by Professor Alemayehu G Mariam
Ethiopian lives matter!
Exactly ten years ago in 2005, almost to the month, the late supreme leader of the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (T-TPLF), Meles Zenawi, personally directed a campaign of brutal suppression of unarmed protesters following the general election that year. On May 16, 2005, Meles Zenawi declared a state of emergency, outlawed all public gatherings and placed under his direct personal command and control all police, security and military forces, and replaced the capital city police with federal police and special forces. In the coming weeks, Meles’ forces went on a killing rampage slaughtering 193 innocent protesters and severely wounding nearly 800 others. The unarmed protesters were hunted down and shot in the streets and in their homes simply because they chose to exercise their right to peaceably protest that rigged election. Those protesters died as martyrs to Ethiopian democracy.
I have been carrying the pain of that slaughter every day for the last ten years. I have preached about it every single week, without missing a single week, for the last nine. I joined the struggle for human rights in Ethiopia as a result of the Meles Massacres of 2005. The victims of the Meles Massacres cry out for justice. I am their voice.
In April 2015, almost a decade later to the month, I witnessed a revolting video clip of the slaughter of 30 Ethiopians by a barbaric self-styled terrorist group known as “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) (also known as Islamic State of Iraq and (Syria) al-Sham (ISIS)) in Libya. (I shall refer to this malignant cancer of a terrorist organization in the rest of my commentary here as “the terrorist group/organization” because I find it unconscionable, blasphemous and outrageous to associate the name of one of the great religions of the world with a barbarous, bloodthirsty and psychopathic group of criminal thugs in the world.)
The sadistic terrorist group in Libya decapitated — beheaded, butchered — young Ethiopian Christians like lambs at a slaughterhouse because they were “followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church” and steadfastly refused to change their faith. The 30 young Ethiopians died as martyrs not just of Christianity but also humanity of all faiths and beliefs. They died in the true spirit of Angus Dei (“Lamb of God “).
The ruthless terrorist group that is responsible for the unspeakable crimes against the young Ethiopian men, and among others, including victims from Egypt, the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Iraq and Syria, is believed to control territory in parts Iraq, Syria, Libya and Nigeria. In June 2014, that terrorist group proclaimed itself to be a worldwide caliphate (religious state) with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph (the leader supposedly acting in the place of the Prophet Muhammed).
That terrorist organization is believed to have attracted a motley crew of psychopaths, adventure-seekers and other disaffected and disenfranchised elements from the Middle East and Europe. Its members are infused with an apocalyptic world view. They expect the end of the world to begin when they meet the “army of Rome” (that is crusaders literally sent by the Pope in Rome, or more metaphorically, the armies of the “infidel” West) in Dabiq, Syria. To be sure, for that terrorist organization, the “infidels” also include Shia Muslims and other Muslims, and every Muslim state which does not subscribe to the terrorists’ ideology. That terrorist organization to date is responsible for the massacre of untold number of Muslim in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Nigeria. In Dabiq, the terrorists expect to vanquish all they consider “infidels”, including Christian, Muslim and others, and emerge victorious to spread their caliphate throughout the world.
The takfir doctrine is the driving ideology of that terrorist group. The doctrine is used to justify the mass murder of any Muslim not practicing their brand of ideology, an unbeliever (Takfir) or an apostate, (Murtad).) The warped terrorists believe the only way of purifying the world is by killing vast numbers of people they consider “unbelievers”. For a clear and very informative analysis of that terrorist group, CLICK HERE.
In the terrorist-released video footage last week, a group of young Ethiopian men are shown collared by their terrorist captives and led through the desert and onto the beach for beheading. Some of the men are dressed in orange jumpsuits, others in black. The terrorists justify they are beheading the young Ethiopians because they are “followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church”.
This particular group of ignorant terrorist thugs in Libya, and others like them elsewhere, is clueless of the hospitality given to the first Muslims escaping persecution and the teachings of the Prophet. According to a recent in-person interview, “none of the terrorist fighters interviewed in Iraq had more than primary school education. When asked ‘What is Islam?’, they answered “My life.’ They knew nothing of the Quran or Hadith, or of the early caliphs Omar and Othman, but had learned of Islam from Al Qaeda and ISIS propaganda, teaching that Muslims like them were targeted for elimination unless they first eliminated the impure.” They “told of growing up after the fall of Saddam Hussein in a hellish world of constant guerrilla war, family deaths and dislocation, and of not being even able to go out of their homes or temporary shelters for months on end.”
