Zenwai Can’t Handle the Truth: He fires Mekelle University’s American Law Professor, Abigail Salisbury – The Sub-Saharan Informer

February 8th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

An American law professor, teaching at the Ethiopian Ministry of Education’s Mekelle University in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, had her contract terminated last week by university officials.

The administration claims “incompetence” was the reason for her termination. But Professor Abigail Salisbury claims that her public voicing of alternative views on the U.S. House of Representative’s Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 (HR2003) got her fired. (more…)

An American law professor, teaching at the Ethiopian Ministry of Education’s Mekelle University in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, had her contract terminated last week by university officials.

The administration claims “incompetence” was the reason for her termination. But Professor Abigail Salisbury claims that her public voicing of alternative views on the U.S. House of Representative’s Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 (HR2003) got her fired.

After failing to convince the university’s academic commission that her contract should not be terminated, Professor Salisbury is planning to depart Ethiopia. The firing quickly followed an article she published in “The Jurist,” the online University of Pittsburgh law review journal, in which she described candidly her participation in a Mekelle University Law Faculty forum on HR 2003.

Taking one stance, Professor Salisbury writes, “Listening to the Ethiopians talk about the bill’s various points during the discussion forum, I… wonder[ed] if America hadn’t done something foolish…by asserting its right to determine the domestic affairs of a foreign nation.” She also points out that the factual findings section of HR2003 must be updated to reflect current human rights progress in Ethiopia.

But based on the passionate testimonies of her own international human rights law students at Mekelle, conveyed to her within mid-term essays she assigned, Salisbury reached an alternative conclusion – that HR2003 should be seen as an attempt by American foreign policy makers not to threaten Ethiopian sovereignty, but to improve the lives of poor Ethiopians who are truly suffering under a government with a firm grip on freedom of speech.

“I had been very careful in wording my assignment. I asked the students to select a human rights issue in Ethiopia…and find another country dealing with that same situation. They were required to then compare the actions of the two nations,” Salisbury writes. According to her, a number of students wrote that they would never give their real opinions to an Ethiopian professor, for fear of “being turned in to the government and punished.”

According to Professor Salisbury, the terms of her contract make it clear that in the case of premature termination, she should receive three months’ pay. Claiming they have an alternative interpretation, University officials have decided not to honor this clause. But Salisbury is more disappointed by the failure of the university’s professors and officials to honor freedom of speech. “The dean [of Mekelle Law School] told me never to be afraid to write anything,” the young American law professor recalled for SSI.

HR2003 was passed in October 2007 by the US House of Representatives and is now being debated by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It proposes to withdraw “nonessential” assistance from Ethiopia until the federal government meets human rights obligations outlined in the Act.

The Cause of her Termination was the following article

Linking Rights and Foreign Aid for Ethiopia: The Case of HR 2003

source: ssinformer.com

  1. Kachaw
    | #1

    Isn’t is too foolish of our bosses to make such a decision?! Is the publication the first of its kind in revealing what actually is going on there? I do not think so. I guess nothing of what is happening is unclear to all!


  2. alem
    | #2

    Dear Professor,

    We undersatnd that there is nothing failure from your side.

    These evil creatures are their behaviour to fire professors, they are alerigic for professores. This gorilla wild creaturs who continued to hold power in the past 17 years had fired more than 40 professors at the time they invade the capital Addis Ababa.

    So it is not at all surprising when this happen to you. Instead you need to fill of proud of your self for doing your your job properly.

  3. Dawit 12
    | #3

    Dear Professor Abigail Salisbury
    You did your job profoundly and you don’t need to worry about anything.
    Zenawi “the bucher of Addis” has messed up everything and he is running of time.
    Please don’t worry about anything

  4. Getahun Dagem
    | #4

    the tyranny slave show his muscle for his masters it is good to see such thing woyane please continue more let your masters recognize what are you doing in the country

    | #5

    The second paragraph of this story
    Reads as follows:

    “The administration claims “incompetence” was the reason for her termination. But Professor Abigail Salisbury claims that her public voicing of alternative views on the U.S.
    House of Representative’s Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 (HR2003) got her fired”

