Thursday, June 30, 2005

Never Again!

This is really going to be a short blog because I know that if I start unleashing my festering intellectual bloodlust against the superbly incompetent institution that is the United Nations, ferggedid.

Okay, so the UN turned 60 years old on June 26. Kofi Annan, the first African Secretary General, delivered his usual boilerplate speech about peace, love and understanding in his usual infuriatingly monotone manner—never have peace, love and understanding been so unappealing.

We went to a surprisingly muted “aren’t we fabulous?” 60th anniversary celebration (yep, took time during my vacation to raise the roof for the UN) and I thought that being in that kind of an environment would at least sway me from the sinking feeling that the UN is fast becoming the impotent, pussified institution of its lore. (I heard the celebrations in San Francisco were even less enthusiastic where not only the modern day sostu sellasiEwech (Bush/Blair/Chirac) did not show up, but Kofi Annan himself was AWOL.

Oh, UN. Remember when you mattered?

C’mon… the UN is in so much disdain with the US government that there is a possibility that a certifiably unhinged pencil-pusher like John Bolton could be the next US Ambassador to the UN. And why not? The only person that can probably deal with the kind of entrenched psychosis at the UN is another sufficiently erratic person. All the sane people have left. Maybe Bolton can go in and rabble rouse the stodgy empire from its signature inertia… maybe that’s the only way the UN can grow a new spine.

Didn’t I tell you not to get me started?

The last time we heard from Kofi Annan about Ethiopia was on June 8, when he was kind enough to condemn the violence unleashed by the importunate PM Meles who had flashbacks to his days as a guerilla fighter and mowed down 36 innocent, unarmed people. And then his spokesperson, sensitively-challenged Bereket “Darth Vader” Simon, proceeded to call the dead “hooligans” even as mothers were trying to bury their children.

Since June 8, PM Meles has also had recurring flashbacks to his wily Marxist days, and has been rounding up people indiscriminately and throwing them in jail. Oh, and he’s been killing opposition members and newly elected parliament members as well. All in the name of democracy, small ‘d’. Did the Prime Minister, perhaps, read the wrong cliff notes on how a democrat is supposed to act? Perhaps?

So anyway, since June 8, PM Meles has thrown Ethiopia into a bloody upheaval while ambidextrously hosting ambassadors and dignitaries who are pleading with him to act like a half-way decent human being. A lot has happened since June 8, the most prominent being that the fate of 71 million people is in the hands of a deranged psychopath.

June 29 rolls on by and Kofi Annan has something to say about Ethiopia. Ahh. He’s finally telling his buddy Ato Meles that his behavior towards the people of Ethiopia has been reprehensible. He’s going to tell him to respect the people’s voice and to get over the Hitler complex.

Oh, people of Wonqville, you know so little about Kofi Annan.

Hostile rhetoric between Eritrea and Ethiopia over their border stalemate is
threatening military stability along the tense frontier, U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan has warned.


Excuse me very much, as they say in Pointe Croisette. Is this the same border dispute that has stayed undisturbed for… five years? A border dispute about demarcation? That’s what’s bothering Kofi Annan?

And really, Mr. Secretary-General, when was the last time that the rhetoric between Ethiopia and Ertra been anything other than hostile? (I mean since the two leaders formally got a divorce and since Ertrans discovered that hey, maybe they weren’t the superhuman race that they were led to believe they were?)

Tensions have been high since December, when Ethiopia moved as many as 48,000 troops closer to Eritrea in a move it characterised as defensive but which
Asmara viewed as a provocation.
Big whoop. Here’s a newsflash: tension has been high since way before December. And tension will remain high with every new mini-bout of testosterone attack these “two most progressive leaders in Africa” have. Besides, that was in December. A few things have happened since then, Mr. Secretary-General, if you don’t mind. Oh, I see you so mind.

Eritrea insists that the legally binding peace agreement be followed, and the
border ruling be accepted without condition by Ethiopia. Addis Ababa has said it
accepts the ruling in principle but wants dialogue with Eritrea first.

When will the world stop harping about legal documents as if it has any meaning whatsoever to PM Meles? Oh, please. Who do you think he is that a few signatures here and there translate in any way to anything meaningful to someone of his disposition? Why is everybody acting so “oh there was a peace agreement and it is legally binding”? As if!