Other terrorist recruits do not fare much better. They are “mostly youth in transitional stages in their lives: students, immigrants, between jobs or mates, having left or about to leave their native family and looking for a new family of friends and fellow travelers with whom they can find significance. Most have had no traditional religious education, and are often ‘born again’ into a socially tight, ideologically narrow but world-spanning sense of religious mission.”
These ignorant terrorists and misfits have no clue that Ethiopia is the “Haven of First Migration” (First Hijra) for the Prophet Muhammad’s first followers. The Prophet told his persecuted followers “to leave Makkah and to seek sanctuary in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) which was then ruled by a Christian king, well-known for being a just and God-fearing man.” The Axumite king and the Habeshas (Ethiopians) welcomed the persecuted Muslims as early as 615 A.D. with great hospitality, gave them protection and assistance and refused to return them when requested to do so by their enemies. The terrorist thugs are ignorant of the Prophet’s appreciation of the Habasha (Abyssinian/Ethiopian people) in the Hadith (the teachings, deeds and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed) and his edict, “Leave the Habasha alone, so long as they do not take the offensive!” (“Utruk Al-Habesha ma tarkukum”.) The Prophet also taught, “God will not show mercy to him who does not show mercy to others.”
The Ethiopians the terrorists beheaded in Libya “took no offensive” against anyone. They were poor and defenseless refugees seeking safe passage through Libya on their way to a European destination. They deserved mercy, sanctuary and assistance, not beheadings. The blasphemous terrorists took direct offense to the teaching of the Prophet when they beheaded the Ethiopians! Allah will not show them mercy! Innocent Ethiopian lives matter in the eyes of Allah!
Meles and the T-TPLF did not behead their innocent victims in 2005; they shot them in the head.
In a videotaped interview, Meles justified the massacres of what he called “deaths of up to 194 civilians”. He said, “… There was a constitutional challenge to the constitutional order in Ethiopia; and that challenge had to be faced.” In other words, the protesters had to be slaughtered because they challenged his rule. He said he “doubted” if the massacre had changed “the views of world leaders” towards him, but “it clearly tarnished the image of Ethiopia.”
The Report of Judge Frehiwot Samuel, Chairman of the Inquiry Commission appointed by Meles Zenawi himself to look into the 2005 massacres, COMPLETELY EXONERATED the protesters and laid the entire blame on the Meles regime:
There was not a single protester who was armed with a gun or a hand grenade (as reported by the government-controlled media that some of the protesters were armed with guns and bombs). The Commission members agreed that the shots fired by government forces were not to disperse the crowd of protesters but to kill by targeting the head and chest of the protesters. (Emphasis added; parentheses original.)
The identities of the police thugs who undertook the 2005 massacres are officially known and documented. In a report entitled “Modernizing Internal Security in Ethiopia,” counterterrorism expert Col. Michael Dewar, British Army (Rtd.), revealed that the Director General of the Ethiopian Federal Police Werkneh Gebeyehu told him that “as a direct result of the 2005 riots, he [had] sacked 237 policemen.” The lives of unarmed Ethiopian protesters matter!
The perpetrators of the 2005 massacres today roam the streets free. Not a single one of the police executioners or the criminal bosses who ordered the massacres have been brought to justice.
Almost exactly one year ago to the week, The T-TPLF massacred at least 47 university and high school students in the town of Ambo, 80 miles west of the capital Addis Ababa, and environs. The T-TPLF regime dismissed that massacre and tried to sweep it under the rug claiming that a “few anti-peace forces incited and coordinated the violence”.
At the time, I protested. “I am outraged beyond my ability to express my outrage in words. I grieve and ache for the students cut down by hails of bullets in the prime of their lives. I grieve for Ethiopia for it has lost its best and brightest children. I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the massacre.” Ethiopian youth lives matter!
