Friday, September 09, 2005

What Jimmy Carter Owes Ethiopia

I am no genius, but to me, few ferenjies have contributed to Ethiopia’s current state of Battered Woman’s Syndrome-ness than former president Jimmy Carter. He is the enabler who counsels a woman bashed up by her husband to be patient, and that she also has to take responsibility for “provoking” her husband into bashing her against the wall. “After all,” Jimmy Carter tells the woman whose eyes are bloody and swollen, and whose body is coarse with bruises, “after all, didn’t he buy you a nice outfit? See? Deep down he loves you. So, be patient. Go back, clean yourself up, and make him dinner. I’ll talk to him about not beating up as often. In fact, he’s only beaten you up twice this week. I told you he loves you.” He give the woman a bloodcurdling smile before sending her back to den.

For more than 14 years, that’s what Mr. Carter has been telling Ethiopians. YOu could do worse than Meles. So what if he bashes us up occasionally? “He gave you elections, didn’t he? Now clean up the blood and let’s not provoke him into killing you.”

To this day, my father and uncle get a flash of fury in their eyes whenever they recall Mr. Carter’s role in Ethiopian politics in the 70s.

Well, a generation later Mr. Carter is not faring well.

According to Mr. Carter, his relationship with Ato Meles started in the 1989 when Ato Meles was, um, “the leader of Tigrayan revolutionaries.” Those were the days when Ato Meles was an unabashed Marxist. According to the BBC,

the TPLF had a reputation as hard-line communists who saw Enver Hoxha's Albania as a model state.

Observers used to joke that when the TPLF captured towns from Mengistu's Marxist regime, they would take down the ubiquitous portraits of Marx, Engels and Lenin in government offices, and replace them with even larger ones.

What is a former president of these great United States doing cavorting with hard-line Marxists “at airports in Paris, Atlanta, and London”? Well, for one thing, Ato Meles would “spread his war maps on the floor, and describe his progress against Mengistu's forces.”

Excuse me very much, but isn't the TPLF, if I have my acronyms right, the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front…? And wasn’t the TPLF fighting for secession from Ethiopia? What in God’s name is Mr. Carter doing looking at war plans… never mind.

So 1991 happened. Here's what a “Waging Peace paragraph on the Carter Center webpage have to say about those days:

A 1991 conference of the leading forces in Ethiopia set the course toward full democracy under President Meles.

I swear to you, that is what he says. No mention that Ato Meles was a rabid Marxist who would not know democracy if it sat on his lap.

Subsequently, all but President Meles' Tigrayan groups withdrew from the transition government. Although Ethiopia was well on its way to achieving democratic practices, elections in 1992 were flawed.

Saying that the 1992 elections were “flawed” is like saying that it’s a long walk from earth to the moon. And Mr. Carter does not really get into why all but the TPLF withdrew from the transitional government. (Withdrew??) And the presumption that “although Ethiopia was well on its way to achieving democratic practices…” Amazing.

How much contempt does Mr. Carter have for Ethiopians?

In 1992, President Meles Zenawi, who assumed office in May 1991, requested President Carter's help to incorporate strong mechanisms for the protection of human rights into the structure of the Ethiopian state. With these goals in mind, the Center worked with various Ethiopian government ministries in 1992 and 1993 to prevent human rights violations.

Maybe Ato Meles didn’t read the part that said “prevent” because human rights agencies- Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch, NOREM to the US State Department, have consistently excoriated the EPRDF’s abominable human rights record. The Carter Center? It’s still thinking about it.


Training and assistance were provided to: conduct fair trials against officials of the former regime, design a human rights training program for law enforcement personnel, and increase awareness within the judicial system of human rights issues.

Does the Carter Center have a pass/fail system to evaluate how those “training program for law enforcement personnel” have been working out for the EPRDF?

One of the major initiatives of the Carter Center is its Human Rights Initiative, and its first canon is “Intervening on behalf of victims of human rights violations.”


On June 8, 2005 the Ethiopian government shot and killed 42 unarmed people on the streets of Addis Ababa.

Fekadu Negash, 20, who works in a garage, was at his home around a place called 'Addis Ketema'. He was standing by his door when he heard shootings and screamings. He went out to see what was happing, and before he knew it, he was shot dead on his doorstep.

His younger brother, Abraham Yilma, 18, came running out of the house and called his mother shouting that his brother was shot. Both of them went out, and as Abraham took a step to pick up his brother, he saw the person who shot him.