And by the by, has anybody (besides the convoluted mind of Ato Meles and Ato Bereket) been able to figure out what in the hell accepting something “in principle” means? Is it a polite way of saying “I got your binding ruling right here!”?

Some of us remember another legally binding document that feudal lord Ato Meles signed condemning all violence and promising to resolve the matter of his rigging the elections in a civilized manner. Ehh. He changed his mind about that too. The next day he continued terrorizing people, and has not been able to stop himself since. Didn’t the opposition have the wherewithal to know that he was accepting the terms “in principle”? I dunno about the opposition.

(Aside: have you noticed that the opposition is laying low? Members of the old Eastern Block used to say that they were never scared of the US as long as it was talking. But when the US was silent, they knew shit was about to hit the fan. I have a feeling that the opposition is up to something. Call it a woman’s intuition.)


So, please, world. Once and for all: don’t come all huffing and puffing about some cockamamie “legally binding documents.” That dog don’t hunt in Ato Meles’ world because he knows, and he would like the rest of the world to know, that his word is absolutely, positively worthless. What more do you want from him?

Back to Mr. Annan, who must not think that Ethiopia’s democracy is not worth addressing… not until more people die.

But neither side is talking, and Annan wrote that the frustration at the
stalemate was growing more apparent in Eritrea's state-owned media. "The tone of
the commentaries has, of late, become more strident and filled with war
," Annan said…

Of late? Of late? Hm. Did the Secretary General just begin listening to state-owned media in Ertra? Here’s the line up of news on Ertan state-owned (is there any other type?) media:

Good evening, citizens of Ertra. Today in the news:

… Ethiopia sucks.

… Ethiopia wants to eat our children.

… We will destroy what is left of Ethiopia, and our martyrs shall sing from their graves.

… By the way, if we find you with foreign currency you are toast.

(Commercial break: Hear ye… hear ye… state controlled hibret souq #10 now has soap. One per family.)

We’re back, citizens of Ertra.

… Ethiopia is a bunch of Amhara chauvinists.

… Ethiopia is an empire that wants to gobble poor little Eritrea.

… We will rain our fury on Ethiopia and reduce it to rubble.

… Did we mention that if we find you with foreign currency you shall get a whipping?

… Oh, and Ethiopia doesn’t have great Italian architecture, which makes them savages.

And that’s the news from TV Ertra. Goodnight. Sleep tight, we’ll see you tomorrow.

[Cue in depressing commie-era music.]

That, in a nutshell, is probably what the state-owned media in Ertra has to say about Ethiopia, Mr. Secretary-General, and it’s what it will continue to say. Sometimes when Ato Isayas doesn’t take his valium he ups the vitriol. Ho-hum. What the hell else can Ato Isayas talk about? His version of democracy?

So about the

frustration at the stalemate was growing more apparent in Eritrea's state-owned

Listen… it ain’t the frustration with some stalemate that has gotten the state owned media in Ertra and Ethiopia all hot and bothered. It’s having to spew out a never-ending stream of bullshit from two sociopaths. Damn straight that would be humango frustrating. So, what new thing is the Ertran media saying that has gotten the Secretary-General of the UN so concerned? Is it saying that Ato Meles is a megalomaniac crackpot? Ooooh, so hostile. We’ve been telling them that since ‘91, when they were frolicking with him.

In case you are wondering, Mr. Annan, we’ve moved on.

Wonder what the Ethiopian media is preoccupied with these days, Mr. Anann?

… adding that Ethiopia's media had been more preoccupied with its May 15

Oh, yeeaaahhh, the elections. Remember those, Mr. Annan? Well, yes, we have been a little preoccupied with that little problem. Mainly we’ve been preoccupied with how to make Ato Meles understand that people don’t want him to be their leader any more. Perhaps you can help us convey that message to him?

In his report, Annan also appealed to Ethiopia to redeploy the troops that it
moved up to the border in December, and again urged the international community
and witnesses to the peace agreement to push both sides into dialogue.