    First of all I don’t think that the University administration by itself had the authority to “terminate” this brave and honorable American law professor. The order must have definitely given by the highest officials of the country.
    This story is also similar to the injustice applied on another brave and honorable Ethiopian judge Birtukan Mideksa and her fellow party members, who were made to languish in a horrible jail “Kality”,for they stood for the truth and democracy.
    We also remember the honorable EU MP who fought firmly against injustice and atrocities taking place in Ethiopia – Mrs. Anna Gomez.We can mention “Addis Ferenj” who told the truth about Ethiopian situation. The American congressman Mr. Paine’s contribution and the outstanding and honorable congress man Mr. Chris Smith who is the Author of HR 2003.
    And so Professor Abigail Salisbury is not the only one who was mistreated in Ethiopia for she stood for truth and justice. Mrs. Anna Gomez has been insulted in 2005, but for millions of Ethiopians all of you mentioned above are HEROES. What you didn’t know in the daily life of Ethiopians is: The law, judiciary system, the press and even your life depends on one “powerful” individual even if you are foreigner in Ethiopia. The people know about that.

    Secondly, incompetent individual or administration can not wrongly accuse the competent who was awarded the degree of professorships by world wide known as the best universities around the globe. This is for sure an insult to those respected institutions.

    And lastly I think this debate is good for the Ethiopian people in the struggle to bring about democracy and rule of law in Ethiopia. It is also good for the “HR2003″ in elevation the case.The brutal government in Ethiopia should know that its deeds will backfire.

    HR 2003 should pass in the senate and be signed to be a law by the president of the USA.


  6. Mussa Ghedi
    | #6

    Though we would have prefered to handle our problems by ourselves if we could, the current globalisation and other global phenomena dectate that we should share both our problem solving and prevention with the rest of concerned global community.

    It is sad Ethiopian educational institutions remain bogged in supressing academic rights. It appears the local academics either through fear or greed have sucumbed to the tyranic regimes instructions to hire and fire as well.

    The professors case can not be looked in isolation and one only needs to scroll back the number of foriegn humanitarian and freepress representatives that have been deported for voicing their concerns about the humanitarian tragegy in the Ogaden, Gambella, Awassa and many more. The woyane track record is full to the brim with similar stories. However, to dismiss an academic professor on grounds of incompetence, even if it were true, reflects more on the incompetence of the employer who should have screened the candidate long before signing the employment contract. Foolish them they always think they are smart while they remain the most idiopathic liers.

  7. | #7

    hi there
    Males! Do you think you and your cursed administration resume for the next years?Do ever thought that the Ethiopian people are ready to fight for a deadest battle ever?Do ever thought that we say “ahha
    if our neighbors Kenya,Somalia,Chad and Sudan get their freedom through ferrous fight, why not we…?
    the Ethiopian people are ready to show the world its power for freedom democracy and prosperous.Let the world see no power in the world could stop our peoples destination.
    Melse!what do you say?
    now is the time to decide.

  8. | #8

    By now, I thought that most Ethiopians undestood that we are dealing with dereanged individuals in power. These uncultured peasants don’t pocess a moral compass. Their are power intoxicated and believe that no power in the world will remove them from their throne. History will prove them otherwise. The Agaazi leader even once boasted that it is not only that they can win wars but are capable of starting one. Their utter disrespect and disregard of Ethiopia and Ethiopians has no boundaries.

    | #9

    I disagree with your rude way of insulting the honorable Law professor, simply because it is not Ethiopian culture but weyne’s of Meles and also you are incompetent to act this way and so your comment is irrelevant. Yes Mekele is one of the important cities of Ethiopia but not your personal property or the weyane’s of Meles only. If you think that all Tigrayans trust the weyane of Meles you are wrong. I think most Tigrayans supported the previous weyanes who genuinely fought to bring about equality and freedom to the oppressed people so did some of the provinces in Ethiopia, but I don’t think that all Tigrayans believe and support the evil deeds of the current regime. May be you mean under the gun? Yes on that one I agree with you .One day Tigrayans themselves will disclose the atrocities taking place in Tigray itself and Ethiopia in general and join the struggle against the evil with their brothers and sisters of the other regions of Ethiopia.

