What Jimmy Carter Owes Ethiopia
I am no genius, but to me, few ferenjies have contributed to
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
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
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
So 1991 happened. Here's what a “Waging Peace” paragraph on the
A 1991 conference of the leading forces in
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
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
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
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.
One of the major initiatives of the
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."
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
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.
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
Aren’t Ethiopian lives worth as much as those in Abu Gharib?
Mr. Carter descended into
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
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.
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
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.