Ethiopia – The Pageant of the Ugly

March 16th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

COMMENTARY | By Fekade Shewakena, March 15, 2007

The Competition of the TPLF and EPLF for Good looks

The rulers of Ethiopia and Eritrea seem to be in a bitter beauty contest. Each one is throwing mud at the other with the hope that it will help it upgrade the way it looks. It is a typical case of the pot calling the kettle black or “amed beduket yisiqal”?, as the saying goes in Ethiopia. Both commit identical crimes against their people for reasons of identical political motivations, in many cases, with difference in the sophistication of how they do it. No surprise here for many of us who know that there is a lot of inbreeding in ideology and political culture between the TPLF and the EPLF. The TPLF as the junior partner has learnt a lot from the Eritrean side. Meles Zenawi himself is reported to have said “spending an hour with Isayas Afeworki is more education than going to a university”?. The thing they both failed to foresee when they began their love affair in 1991 was the fact that it is hard for two ruling classes to feed from the same plate without pushing one another. Apparently, this very sameness and inbreeding has also a lot to do with the love and hate relationship between them.

More recently, it has become too common to hear the sins of each country from the authorities of the other. The problem is that each tells you about the sins of the other while doing the same sin in its backyard. And the TPLF seems to be breaking the record playing this game. The major difference between the two is the TPLF thinks it is smarter in the art of saying one thing and doing another. The Eritrean side is failing in this regard. It does tell you what not to do and will punish you if you do it. The TPLF on the other hand will write laws for you to engage in the practice of your rights but hell will break loose if you take them seriously and are found practicing it. You can have a political party and compete in an election according to the law in Ethiopia. But you will be accused of genocide against the ruling ethnic group if you win. You should know that when in a formal debate members of the ruling class liken you to the Rwandan Interhamwe. They are preparing you for that as they just did on CUDP. You can have a free press in Ethiopia by law, if you are critical of the government or ask government officials for news you are a dead meat. And this is called democracy in Ethiopia. Some funny Western diplomats who think this is enough for us also call it a growing democracy if not democracy. You can even commit genocide in Ethiopia as happened on the Agnuak tribe in Gambella and get away with it by having your investigators say that killing happened because of the youngness of the democracy. The EPLF on the other hand seem to be a little more honest about their abuse. They even respond angrily when foreigners complain. Fool dictators. They have failed to refine on Idi Amin and Mengistu.

An interesting case in point is the US State Department Country Report for 2006 and the way the Ethiopian authorities and their cronies tried to use it against Eritrea while shutting their mouth about what it says about them. Our TPLF guys have either completely forgotten to read what the same Report says about Ethiopia or have simply overlooked that, at least some of us, could also read the same report listed only a cursor away and find out what it says on Ethiopia. Ethiopia is alphabetically listed next to Eritrea on the Report. The report contains 22 pages of damning report on Ethiopia as compared to 12 pages of damning report on Eritrea. If you list the number and kind of violations item by item as I did, you will find that the Ethiopian Woyane rulers have committed more crimes in both quantity and egregiousness and dwarf the violations in Eritrea completely.

Interestingly, the story of the State Department Report was a headliner for days on Walta website, the website of the TPLF run news agency. Similarly, all TPLF government news outlets have been parading the Report on Eritrea as a major finding. The Aiga website, the den of the thoughtless tribal bullies that do a lot of work to spread interethnic hatred among Ethiopians than anything useful even to the TPLF, has it as its big news and as an addition to its collection of reasons to justify the necessity of a new round of war against Eritrea. These bullies who ran the website on behalf of the TPLF from their warm homes abroad are calling the TPLF government to go to war with Eritrea completely forgetting that more than 70 thousand sons of poor people have already perished for nothing in another war between the two countries a few years ago. The names of the perished thousands or a single photograph of any of the dead have yet to be published. May be that has confirmed to them that there is a lot of expendable life in Ethiopia. I never knew narrow ethnic nationalism could turn healthy people into complete fascists. There is nothing sickening than seeing these sick people praying for another war.

