By Ziyad Kadir*
By my people I mean; you, your sisters, your brothers, families, friends, clan, tribe, ethnic group and all of you – the dwellers of these vast place called mother Earth. Liberty is individuals’ right to live on earth and act according to their will. Equality is the state of being equal irrespective of age, gender, social status, color, or other markers of our uniqueness. Freedom is being at liberty or free from all forms of domination or oppression. Death is the ultimate price or the irreversible course of nature’s action on personhood.
I am not a philosopher, just an ordinary resident trying to get a message across to my people. I come from a very remote place in Africa – Ethiopia, Oromia. My ethnicity is Oromo and I have been a resident (of mother earth) for a little over two decades and half. During that brief stay, I have seen life’s disparity at best and worst. Humans have always been so talented to find ways to work around our shortcomings and you would know what I am talking about because my stories are your stories.
In the words of the noble laureate President Barack Obama, “our journey maybe different but our destiny is shared”. Together we can chart a better future making mother earth a place where all can freely live and enjoy. But my people, the evil will perpetuate if we do not unite. When the evil prevails my life is in danger. Your life is in danger. Our life is in danger. In a widely quoted statement, the Irish Philosopher/Politician Edmund Burke said “all that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for good people to do nothing”. Hence, my people; if I, you and we do not act in union or individually against the forces of evil, soon or later the forces of evil will win.
It is also clear that Perpetrators, collaborators, bystanders, and victims are as vast as the mother earth. The forces of evil are in our homes, villages, neighborhoods, towns, states and nations. We can’t act against all at once. That is why I want to call to your attention the case of a tribal leader that has been indiscriminately killing, torturing, massacring and imprisoning millions of my people, your people and our people for the past 18 years.
Meles Zenawi and His Perpetual Crimes against Humanity
Meles (Lagesse) Zenawi Asres is a former Marxist-Leninist guerilla leader from Adwa Town in Tigray region of Ethiopia. His father is a Tigre and his mother is Eritrean. The former Tigray People’s Liberation Front leader, Meles Zenawi rose through ranks during the struggle against the ruthless Marxist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam. After the downfall of the communist regime in Ethiopia, Meles and his associates consolidated power by systematically eliminating all threats and “traitors” (real, perceived or imagined) thus subverting the struggle of the mass for liberty, equality and freedom.
When the then Marxist Dictator was ousted, Ethiopians finally thought the dark days are behind. The new Ethiopian constitution established a federal and democratic structure guaranteeing individual, group and state rights. Many believed a new damn of democracy and development has begun…the century old nepotism, hatred and systematic repression is finally over. But soon enough; groups that were party in drafting the constitution were marginalized and were driven out of the country. Since that time, the minority junta became arbitrary much worse than its predecessors using heavy handed military power to oppress, kill, torture, imprison and suppress dissent. My people, your people and our people were and are subjected to the most brutal and backward form of divide and rule oppression to date.
Herewith, I publish excerpts from the United States Department of State Human Rights reports since the current minority government took office in 1991/92.
Ethiopia: 1999 Country Report
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
The security forces committed a number of extrajudicial killings…reports of extrajudicial killings by Government security forces from Oromiya and the Somali region. Actions taken by the Government as part of the border conflict resulted in some civilian deaths. In February an Ethiopian plane bombed the Eritrean village of Laili Deda, killing at least five Eritrean civilians and wounding several others. There were reports that in April Ethiopian forces shelled the border town of Adi Keyih, killing at least eight Eritrean civilians and wounding dozens of others.
In November student protests against the arrest of two teachers who criticized new textbooks in the Welayita speaking sections of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region State (SNNPRS) led to widespread demonstrations and riots (see Sections 1.d. and 5). Special police units called in to suppress the riot killed up to 10 persons and wounded many others.
In March a 70-year old man accused of involvement with OLF terrorist activities died in prison (see Section 1.c.). In June Kebede Desta, a defendant charged along with 127 others for genocide (see Section 1.d.), died in prison of multiple chronic illnesses. Also in June, ETA acting secretary general Shimelis Zewidie died the same month of tuberculosis. Many international labor observers and ETA officials claim that Shimelis Zewdie’s medical condition was exacerbated by a 75-day detention in late 1998.
b. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution prohibits the use of torture and mistreatment; however, there were credible reports that security officials sometimes beat or mistreated detainees. Government media published occasional reports of officials who were jailed or dismissed for abuse of authority and violations of human rights.
Prison conditions are poor and overcrowding remains a serious problem. Prisoners often are allocated fewer than 21.5 square feet of sleeping space in a room that may contain up to 200 persons. Prison food is inadequate, and many prisoners have food delivered to them every day by family members or use their own funds to purchase food from local vendors. Prison conditions are unsanitary, and access to medical care is not reliable. Prisoners typically are permitted daily access to prison yards, which often include working farms, mechanical shops, and rudimentary libraries. Visitors are permitted. Prison letters all must be written in Amharic, making outside contact difficult for non-Amharic speakers; however, this restriction is not enforced. Female prisoners are housed separately from men, and rape does not appear to be a problem…The army used military camps located near Zewaye Goba in Bale zone, Oromiya for the temporary detention and interrogation of OLF fighters and alleged supporters.
c. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Constitution and both the criminal and civil codes prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention; however, the Government does not always respect these rights in practice.