The perpetrators of the Ambo Student Massacres today roam the streets free. Not a single one of the police executioners or the criminal bosses who ordered the massacre have been brought to justice.
In 2013, a campaign of terror was unleashed on Ethiopian domestic workers and refugees in Saudi Arabia. For days on end, Saudi police, security officials, mobs and vigilantes took to the streets literally hunting down Ethiopians, beating, torturing and in a number of cases killing them. The YouTube video clips of Saudi police torturing Ethiopians are shocking to the conscience and require no explanation. Yet, some of the Ethiopians died at the hands of their Saudi tormentors with the true Ethiopian flag wrapped around their heads. Their ancestors would have been so proud!
At the time, Tedros Adhanom, the malaria-researcher-turned-instant-foreign-minister, told the press, the deportation and killings “is something that has been bugging me for some time now.” Adhanom summoned the Saudi Arabian ambassador and told him, “Ethiopia would like to express its respect for the decision of the Saudi Authorities and the policy of deporting illegal migrants. At the same time, it condemns the killing of an Ethiopian and mistreatment of its citizens residing in Saudi Arabia.” (Emphasis added.)
For Adhanom and his T-TPLF, the dehumanization, abuse and murder of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia was not a very big deal. It was something that just “bugged” them. At the time I wrote, “Rush hour traffic “bugs” the hell out of me. Students who come to class without completing the assigned readings “bug” me to no end. What the Saudis are doing to Ethiopians does not ‘bug’ me. It makes my blood boil. I am inflamed at the sight of the inhumanity and barbarity of the Saudi Police. I am outraged by the cruelty and brutality of Saudi mobs and vigilantes. I am shocked and appalled by the depraved indifference of the Saudi regime to the many acts of crimes against humanity committed against Ethiopian migrant workers. I am outraged that the suffering of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia merely ‘bugs’ Adhanom.”
Since 2013, the news about Ethiopians from the Middle East and Southern Africa has become sadly familiar. (I shall address the criminal acts committed against Ethiopians and other African immigrants by thugs in South Africa in due course.) Hardly a week goes by with a report of an Ethiopian domestic worker abused by her Middle Eastern employer, allegedly committing suicide or facing some other inhuman suffering or indignity. Just a few days ago, a 23-year-old Ethiopian maid was allegedly found hanged in Beirut, Lebanon. The lives of innocent Ethiopian domestic workers in the Middle East matter!
The perpetrators of the crimes against humanity on Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East today roam the streets free. Not a single one of the police executioners or the criminal bosses who ordered the beatings, tortures and killings have been brought to justice.
Beginning in October 2007, Meles Zenawi and his T-TPLF launched a crackdown against insurgents in the Ogaden region which quickly expanded into a program of collective punishment for Ogadeni civilians. Meles’ troops destroyed entire villages and committed rape, murder and pillage. They hanged and beheaded suspects to terrorize the population. Human Rights Watch told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health that “the Ogaden is not Darfur. But the situation in Ogaden follows a frighteningly familiar pattern”. The lives of Ethiopians in the Ogaden region matter!
The perpetrators of the crimes against humanity and genocide on the Ogadenis in in Eastern Ethiopia today roam the streets free. Not a single one of the police executioners or the criminal bosses who ordered the massacres have been brought to justice.
In December 2003, Meles Zenawi and his T-TPLF ordered their troops to undertake a series of attacks in Gambella, Western Ethiopia, in which 400 Anuaks were massacred and over 1000 homes destroyed. The Meles regime subsequently issued a statement “apologizing for not acting proactively and promised to stand on the side of the victims to see that justice is done.” At the time, the regime claimed to have identified dozens of suspects in the Anuak massacres. None of them has been prosecuted. The lives of Ethiopians in Gambella matter!
The perpetrators of the crimes against humanity and genocide on the Anuak in Western Ethiopia today roam the streets free. Not a single one of the police executioners or the criminal bosses who ordered the massacres have been brought to justice.
To date, no soldier, police, security or other civilian official in the service of the T-TPLF has ever been prosecuted, held accountable or sanctioned for any murders, crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes or crimes of aggression.
