Clinton visit to Africa – views on human rights & ICC

By Robele Ababya, 31 August 2009 — I thought the following script from an unexpected quarter would pass as a mother of all quotations in the 21st century. It reads: “The highest standard measurement of morality and ethics is Justice” Premier Wen Jibao

The above embodies the tenets of noble cause for which our icon Judge Birtukan Mideksa and indeed all political prisoners in Ethiopia are languishing in TPLF nasty jails. It is a powerful indicator of performance in governance in my opinion; I shall return to it a few paragraphs later after my appreciation of the recent visit of Secretary Clinton to Africa.

Secretary Clintons visit to Africa

The election of Barrack Obama as the 44th President and the appointment as Secretary of State of his close rival for that mighty Office ushered in a new era of hope that universal moral values that are proven to be common to humanity will take precedence over political expedience. The dawn of the era of the rule of law reigning supreme in our global village is a beacon of hope to humanity living in an unjust world hoodwinked by false promises of dictators.

The recent visit of Secretary Clinton to eleven African countries and expression of support to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and advocacy for the respect for basic human rights was inspiring. In Nairobi she said that she regretted that the United States failed to become a member of the ICC and indicated to her audience that the matter will be reconsidered again. It would be recalled that former President Clinton did his best during his Administration for his country to become a member of the ICC but his effort was thwarted by influential conservative activists in the Congress. Under the former President George Bush (Junior), the prospect of the USA becoming a member of the ICC was dead; to make matters worse he withdrew from United Nations Human Rights Council thus putting moral leadership of the USA on the global scale on the backburner thereby tarnishing the image of the United States.

The USA under the Obama Administration is now back on its seat in the United Nations Human Rights Council. Secretary Clinton’s assurance to her audience in Nairobi that membership in the ICC will be revisited is a welcome news to those suffering under the iron rule of dictators.

Dictators posing as democrats in ship’s clothing manage to get fire arms from the USA and other Western democracies. They do so by presenting themselves as allies in the “war on terror” but tyrants like Meles unfortunately show their true colour of killers of their own people. The ICC will serve as a powerful deterrent to such deceivers and thugs that ride roughshod on human rights. A truly independent court is essential for ensuring the rule of law in our global village. The ICC is indispensable to that end.

In Nairobi (close enough to Addis Ababa) Secretary Clinton succinctly articulated the issue of rampant abuse of human rights in Africa. She could not have perhaps repeated the same thing in Addis Ababa if Ethiopia was in her schedule of visit. After all Meles invited Al Bashir on a state visit to Addis Ababa immediately after the latter was issued with a warrant by the ICC for crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur. Bashir was treated to a lavish State dinner boycotted by Western diplomats in Addis Ababa. In the circumstances, it would not have been appropriate for Secretary Clinton to have been seen side by side with tyrant Meles who stands accused for genocide and crimes against humanity. It is sadly recalled that her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, made a tragic mistake of posing for a photograph in a relaxed mood with the tyrant in the Palace in Addis Ababa.

Secretary Clinton’s laudable stand on issues of human rights and ICC has sent a clear message to the dictators in the region. The Secretary in her capacity as the top diplomat of the sole superpower in our global village has certainly sent a strong signal of her objection to the gruesome human rights record of the Meles regime well recorded by the Department of State. The USA is back on the saddle of moral leadership which is a good omen for a stable and democratic world under the rule of law.

In north-east of the Congo, she showed deep emotional vehemence in her condemnation of the atrocious manner in which women are treated. She did so not because she is a woman but because women’s rights are human rights. She pledged moral and financial support for the defence of the rights of women consistently and forcefully throughout her visit. There is no doubt that the Secretary is well aware of the plight of Judge Birtukan Mideksa who is denied her civil right to lead the first ever popular political party in Africa with a woman at the helm. Birtukan is locked up in prison by the brutal regime in Ethiopia for telling the TRUTH. Birtukan is not an ordinary person; she will prove a reliable partner to Secretary Clinton in the advancement of the rights of women so critical in the 2`1st century.

President Obama is a son of Kenya; neighbouring Ethiopia is the origin of humankind. I hope that Secretary Clinton will one day in the nearest future visit Ethiopia and meet with Birtukan Mideksa, her 70+ years old mother, and five-year daughter at this time suffering psychological and physical ordeal.

Interview: Fareed Zakaria with Premier Jiabo

The quotation “The highest standard measurement of morality and ethics is Justice” is taken from the riveting interview Fareed Zakaria of Global Public Square (GPS) held with the Premier on 23 August 2009. The host took pride in his success to hold the interview and hailed it as one of his best in his carrier. The Premier at the outset encouraged his interviewer that he is free to ask any question or bring up critical issues pledging a truthful response.

I must confess that the decorum, self-confidence and depth of knowledge of the Premier impressed me beyond my expectation.

He underscored that the new generation of China demand:

• Good governance and independence of the judicial system
• Transparency; oversight by independent media
• Power to the people in a free and fair election

He said that the political climate is right in China to implement the demand of the new generation. He stressed that there would be political parties freely vying for power through fair and free election.

The Premier spoke about Adam Smith’s argument regarding ‘Invisible Hand’ in a free market economy adding the virtue of regulating the same in the interest of morality and justice. He said that regulation of the economy is essential as the ‘Visible Hand’ in the dialectic sense. He sent a diplomatic signal to Wall Street by stressing the need for the ‘Visible Hand’ guided by morality and ethics.

