question under discussion: if the taking of my modest text has contributed in some way to Ethiopian development I should be pleased but astonished beyond words.

Ambassador Tesfaye quotes Stanley Fish to the effect that politicians are not bound by the academic and journalistic conventions regarding plagiarism. But Fish concludes his article (in the New York Times) – the same text that the Ambassador quotes from – by writing, about two academics who had appropriated some pages from his work: “they took something from me without asking and without acknowledgment, and they profited — if only in the currency of academic reputation — from work that I had done and signed. That’s the bottom line and no fancy philosophical argument can erase it” (emphasis added).

Ambassador Tesfaye is fond of “fancy philosophical argument” and he also likes to quote Ethiopian proverbs. Allow me to quote one back, this time not Ethiopian but in English: “when you are in a hole, better to stop digging”.

Best regards

Colin Darch
Dr. Colin Darch is Honorary Research Associate at University of Cape Town, South Africa. Between 1971-1975, he served as Head of Readers’ Services Division at Addis Ababa University Library, according to his Linkedin profile.

  1. Oviff
    | #1

    For a long time Tesfaye Habisso has been submerged under the ocean of shame on account of blatant theft that he committed plagiarism to intellectual paper that Dr. Colin Darch wrote and presented to intellectual communities.


    A core feature of Tesfaye Habisso is quite identical to that of the phoney professor of public policy, Constantinos Berhe, who for too long had stood quackery before student in a crowded class leading all of them in a wrong direction and shattered their future by teaching subjects that he by no means had neither the skill nor knowledge that qualified him to be on the campus as professor.

    We did not guess all this; rather, both the rascals have been caught red-handed:Constantinos Berhe having bought valueless MBA and PhDs not from cotton mill, but from Degree mill, and then went back to cronies and vandals camp and was received cheered on a red carpet. This one, Tesfaye Habbiso, simply stole intellectual property and ran away and was hiding for months mainly because he could not drying up himself from the wet he had while drenched in his own sweat.

    From all of us to Aebe Gallaw, we thank him for a through investigative work that he did on global cheats like Constantinos Berhe and Tesfaye Habbiso.

  2. Shimles Tuga
    | #2

    Leave alone, Tesfaye Habbiso, he is a living dead. I recall vividly his speech in Parliament in the early 1990′s, how as an aggrieving minority of Kembata he did not became a Minister or Ambassador for over 20 years unlike Assefa Chabo, Eshetu Ararso and the late Colonel Tesfaye Woldeselassie, the infamous security chief, who sold Ethiopia down the drain to the vultures.This is not the first time that Tesaye plagiariz, it is a pattern all the way from Haile Selassie Ist University.Even the strong adherent of TPLF, like Professor Gelawdios Araia find Tesfaye Habbisso a grave liability to the good name of the late Melesse Zenawi.

  3. Fikreab
    | #3

    Hahaha Tesfaye Kopiso!

  4. jouffa
    | #4

    Endless shame on Tesfaye Habbiso for what he is and for what he has done to Dr. Colin. Well, thieves like Constantinos Berhe and Tesfaye Habbiso are the lowest of the lowest among the idiots and phonies in the TPLF camp,who would never be able to add any value to the educational enrichment of the global community.

    What should the public and citizens do about this useless morons? To top it up, the justice is ready to scoop them up while we all Ethiopians wait for the inevitable time when the robbers reach their downfall by shear force of the mighty feast of Ethiopians.

  5. Andnet Kebreab
    | #5

    Plagiarism is indeed a shameful intellectual theft of the worst kind. His theft puts Tesfaye squarely in the camp of the TPLF thugs

  6. Bulti
    | #6

    All the TPLF leaders aand their foot soldiers/servants like Tesfaye Habisso are alien to morality and ethics. A theft like plagiarism is a crime or an offence to be ashamed of and regret. But the sell out Tesfaye Habisso washes his eyes with the TPLF stolen money and defends his theft and offence. This shows the indecency and absence of moral values in the world of the TPLF. The morally despicable things like cheating,lying, killing. stealing and deception are encouraged and rewarded by the TPLF.

  7. Dilwenberu
    | #7

    Ambassador Tesfaye Habisso is a distinguished diplomat that is serving his democratic and fast growing country. His knowledge,eduaction and experience are so rich that those falsely accusing him of plagiarism can learn a lot from him. The members of the vocal and toxic amhara diapora are jelous of his rich knowledge and are trying to defame him.

  8. jajafi
    | #8

    You see, how the robbers do select potential weak subjects so that the weak elements respond to the command of their masters?

    In fact, one can not be troubled to see how Tesfaye Habbiso has an exhausted will-power as the phony Constantinos Berhe does. In addition to those weak elements just like the two above mentioned deficient of qualm would always suffer inferiority complex and an absence of confidence which in turn hinders them from making sound judgment to carry out tasks. These two poor individuals in knowledge are always prone to intellectual deficiency leading to committing frauds, thefts, pilgrims of all kinds. Habbiso and Berhe have been subjected and conditioned to different types of stimuli resulting in surrendering their the content of their mind to the masters who made and shaped them into the type of commodities they are now being sold on markets.