The table below contains a direct excerpt by this author of the most egregious violations of human freedoms cited by the State Department Report on Eritrea and Ethiopia. Compare them and tell me which one (Eritrea or Ethiopia) looks more beautiful. The entire report is found at here . Whether the State Department or the US government generates a sound policy based on this reports is another thing, but one must thank the Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy and Labor for recording these violations of human freedom and dignity with meticulousness, integrity and professionalism. Given the obscene hypocrisy of the officials, I doubt if it will have any effect on policy. These days the only thing you need to get a pass about terrorizing your people is to line up on the anti-terrorism bandwagon. The TPLF did just that. It is like the thieves in Markato, where they steal from someone in the crowed and run along with the chasers of the thief shouting leba, leba. That is what has come of off the noble objective of forming alliances to fight global terrorism. This is a windfall to coward dictators like Meles Zenawi who uses his US trained anti terrorist snipers to kill unarmed demonstrators including women and children. It appears the only thing any dictator needs these days is to grab as much language dear to the West as possible and charm down a few diplomats and the lords of poverty, the World Bank and the IMF. Pretend that you know some macro economics and multiple definitions of democracy, cook growth statistics, keep talking about jargons like good governance, poverty reduction, democracy, pluralism and election. That is what they need. This is tragic but true. People like Mughabe are complete fools. He could have avoided coverage of his Sunday crimes against the opposition by just doing this. At least he did not kill as many people as Meles Zenawi but look at the coverage he is getting. Many westerners are calling for Mughabe’s neck and all out sanctions as I write this. This man is a saint if you compare him to Meles Zenawi.


Reported Egregious Violations of Freedom and
Human Rights (Excerpts from State Department Country Report 2006)


Eritrea Ethiopia
On extrajudicial killing There were no reports that the government or its agents committed
any politically motivated killings; however, the government continued
to authorize the use of deadly force against anyone resisting or
attempting to flee during military searches for deserters and draft
evaders, and deaths reportedly occurred during the year
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports of political
killings; however, federal and local police forces committed unlawful
killings during the year. On January 23, federal police shot and
killed 15 demonstrators and injured 19 others in the East Wallega
zone, Guduru District. The shootings occurred during a demonstration
by residents against local government forces. No investigation was
conducted into the incident.
Disappearances There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances
during the year; however, there were unresolved disappearances from
previous years
The politically motivated disappearances of tens of thousands
of civilian protestors following the November 2005 political demonstrations
persisted into the current reporting period. 
Torture, Inhuman and degrading Treatment The law and unimplemented constitution prohibit torture; however,
there were numerous reports that security forces resorted to torture
and physical beatings of prisoners, particularly during interrogations.
There were credible reports that several individuals, including
young men and women rounded up for national service, died following
torture or severe beatings by security force
Although the constitution and law prohibit the use of torture
and mistreatment, there were numerous credible reports that security
officials often beat or mistreated detainees. Opposition political
parties reported frequent and systematic abuse of their supporters
by police and regional militias.
Prison conditions Prison conditions for the general prison population were harsh
and life threatening. There were reports that prisoners were held
in underground cells or in shipping containers with little or no
ventilation in extreme temperatures. The shipping containers were
reportedly not large enough to allow all those incarcerated to lie
down at the same time
Prison and pretrial detention center conditions remained very
poor, and overcrowding continued to be a serious problem. Prisoners
often were allocated fewer than 21.5 square feet of sleeping space
each in a room that could contain up to 200 persons. The daily meal
budget was approximately $0.35 (3 birr) per prisoner, and many prisoners
had family members deliver food daily or used personal funds to
purchase food from local vendors. Prison conditions were unsanitary,
and access to medical care was unreliable. There was no budget for
prison maintenance
Political Prisoners There were no confirmed reports of new political prisoners; however,
there were numerous reports of persons detained for political reasons
The total number of political prisoners and detainees during the
year was estimated to be in the hundreds
Freedom of Speech and Press The law and unimplemented constitution provide for freedom of
speech and of the press; however, the government severely restricted
these rights in practice. Citizens did not have the right to criticize
their government in public or in private. The private press remained
banned, and most independent journalists remained in detention or
had fled the country, which effectively prevented any public criticism
of the government. The government intimidated remaining journalists
into self-censorship.
While the constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and
press, the government restricted these rights in practice. The government
continued to harass and prosecute journalists, publishers, and editors
for publishing allegedly fabricated information and for other violations
of the press law. The government continued to control all broadcast
media. Private and government journalists routinely practiced self