The Premier criticized the immorality of wealth accumulated in the hand of few in apparent reference to the greed in Wall Street blamed for the current down turn in the global economy.

At this point the appalling greed of TPLF top leaders crossed my mind – former communists turned millionaires by stealing from the poor in terms of justice, freedom, material resources and spiritual values. No morality! No ethics!

Mr. Zakaria covered the gamut of all issues on the current and emerging relationships between the USA and China: 1.3 trillion dollars debt, climate change, human rights, dumping of cheap products on the African market et al. The Premier answered them all with self-assured dignity. At one point he stressed that china is not a super power and that it is a developing country trying to correct the imbalance in the distribution of wealth between urban and rural regions.

On issues of human rights, the Premier defended the policy of quiet diplomacy; he cited the example of sending peace keepers to Darfur as part of supporting human rights.

In sum, I got the impression that the Chinese Communist party has at last realized that “man does not live by bread alone”. It looks like it is set to usher in the era of a free and democratic society.

The point made by the Premier is that symbiotic cooperation between China and the USA as partners will shape the politics of the 21st century. It is one that the present and future generation of Ethiopians should take into account in dealing with these two powers where Ethiopia’s national interest is concerned.

Sources of support for the opposition

(1) Our own Nelson Mandela is undoubtedly at the top of the list of trustworthy statesmen now on retirement. One would surmise that he failed to visit the land of his dream, Ethiopia, in protest of the vulgar leadership qualities of TPLF thugs at the helm. Let us bring the plight of Ethiopia to the Nelson Foundation.

(2) The Clintons have impeccable record of genuine support for civil rights in the USA, which support has endeared them to African Americans in particular. They are like the legendary Kennedy family in this noble undertaking. The sterling performance of Secretary Clinton during her whirlwind visit earned her the accolade of a great leader

(3) It is deeply saddening that humanity has lost one of its greatest advocates for the rights of less fortunate individuals with the departure of the late Edward Kennedy from national and global political scene. Senator Kennedy was a trusted friend of Africa. His mother Ross Kennedy visited Ethiopia to officiate at the inaugural ceremony of the Kennedy Library – named after her assassinated son President Kennedy – in the premises of the Haile Selassie University at Sidist Kilo in Addis Ababa. She was impressed by the ancient culture and civility of Ethiopians. Senator Edward Kennedy visited Ethiopia during the debilitating famine there under the Derg regime and organized substantial flow of aids to the victims of famine. The human rights situation in Ethiopia under the TPLF regime worried him so much so that he was one of nine powerful Senators on the move to stop the abuse. Unfortunately, the atrocious act of terror on 11 September 2001 diverted attention because the cunning tyrant Meles enlisted his regime as a partner on President Bush’s war on terror.

(4) The emergence of President Obama on the global political scene and his amazing popularity among the global peoples of all colours, creeds and ethnic origins is a beacon of hope that the dreams of the Kennedy brothers will advance for socio-economic justice for all is realized.

President Obama in his speech in Accra, Ghana, and Secretary Clinton during her visit to 11 African countries have both sent powerful signals to greedy, corrupt and criminal African dictators. Although not mentioned by name Meles Zenawi tops the list of those dictators.

(5) Honourable Anna Gomez of the European Parliament is now part of our history. She stood her ground as leader of the EU observer Team in exposing the daylight robbery of votes in the historic election of 15 may 2005.

The opposition should more actively seek support of the above trustworthy leaders. The support can be at least in withholding direct moral and material support to the killing machine of the TPLF regime.

Challenges for the opposition

The opposition is dealing with the most ruthless, shameless, unpredictable, pathological liar, corrupt and above all racist regime. It grabbed power with the help of some Western powers with short-term political expediency. The TPLF has been the sole dominant power that has misruled Ethiopia for over 18 years with funds immorally flowing to its coffers by wealthy foreign donors.

New generation of enlightened leaders with fresh mindset are critically needed to evict Meles and his cohorts from power.

Self-determination is old politics dead and petrified in the lexicon of so-called liberation movements with separatist agenda. It is deliberately encouraged by the official policy of Meles in his imposed constitution that he does not really respect. This political theory by the brutal half-literate Stalin was long withdrawn off the shelf by the Central Committee of the Communist Party (CCUP) of the defunct USSR. The Incidentally the embalmed body of Stalin was removed from the Mausoleum in Red Square following the Secret Report by Nikita Khrushchev about the atrocities of Stalin. In practice Stalin forcefully relocated en masse, summarily executed, banished, incarcerated for life groups or individuals who dared to raise the question of ceding from the USSR. China does not allow secession; those that seek it are dealt with force.

The people of Ethiopia have convincingly shown in the historic election of 15 May 2005 that want unity in diversity. Respect for that VOICE is logically imperative as standard baseline for all cooperation and collaboration among and between opposition forces.

The Ethiopian people are suffering. There is no sense in crying foul by the divided opposition each time Meles betrays vital national interests the latest ones being ceding large chunk of fertile land to the Sudan, leasing agricultural lands to unscrupulous investors from Saudi Arabia.

“The highest standard measurement of morality and ethics is Justice”!

The bolstering of ICC is imperative to stem abuse of power!

Icon Judge Birtukan & all other political prisoners must be free!



Robele Ababya can be reached at:

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