The open season on Ethiopians and Ethiopian refugees must end!
The death of outrage and the outrage over the death of Ethiopians
The butchering of the young Ethiopians by the sadistic terrorist group has provoked outrage throughout the world. Pope Francis expressed “great distress and sadness [over] the further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya.” He expressed “heartfelt spiritual solidarity” with the “continuing martyrdom being so cruelly inflicted on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and some parts of Asia.” He said the terrorist criminals stand on the side of evil. “The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard by everyone who can still distinguish between good and evil.”
The Obama Administration “condemned in the strongest terms the brutal mass murder by ISIL-affiliated terrorists of what the murderers claimed are Ethiopian Christians in Libya. These terrorists killed these men solely because of their faith points to the terrorists’ vicious, senseless brutality.”
The so-called Ethiopian government initially refused to acknowledge the terrorist beheading victims were Ethiopians. Redwan Hussein, “Ethiopia government spokesperson”, said while his “government” was not able to verify if those killed were Ethiopians, “the Ethiopian government condemns the atrocious act.”
It did not matter to the T-TPLF “government” that CNN had confirmed and reported the beheading victims were Ethiopians. It did not matter Al-Jazeera had confirmed and reported they were Ethiopians. It did not matter to the T-TPLF regime that Reuters, Agence France Press, BBC, VOA, the N.Y. Times, the Washington Post…. had all confirmed and reported the victims of the terrorist massacres were Ethiopians. They refused to acknowledge the fact. What were they concerned about? Were they being cautious on the facts because they may mistakenly express outrage for the beheading of citizens of another country? Wouldn’t any decent government anywhere in the world have simply accepted the international press reports as true on face value and expressed its outrage and concern!?
The truth is: For the T-TPLF, it is all about mind over matter. The T-TPLF doesn’t care and the young Ethiopian lives lost at the hands of bloodthirsty terrorist thugs don’t matter!!!
Once the T-TPLF regiime confirmed the victims were Ethiopians, it issued an official statement, bawling in crocodile tears: “The Ethiopian government is deeply saddened by the barbarous act committed against our innocent nationals.”
After confirming the 30 individuals slaughtered by the sadistic terrorist group in Libya were Ethiopians, the “Ethiopian government” “declared three days of mourning”.
Adhanom and his paper-boss Hailemariam Desalegn, the marionette “prime minister” of Ethiopia, took no publicly demonstrable diplomatic actions demanding greater protection for the remaining Ethiopian citizens in Libya; not even a token gesture. No diplomatic protests were lodged; they did not even pretend to go through the obligatory diplomatic motions. They did not notify the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to urge immediate assistance for the remaining Ethiopians in Libya. Hailemariam and Adhanom were silent as church mice, letting their “spokesperson” do all the talking. That is not surprising because they don’t give a rat’s behind about Ethiopian refugees anyway!
Just for the record, I want to mention that Adhanom and his paper-boss Hailemariam Desalegn tore up the platform at the African Union meeting in October 2013 crying bloody murder and “race hunting” when their friend, Uhuru Kenyatta, was hailed before the International Criminal Court. They went out of their way to orchestrate an all-Africa mass walkout of the Rome Treaty (International Criminal Court authority).
Today, their lips are sealed when their citizens are literally hunted down like wild game in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East and slaughtered and hanged like wet laundry on a clothesline in their employers’ residence. How come they are not orchestrating the African Union to take action, or even express their symbolic outrage, against the barbaric terrorists? For Adhanom, Hailemariam and the T-TPLF powers that be, it is all just another tempest in a tea pot, like 2013 Saudi Arabia, like 2005 Ethiopia… It will blow over in a week or two; and they will be back to business as usual.
Not so when more than 21 Egyptian Copts were slaughtered by that evil terrorist group this past February. Like the beheaded Ethiopians in Libya, the Egyptian Copts were also dressed up in orange jumpsuits and their hands tied behind their backs. The Egyptian men, like the Ethiopian men, were forced to kneel before being beheaded.
