Amazing power of individuals in combating genocide – Robele Ababya
Hero of love and reconciliation in prison
I am writing this piece in the aftermath of the sad news of the sadistic sentencing of Ethiopia’s beloved Pop Star, Theodros Kassahun – amicably nicknamed Teddy Afro. (more…)
Hero of love and reconciliation in prison
I am writing this piece in the aftermath of the sad news of the sadistic sentencing of Ethiopia’s beloved Pop Star, Theodros Kassahun – amicably nicknamed Teddy Afro. His sweet voice and ballads are immortal; so are his credible words stressing his innocence and his bravely uttered defiant statement that he does not recognize the authority of the Kangaroo Court. Millions of Teddy’s admirers should take comfort in his resolve and fervently pray that he will in join us in what will amount to a simultaneous rejoicing of the release of all Ethiopians – he from his congested cell and the rest of his admirers from the larger prison, Ethiopia. In order to make that happen, let us believe in the power of perseverance, unity and courageous action; let us act to bring a mammoth crowd out on the streets of the leaders of Western countries to bring to their attention once again, and incessantly again and again, that their double standard is undermining the rule of law in Ethiopia.
I submit that Teddy is among stalwart individuals who has made and will make a difference in the struggle to uproot ethnic-hatred planted in Ethiopia by the Woyanne thugs trading in the name of the valiant people of Tigrai. I am deeply touched by the powerful reminder that “Teddy Afro’s message still echoes from jail. It is simply a call for unity and love. That must put to shame those who have been unable to unite for the holy cause of liberating the suffering people of Ethiopia from a tyrannical regime that has made life unbearable day by day” – vide the article by Abebe Gelaw entitled “Zenawi and his Kangaroo Court Comedians” dated 7 December 2008.
Role of Individuals in preventing genocide
I believe that the following are stellar examples of sacrifices made by exceptional individuals in combating heinous crimes.
Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent (CIC) of the CNN, has with her own eyes seen and reported heinous acts of genocide twice in her own life time – one in Sarajevo and the second in Rwanda. I congratulate her for her courage and heart-rending reporting of gruesome occurrences and exposing the lack of immediate response by the international community to stop the holocaust.
“Scream Bloody Murder” is the title of the documentary televised consecutively on 06 December 2008 and 07 December. The CIC took her spectators through vivid and nauseating acts of cruelties, hard to believe a human being is capable of thinking about let alone plan and ruthlessly execute such heinous crimes.
Indeed one would “Scream Bloody Murder” each time gruesome scenes of heaps of human skeletons and corpses appeared on the television screen as evidence of what hatred, like the one Meles Zenawi is spreading in Ethiopia in the 21st century, can do if unchecked timely by taking the atrocities of the past as a lesson..
The able Correspondent started her stories with Hitler’s Holocaust; “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question” in which about six million Jews were killed during the Second World War It will be recalled too that Hitler’s ally Mussolini ordered the carnage of Ethiopians with poison gas sprayed from our sky by war planes of the Fascists. Meles must have heard this told in his household or got it from history.
The awe-inspiring perseverance of Dr. Raphael Lemkin touched me deeply as I was listening to the CIC tell his inspiring story in her rich and clear voice. I came to know that the Polish-born Jew trained as a lawyer gave the world the mighty legal instrument with which the human race can defend itself from the evil crime of racial annihilation conceived and executed by man. Undeterred by arduous impediments to his plea by lethargic audience, Lemkin was eventually triumphant in that the United Nations adopted the monumental legal instrument “The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” in December 1948.
Dr. Lemkin coined the word genocide by combining the words “geno” and “cide” meaning “race” and “kill” in Greek and Latin, respectively. The Convention is a monumental tribute to years of relentless effort of Lemkin who died penniless and lonely. This is a towering example of the power of individuals in preventing heinous crimes against humanity such as the ones burgeoning in Ethiopia today. Imagine how much we Ethiopians in unison can achieve if we only emulate the example of the indomitable perseverance of Lemkin. The legal instrument is there but the fault shall be in ourselves, fellow Ethiopians, if we fail to organize to use it effectively against tyranny in our homeland, Ethiopia.