    Ethiopia shall prevail

    Thank you

  10. fish
    | #10

    In Mekele they got only the name university but no brain. hahahah they can’t learn because they are born not to ask question but only to do what they are told. It will not surprise me if they kicke out some one who realy tried to make them think. they are primitives and they will stay that way with their stony tigray.hahah

  11. Danni
    | #11

    Fish, you have no idea what kind of system the youngsters in Tigray are!! They are kept from not thinking freely!! Lets liberate all of us together…stop picking on our own people suffering under the same opressive government!

  12. | #12

    Here is clear example of what been taken place in Tigry and Ethiopia: anytime somebody discloses the hoodwinkling of Weyane or Meles then the consequence are as follows; A- if you are Ethiopia you will be sentenced to death, B- if you are a foreinger you will be fired and pack to leave with in 24 hours, C- if you are loyal to weyane or Meles you will be rewarded something!

  13. Melaku Assefa
    | #13

    Peaceful struggle for change is Zenawi’s nightmare
    By Melau Assefa | February 11, 2008


    “Little minds spread rumors; average minds discuss ideas; superior minds generate ideas”, Source: Unknown
    Thanks to superior minds that generated it! It was the peaceful historic election of 15 May 2005 that forced Zenawi to declare state of emergency and claim victory by robbing votes in broad daylight; it was the atrocities of his regime that gave birth to HR2003; it was the persistent stiff opposition to his stealing of victory that led him to his diversionary adventure in Somalia where his forces are bogged down and the poor taxpayer is bleeding through his/her nose to maintain to defray the cost of the war.

    Zenawi held on to his loot due to the support of the Bush administration. Otherwise victory through the ballot box would have been possible, contrary to the argument of those that he can only be evicted from power through armed struggle.

    Surely, peaceful struggle worked and will work. It has become a nightmare for Zenawi for he has once, albeit for a moment, swallowed the bitter pill of defeat and is now facing the prospect of another one from which his ingenuity for deceptive survival cannot save him. He will face justice and the fallen martyrs of peaceful change in the aftermath of that victory shall forever be glorified.

    Therefore, any attempt to seize power by force would be unnecessary; it would amount to playing into the hands of Zenawi. That is what he wants and that is what any responsible opposition must deny him. The vicious cycle of seizing power by force must be broken once and for all. The opposition should do nothing that would resuscitate the miserably failed Interhamwe project of Bereket and Zenawi.

    There is a new altogether unexpected political dynamics, unfortunate as it is, in which neighboring Kenya is embroiled. It has caught the lame-duck Bush administration by surprise and perhaps with regrets for exchanging principle for short time political expediency in the case of Ethiopian election. This unfortunate development will provide an opportunity to engage western democracies to review their double standards and send a clear message to the ruling EPRDF regime.

    The decision of Ato Seeye Abraha to join the peaceful struggle for democracy is a significant development – a great addition to Zenawi’s nightmare. After listening to his interview with the VOA radio, I have come to the conclusion that Ato Seeye is a changed person worthy of engaging in a constructive political dialogue. In this article, I have included an episode in our history to express that the Dergue-TPLF war was destructive. I for one cautiously welcome his commitment to peaceful change now that he has admitted his past political mistakes.

    There is no doubt that Esias Aferworki sets the agenda for the liberation movements with their offices in Asmara. I have argued in this piece that the struggle for peaceful change is the best course of action to achieve victory over tyranny.

    Snapshot of indispensable gains

    The absurdity of making a mockery of the reality of “Ethiopianess” is loosing its steam because its parochial perpetrators are on the verge of defeat as victims of their own ridiculing of the ancient history and uniquely diverse culture of the Ethiopian people for political gain. There is light at the end of the tunnel that the overwhelming majority of Ethiopians are very much in the process of setting aside hatred and bigotry in order to set the stage for peace and reconciliation and create a political environment in which trust and mutual respect will flourish. The historic election of 15 May 2005 should in my opinion be the baseline for evaluating results in the enormous tasks ahead in building a powerful, democratic and prosperous Ethiopia united in diversity and revered as an embodiment of justice.

