Monday, November 07, 2005

Melesocrasy in Trouble

Prime Minister Meles has been browbeaten by his donors into very grudgingly setting up an “independent” commission to investigate the deaths of his own citizens; deaths which occurred, by the way, because his goons thought shooting unarmed people in the head and chest was not something to get all hot and bothered by.

Friends, this is how much respect Ato Meles has for Ethiopians. Foreigners have to tell him it’s wrong to not investigate deaths of innocent people.

"Although [the soldiers] had to use force, they are not required to use excessive force," he said. "An independent body will conduct investigations to ascertain whether excessive force was used."

And who is in this “independent body”?

Meles gave no other details of the inquiry, but said it would also probe political violence in June when 36 people died.

Yeah. I’ll be flying to the moon before there is an independent investigation.

Among the deaths I am sure he will “investigate” is that of Yasin’s…VOA-Amharic interviewed his parents.

Weizero Taferahu, Yasin’s mother, works in Yemen—as so many Ethiopian women do due to the abysmal economy in Ethiopia, mostly as domestic workers- in order to provide her son with a better life. Yasin was playing ball with his friends one day last week when he was shot in the chest from three meters away. Meles’ Special Forces wanted to take the body away, but the mother wouldn’t relinquish her dead son’s body. When the reporter asked her what actions she will take, Weizero Taferahu started weeping. “I will look for justice from the Ethiopian people,” she said. “The Ethiopian people will give me justice.” By the way, Yasin was 10-years-old. 10 years old.

This is Ato Meles’ legacy.

Meanwhile at the ranch, there’s been a flurry of haughty statements from donor nations who are shocked, shocked that their golden boy has turned out to be a murderous goon. Oh the humanity. The joint US/EU statement held the usual boilerplate points and “give me your wrist you naughty boy” admonition. And then, the obligatory:

We urgently call upon all political parties and the Ethiopian people to desist from further violence and to abide by the rule of law and the constitution.

Yawn.

And then yadda-yadda

In a spirit of promoting reconciliation, the European Union and US ambassadors urge the reopening of political dialogue designed to foster peace and to build a strong democratic nation, based on a commitment to the rule of law and democratic principles. Thank you.

Oh, no, thank you.

Okay. Here’s a little form I’d like these Ambassadors to sign before they issue another statement. Let’s call it the “Wonqville Donor Nation Representative Pre-Statement Statement.”

I, _________, Ambassador of __________ being of sane mind and sound body, would like to urge “dialogue” in Ethiopia fully cognizant of the following facts:

  1. that the Meles government has no vested interest in dialogue
  2. that the Meles government has had ample opportunities to solve this situation without resorting to violence but because it is exceptionally incapable of handling democracy in a civilized manner decided to go ahead and flex its muscles
  3. that even though he gives me wicked heebie-jeebies, I have been told that Meles is better for the stability of the Horn—even though he went to war with his former buddy In Eritrea for reasons not yet clear, where over 70,000 people perished, after which PM Meles signed a ‘peace treaty’ he proclaimed final and binding, but then promptly broke his word about keeping his word, which, ironically, has led to instability in the Horn. Oh, and now he is spreading renewed war chatter because the domestic affairs he’s put himself in is untenable. But, y’know, awshucks, he’s an ally in the “War on Terror”
  4. that even though the opposition has shown political maturity in canceling demonstrations when the Meles government refused to give it a permit, shown patience by being willing to talk to Meles even as he was harassing and imprisoning people randomly, shown its popularity by amassing a pre-election rally that brought together a couple of million of people without any incident of violence, I am still obligated to urge the opposition to resist resorting to violence… otherwise, I risk enraging a lunatic warmonger (we won’t name names)
  5. that even though it should technically creep me out that it was the Meles government which had maliciously labeled the opposition an Interwhame organization knowing full well that the opposition has been calling for Ethiopian unity, I will try not to be creeped out. Instead, I will refer to how the opposition should not “cynically start any violence” and join parliament to promote democracy even though I know that the opposition has been rendered useless now that the Meles’ new law requires an absolute majority to even put an item on the agenda
  6. that even though I know deep down that the tenets of the opposition is far more western-friendly than the “revolutionary democracy” hocus pocus of the Meles government, with all the money we have poured into his coffers, I can’t very well admit just yet to having had miscalculated Meles on such a gargantuan level
  7. even though I know that Meles has brazenly stated that his parliament emulates the UK’s, yet he has continued to violate every part of his own constitution, including not holding people more than 48 hours without being charged… you know the drill on that. ‘nuff said
  8. even though I know that tacit approval of Meles’ actions will eventually backfire (history has continually shown that dictators eventually disgrace themselves and those who have supported them) , I’ll always be able to say “I didn’t know he was that bad” and embrace the new government without impunity
  9. even though Meles is a glorified guerilla warlord who has demonstrated his colossal lack of morals and good governance… and
  10. even though I am waiting for reassignment to Luxemburg I know I have to pay my dues by playing babysitter to a deranged psychopath, urging him to not kill his own people and telling him to tell us that he will investigate the deaths whilst we all know that he will not make the slightest attempt to do so