President Abdel el-Sisi was hopping mad at the beheadings of the Egyptian Copts. He went on television within hours of the occurrence of the event and declared Egypt “reserves the right to respond in any way”. He expressed his “deep sorrow”, let the world know that he “mourns the Egyptian victims of an abhorrent act of terrorism in Libya” and “offered his deepest condolences to the Egyptian people for their grave loss.” Within hours, el-Sisi conferred with his defense council and dispatched Egyptian bombers taking out targets in the terrorist-held city of Derna in Libya. In honor of the 21 Egyptian Coptic victims, Egypt declared seven days of mourning!
What is absolutely outrageous is the fact that the remaining Ethiopian refugees in Libya who were given a telephone number by representatives of the T-TPLF regime to contact the “Ethiopian Embassy” in Egypt got neither material nor moral support. Their efforts to get help were met with depraved indifference. According to a very recent interview of Ethiopian refugees in Libya on the Voice of America, (VOA) Amharic Program (move audio clip forward to 04:00 minutes), the refugees instead of getting assistance received depraved indifference. One interviewee reported:
We were given a telephone number for the Ethiopian Embassy in Egypt to call and get assistance. We have received no assistance at all from the Ethiopian Government. We use a telephone calling card we buy by scrounging what little we could to call the Ethiopian Embassy in Egypt. They pick up the phone and mock us. They don’t talk to us. They pick up the phone and let our telephone calling card run out of time. Then we get another card. Sometimes they answer. Sometimes, they don’t…”
Other Ethiopian refugees interviewed by VOA reported similar experiences.
Of course, we all know what the Adhanom, Hailemariam and the T-TPLF are saying to themselves: They should never have left. They took a chance and lost. We told them so. That will teach them a lesson… Blah… Blah… Blah…
But why are young Ethiopians voting with their feet?
Why are tens of thousands of young Ethiopians taking such extraordinary risks to leave the country?
Why would they choose to leave the land of milk and honey galloping in double-digit economic growth?
Why did the hapless Ethiopians travel to Libya where they met their tragic fates?
The answer is simple. They did not leave Ethiopia because they were overwhelmed with educational and employment opportunities. They did not leave because they enjoyed political and economic liberties. They did not leave because they wanted adventures in the deserts of North Africa. They risked everything, including their lives, because they wanted better lives than the ones they were having in Ethiopia. To improve the lives they were living in Ethiopia and to support their families living in abject poverty, they were willing to risk dying in the parched desert or as servants to a ruthless house master and mistress in the Middle East.
Young Ethiopians today are willing to die in the desert and wilderness than live under the tyranny and oppression of the thugtatorship of the TPLF. The young Ethiopians who died in Libya died in the spirit of that glorious slogan of freedom: “Give me death or give me liberty!” They were going to live free from the rule of thugs and died trying at the hands of thugs! But they died as martyrs trying to live free!
Ethiopians love their country. It is in their DNA. I would say, Ethiopians, perhaps right down to the last man and woman, are not the type who will voluntarily leave their country and risk becoming refugees or traverse the desert and wilderness just to improve their economic lot. They leave their country not because they don’t love it, but because their lovely country has been transformed into the Land of Hate. Their Land of Thirteen Months of Sunshine has been enveloped in the impregnable darkness of thugtatorship for nearly a quarter of a century. Ethiopians love their country too much to just leave it.
According to Tasse Abye, Ethiopian out-migration historically occurred in “waves”. In the first wave, throughout the 1960s, were a tiny group of elites who temporarily left the country, often to the West, principally for educational and training, with the aim of returning home. That trend continued into the second wave during the 1974-1982 period. The ruthless military Derg junta beginning in 1974 made it very difficult for people to leave the country; and those caught attempting to leave were given severe punishments. The Derg military repression opened the floodgates of Ethiopian refugees.
Tens of thousands of Ethiopians left their country to make their home in North America. After the passage of the 1965 U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, Ethiopians became the third-largest national group of African immigrants to immigrate to the United States.
Most Ethiopians arrived in the United States after Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980 and became the largest group of Africans to immigrate until Somalis surpassed them in 1994. According to Tasse, “Since the fall of the Mengistu regime in 1991, a fourth wave of emigration has occurred, composed mainly of professionals fleeing ethnic violence and political repression.” For a brief but highly informative analysis on Ethiopian immigration and the Ethiopian Diaspora, CLICK HERE.