"He picked up his hand and said, that's my brother, let me pick him up," their mother, Etenesh, recalls in grief. "Then he shot him too. I saw my sons lying on the road, their blood flowing like water."

Either the Carter Center was giving the EPRDF the abridged version of what human rights are, or the EPRDF didn’t take copious notes.

Funnily enough,

One of the founding principles of The Carter Center is a commitment to human rights. The Center advocates for stronger international human rights systems, sends human rights monitors on election observation missions, helps new democracies establish human rights laws and institutions, and intervenes on behalf of victims of human rights abuses.

Nowhere in the Carter Center webpage is there any mention of Ato Meles’ human rights record. You would think that the EPRDF’s role in the genocide of the Anuaks in Gambella would at least have been mentioned in passing. You’d be wrong. There is not a word about it. Not one lousy word!

After a dozen years of calculated human rights violations, it finally took the EPRDF gunning down Ethiopians in front of international media to induce mild discomfort in Mr. Carter.

The Carter Center joins other members of the international community and Ethiopian citizens in expressing its deep alarm and sorrow at the violence, injuries, deaths, and violations of human rights that have occurred since 6 June in Addis Ababa and elsewhere in Ethiopia in the aftermath of the 15 May national elections.

That was the last we heard from Mr. Carter on human rights violations and the EPRDF. There is no public record urging the EPRDF to investigate the deaths.

Imagine if you will, if the government of the United States gunned down 42 people protesting… the war in Iraq. How extensive and vitriolic do you think the Carter’s Center’s condemnation would be? Why aren’t Ethiopian lives worth the same respect, especially from a Nobel Peace Prize winner? Why isn’t Mr. Carter horrified that a government he has worked so closely with is committing clear human rights violations? Liberals in America are very trigger happy about volleying accusations of “coddling dictators.” Their dirty little secret is that their premiere spokesperson, who took time to condemn Abu Gharib and urged its closing, has his own dictator boy toy.

Aren’t Ethiopian lives worth as much as those in Abu Gharib?

Mr. Carter descended into Addis Ababa with 50 observers to witness the 2005 elections.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi represents a relatively small ethnic group from Tigray, and has had difficulty retaining political control in the face of strong opposition from the much larger Oromo and other tribal groups. His parliamentary elections in 1995 and 2000 (which we did not observe) were carefully orchestrated to ensure a ruling party victory, and we accepted invitations to observe this election after the prospects seemed much more democratic.

No sooner had he arrived than he proclaimed the elections peachy. Telepathy? Maybe. That didn’t sit well with the EU, and in an unprecedented admonishment of a fellow observer, it ripped into Mr. Carter.

The EU report also said U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who led a team of 50 election observers, undermined the electoral process and EU criticism with "his premature blessing of the elections and early positive assessment of the results."

Unless there is a "drastic reverse toward good democratic practice" the observer team and EU "will have to publicly denounce the situation.

"Otherwise, the EU jointly with ex-president Carter will be held largely responsible for the lack of transparency, and assumed rigging, of the elections."

(For a chronology of Mr. Carter’s misadventure in Ethiopia, see Game, Set, Match.)

Mr. Carter went as far as defending Prime Minister Meles’ decision to ban demonstrations in the aftermath of the elections.

"His opinion was that this was a cautionary measure, temporary in nature, geographically limited to prevent any confrontation of a violent nature between winners and losers here in the capital city," Carter told reporters.

"We believe collectively that the decision of the prime minister was not excessive in preventing any possible arousal of animosity or violence among his own supporters or the opposition," he said.

What does Ato Meles need to do to finally get condemnation from Mr. Carter, because 42 lives and countless imprisonments still don’t violate Mr. Carter’s sense of civility.

The Carter Center is supposed to come out with its final statement about the Ethiopian elections next week, and the part of me that believes Mr. Carter is fundamentally a decent human being urges me to believe that he will come out swinging. This, of course, despite the utter irresponsibility with which he has dealt with Ato Meles so far.

With all that has gone down, it is not enough for Mr. Carter to deliver yet another lackluster rebuke. It is not enough to “it’s a great start” us. Mr. Carter has the moral obligation to send a clear, unambiguous message to the Ethiopian leader who is quickly coming to par with his predecessor, Mengistu Haile Mariam. Any further indulgence of Prime Minister Meles will undoubtedly undermine Mr. Carter’s already fledgling reputation.