knowing all this and more, I will continue to urge for “peace” and “dialogue” in Ethiopia between the opposition and Meles. Maybe later I will call for sanctions, but only if he kills more people and public support sways.

Thank you.

Signed,

___________

Ambassador to such-and-such.

Really, are we still playing that game? Has Ato Meles given a single sign indicating he is interested in peace? Are the killings of last week, the mass arrests, the hunting of young people… are those any indications of a man who gives two shits about democracy?

The west is best served to disassociate itself from Meles as soon as possible. Too much blood has been shed to give the man any credit. Further coddling him will only put western values at risk in Africa. With China looming over the continent, it is time for the west to take a moral stance. It can’t lose credibility now.

Meanwhile, let’s all keep writing our representative in congress and Senate. There is a very interesting conversation going on in the comments section of the last blog of how those of us in the Diaspora need to get involved. Let’s make as much noise as possible. The great thing about this country is that eventually you will be heard.

Speaking of which, Jeffrey Sachs … The next thing we have to do is hold people accountable. Mr. Sachs, in giving the first ever bogus Yara Prize for a Green Revolution in Africa… honoring, yup, Ato Meles… said this about his friend after professing a deep love for the people of Ethiopia:


Prime Minister, you have distinguished yourself as a one of our
World’s most brilliant leaders. I have often said that our many hours
of discussion together are among the most scintillating that I have
spent on the topics of economic development. I invariably leave our
meetings enriched, informed, and encouraged about
Ethiopia’s
prospects. Moreover, I know fully that you are deeply committed to peace,
development, and the success of your country.

Hello! It is important to note that this was after the massacre of June 8. Either Sachs doesn’t get enough scintillating conversation in his life, or he is prone to haphazard obsequiousness. To be fair, Sachs addressed the deaths thus:

Third, I am here to pay my respects to those who have lost their lives
in the struggle for democracy, both the fighters for freedom who
toppled a despicable regime 14 years ago, and also the dozens of students
and innocent bystanders who tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives
several weeks ago when they were shot by security forces during protests
in the nation’s capital. There is no excuse for such loss of life; security forces
must be equipped with non-lethal means for riot and crowd control. And our
students anywhere are our future.

Hmm. It’s news to me that TPLF was fighting for democracy, but that’s just crazy ol’ me.

Hopefully, even Mr. Sachs no longer has the stomach for one of the “World’s most brilliant leaders.” We should all ask Mr. Sachs to enlighten us about his current stance:

Please take the time to email Mr. Sachs about his views: sachs@columbia.edu,

CC to:

info@unmillenniumproject.org

luis.montero@unmillenniumproject.org (Media inquiries at UNMP) outreach@unmillenniumproject.org.

mtobin@ldeo.columbia.edu, Mary Tobin, Earth Institute Media Contact

jcm@ldeo.columbia.edu, John C. Mutter, Deputy Chair, The Earth Institute
schlosser@ldeo.columbia.edu,
Peter Schlosser, Associate Director, The Earth Institute

erin.trowbridge@unmillenniumproject.org, Media Contact UNMP

ricardo_hausmann@harvard.edu, Ricardo Hausmann, Director Center of International Development , Harvard University

kwang_ryu@ksg.harvard.edu (assistant)

media@data.org

CHRISTOPHER@DATA.ORG, Christopher Lagan, DATA Press Sec.

kbushkin@unfoundation.org, Kathy Bushkin
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

One@data.org

Sample Letter:

Dear Dr. Sachs,

I’d like to start by thanking you for your involvement in my native land, Ethiopia. Even though Ethiopia has been plagued by calamities, it is a land that holds much promise.