The major problem for Ethiopians leaving their country occurred during what might be called the “fifth wave”. As I explained in my January 2012 commentary, “From the International Slave Trade to the International Maid Trade”, factors internal to Ethiopian politics were the driving force in the out-migration process. Under the T-TPLF regime, a network of unscrupulous modern-day slave-traffickers (“human traffickers”) and “private labor employment agencies” operating under official license were trafficking in young Ethiopian women to various parts of the Middle East. The traffickers were engaged in what amounts to “contract slavery”, with implicit official support and without official follow up and monitoring of the workers to ensure their well-being and welfare in their host countries.
The plight of Ethiopian women domestic workers in the Middle East has been documented in Bina Fernandez’s survey research (Ch. 7). In 2009, “over 74,000 people risked their lives to enter Yemen en route to Saudi Arabia, of which 42,000 were Ethiopians.” According to official data, 91% of the Ethiopian domestic workers in the Middle East were single women, 83% between the age of 20–30 age group, 63% had some secondary education, 26% were illiterate and 71% Muslim and 93% earned US$100–150 per month. Some of these women “officially registered with the government as a migrant worker”. Others “worked through illegal brokers who are viciously exploitative [and] often take the women’s money and sometimes abandon them in the desert before they even reach Somalia.”
The T-TPLF and the problem of human trafficking
Since 1998, the Meles Zenawi regime has put in place a “Private Employment Agency Proclamation No. 104/1998”, which provided for licensing of private employment agencies and the prosecution of illegal brokers. In 2009, this Proclamation was repealed and updated by the “Employment Exchange Services Proclamation No. 632/2009”, which required private employment agencies, among other things, “not to recruit a job seeker below the age of 18 years; not to terminate the contract of employment before acquiring the consent of the worker in writing, get approval from the Ethiopian embassy or consular office to form a new contract or to modify the existing one, register a worker sent abroad, within fifteen days, with the nearest Ethiopian embassy or consular office.”
The “private employment agency which sends workers abroad” is mandated to ensure that the working conditions in the host country not “be less favorable to an Ethiopian than the rights and benefits of those who work in a similar type and level of work in the country of employment.” The foreign employer is required to pay the “visa fee of the country of destination, round trip ticket, residence and work permit fees and insurance coverage” for the worker. Moreover, “any private employment agency which sends a worker abroad for work” must deposit cash or post bond in the minimum amount of USD$30,000 for up to 500 workers “for the protection and enforcement of the rights of the worker.”
The real penalty for violation of the Proclamation No. 632 is actually suspension, revocation or cancellation of license of the employment agency. Though various stiff criminal penalties are provided in Article 40 of that Proclamation, there is little evidence of serious prosecution of human traffickers. According to a 2010 State Department report, “Between March and October 2009, the [Federal High Court’s 11th Criminal] bench heard 15 cases related to transnational labor trafficking, resulting in five convictions, nine acquittals, and one withdrawal due to missing witnesses. Of the five convictions, three offenders received suspended sentences of five years’ imprisonment, two co-defendants were fined, and one offender is serving a sentence of five years’ imprisonment.”
Similarly, according to a 2011 UNHCR report, “The [Ethiopian] government showed only nascent signs of engaging destination country governments in an effort to improve protections for Ethiopian workers and obtain protective services for victims.” Moreover, “although licensed employment agencies must place funds in escrow in the event a worker’s contract is broken, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has never used these deposits to pay for victims’ transportation back to Ethiopia.”
But the T-TPLF regime has readily come to the rescue of other victims of human traffickers according to the same UNHCR report: “In 2010, Ethiopia granted asylum to 1,383 Eritrean refugees deported from Egypt, many of whom claim to have been brutalized by Rashaida smugglers operating in the Sinai – including conditions of forced construction labor – or have fled Eritrea to escape situations of forced labor associated with the implementation of the country’s national service program.” While it is noble and morally commendable to assist any victim of human trafficking and human rights abuse, it is also true that charity begins at home.