There were reports of government and societal discrimination against
the Kunama, one of nine ethnic groups residing primarily in the

Societal abuse of Ethiopians occurred, but there were fewer reports
of such abuse than in the previous year

Most political parties remained primarily ethnically based.

The military remained an ethnically diverse organization; however,
Tigrayans dominated the senior officer corps. During the May 2005
elections and subsequent demonstrations there were many reports
of Tigrayan or Gambellan troops being used in Addis Ababa and
other urban centers where the opposition was strong and where
officials did not consider Amhara members of the armed forces
sufficiently reliable. There were occasional reports that officials
terminated the employment of teachers and other government workers
if they were not of the dominant ethnic group in the region.**

Academic Freedom The government restricted academic freedom; freedom of speech,
movement of students, and the right to assemble were not respected
in the academic context. The government issued a directive in 2002
reconfiguring the University of Asmara, which effectively shut down
the university’s undergraduate programs. As a result, prospective
students have not been allowed to enroll in the university and instead
were directed by the government to attend the Mai Nafhi Technical
Institute. During the summer the government transferred most of
the university’s undergraduate programs to vocational training schools
spread throughout the country. Only the medical training programs
remained in Asmara. Students finishing high school were not permitted
to choose their next course of study and were assigned to specific
vocational programs based on their performance on the matriculation
exam. A few graduate level programs remained at the university;
however, the law school was effectively closed, as new students
were not permitted to enroll.
The government restricted academic freedom during the year, maintaining
that professors could not espouse political sentiments. Authorities
did not permit teachers at any level to deviate from official lesson
plans and discouraged political activity and association of any
kind on university campuses. Reports continued throughout the year
of both uniformed and plainclothes police officers being present
on and around university and high school campuses. The government
arrested students and teachers during the year. Professors and students
were discouraged from taking positions not in accordance with government
beliefs or practices. There was a lack of transparency in academic
decisions, with numerous complaints from individuals in the academic
community of bias based on ethnicity and/or religion. The freedoms
of speech, expression, and assembly were frequently restricted on
university and high school campuses.

* interestingly the US state department Report forgot to report
on the blocking of alternative news websites, blogs and even cell phone
text messaging.


How about this for the ethnic equality being trumpeted until almost the
heavens fall

The TPLF, the first Ethiopian government to live in the information age
thinks it can hide its rear by talking bad about others.

Now watch another developing story. The kidnapping of the five British
embassy staff and their Ethiopian companies is getting a life of its own
even after the kidnapped “tourists” are freed. Meles Zenawi
who mouthfully boasts of starting the Tigrean insurgency by robbing a public
bank at Axum and the leader of the TPLF who has a record number of kidnapped
foreigners in the Horn of Africa is accusing Eritrea of kidnapping and terrorism.
It is accusing all freedom fighters who refuse to be subjugated including
the OLF and the CUD as terrorists. Remember the fabricated treatise issued
a few weeks back about the apprehension of terrorists supposedly supported
by Eritrea? Don’t even ask that the TPLF was also supported by the
EPLF and was even given a ride by Shabia to Addis Ababa. And Mrs. Frazer
that astonishing diplomat who has helped turn Mogadishu back to hell after
six months of respite from 15 years of hell may say it once more – “the
Eritrean government is now effectively controlled by Al Qaeda”, copy
pasting what she said about the Somali UICs. And then Africa will have
one of those things she needs badly – another killing field. Folks
read it. The writing is on the wall.

What a curse is Ethiopia in?


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