I can’t say I was not disappointed by your statements about Prime Minister Meles when you awarded him the Yara Prize. To call him one of the “world’s brilliant leaders” who was “deeply committed to peace, development, and the success of [his] country” might have gone a little too far, especially considering his atrocious human rights records. Prime Minister Meles’ government has been and continues to be involved in the genocide of the Anuak people in Western Ethiopia. (Here is a link to Human Rights Watch’s report, Targeting the Anuak.”) Ethiopians have known what kind of a person PM Meles was for a while but could not quite understand why he was the golden boy of smart people such as yourself. His government’s anti-democratic stance was none too vivid in the post election aftermath in May 2005. The EPRDF, Mr. Meles’ government that touts “revolutionary democracy”, procalimed victory before the votes were counted, and proceeded to undermine elections in which Ethiopians had waited in line for up to 17 hours to cast their votes. The June massacre ensued and the world was appalled. 46 unarmed citizens were gunned down, thousands were arrested in direct vilolation of the Ethiopian constitution.

This was followed by the onslaught of the week of November 1. So far, about 100 people have been killed and thousands have been rounded up. All major leaders of the opposition have been jailed for over a week now. Young people are being hunted down and thrown in camps infested with malaria. It was an appalling display of anti-democractic behavior we have seen. In fact, PM Meles’ actions are reminiscent of the Red Terror days of Mengistu. Today, children are required to pay to retrive their parents’ bodies, and sign an affidavit saying that it was the opposition that killed their loved ones.

In light of this fact, I am interested in learing what your position is on this government. According to an article on timesonline.com (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-1855057,00.html) PM Meles is becoming an absolute embarassment to the west. Isn’t it time people of your stature condemn the government? Is economic prosperity even possible when we have a government that refuses to privatize land and essentially holds 70 million of its people as serfs? Is economic progress possible when government officials control most profitable companies? Is economic progress possible in the midst of a crackdown on free press, where journalists are persecuted? Is economic progress possible amdist terror?

I have taken the liberty of copying this letter to your colleagues who might be able to shed some light on the situation to us who have been perplexed by your continued support of the Ethiopian government. So far, Ana Gomes, Chief Observer of the EU, has been the only one with the moral courage to denounce the Meles government. On November 2, 2005 she wrote a letter to her fellow EU parliamentarians in which she said,

As you know, there were elections in Ethiopia in 15 May and 21 of August, which the EU Election Observation Mission, which I headed, considered not to have met international standards for genuine democratic elections, despite unprecedented competition and the massive turn out of the people. This evaluation was due to manipulation of overall result in the counting and tabulation of votes, following recognition of a landslide against the ruling party in the capital. And also to undemocratic control of the media, general climate of intimidation and serious human rights violations against opposition supporters committed by the government since election day. I witnessed, and publicly condemned, the peak of such repressive and anti-democratic behavior on 8 June, when over 40 people were killed in Addis Ababa, elected opposition leaders put under house detention and over 5.000 people subsequently arrested.

Most ironic is that Europe counts in Ethiopia, a country which depends on European aid, the largest recipient in Africa. Europe could definitely make the difference for democracy in Ethiopia. Instead, current European leaders are choosing to fail it. In doing so, they are not just failing Ethiopians. They are also failing Europe.

I am aware of your busy schedule, but I hope you can take a few minutes to tell us how you see the Ethiopian government today.

With kindest wishes,

Let’s stay involved. The least we can do is write a letter.

God help Ethiopia.

12 Comments:

Anonymous engida ferenji said...

ET Wonkette,

I'd be intertested to know how many of your readers wrote to Sachs. Maybe they can bcc you?

Vigilance!

4:26 PM, November 07, 2005  
Anonymous Xaxitu said...

This is kind of what is wrong with us to start with, non? Not allowing others to have a different opinion. Meles will kill you if you don't agree with him while y'all will flood a professor's mailbox because he dares think differently. Zeraf! How dare he like this guy when we hate him so much. Let's give him a piece of our minds. Ere yetabatu. I can imagine the amount of abusive emails the good professor is browsing through just about now. Irritated and disrupted from whatever work he is trying to do. Bravo. I suppose this means you've scored a victory for the people.

ha.

4:28 PM, November 07, 2005  
Blogger WeiTata said...

xaxitu:

Allowing for differences does not mean remaining passive when there is a massive distortion of facts.

Calling a person like Meles who willfully and carelessly authorizes the killings of innocent unarmed individuals 'democratic and brilliant' goes beyond a difference in opinion. (http://ethiopiawi.blogspot.com/)

And Dr. Sachs may not mind dialoging with the 70 million of us whose PM he admires so much!