The solution to the problem was promised in 2013
During the Saudi persecution of Ethiopian domestic workers and refugees in November 2013, Adhanom said,
Of course we have been working a lot on long term and short term solutions for long time in Ethiopia now because there are structural problems that we need to address to solve the problem once and for all. And you know Ethiopia is making progress and growing in double digits, [a claim I have demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt to be a lie, a damned lie and a statislie (statistical lie)] and there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we know we can make it, and we know we can eliminate poverty. We are in the right direction but still we believe in global solidarity. But we never expected that this would happen. (Emphasis added.)
I still find it hard to believe that Adhanom said “we never expected that this would happen” to Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia; or that the whole thing was “a complete surprise” to him. Of course, it was not a “complete surprise” to anyone as I demonstrated in my commentary at the time. There is no way it could reasonably be said that Adhanom could not reasonable foresee the humanitarian disaster that befell Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia in November 2013.
Be that as it may, I am still waiting to see the results of what he called, “the long-term and short-term solutions we have been working on for a long time” to deal with the issue of mass exodus of Ethiopians and protections of their human rights as refugees and contract workers particularly in the Middle East.
In April 2015, nothing has changed. Young Ethiopian men and women are voting with their feet (since they cannot vote with their hands). They continue to be victims of unspeakable violence in the Middle East. They are beaten, tortured, starved, hanged, and now beheaded.
These crimes continue to be committed against Ethiopian refugees and domestic workers with greater frequency and intensity two years after Adhanom declared his regime has “been working on long-term and short-term solutions for a long time”. So Ethiopians, to borrow Adhanom’s and Hailemariam’s favorite phrase, are being “race hunted” and “religious hunted” in the Middle East and even in South Africa. Yet nothing has been done to assist and protect them from the unspeakable crimes. Not even symbolic actions!
As an academic, a lawyer and a human rights advocate, it seems to me a lot could be done to help Ethiopians victimized not only by terrorists, vigilantes, thugs and abusive employers but also official authorities acting under color of law. Why is there not a permanent official special task force assembled to deal with the ongoing emergency of Ethiopian refugees and abused domestic workers? Why aren’t civil society groups mobilized to stave off out-migration and help in the re-absorption of the returning migrant workers and other refugees? Will the T-TPLF ever give a damn about the suffering of Ethiopian refugees, contract workers and others facing mistreatment and abuse? (That’s a rhetorical question.)
When a crisis of the type facing Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia occurs, any regime that cares for its citizens will institute an emergency task force to coordinate its response and reach out to international organizations for assistance and support. (I don’t mean reach out to international organizations to beg for money and pocket it.) It is manifest that Adhanom and his regime calculate that the situation of the Ethiopians domestic workers and refugees in the Middle East and elsewhere shall soon pass and they will continue to do business as usual.
So I ask myself the unanswerable question in despairing poetic solitude…
What’s the matter?
What’s the matter?
Don’t Ethiopian lives matter!?
Man, it’s just mind over matter,
The T-TPLF don’t mind
Ethiopian lives don’t matter.
What’s the matter
Nothing’s is the matter!
It doesn’t matter.
What doesn’t matter?
Ethiopian lives don’t matter.
It matters not.
Ethiopian lives matter,
All human lives matter!
What’s the matter?
Tell me, what’s really the matter?
T-TPLF brutality and depravity,
Terrorist barbarity, insanity and inhumanity,
South African thug criminality
Ethiopian Diaspora inability,
Disunity in our Ethiopianity,
Evil’s banality, and
Man’s inhumanity to humanity.
That’s what’s the matter! Ethiopian lives always matter!
It’s all about mind over matter. The T-TPLF don’t care, and Ethiopian lives don’t matter!
I cry for our Ethiopia, the beloved country, but “there is a light at the end of the tunnel”
During the Saudi Arabian persecution of Ethiopian domestic workers and refugees, Adhanom said, “there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we know we can make it, and we know we can eliminate poverty.”
I, too, say there is a light at the end of the tunnel of tyranny and dictatorship in Ethiopia. There is a new day on the horizon. We must hold on, hold hands together – Christians and Muslims and Ethiopians from all parts of the country — and march straight out of the tunnel of two decades plus of oppression and denial of basic human rights.
