By Mihret Feleke
This article is made possible after I heard the interviews given by the EPRDF ambassador to the US, Girma Birru, who defended the actions and acclaimed the actions of his embassy staff, and the gunman, Solomon Tadesse, who fired shots at unarmed protestors in broad day light outside embassy premises. I am not writing this article to dwell on what happened and deal with what should have been done. Rather, I was deeply ashamed by the Ambassador’s repeated and relentless argument in the interview he gave afterwards that regarded the action of the gunman as proper and right while to the mind of all sane people it is none but an outrageous and illegal act never seen in the real world before. What troubles me most with the ambassador’s determination of defending the act is that if he and the TPLF regime believe it is an act of patriotism than a breach of the law and order of the host nation we have no guarantee that this same action will not be repeated again and Ethiopians would not be subjected to similar horrific event. For that, I believe, the Ambassador has to be required to recant his words out of decency to the host nation as well as those Ethiopians who came close to be killed by the gunman.
Solomon Tadesse who had been posted at the Ethiopian embassy in Washington and fired shots on unarmed protestors had departed from the US to avoid persecution under US laws for the crimes he committed. In addition, we also have learned that the US authorities have issued an arrest warrant for his apprehension when ever and where ever he is captured unless protected by the diplomatic immunity under the Vienna convention, which bestows protection to diplomats of a given nation from being subjects under the laws of a host nation. His case being a pending case that would be pursued when the time comes the post incidence stance taken by the Ambassador has to be the focus and scrutiny of law enforcement agencies as well as other US authorities and Human Rights groups.
The interviews the Ambassador gave to Medias here in the US and back home in Ethiopia is troubling to all rational and law-abiding people who adhere to the principles of the rule of law. On all of the interviews the Ambassador gave, he had not taken responsibility nor admits the action taken by the agent in the embassy as a wrongful act. He rather came out with a determined stance to defend the actions of the agent by saying ‘he has done a right job’ for firing a deadly weapon on unarmed protestors outside of the embassy compound. It is this stance taken by the Ambassador that is equally outrageous as the actions of the agent himself that I made the decision to deal with it in this article and point out the basis that would justify my call for investigation in to the role of the Ambassador to this outrageous act that put the lives of civilians in grave danger and would give a confidence to other incoming agents to commit such acts using their diplomatic immunity.
The US law enforcement agencies of course know a lot about criminal acts and how the law is used so as to incriminate those who break it. In addition, the way the gunman’s case has been handled had been appreciated by so many Ethiopians residing in the US. However, beyond taking the action on the perpetrators the US authorities have to question the open and unambiguous stance taken and conviction held by the Ambassador that undermines the laws and orders of this great nation by implicitly suggesting the action taken by the US authorities is wrong while defending and showing his support to the action of the agent. It is true that although crimes committed by anyone would directly make that person the principal subject to the actions taken it also look in to accomplices and collaborators who have allowed themselves to propagate, defend and congratulate the actions committed breaking the laws of this nation. So as to please the TPLF masters back home and calm their anger caused by the departure of one of their own the Ambassador has chosen to disrespect and undermine the law and order the US.
However, the Ambassador’s relentless defense of the agent calling his actions that could well be considered as serious as ‘attempted murder’ right and proper while obviously the reality is otherwise is a typical example that shows how the system of the TPLF led government works in Ethiopia as well as where ever their agents reside. And considering this incident as an isolated event would also be wrong since such acts are committed by the TPLF regime anywhere and anytime on those who call for the end to its narrow ethnic based politics and the hegemony of a minority group as well as the draconian press law, anti-terrorism and NGO and CSO laws. The actions of Mr. Solomon and the defense of the Ambassador is a microcosm of the general reality in Ethiopia that Ethiopians subjected to day in and day out under the TPLF rule.
The TPLF government that has been in power for more than three decades still engages in practices that can be considered un-characteristic of a government and still has the attributes of a rebel group with characteristics of a terrorist group. We have learned before from the US embassy in Addis Ababa diplomatic message surfaced by Asange that the TPLF government plants explosives, where civilians live, and kill citizens so as to blame killings on opposition groups and meet its political agenda to legitimize its criminal acts committed against opposition groups. The explosions in Addis Ababa and other places in Ethiopia a couple of years ago were the acts of the government itself so as to blackmail the Oromo Liberation Front and use it as an excuse to jail, torture and kill its members. And if the TPLF regime claim that Ginbot 7 planted explosive to kill civilians we all have to first say lets first start the investigation from TPLF itself since it is in its nature to act as one than a responsible government of the people.