You don’t seem to understand, Mr. Secretary-General. Like a few of us speculated, Ertra is Ato Meles’ Monica Lewinsky. If everything fails and Ato Meles’ maniacal cadres botch up a “re-counting” by stuffing the wrong ballots, well, guess who’s going to get bombed, or at the very least, threatened to be bombed? Yes, our former countrymen to the north. Don’t put it past Ato Meles to start another crazy war as a distraction to his domestic woes. He’s creepy like that. So, if I were you, Mr. Annan, and I don’t mean to tell you how to do your job, but if I were you, I’d concentrate on asking the international community to pressure the Ethiopian government to grow up, because it is making a lot of people puke.

The Secretary-General mentioned in his speech commemorating the UN’s birthday
that among one of the greatest failures of the UN, in his estimation, was its
inability to stop the genocide in Rwanda that resulted in the deaths of 800,000

So, perhaps Mr. Annan can kindly ask Ato Meles and Ato Bereket to refrain from willy-nilly brandying about Rwanda like it was child’s play? I know they are trying to be cute and all, and they will think nothing of using one of the most horrifying episodes of human history as a PR ploy, but really, Mr. Annan, can you make them stop? Tell them it’s cynical and, well, a little sick.

While you are at it, mention that it is in bad taste to kill unarmed people.

Here is a revelation I had. And here is why I keep talking about the people who were killed: I don’t think that PM Meles and Darth Bereket, honestly, realize that it is fundamentally wrong to kill people. It just does not compute with them that it is, on a very basic level, wrong to commit homicide. So, no wonder they can say what they have been saying. There is no other explanation. To them, murder is collateral damage. That, my friends, is what we are up against.

So, Mr. Annan, maybe its time to speak about the state of flux Ethiopia is in? Demarcation can wait a little longer. And let poor Ato Isayas have something other than himself to demonize. He has so little to do these days.

When did the UN become so irrelevant?

Here’s how to keep your sanity about the UN, by the way. Just think of it as one big jobs program for liberal arts majors, political hacks and former ministers. Think of how many Ethiopians benefited from those jobs. So, primary purpose of the UN: a place that hires people who have no intention of doing anything with their lives. (They need someplace to go.) That makes as its secondary purpose to, even if it is by accident, do something relevant. One or two things… no pressure. Stop a war here. Make dreadfully innocuous observances there. Oh, and hold conferences about lovely things so that Angelina Jolie shows up in a Chanel suit and pearls. That’s it. And hope that it does more good than harm. That’s all we want and should expect of the UN.

Thinking of it like that humanizes the UN and you don’t have to think about the billions it wastes. Besides, I feel safe knowing that most of these people are quarantined in one place and they are not flittering about among us unrecognized.

Can we make a wager on when the Secretary-General will address the matter of Ethiopia? Place your bets…

On another matter… (did I mention this was a short blog?)

On December 7, 2004 Santa Claus-y lawmaker Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman, US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations gave a report on his trip to the Ukraine made on behalf of President Bush. This was about Ukraine’s mock elections.

The campaign for president in Ukraine had already been marked by widespread
political intimidation and failure to give equal coverage to candidates in the
. Physical intimidation of voters and illegal use of governmental
administrative and legal authorities had been evident and persistent.

Hmm. Sounds familiar. What was it that the EU said about the aftermath of the Ethiopian elections?

These practices, taken as a whole, are seriously undermining the transparency
and fairness of the elections. They also risk increasing the scope for
manipulation and consequently putting in doubt public confidence in the

Since election day, the state-owned media have been
releasing on a daily basis provisional, unofficial results mainly showing the
partial victories of the EPRDF
in a number of constituencies and regions across
the country. However, the same media outlets have ignored press conferences or
any other statement about results made by opposition parties.


Monsieur Lugar… back to you…

President Bush wrote in a letter which I carried to President Kuchma: "You play
a central role in ensuring that Ukraine’s election is democratic and free of
fraud and manipulation. A tarnished election, however, will lead us to review
our relations with Ukraine."

Can the President’s person-in-charge-of-writing-letters-to-despots please pull up that letter and do a “find/replace” … find Ukraine…replace with Ethiopia. Find Kuchma replace with Ato Meles…? Save, print and send?

Unfortunately, a nationwide celebration of democratic election procedures at
that point, was not to be. The government of President Kuchma allowed, or aided
and abetted, wholesale fraud and abuse that changed the results of the election.
It is clear that Prime Minister Yanukovich did not win this election despite
erroneous election announcements and calls of congratulations from Moscow.

