By Yilma Bekele (22 April 2009) ‘Gem Legem Abro Yazgem!’ — A very crude translation will be ‘trash finds its own kind’. That is what went in my mind when I heard the butcher of Darfur met the butcher of Mogashio, Gambella, Ogaden, Awasa and many other sites of atrocity in Ethiopia. ‘Gem legem abro yazem is what my mother used to say when she sees us with unsavory characters. It describes the situation in our capital city.
It is another low point in our current history of degradation. The Ethiopia we knew and the Ethiopia the whole world look at is not the same. The name Ethiopia plays prominent role in the Bible. Ethiopia is revered in the Quoran. The early Greek civilizations wrote about Ethiopia. Our name carried a lot of weight.
Our history is nothing but spectacular. We kept to our selves. We were insulated. We did not desire what was not ours. We defended what belonged to us. Surrounded by our mountainous terrain, cut of by our rift valley and our fierce lowlands we escaped from the world. The world forgot about us.
The League of Nations was the first worldwide organization to try to bring order to a chaotic planet. The year was 1919. There were fifty-eight members and our Ethiopia was one of them. We knew the supremacy of the law was our interest.
Our Emperor went in front of the League of Nations to appeal to the organization to stop Italian aggression. In a speech in Geneva in 1936 he said ‘I pray to Almighty God that He may spare nations the terrible sufferings that have just been inflicted on my people.’ They did not listen to him and suffered the consequences.
When the United Nations was founded in 1945 after World War II on the ruins of the League of Nations, Ethiopia was there.
When Africa was emerging from the yoke of colonialism Ethiopia facilitated the formation of Organization of African Union. Our country was chosen to be the seat of black power because of our independent and proud history. It was not an accident. It was well deserved due to the sacrifice and hard work of our ancestors.
Where do we place the illegal visit by the indicted Sudanese dictator to our country? Where does this shameful act fit in our honorable and righteous history?
The International Criminal Court was created by the United Nations that we are a founding member of. As a small developing country it is our interest to support and uphold the rule of law. In this day and age when a few countries have the power to inflict heavy damage on the small and weak shouldn’t we be clamoring for stricter safeguards and protection?
The ICC indicted General bashir after a lengthy period of investigation and fact finding. No body denies the atrocities committed against the people of Darfur. Darfur is a province of Sudan General Bashir is the de facto President and strong man of Sudan. He controls the army, security force and police of Sudan. By all accounts the General aided and abetted the perpetrators of this crime against the people of Darfur. He has been indicted. He is free to hire lawyers and argue his case in front of a court of justice. The people of Darfur were never given that chance. The General is lucky.
What is perplexing is why is Ethiopia entertaining an indicted criminal? Why is Ethiopia breaking the law that has been set up to protect the weak and poor?
May be the Ethiopian leaders are afraid of ‘neg be ne.’ That is what the Hard Talk interviewer sad to Ato Meles. She said to him are you supporting bashir because you now you are the next inline to be indicted? It seems she was right.
But what a feeble attempt if any. His coming to Addis only exposed the minority government to further humiliation. It is a stupid gesture of solidarity. It is further proof that the regime is neither responsive to International law nor to the sensibilities of its citizens. To expose one’s country to such ridicule in the international arena is madness.
This hollow attempt to show independence and national self-esteem is laughable and very weak. The Ethiopian people laughed about it. The foreign diplomats ignored it. The only ones who paid attention are the criminals themselves. So they wined and dined each other with our money to make the point that around his neighborhood Bashir is safe. Makes you wonder if Bashir will be as generous towards Meles when his time comes. I doubt we will get to see that. His own people will hand him over to ICC within a short time. Meles is on his own.