Under the Criminal Procedure Code, any person detained must be charged and informed of the charges within 48 hours and, in most cases, be offered release on bail. Those persons believed to have committed serious offenses may be detained for 15 days while police conduct an investigation and for additional 15-day periods while the investigation continues. Some offenses, such as murder and treason, are not bailable. In practice, and especially in the outlying regions, authorities regularly detain persons without a warrant, do not charge them within 48 hours, and–if persons are released on bail–never recall them to court. Thousands of criminal suspects remained in detention without charge, most of whom were accused of involvement in OLF terrorist activities. Often these lengthy detentions are due to the severe shortage and limited training of judges, prosecutors, and attorneys.
Federal and regional authorities arrested and detained persons without charge or trial for activities allegedly in support of armed opposition groups. The vast majority of these incidents took place in the Oromiya and Somali regional states. More than 7,500 persons allegedly associated with armed opposition groups remain in detention. Most detainees were accused of participating in armed actions by the OLF or the ONLF. In typical cases, security forces arrested and held these persons incommunicado for several days or weeks before eventually releasing them. The closed trial of 65 Oromos suspected of involvement in OLF terrorist acts continued. In March one of the Oromo defendants who were 70 years of age died while in jail. In April three other defendants were granted bail. Six of the defendants staged a 10-day hunger strike in May to protest the prison policy of keeping them in handcuffs 24 hours a day.
The above except is just a synopsis of the horrendous crimes against humanity that amounts to genocide and ethnic cleansing that is committed by Meles Zenawi’s Administration. For YTY (year to year) report and in-depth reading, here is the U.S Human Rights Country Report since the turn of new millennium.
- Ethiopia: 2000 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- Ethiopia: 2001 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- Ethiopia: 2002 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- Ethiopia: 2003 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- Ethiopia: 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- Ethiopia: 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- Ethiopia: 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- Ethiopia: 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- Ethiopia: 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
The U.S Department of State Human Rights Report is above all else authoritative in that it comes from a powerful nation that has ironically been the chief financier of the terrorist regime in Addis Ababa. Although the State Department report is broad, it is to the point and echoes similar reports by humanitarian organization. Now let us look at reports by the London based Oromo Support group.
- OSG May 2004
- OSG July 2003
- OSG December 2002
- OSG July 2002
- OSG March 2002
- OSG November 2000
- OSG July 2000
- OSG February 2000
- OSG Aug-Oct 1999
- OSG May/June 1999
- OSG April 1999
- OSG Dec’98-Jan 1999
- OSG Nov/Dec1998
- OSG Aug/Sep 1998
- OSG Jun/Jul 1998
- OSG March-May 1998
- OSG Jan/Feb 1998
- OSG Nov/Dec 1997
- OSG May/June 1997
- OSG January/February 1997
- OSG October/November 1997
- OSG August/September 1997
- OSG June/July 1996
- OSG April 1996
- OSG February 1996
The above reports are focused primarily on Oromo, the majority ethnic group in Ethiopia. It details unsettling stories of torture, thousands of disappearance cases and countless accounts of extrajudicial killings by Ethiopia security forces. I used the Oromo case as example to capitalize on the magnitude of the crimes committed against my people, your people and our people.
Since undemocratically usurping power the regime has also waged an unnecessary war first against Eritrea, and then with Somalia. It continues to play devil’s advocate covertly working to destabilize the peace process in Somalia. This has been Meles’s chief strategy (scare tactics) towards the west, especially the United States.
In recent years, the regime has intensified its criminal acts by massacring the Anuaks, killing innocent student protesters, rounding up opposition leaders and murdering election protesters in broad day light. While all of this is happening, the tyrant leader in Ethiopia continues to enjoy a good relationship with the west. George W. Bush and Tony Blair were once palling around with this tribalist junta leader to fight terrorism in the Horn of Africa.
Since the highly disputed 2005 Ethiopian election, all eyes are on Zenawi and the Ethiopian Diaspora has mounted its advocacy efforts. To forcefully cling to power, the minority government of Meles Zenawi is using famine to break the political will of people. As this website has reported periodically in recent days, the Ethiopian tyrant has continuously downplayed the magnitude of famine and starvation accusing the media for exaggerating the numbers of people in need of emergency food aid.
When reports of devastating famine starting coming to light and it was no longer possible to hide the vicious famine of government’s own creation, in a sharp turnaround, the minority regime has requested emergency food aid for 6.2 million Ethiopians.
The injustices and crimes committed by the current minority regime in Ethiopia transcend ethnic and national boundaries. As such; my people, your people and our people are subjected to the most inhumane treatment the world have ever seen. What is happening in Darfur and other places around the world has been categorized as genocide. But the world still remains either unaware or indifferent to what is happening in Ethiopia.
Western donors continue to finance the regime knowing too well that it has the poorest human rights record in the continent, zero tolerance for liberty, equality, justice and dissent. All the talk of giving diplomacy a human face above and beyond maintaining “good relations” with host countries seemed to have taken detour.
If you agree with me that Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia is the closest thing to Adolf Hitler of Germany in the 21st century, then you are part of this revolution. As I have repeatedly stated, since he came to power in 1991, Meles has been aimlessly killing, torturing, and imprisoning millions of innocent Ethiopians. His war with Eritrea and Somalia has cost a lot of resources and perished 100,000s of innocent lives.
Therefore; it is high time for the world to hear and know the truth or the true face of Ethiopian dictator, Meles Zenawi. Tag yourself [on Facebook] in one of these pictures and show that you are not one of his supporters but you are against him and his followers who are the architects/perpetrators of crimes against my people, your people and our people.
Some Graphic Design from facebook page.
Check more picture over on facebook.