Find “Moscow”, replace with “Beijing”, but we are down with “wholesale fraud and abuse.” That part can stay.

President Bush has expressed his unequivocal support for democracy around the
world. He has said: "I simply do not agree with those who either say overtly or
believe that certain societies cannot be free. It’s just not part of my
thinking." I agree with the President.

Phew. So do we, Mr. Lugar. So do we. I listened to a very interesting interview Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam gave to Andenet Radio a few days ago. He mentioned that the thing he envies most about the US is its belief and mantra that it is “home of the free.” And that, said Professor Mesfin, is what we want for Ethiopia as well. We want Ethiopia to be home of the free. (By the way, it was a great interview… except the interviewer… oh, in major need of an intellectual enema. You’ll know what I mean when you hear it.)

So, despite Mr. Tony Blair and Mistah Jimmah Car’ra, who figure that Ato Meles is a good ‘nuff leader... “for an African”, we say that we want the same standard of Democracy that the west has for itself… minus the debacle in Florida. What happens in Florida should stay in Florida.

Basically, we don’t want an affirmative action democracy. Would the west accept a leader that gunned down 36 unarmed people? Would it want to set up a coalition government with someone who is stealthily dispatching terror throughout the country? Would the west not find it appalling to have to deal with someone of Ato Meles’ moral depravity? So why do they think we should accept murderers as leaders? Why do they think we want the bar lowered when it comes to our leaders?

But, Mr. Lugar, I interrupted you?

The United States must be at the forefront of international efforts to secure
individual freedom. Democracy must be at the core of our foreign policy. We must be prepared to play an active role in ensuring that democracy and basic freedoms are promoted and preserved around the world.
Bingo! So, when we write letters to Senator Lugar ( we can remind him of those words. If you are a phone person his phone number is (202) 224-4814. Tell him WonqeTTE said hi, how are ya, are you in the mood for a trip to Addis? Much better than Kiev in the dead of winter, I promise.. Ethiopians in Indiana will especially have to mobilize hard since, as constituents, they have more power than those of us in the godless blue-states.

An election on December 26 that is free and fair will be a tribute to Ukraine’s
maturing democracy and will place Ukraine on a path to join the community of
European democracies. A secure and democratic Ukraine is in the national
security interests of the United States, NATO, the European Union, and Russia. A
fraudulent and illegal election would leave Ukraine crippled. The new president
would lack legitimacy with the Ukrainian people and the international

Do we have nuclear arsenals lying around Gonder somewhere that we can say we are “concerned” about falling into the hands of terrorists? Would it be wrong to say that? It can’t be anymore retarded than Ato Meles waving the Rwanda card around! By the way, that’s the only way countries can get attention. Build something nuclear. They will come.

Even in the face of these attempts to end any hope of a free and fair election,
I was inspired by the willingness and courage of so many citizens of Ukraine to
demonstrate their passion for free expression
and the building of a truly
democratic Ukraine. As corrupt authorities tried to disrupt, frighten and
intimidate citizens, brave Ukrainians pushed back by continuing to do their best
to keep the election on track and to prevent chaos.

Find “Ukrainians” replace with “Ethiopians.”

It has been an excruciatingly humbling exercise reading about what Ethiopians are going through to make sure that their voices are heard. From the students at Addis Abeba and Gonder Universities to the people in Debre Sina and Bahr Dar; from Chagni to Sebu Sire and to the remotest villages where there are no cameras witness to their anguish, Ethiopians have found strength to stand up to tyranny. I am not sure where people get the strength and moral conviction to stand up to the EPRDF’s murderous goons. But they are. And we can never forget that. Stories will soon come to light about what happened to the kids rounded up in Zwai, and it will be bone-chilling. But though all that, Ethiopians refused to stay quieted. Those of us in the Diaspora will always have to remember who it was that paid the most for Democracy in Ethiopia, because certainly was not us. Here we are, some of us, still too lazy to even write an email to our senators.

The United States has stood by Ukraine through difficult moments before and we
must not fail to do so at this critical juncture.