    The Interhamwe project of Bereket and Zenawi has failed because of the history and culture of the Ethiopian people of living in harmony in a spirit of tolerance. The Zenawi regime has for far too long exploited the patience of the Ethiopian people in its unbridled abuse of the rule of law. It can no longer count on that patience for time has run out for it to continue with its heinous crimes against humanity. HR2003 has played an indispensable role of uniting opposition forces. It has become a real nightmare for Zenawi adding to his tarnished image due to his gross human rights violations confirmed by the international community. All in all, it is a propitious moment to seize for forcing the TPLF regime to come to the negotiating table.

    HR2003 has reached the level of and indisputable moral force globally. Demand for peaceful change and respect for human rights have become two potent weapons to achieve that lofty goal. Struggle for peaceful change is a hard choice given the intransigence and intrigue of the reigning communist power. Nevertheless time is of the essence that it must be intensified. I strongly believe that the author of “The prison speaks Oromiffa” has masterfully provided the moral basis for action.

    A lesson on my lucky day I wish to share

    I was driving west for one hour when I suddenly decided to take a turn to the left. I negotiated the inclined road that brought me to the premises of the famous Kidist Mariam (Saint Marry) Church standing in grandeur atop the hill overlooking the panoramic view of the fertile environ of the town of Addis Alem.

    The view was mesmerizing. It reminded me of the famous speech by Emperor Haile Selassie on land reform upon his return from a much publicized first state visit to the developed world. I was a school-boy under ten. He called on the Ethiopian people to go to the top of the mountains and see the vast uncultivated fertile land below. He challenged his subjects to brace for its development declaring that the landless will be given land. I thought that His Majesty must have said this from experience of observing the breath-taking Ethiopian landscape from mountain tops or probably got inspiration from the aerial view of the magnificent European farm lands and forests during his flight to the United States.

    Indeed, Ethiopia is blessed with myriads of hills and mountains from the summits of which we can harvest inspiration, courage and the love of freedom to build a caring, tolerant, democratic and prosperous society firmly united in diversity; a society where the rule of law is supreme, justice for all is assured, poverty and serfdom are remembered as cursed phenomena of myopic political views of political leaders in the past.

    As school boys my generation sang the Ethiopian national anthem that epitomized the strength of our mountains and courage of our patriots as guarantors of our independence. I hold and cherish this dream of Ethiopian renaissance the spirit of which will propel the present and future generations to build a home of peace and tranquility in their motherland to which their kin and kith in the Diaspora shall have unrestricted access by right as a place of their origin. So the struggle for liberty and freedom is a matter of civic duty for all Ethiopians.

    Let me now relate what transpired at the Church. After so much thoughts and a short prayer at the main of the Church, I turned back to see a graceful figure in priestly attire standing in front of me on this ordinary working day where my family and I were among few visitors. There was no mistaking that he was someone with authority, a fact that I was soon to learn that the person was actually the Administrator of the Church with the rank of Nebure Ed, at the time one of two highest ranking clergymen in Ethiopia in charge of a parish church with that coveted title. I bowed in reverence with my hands clasped and he stretched his hand holding a cross which I kissed to receive his blessing. And so did my wife and children.

    It turned up to be my lucky day for the Administrator invited me and my family to visit the small church museum, which was by all accounts impressive by the quality and variety of its collection ranging from sacred relics, attractively embroidered uniforms of Ethiopian warriors, traditional weapons of war, donations in golden jewelries to mention but a few.

    The Administrator derisively pointed to a rusty dagger among the magnificent collections and, in what seemed to me a visible anger, said that it was found in Segele Meda where the shameful fratricidal battle took place in 1908, Ethiopian calendar. He said that the dagger does no deserve to be among weapons of valor with which our forebears fought to deter external aggression. That was for me a memorable lesson in as far as distinguishing between just and unjust wars. It was a lesson learnt at the time that TPLF and Dergue, ironically both professing Marxist-Leninist ideology, were locked in raging fratricidal ruinous war fought at the expense of the children of poor peasants. I understood that the Administrator deliberately drew a parallel between the Battle of Segele and that of the two Stalinist rivals – TPLF and Dergue. I got the lesson that no sane person could be proud in participating as a leader in internal wars of destruction in terms of precious lives and stupendous sacrifice in human capital and property.