  9. Hunde
    | #9

    The TPLF leaders, followers and servants like ato Tesfaye Habisso are embroiled in corruption and theft. They will defend and justify their immoral and non-ethical actions such as plagiarism. These despicable acts are encouraged and rewarded in the TPLF world.

  10. ossosso
    | #10

    An examination of two crucial characteristics of Tesfaye Habbiso, forgery and plagiarism, at the same time, Constantinos Berhe, the former spy and deficient in knowledge and wisdom, one can see and tell the future of these robbers what it will be and how it turn out to be. For more than 30 years the robbers used Tesfay Habbiso until it is worn out; now, useless and confused, this idiot man, all of know in depth one way the other, one day he shall be arrested along with the multiple copies of Constantinos Berhe and the rest.

  11. woyane is in crisis -politically and financially?
    | #11

    1. If you look at the photo picture of Mr Tesfaye Habison and Dr Colin Darch they look like brothers. Please have a look at their pictures posted Ecadfm.com. My point is” what is wrong if Tesfaye copied the work of Dr Colin?.
    2. European take our resources by force then what is wrong if Tesfaye steals their writings?
    3. Europian take photo pictures of Africans without clothes and they make money by selling it with or without the consent of the person on the picures. What is wrong if Tesfish photocopied them?

    4. knowledge shared is better than knowledge kept secret ጋን መብራቶች.
    Dr Colin is unable to reach us and share his knowledge but Tesfish did- ተስፍሽ shared with us. where is the crime? በሉዋ ተናገሩ

    ማንስ አለው ማን መልእክቱን በተግባር መጠቀም ነው ዋናው ነገር
    አሁን ማን ይሙት ታክስ የማይክፍሉ ነጋዴዎች በበዙበት ባንኮች ታክስ ለመንግስት እንዳይከፍሉ በሚመክሩበት አለም የተስፍሽ ትንሽ ውሸት ምን ትጎዳናላችሁ ብላችሁ ያዙኝ ልቀቅውኝ የምትሉ
    ሕዝብን ነጻ እናወጣለን ብሎ በቦምብ ሕዝብ በሚደበደብበት አለም እየኖርን ተስፍሽ እንደነሱ ልሁን ቢል መልእክቱን የጠላችሁት አዋቂ መምሰሉን? ጉዳቱን እንመዝን ብንል ባንኮች ጋዜጤኞች ፐለቲሺያን ልባችን ውልቅ አርገው ሲዋሹን ይችን ም ጢጢ ውሸት ገና ካደገች ትፈጀናለች ብላችሁ ከሆነ ተሳስተችሁዋል
    ተቃጥላችሁ ክስላችሁ ተንቃችሁ ተዋርዳችሁ የባህር አሳ ነባሪ ወጋንችሁን ሲበላ ይቺን እሳት ባታጠፋት የጠፋች ላይ ክምተረባረቡ ትልቅ እሳት አለ
    አገር የላችሁም ወገን ተነቅላል ድንበር ጠፍታል ተበትነናል ስለዚሂሚ እዘኑ

  12. jaucika
    | #12

    Let Tesfaye Habbiso speak the words of shame and disgrace from wherever he was settled; he stopped appearing in the street he used to walk and talk soon after he was discovered a cheat and an idiot; he then was digging holes in unknown backyard of a fellow who years ago got cheated by the same person now the world knows him a disgraced cheat, Tesfaye Habbiso. Though, this thief, Tesfaye Habbiso is temporarily in the hide and very frequently visiting somebody he had known for years as an MD would be happy to help heal his wounded soul, many are positively predicting that Habbiso, soon or later will for sure loose his remaining mind and would become a homeless, and then will end up in mental hospital.

  13. jaucika
    | #13

    Yo@woyane is in crisis -politically and financially?

    You can never understand the difference between earning a living by cheating and stealing and earning a living with honesty and integrity. If you follow the footstep of Tesfaye Habbiso, let the longest journey of your ambition of earning or getting what is not yours trap you before millions of people like Tesfaye Habbiso was.

  14. woyane is in crisis -politically and financially?
    | #14

    jaucika juaciak
    I am not defending this woyane tag. I was asking everyone of to focus more on the bigger pictures. Leba leba neeew!! there is no questions about it.
    All I am saying he is a small fish. He does not make any difference. It is like flogging a dead horse.
    May be I understand better than you could think of. Woyane were given masters and doctorate degrees from UK and USA universities just to make them salable better presentable to the world.
    It is UK and USA experts and politicians who legitimized, recognized, supported, financed Woyane to make them stay in power.
    So, ትንሹ ሌባ ላይ ስትረባረብ ትልቁ ይስቅብሃል ነው ያልኩት ምክንያቱም አቤቱታው ለነሱ ስናቀርብ አማካሪ ስናረጋቸው የሆዳችን ስናማክራቸው ማለቴ ነው

    ስለዚህም Bro stop your friendly fire.

    በተረፈ አስተያየቴን አንብበህ ስለተቸህኝ አመሰግናለሁ መልእክቴን ግልጽ ማድረግ የኔ ሃላፊነት ነው
    ከዛም በላይ አቃማችን አንድ በመሆኑ ጆሲካ ብያለሁ

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