For whatever reason, Mr. Carter has been smitten by Ato Meles, and unfortunately, the Ethiopian people paid a heavy price for this aberrant love affair. And now, after Ato Meles has been unequivocal about defiling everything that is democratic, I hope Mr. Carter has the decency to do the right thing. Anything short of that will be condescension. (As always, Ethiopundit puts it in much more succinct terms in The Tragedy of Low Expectations.)

It is said that it took the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan for Mr. Carter to say, “For the first time I really understand what the Soviet Union is all about.”

Hopefully by now, he really understands what Ato Meles is really all about: an abusive husband who has been extraordinarily cruel to his wife and children.


Remember our brothers and sisters who have been affected by Katrina.

Salvation Army or Red Cross


Anonymous not anonymous said...

" . .wasn’t the TPLF fighting for succession from Ethiopia?"

wonq, make that "cessation" from Ethiopia. you tired?

11:46 AM, September 10, 2005  
Anonymous gonTe said...

Wonqi meant "secession". Ah, she is off only by one letter.

By the way, is it only me who didsagrees with Wonqi that the solution to our problems lies with us and not whatever the de jour pronoucement of a "notable" ferenji??

Who gives a bleeping bleep what Jimmy "I love satlinists" Carter says? Will it have any effect "on the ground" as it were? I don't think so - but wonqi - go ahead - give dem diplomats the spanking they deserve.

2:19 PM, September 10, 2005  
Blogger ET Wonqette said...

Thank you Not Anonymous. You succeeded in selecting the "succession" cease-ation. I meant secession, as gonTe pointed out. Thanx Gonni.

Sheeeesh. It's hard to write for smart alecks.

As they used to say back home, "Inglish tnnish tnish."

2:29 PM, September 10, 2005  
Anonymous not anonymous said...

Thanks gonTe for setting us striaght, both Wonq and me. I too meant “secession” of course. Ok, so the joke is on me! And Wonq, listen, I’d like to think it’s us smart-alecks that motivate you to crank out masterpiece after masterpiece like this. Here’s a sampling of what you would sound like if your readership was made up of Walta’s readership:

“So annnnnnyway, in a ceremoney on the Ghion Hotel memorizing the 14th anniversary of the foundation of revolutionary democracy, the PM have today complain to the party-see-pants that Ana Gomez have no write to told the Ethiopian Peoples, Nations and Nationalities how to ran there Afars. Uh-oh! He further in cysted that the Good Lady not a-touched any recommendations on her report because of her missionary position. Ehhhh! He bitch-slapped the beach very hard when he say: ‘The Good Ladys report all most in sited violence by the pupils! Anyone who in sites violence, other then elected, will have to face the low.’”

3:52 PM, September 11, 2005  
Anonymous mamitaux said...

...the irony is that of all the leaders in our long history, next to Jah Rastafari, the 'succession'ists are the only ones that have found such a large group of western groupies. from peanut farmers to stiglitz .

g'rrrm yiegnal.

8:24 PM, September 11, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


We should give a damn to whatever the ferenjis say, especially the notable ones, because they are the ones who pay the salaries for Meles' police, Agazzi army, cadres, and all the rest hodam tribal chiefs by their 60% ET Federal budget subsidy.

So, no money to Meles means freedom come easier/faster for us, you see.

So, they should be truthful and/or leave us alone - mono-a-mono

6:35 PM, September 12, 2005  
Anonymous well wisher said...

Since she started bloggering here back in May, our Wonq always remembered to express her well wishes to us every time a major holiday rolled ‘round. (Independence Day, Memorial Day . . .)

How about we inconsiderate folks give back a little here by wishing her “Happy Ethiopian New Year” collectively, eh? Will you join me? Alrighty then, let’s hear it for the queen . . . . . . .

6:56 PM, September 12, 2005  
Anonymous mogzeet said...

happy new year, Wonq and wonqettegnoch! and don't accuse me of "ayer me-meter" gin... wonq, minnew ke Labor Day yeterefe "enkuwan aderesachihu" Tefa?

what jimmysha cartah owes ethiopia is zimmmita. i think it says much more. pushed into a corner, mistah jimmah cartah might start to meqebaTer. ayadirss.

7:22 PM, September 12, 2005  
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9:00 PM, September 13, 2005  

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