By Abebe Gelaw – 11 March 2009 — Under the leadership of Meles Zenawi’s longest serving Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs seems to have adopted a robust strategy of wailing much louder than ever before. Lately, Seyoum Mesfin and his wailer-in-chiefs have launched a barrage of loud but empty tantrums against the International Criminal Court, the US Department of State, foreign media outlets, the Ethiopian Diaspora and human rights organizations. It seems Meles Zenawi’s enemies are too many to count.
The chief strategist for the ‘diplomatic’ farce in the last 17 years is none other than Dr Tekeda Alemu, who might soon go into the Guinness World Records, along with his boss, as the longest serving Vice “Foreign Minister.” After the Tigray People’s Liberation Front marched into Addis Ababa and took over the helm of power in May 1991, Tekeda, who was once mocked as having a PhD in “political opportunism”, did an incredible somersault to get his position as the chief diplomatic attack dog. He was one of Col. Mengistu Hailemariam’s trusted lieutenants, the former tyrant’s globetrotting Deputy Foreign Minister. With the fall of the Derg, he was on the verge of being sent to jail with the rest of Mengistu’s cabinet. Impressed with his extreme elasticity and gymnastic skills, the current tyrant, Meles Zenawi, forgave his transgressions and took Tekeda and a few others like Mengitu’s “special adviser” turned Zenawi’s close confidant, another accomplished political gymnast, Dr Fasil Nahum. A humorist once joked that those like Tekeda and Fasil were listed with the rest of the fixtures seized at government offices. In fact, having arrived from the jungle as a bandit, Seyoum needed someone well-versed in denials and duplicity. No one proved as accomplished operator as Tekeda in diplomatic prevarications and fibs. While the world continues to change and his best mates have shifted positions and alliances, the turncoat never faded and he is still in the service of tyranny for well over three decades defying the constant flux of change. Without any shame or qualms, he continues churning out the same kind of propaganda that he used to dish out at any critics of Mengistu including the current rulers, whom he used to refer to in contempt as treasonous secessionists.
Defending criminal tyranny is obviously a tough job, no matter how rewarding it may be. Any way, Seyoum and his toothless bulldog strategists are denying everything and barking, at any critics of Meles Zenawi. It seems those who deliberately deny the abuse of fellow human beings are not able to see their own predicament of living without the freedom of telling the truth. Unfortunately, telling the truth and standing up for what is right in life aren’t mentioned in their pitiful job descriptions.
Minutes after the ICC issued an arrest warrant against the Sudanese tyrant Omar Al-Bashir for committing crimes against humanity, Seyoum rushed out with a tantrum to the rest of the world via Aigaforum and Walta. Who else would take TPLF’s paranoiac rant seriously?
The statement, bizarrely titled: “On the unfortunate decision of the ICC: Not in the interest of peace,” condemned the court for being biased and unfair. According to the statement, “The indictment issued by the ICC prosecutor against the President of Sudan is viewed with a great deal of concern and anger by Africa and by the countries of our sub-region.”
It asserts that “Ethiopia does not believe that the latest step taken by the ICC is in the interest of peace and stability in the Sudan, in Darfur or in our sub-region in general.” Well, but when has this regime ever represented Ethiopia’s critical national interests? Aren’t these the same bunch of Mamo Kilos, who have willingly landlocked Ethiopia and pay almost the nation’s entire annual import revenue on port services for tiny Djibouti? If Ethiopians had had a say in their own affairs, they would have said “to hell with Al Bashir” and would have handed over Meles and his entire entourage to the honourable justices at the ICC to face justice for all the crimes they have been committing since they were pro-Albania bandits robbing rural banks and farms.
After a long litany of complaints against the ICC, Seyoum has shed a stream of crocodile’s tears: “The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia [Meles] has been saddened by this latest development and requests the Security Council to respond favourably to the request already made by the AU.” It seems that the Meles regime has suffered severe depression for the era of impunity has come to an end as Al Bashir’s case sets a scary precedence of holding incumbent tyrants to account for the crimes they commit hiding behind the preposterous facade of sovereignty.
There is no other reason for all the tears that bad African crocodiles all over the continent led by Gaddafi have been generously shedding for Al Bashir. According to Bereket Simon, Zenawi’s husky mouthpiece, “Ethiopia,” probably referring not to the entire nation but the last lady Azeb Mesfin, will ignore the ICC arrest warrant. “We have always upheld that position,” he told AFP. The American philosopher William James once said: “As there is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood by those who hear it, so reasonable arguments, challenges to magnanimity, and appeals to sympathy or justice, are folly when we are dealing with human crocodiles and boa-constrictors.”