4:56 PM, November 07, 2005  
Anonymous xa-xa-xabor said...

xaxitu,

well, if we were the EPRDF we would have hunted down the good professor and jailed him without charges. But since we are mere mortals, our pen is our sword. And since we don't have a penchant for blaming victims and calling them hooligans as we kill them, we write to Dr. Sachs with respect. That's the thing about chewinet.

Ke akbrot gar.

5:20 PM, November 07, 2005  
Blogger ET Wonqette said...

Ye Fil Wuha,

As always you come to the rescue! Thanks for mabeTering my inglorious typos.

Yours in a typo-free world.

5:25 PM, November 07, 2005  
Anonymous buqaya said...

Xaxitu,

Not allowing others to have different opinions is not the same as questioning/calling them on their deification criteria.

A point of clarification: W/z Wonkette's arrows admonish, expostulate, lampoon, fulminate, inspire, spur.... Based on what she's been posting so far on her site, it's clear that she excludes the "not allowing" arrow from her quiver. www.despot.et copyrighted that character flaw sometime ago.

Wonkette. Draft letter to Sachs much appreciated. Have emailed him and sent copies to his coterie.

5:36 PM, November 07, 2005  
Anonymous Gelaye said...

ETW:-

Just to let you know that I contacted my congressman; got a lovely personalized letter promising to "look into it." At least it is on his radar now.

I am glad I stumbled on to you. Now to Dr. Sachs. It IS the very least we can do.

Amlak kanchi gar yihun.

5:55 PM, November 07, 2005  
Anonymous ETbarbie said...

WonQ,

had never written to my congressman/woman/thing before in my life. didn't know i had one. i actually looked her up and my senator and sent them a "hell-lo! anyone paying attention?" letter. thanks for pulling those of us who had given up on emmama ethiopia back into the fray.

-ET Barbie.

p.s. i like buqaya. very bangable.

6:48 PM, November 07, 2005  
Blogger kuchiye said...

Wonq:

About 35 friends in my address book wil be jamming Sach's email by the morrow... thanks

10:24 PM, November 07, 2005  
Anonymous Dina said...

Something positive: Ana Gomez!
Lets introduce a 31st day to the Ethiopian Calendar Month and name it St. Ana Gomez day. I'm not very religious but for this I'd bake defo-dabo and make tella, you bring the fendisha and bunna? Ana's my Heroine!
Something not so positive:
I get the feeling the people in charge (mostly white males)in Europe etc. smirk at our only friend for being a female socialist with ideals from Portugal.
Raeason:
a) Female-as in Monika Lewinski?
b) Socialist- a dangerous commie dreamer who'll deny me my iPods, mobile phones and other boy-toys-yikes!
c)Ideals: Where's my fat tax-free paycheck and that high class hooker with the cheap coke?
d)Portugal: As in sun, sand, sex- "never met the locals but their food's so greasy and garlicky!" Sad world

1:43 AM, November 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrote my own letter, infinitely inferior to Wonkette's, just for variety's sake.

I also spread the word on Wonkette's letter.

Bravo, and enquan be dehna meTachehu to those of you getting in touch with your local politicians for the first time. The trick, for all of us, will be keeping it up once everything dies down.

xaxitu, what I like about your comment is that it forces people to think consciously about what may have previously been just instinct. You are doing a great service in getting people to clarify their thought processes and synthesize their ideas, and therefore become better advocates for the cause of democracy. Thanks!

8:06 AM, November 08, 2005  
Anonymous xaxitu said...

I find your optimism and enthusiasm endearing. I also think that after all this blood has been spilt, we can figure out a non emotional way to present our case. Because our case is strong enough as is. We don’t need to be hysterical about it to get our point across. Let us learn a few lessons from the other side. How does Meles, with all his craziness, manage to get admirers from Blair to Sachs? I can assure you that it has nothing to do with having his yes-men flood email inboxes or stand carrying placards with clever slogans in front of their offices. Somehow, between his daily dictatorial regimen, he manages to deliver his message to them through clear, consistent and even toned dialog. Now with all the evidence against him, if he can do that, what can we do with the truth on our side?
Nothing in one day. But you can participate in local politics. Donate to their campaigns. Go to their parties and protests. Don’t’ just send 1000 form letters when your issue comes up. If the relationship is strong enough, they will stand by us the same way they are standing by him now.
For example, Sachs, I remember from my days in Columbia, has his door open to any student, especially Africans. There normally are at least 10 undergrads in the school in any given year. You are better off flooding their inboxes to go plead our case face to face in a rational manner because I can safely assume that he’s probably having his secretary deleting all your emails as we speak

9:06 AM, November 08, 2005  

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