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New novel exposes World Health Organization Director-General’s role in crimes against humanity by former Ethiopian dictatorship
NEW YORK – February 19, 2020 – PRLog – A couple of sentences in the afterword of a novel about Ethiopia’s democracy revolution have ignited the biggest UN scandal in decades.
The novel, titled Money, Blood and Conscience, tells the story of an American television producer’s love affair with an Ethiopian guerrilla during Ethiopia’s recently deposed dictatorship. In a nonfiction postscript, the author, David Steinman, charges the Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Adhanom, with shared responsibility for that dictatorship’s crimes against humanity.
Prior to his 2017 election to head the W.H.O., Tedros, who goes by his forename, was from 2012 to 2016 Ethiopia’s foreign minister and fourth highest official. Tedros also
was one of eleven members of the all-powerful Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, or
TPLF, politburo which ruled the country in authoritarian style.
Serious human rights violations committed by the Ethiopian government in that period included mass murder, enforced disappearances, torture, and the harsh imprisonment of tens of thousands of political prisoners including children.
Examples of abuses, cited by Amnesty International, which occurred during Tedros’ government service include:
A teacher was stabbed in the eye with a bayonet during torture in detention because he refused to teach propaganda about the ruling party to his students.
A young girl had hot coals poured on her stomach while she was detained in a military camp because her father was suspected of supporting an opposition group.
A student was tied in contorted positions and suspended from the wall by one wrist because a business plan he prepared for a university competition was deemed to be underpinned by political motivations.
Past detainees from that era tell of beatings, electric shocks, mock execution, burning with heated metal or molten plastic and rape, including gang rape.
The Ethiopian government acknowledged last August that political prisoners were placed in cells with lions, hyenas and leopards while Tedros was a senior official.
According to Mr. Steinman, Tedros’ diplomacy and role in the TPLF politburo were so closely connected with that administration’s actions that he could not have remained unaware of its inhumane practices. Tedros, for instance, personally arranged in 2014 to have opposition leader Andargachew Tsege kidnapped in Yemen and delivered to Ethiopia’s death row. His efforts to persuade donor nations to overlook Ethiopia’s poor human rights record,, and fund the TPLF perpetuated the regime’s cruelties.
The author’s note by Mr. Steinman asserts that accountability for TPLF atrocities should therefore include Tedros. “The World Health Organization, which aims to better the lives of the world’s poorest, should not be led by someone who has so much of their blood on his hands,” Steinman wrote.
The W.H.O. declined to comment when offered an opportunity to respond.
Mr. Steinman is a Wharton trained economist who was an advocate and strategist for the revolution which toppled the TPLF in 2018. He also exposed the TPLF’s human rights offenses and theft of billions from famine victims in the Washington Post, and Forbes.
This is not the first time that Tedros’ leadership of the W.H.O. has stirred controversy. Some public health officials say that he tried to conceal cholera epidemics during an earlier stint as Ethiopia’s Minister of Health. His appointment of the Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe to a W.H.O. goodwill ambassadorship set off a firestorm of criticism. Nearly 400,000 people have signed an online petition for Tedros to resign over allegedly improper handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Yet Mr. Steinman accuses Tedros, whose face became familiar to millions during the global coronavirus emergency, of graver transgressions than any previously aired in mainstream media.
For years, in homes, cafes and online, Ethiopians have expressed frustration that Tedros’ complicity in TPLF brutality was overlooked in the West. Many welcome Mr. Steinman’s articulation of their anger.
The Tedros affair bears similarities to the 1986 discovery that former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim had hidden his participation in Nazi war crimes during the Second World War. That case raised concerns about UN employment vetting procedures believed to have been addressed since then.
Tedros resigned his Ethiopian governmental posts in 2016 to campaign for the W.H.O. director-generalship. A reformist Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Creator: FABRICE COFFRINI
Copyright: AFP or licensors
Tedros Adhanom with senior TPLF leaders
An afterword in the novel Money, Blood and Conscience accuses W.H.O. Director-General Tedros Adhamon of shared responsibility for crimes against humanity.
 For a fuller picture of human rights abuses during Tedros’ tenure as foreign minister, see Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and U.S. State Department Human Rights Reports for Ethiopia, 2012-2016.