Welllll… Jimm’ah Carhuh and Bill Clinton have highly dubious records when it comes to Ethiopia. Maybe Mr. Bush can come though.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, I am pleased that Ukraine has dominated newspaper
headlines and media broadcasts all over the world for the last sixteen days. In
that time, extraordinary events have occurred. A free press has revolted against
government intimidation and reasserted itself. An emerging middle class has
found its political footing. A new generation has found its hope for the future.
A society has rebelled against the illegal activities of its government. It is
in our interests to recognize and protect these advances.

Call it the Byte Revolution, call it whatever, a new generation of Ethiopians is going to stand up to Ato Meles. We want leaders who will never again be called “murderers” by grieving mothers who watched their children be gunned in front of them.

Never again.

Senator Lugar: Email:
Phone: (202) 224-4814.


Anonymous Brook Abraham said...

That is good stuff. Keep it up! For all the chatter, there is very little intelligent thought out there. I especially liked the part 'Here is a revelation I had. And here is why I keep talking about the people who were killed: I don’t think that PM Meles and Darth Bereket, honestly, realize that it is fundamentally wrong to kill people. It just does not compute with them that it is, on a very basic level, wrong to commit homicide. So, no wonder they can say what they have been saying. There is no other explanation. To them, murder is collateral damage. That, my friends, is what we are up against.' That is exactly what I think. I live in Addis. Just last night I was trying to convey exactly that to a family member who is, I am ashamed to say, an EPRDF supporter. He simply kept spitting out the poison he has been fed by Bereket and glossed over the fact that unarmed kids were killed. The moral depravity that allows people to be totally unconcerned about the violation of certain fundamental principles, like the sanctity of life, for sheer political expediency is depressing to me. In fact I was so depressed, I had a hard time getting up to come to work this morning. I came so late and first order of business was check your blog in search of intellegent life out there. If I was faced with your 'suicide watch' post again, I don't know, that could have pushed me right over the edge! Thank God there was a post, though not exactly cheerful, at least confirmed to me that if I have indeed gone insane, I am not alone. That is enough cheer to go to work. For now.

6:40 AM, June 30, 2005  
Anonymous Yohannes said...

as always, a sight for sore eyes. especially after reading meles' response to congress.

simply, he just does not get it.

12:08 PM, June 30, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ET Wonkette,

The way we veternas at the UN comfort ourselves is by saying "at least we are better than the AU." You have not seen incompetence until you see what's happening at the AU.


12:24 PM, June 30, 2005  
Anonymous abshr said...


the most i ever was involved in ethiopian politics was when i helped my father file his old student movement papers. thank you for speaking to this generation. i could not live with myself is i didn't do something.

i say it loud and i say it proud: i am a byte revolutionary!

berchi teberachi. migebanin inadergalen.

1:08 PM, June 30, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked for the UN. These overpayed, tight assed people's incompetence is beyond comprehensible. They work like glacier for important matters. Thanks for highlighting the issue. Hardly doubt we will see change any time soon

1:11 PM, June 30, 2005  
Blogger kuchiye said...

Wonke said...

"...Those of us in the Diaspora will always have to remember who it was that paid the most for Democracy in Ethiopia, because certainly was not us...."

While that is indisputable, the role of diaspora Ethiopeans in mustering influence has attained new hights. It has finally figured out the latent power at its disposal and is using it in a subtle but passionate manner.

A striking testimony to the effectiveness of diaspora politics is the recent frantic acqusition of "Aend Ethiopia" and "Hager Fiker' radio stations of Wahsington DC by the Woyane government. These two radio stations along with Woyane's original "Selam Radio" have intesifyed anti opposition propaganda and are attempting to divide the community along "enough already" and "what-we-have-gained-is enough" camps. The theme of all the three radio staions is identical and smels a Bereket Simon job.

If Woyane is opening war fronts globally in an attempt to twart diaspora politics, it is full proof that we have attained substantial traction and are posing a huge threat to the regim's survival. Yet, our contribution pales in the face of what our countrymen are paying.

Good night.

11:53 PM, June 30, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

completed my reading assignment. This is the worst "leaders culture" that we all must fight "killing another human being." It's a crime and there must be a punishment. ... Yeah Ethiopians in diaspora should step up our involvement in any smart way we can.. it's working and we will learn to do it better

12:31 AM, July 01, 2005  
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