A snapshot of other heroic individual deeds articulated by the CIC is given below:
• The former Assistant Secretary of State Mr. Richard Holbrook played key role in convincing the Bill Clinton Administration to use military intervention to stop the genocide in Sarajevo. He was successful after relentless effort;
• The untiring effort of the French missionary to Cambodia, Father Francois Ponchaud, whose appeal to alert politicians in Paris to the onset of genocide in Cambodia fell on deaf ear. Due to his perseverance however he could bring the matter to the United Nations and President Carter condemned the genocide unleashed by Poll Pot in the name of racial purity;
• Peter Galbraith drafted a Bill urging the United States Government to sanction the regime of Saddam Hussein of Iraq for acts of genocide against the Kurds; his Bill was rejected, but the occupation of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein at a later date in 1991 prompted President George Bush Senior to retaliate with military force;
• General Romeo Dallaire is notable for his bravery and untiring effort against many odds to alert the United Nations that acts of genocide is in the offing in Rwanda and asking for authority to intervene militarily, which authority he was denied by Koffi Annan – then Director for Operations in the UN. Inaction by the international community culminated to the massacre of 800, 000 Rwandans most of them Tutsis.
• Several distinguished personalities courageously condemned the state-sponsored crimes of the Bashir government against the black people of Darfur. Receiving generous political support and abundant military supplies from Peking. As everyone knows, Peking is heavily investing in Africa in utter disregard for rampant abuse of human rights of leaders in host countries. The United Nations Representative to Darfur was expelled for alerting the international community that genocide is being committed by the Janaweed marauding Arab tribes entirely supported by Bashir. I believe President Bush and his administration should be highly commended for being the first to acknowledge and strongly condemn acts of genocide in Darfur.
Tribute to Ethiopian heroes
The shocking history of genocide had given rise to heroic individuals in combating the menace – often single-handedly not deterred by the lethargy of political leaders doing their best not to lend their ears to the truth of annihilation of a particular group. There are Ethiopian individuals qualifying to be included in the group of fighters for human rights. I will mention the following:
Professor Asrat organized the AAPO for that was his only alternative under the law of the agazi invaders. This was at a time when Amharas were being slaughtered in Arba Gugu in the Arsi Province. The AAPO became so powerful in a short spell garnering the support of Ethiopians of all ethnic origins who knew the hidden motives of Woyanne leaders. As usual Meles saw the danger in the emerging strength of Asrat Woldeyes and saw to his demise under false pretexts, which we all knew then or know now in hind sight.
The legendry Professror Mesfin Woldemariam organized and established the first human rights body in the history of Ethiopia. It is needless to state how much he suffered for his humane principles of love, tolerance and mutual respect.
Here is another true hero and a wonderful man Ato Omang Metho advocating all-inclusive movement to stop unbridled abuse of human right. He called the US Embassy to report acts of genocide committed by Zenawi’s security forces in Gambella . The officials in the Embassy did not budge. He later called the Embassy again and told them that US citizens were among the victims. His second effort triggered rapid action on the part of the Embassy. Ato Omang Metho rose to prominence as a renowned human rights activist and stalwart promoter of “Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia”. In all his appearances he underscores the power of unity in diversity. This rising star as a true son of Ethiopia recently made a crucial point to the effect that 100 000 of us out in protest in Washington for our cause will make a lot of difference in getting support than few individual oppositions groups. Experience has shown this to be true.
Power of perseverance
A reader of my last article “Tenesa Teramed” made the comment that I should write an article suggesting how best opposition forces can narrow their differences in order to combine their resources to deal effectively with the repressive TPLF regime. This is a welcome comment that gives me the opportunity to restate the centerpiece of my ardent belief held for decades:
Embracing unity of Ethiopia in diversity is the least common denominator that can bring opposition political forces together and thereby enable them to forge a common strategy to replace the repressive regime of Meles with a truly democratic society that respects the freedom of the individual under the rule of law.
We all agree by now that no individual political group can subdue the errant ruling regime and cope with the draconian political, economic and social mess it had created.
It should be agreed that political parties with ethnic labels attached to their names have no right to govern a united Ethiopia. This is why TPLF is hiding under the acronym EPRDF using its dominant position therein to dictate and implement its political programs that are detrimental to Ethiopia.
We should not expect quick results for things as precious as freedom never come at a cheap price. Success comes incrementally to those who persevere. Thomas Edison who gave the world the electric lamp after 99 trials in the laboratory said: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up”. Indeed he would have been a failure if he gave up at the 99th trial.
“The Spirit in the Air: No time to Despair”, an article dated 8 December by Afura Burtukana speaks to what I wrote in the above paragraph. So, opposition forces should try again and again to bridge their differences and set their eyes on the tyrant before he renders them inactive one by one.
Massive action to bring the top thugs in the TPLF regime to justice is doable. Perseverance is our potent weapon to that. Let us persevere to recover our stolen victory in the historic election of 15 May 2005. Let us never forget our fallen heroes in the aftermath of that election.
Caveat in closing
Isolated public protests in small numbers yield little or no result. Even the TPLF regime will support them or organize such ones of its own to make the opposition a laughing stock. That is why I fully support the idea of a massive protest advocated by Ato Omang Metho. This requires careful planning.
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!