Unlike what is in the attributes of any government in the world that work for unity and co-existence, the TPLF government deliberately propagates ideas that widen gaps between different groups creates hatred and animosity so as to protect it minority hegemony and power used as a means of protecting the economic interest of its members as well as its ethnically connected cronies. It is indeed unprecedented and unheard of in any place in the world but in Ethiopia a population that accounts for six percent of the total population controls ninety percent of the nation’s security, police and military high rank positions as well as other federal institutions. In order to sustain such a status-quo the TPLF regime engages itself in any form of action including those adopted by terrorist organizations.
On the interview he gave, the accusation of those unarmed protestors by the Ambassador that his embassy staff member shot a gun on their face as members of terrorist organizations like Oromo Liberation Front and Ginbot 7 is indeed shameful and despicable. This is a usual game TPLF has mastered on which is a deceptive maneuver meant to shift the blame. However, this incident cannot be hidden nor denied since it is committed on broad day light while the whole world is watching. When I say this I am very convinced that let alone in the US, even in Ethiopia no Ethiopian opposition party has ever shot a gun or killed a single civilian to advance its political agenda. No international or regional actors and groups has ever charge no such group committing such crime. The atrocities committed by OLF on ethnic Amharas during the outset of TPLF rule was in fact committed with TPLF being the accomplice than an action committed on its own. But the world knows and Ethiopians have lived it for more than two decades that if there is any group that used violence as a means of advancing political agenda and protect absolute monopoly of power, it is TPLF that has jailed, killed and tortured thousands of civilians and it is still carrying out such acts wherever the oppressive hands of the regime reaches out to.
Keeping aside the regimes two decades old record of killing and torturing as means of running its political agenda the recent shooting by one of the cadre agent of the TPLF regime in the US capital speaks the general fact who have the tendency to engage in acts considered to have terrorist nature. Since the basic underpinning objective of a terrorist group is advancing its narrow and extremist agenda through the use of violence with no regard to civilian life and safety that it exactly what we have seen in TPLF today and yesterday. And if there is any group that should be labeled as a terrorist group it would be no one but the TPLF elites and rank and file in Addis Ababa and every where its agents are working as ‘diplomats’. Although I know the international community fully realizes this undeniable fact I just wanted to reiterate the fact as a way of awakening their conscious so as to invigorate their action in pressuring the regime in Ethiopia to come to its senses and be party of sanity and join the civility and rationality people of the 21st century has embarked on.
The TPLF regime that has itself been terrorizing the nation with no regard to its own constitution and respect to international laws of human rights labeling different peaceful oppositions, free journalists, activists and bloggers as terrorists is a mockery of the highest order. In TPLF controlled Ethiopia demanding human and democratic rights, treatment of all ethnic groups as equal and the demand for the rule of law are considered an act of terrorism that would subject one to be jailed, tortured and killed while TPLF itself being the legislature, police, prosecutor and judge. So many Ethiopians of different walks of life have been slaughtered on the basis of the ‘anti-terrorism’ law and thousands are languishing in Ethiopian prisons as I speak. The belligerent TPLF regime in Ethiopia, however, that does not budge to the call of United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International as well as US government and European Union request to stop using the law as a tactic used to advance political agendas has continued to target Ethiopians on such phony accusations leading thousands to exile for fear of their life.
Therefore, while summing up my thoughts, I would say that as one of the exiled Ethiopians living in the US, I deeply believe the US government would conduct a thorough background investigation in to the people the TPLF government send as diplomats to its embassies. Because, as we have learnt since some years back the TPLF regime has made it a policy to staff all government positions with cadres than professionals. So, the attributes of the regime that reflects violence and cruel treatment as an instrument of protecting power that is used to advance the economic interest of its members and affiliates would be carried to anywhere its agents are sent. The actions of Solomon Tadesse last week and the determination of Amb. Girma Birru defending the action as proper and right by disrespecting US law and its enforcement agencies actions and decisions is a good example. We Ethiopians, who reside in the US who enjoys the freedom and rights this greate nation enshrined to all people who set foot on its soil plead to the US authorities to protect our safety and security from the regime that exiled us in the first place and attempt to extend its hands here in the land of the free and attempt to suppress our voice by the use of a gun.
By Mihret Feleke