The other barrage was saved for the US Department of State which had published a long list of the crimes being committed by the Meles regime. The annual US Department of State report on Ethiopia was comprehensive and detailed all the known cases of gross human rights violations which are being committed by the regime with arrogant impunity.
This time the title of Seyoum’s absurd tantrum was, “Not exactly honourable or accurate; the US State Department Human Rights Report on Ethiopia.” Strangely enough, the dishonourable lie packaged as a rebuttal asserted that the Meles regime is committed to the protection of human rights. “Human rights are a noble and an important cause. It is a cause we fully believe in and support,” it said.
In a country where citizens have been brutalized and held hostage without their will for far too long, Seyoum’s band, accompanied by dreary rappers like Tekeda, have still the audacity to sing about commitment to human rights. What about the thousands of political prisoners languishing in hellish dungeons, what about those slain citizens whose blood has been screaming for justice, what about the millions who live in fear in their own country, afraid of the very people who were supposed to serve them, what about the multitude who have been fleeing for their lives…?
Absurdity, as they say, is tyrants’ brother-in-law. “This report, deliberately and consistently, minimizes and denigrates any advances. It is carefully written to disparage. The aim is to find fault, and that is never difficult to do,” Seyoum’s statement said. It doesn’t make sense at all to claim that the US, which is rather an unfortunate ally to the tyrannical regime in Addis, was out to find faults. By any measure, the whole engine of the regime is faulty and has been certified as “failed” time and again by any sane observer. After 17 in years in power misruling the whole of Ethiopia, the Tigray Liberation People’s Front is still “an ethnic liberation front.” It rules Tigray exclusively as its fiefdom and rules Ethiopia as its kingdom pretending to have formed a national government at Arat Kilo, with the help of some opportunist bellboys from other ethnic groups. That is well-known and no amount of pretension could hide or distort the fact that a minority corrupt ethnic junta is abusing the greater majority of Ethiopians, excluding those who are being abused willingly in exchange for some dishonourable gains.
According to Seyoum Mesfin’s ministry, “The idea that Mrs. Birtukan Mideksa was re-arrested for telling the truth is a misrepresentation bordering on the sinister. Her re-arrest was not a political but a legal action; the report’s account of it most certainly is political. Similarly the comments on Teddy Afro appear to be a deliberate attempt to interfere in Ethiopia’s internal judicial affairs.”
Unfortunately, truth has always been against the fibbers. Birtukan has proven to be consistent in her stand all along. While being dragged to courts during the entire trial and tribulation of political leaders, journalists and civil rights activists, she accepted neither the charges nor the legality of the tyrant’s Kangaroo court. The so-called clemency and plea bargain has always been non-existent as none of the accused had accepted the entire process of the courtroom drama. But for the abusers and those who are being willingly abused, the illegal and unjust incarceration of the fearless and heroic pro-democracy leader, Ethiopia’s Aung San Suu Kyi, is a legal action. Nonetheless, they forget the fact that legality originates from a system based on respect for the rule of law, which has never been seen in Ethiopia’s long but tragic history of abuse.
Meles Zenawi and his entire army of bulldogs appear to be delusional and paranoiac. They believe that anyone out to tell the truth is against them. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is wasting the taxpayer’s money and hard earned donations on futile propaganda against the truth. Every embassy abroad employs fanatic agents that spy on and harass Meles Zenawi’s critics. The so-called diplomats never serve their people freely as they are forced to be either affiliated with or submissive to the ruling ethnic junta. In every embassy abroad, loyalist and fanatic members of the TPLF are feared and control everything. In Washington, London or Brussels they waste their energy, resources and time videotaping every protest march, meetings and eavesdropping every political conversation. The agents harass, intimidate and attack Meles Zenawi’s critics in exile. After all, a government of thugs, whose entire operation is based on criminality, never condones the truth.
Despite the fact that Meles Zenawi’s bulldogs are barking everywhere, the truth must be told. The international community, the Ethiopian Diaspora, human rights organizations, foreign media outlets, democratic governments, the ICC…must ignore the annoying tantrums of Seyoum Mesfin and his bulldogs that have every reason to live in great trepidation. Let them bark, wail and howl as they can never scare away the truth. After all, dictators are just in power waiting for justice to catch up with them; so their pain is justified and understandable. But their aggressive tantrums, rants and intimidations are not justified at all.
The writer is Knight / Yahoo International Fellow at Stanford University, California. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.