    The Administrator pointed to a photograph of a clergyman in silence for a moment as a mark of respect. He then told us the late Keis (Priest) Teklemarim carried from monastery to monastery to save the sacred golden treasures in the museum from capture by the Fascist Italian aggressors during World War II. He handed the treasure of which no one knew about to church authorities after the Fascists were driven out of our country. The thieves in Menelik’s Palace may take Keis Teklemariam for a fool for not having appropriated the treasure. To decent and honest people, however, he exemplified a paragon of honesty. This was another humbling lesson for me.

    The Administrator made no secret of his reverence and admiration for Emperor Menelik. He said Immye Menilik was a military genius and a foremost political leader, with unusual ability of bringing harmony in the face of acrimony. He said the generous Monarch died penniless because he refused to own crown as well as private land insisting that land should belong to the people. The Administrator expressed his sorrow that the senseless civil strife after the death of the Emperor should claim so many lives of young Ethiopians at their productive age, leaving their parents that needed them most in their last days.

    I politely took leave of the Administrator and drove my car to my intended destination elated by the lessons I learned on my lucky day. I regret to this day that I did not tell him that my Oromo mother, eleven years old lass at the time, watched the Battle of Segele from her distant abode and that my ancestors hailing from Wegeda in northern Shewa, the birthplace of Ras Gobena Dache, might have taken part in the infamous Battle. I did not disclose to him that Immye Menilik is my role model of a genius leader. However, when he exalted Emperor Haile Selassie as the founder of the now defunct Organization of African Unity, I did mention to him that Kwame Nkrumah is my hero.

    True heroes of just wars

    Consider Ras Abebe Aregay, Colonel Abdisa Aga, Ras Alula Aba Nega, Dejazmatch Balcha Abanebso, Dejatch Belai Zeleke, Ras Gobena Dache, and Dejazmatch Takele Wolde Hawariat written in alphabetical order of their first names. These distinguished patriots have one noble thing in common. They are few among many patriots who had bravely fought foreign aggressors to safeguard the territorial integrity of Ethiopia and freedom of their fellow citizens.

    In contrast, the TPLF assailed the Dergue regime to dismember Ethiopia and entrench politics of inter-ethnic hatred in order to stay in power by gun and divide-and-rule strategy. Both sides professed adherence to communist ideology but their hunger for power blinded them to the truth that they were feeding the children of peasants to the raging flame of battles between them.

    I recall my school days at Taffari Makonnen Secondary School and a lesson in geography by a Jesuit teacher from Canada. In the text book on the subject, Ethiopians are described, to the best of my recollection, as war-liking people with curly hair. I think the book was written by Geoffrey Last. At the time I thought it was a compliment for our bravery. As time went on, I began to ask why we were characterized as war-liking. Is it a genetic hereditary curse or a necessity arising out of repeated internal conflicts coupled with external aggression? I believe that the answer is by and large the latter. So we can stop internal civil strife. I believe we are on the right track.

    The adage: “Little minds spread rumors; average minds discuss ideas; superior minds generate ideas”, appeals to me tremendously although I do not know its coiner. Professor Mesfin Woldemariam created ideas that often provoked public debate. Having dug deep into the millennium years of our history he succinctly argued that the culture of capturing political power by force must stop and be replaced with a political process of dialogue and the ballot box. This is his legacy to the country he so much and truly loves. He truly is a legendary Professor with great ideas.

    Self-determination versus secession

    The subject in caption has made it extremely difficult to foster strong unity. Secession is unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of Ethiopians who had come en masse to declare in what amounted to a referendum that they want one Ethiopia. This unprecedented voice of the people must be respected.

    Zenawi knows that those engaged in armed struggle are weak and he dismisses their claims of success in skirmishes as rubbish. The rest of us have deep suspicion about their motives for keeping their offices in Asmara where they are completely dependent on Esaias who is engaged in a proxy war game with Zenawi. The OLF claims that the Oromos are the largest ethnic group the second largest in Africa. As a free individual, I ask why then struggle for secession? Why not take power proportionally through the ballot box and participate in the governance of a united Ethiopia?