I must tell the truth. It is hard. Sometimes, I despair and cry for our beloved Ethiopia. I do. Only if you knew how much I do.
In 1948, the same year Apartheid became law in South Africa, Alan Paton wrote in “Cry, the Beloved Country”, and expressed the deep despair he felt over the fate of South Africa. My own deep despair over the fate of Ethiopia parallels and resonates Paton’s:
… Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end. The sun pours down on the earth, on the lovely land that man cannot enjoy. He knows only the fear of his heart.
I, too, like Paton cry for the “broken tribe” of Ethiopia, the Ethiopia broken down into ethnic “kilils”.
I cry for the law and the custom that is gone. I cry for the Ethiopian flag they call a “rag.” I cry for Ethiopia’s history they say goes back only 100 years. I cry for the Ethiopia they say has been in existence barely a century.
I cry for the rivers and those voiceless people dammed by a dam. I cry for the and mountains, the valleys and the deserts. I cry for the land that is bleeding its gold and minerals.
I cry out loud for the 30 young Ethiopian Christian men who were beheaded by an evil terrorist group. I cry out loud for their fathers and mothers; for their sisters and brothers; their uncles and aunts and grandparents. I cry out loud for their friends and neighbors, their towns and their cities. I cry out loud for their beloved country, their Ethiopia. These things are not yet at an end. The sun pours down on that Land of 13-Months of Sunshine, on the lovely land that only the privileged few can now enjoy. I cry out loud for all Ethiopians who only know the fear in their hearts. I share their suffering and their unbearable sorrow and grief.
I also cry in silence for our young brothers who, like the silent lambs, were slaughtered like in Libya by cruel and murderous thugs. I cry for the remaining Ethiopians trapped in Libya with no one to help them. I cry in silence for our sisters who are raped, beaten and thrown out of windows to their deaths and hanged from ceiling and tree tops and scalded with hot water all over the Middle East. I cry in silence for those young Ethiopian men and women who feel compelled to leave their country and risk their lives because they do not feel free; they do not feel they have rights; they do not feel they are human in their own country. They know third and fourth class citizens in their own country. I cry in silence for those Ethiopians who died and continue to die crossing the deserts of Yemen, Libya and Saudi Arabia seeking to improve their lives.
I cry in silence for those young men and women, fathers and mothers who were murdered at the hand of Meles Zenawi and the t-TPLF in cold blood in the streets in Ethiopia after the 2005 election.
I cry for my sister Reeyot Alemu and for my brothers Eskinder Nega, Andualem Aragie, Woubshet Taye, Bekele Gerba, Abubekar Ahmed and the many thousands of Ethiopian political prisoners. I cry for all Ethiopians and for Ethiopia.
In my cry of despair, I pause to reflect on Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29: “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes/ I all alone beweep my outcast state,/And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,/And look upon myself, and curse my fate,/Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,/…
Yes, I cry and cry and “trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.” Yes, in my despair, I am one more rich in hope. I HOPE Ethiopia will soon be free from the rule of thugs. I HOPE her people will see through the tricks and machinations of the thugs and come together and build one Ethiopia on a foundation of tolerance, harmony and love. I HOPE because I have REJECTED despair.
I cry for our beloved Ethiopia. I cry in joy and hope. I promise you, our cries shall not go unheard. didn’t South Africa emerged from the tunnel of apartheid tyranny. Wasn’t Mandela one more rich in hope: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.”
Doubt not. I remain more hopeful, joyously hopeful, than ever. I have no doubts whatsoever that Ethiopians shall soon regain their dignity and honor at home and abroad.
Ethiopians under “kilil” rule, like South Africans under apartheid rule, shall no longer be the “skunks of the world”; and deep in my heart, I do believe Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God and we shall rejoice and cry no more!
May God in His eternal and infinite grace bless the souls of our fallen brothers and sons in Libya.
May Allah, the merciful and beneficent, show mercy to those who showed no mercy to our brothers and sons.
ተከብረሽ የኖርሽው ባባቶቻችን ደም
እናት ኢትዮጵያያ ያስደፈረሽ ይውደም!
by Professor Alemayehu G Mariam