    The ONLF is reportedly as unpopular as the Zenawi regime for the atrocities in the Ogaden. OLF has not forced the Zenawi to the negotiating table despite its claim of popularity among the Oromos. Oppression is taking its toll and the claimed popularity could be reversed. So, national liberation movements should objectively reassess their strength and consider a paradigm shift to join the camp of forces for peaceful change. Support for AFD will then gather momentum adding to the nightmare of Zenawi.

    Right to think and foster democratic culture

    Academic freedom in tertiary institution was abruptly curtailed as soon as the Dergue took power in 1974. The situation exacerbated with the assumption of power by EPRDF. I recall expressing my shock and disbelief that Zenawi would dismiss 41 professors from the Addis Ababa University where he schooled, and harshly cracked down on students protesting the visit of Butros Butros Ghali, the biased Egyptian Secretary General of the United Nations at the time.

    Zenawi is a die-hard Stalinist as his predecessor Mengistu Hailemariam. He is bent on brain-washing our children. Stalin elevated to prominence the biologist Lysenko for the theory of genetic selection of the radical scientist was in concert with his ideas, among which was that communists can also be multiplied through genetic selection. Mengistu sent young Ethiopians to Cuba for indoctrination. His successor Zenawi is more cunning in doing the same thing, vide the following paragraph.

    The renowned activist for human right and foremost proponent of HR2003 has in his article entitled, “Tyranny in the Academy” has laid bare the official evil policy of the Zenawi regime to stifle academic freedom and the dire consequence for those, including professors and students, who do not toe the party line. Tertiary institutions are in effect prisons where students are forcibly indoctrinated with Zenawi-thoughts much like the so-called Wuyiyit session (political discussion) actually meant to convey Mengistu-thoughts by his loyal cadres.

    In closing

    The article entitled “Uplifting democratic culture” written by none other than the renowned scholar, Professor Mammo Muche, contains a lot of food for thought. The contents of the article and the force of its message is a nightmare to Zenawi.

    I am confident that owners of pro-democratic media and all Ethiopian democrats will work in concert for “uplifting democratic culture” in our beloved country. The Zenawi regime can no longer hide its secret resolve to stifle the development of democratic culture in Ethiopia. His recent public remarks following the unfortunate election fiasco in Kenya has more than ever before exposed his true color to his mentors in the western democracies. This is a welcome development in that it will isolate the tyrant and weaken his resolve.

    We have inherited longstanding pride in freedom and independence as well as enviable blend of mosaic culture. It should be our cherished duty to defend our heritage collectively. The right to self-defense is natural; it is politically justified and morally sanctified. But fratricidal wars in the pursuit of power are repugnant. To ensure sustainability of the right to self-defence, unity in diversity must be our potent weapon. To unite, it is absolutely necessary to work in concert where reason and foresight play the leading role.

    As a living tribute and mark of respect for martyrs in the struggle for democracy:

    Let HR2003 triumph!
    Let prisons speak Oromiffa or any other language no more!
    Let the walls of hatred, bigotry & mistrust disappear!
    Let true justice prevail at all times!
    Let love, unity and trust prevail at all times!
    Let the Anuak people of Ethiopia and others face genocide no more!
    Let there be Kangaroo court no more!
    Let there be prisoners of conscience no more!
    Let freedom of the individual triumph!
    Let cultural identity be nurtured, respected and preserved!

    And for all of the above to happen, let us believe in the fact that Ethiopia belongs equally to all of us and that we are descendants of our ancestors who were all there from time immemorial.

    God Bless Ethiopia!

  14. kedir
    | #14

    Dear Professor,

    First of all, I would like to appologize for the “crime” done against you by the order of, no body but, dumy Napolion himself, because there is nothing, especially of this magnitude,in Ethiopia that can happen with out his blessing.
    Many outsiders understand and might feel how inhumanlly despotic governments work, but since they do not live ourlife and die our dath they only know it in theory, this unfortunate ordeal for you I hope would get us a true friend in our struggle for freedom against a West mandated and funded brutal murderer.

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