By Keffyalew Geberemedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
The Washington director for Human Rights Watch Sarah Morgan is absolutely right, when she wrote on USA Today the importance of President Obama’s ‘Africa visit’, as follows:
“It’s great that the president is going back to Africa. Strengthening relationships with the African Union are welcome and certainly overdue. But as far as I can tell, there’s been absolutely no concrete promises of reform from Ethiopia.”
I hate to be bearer of bad news. But I would like to share with Ms. Morgan that the TPLF has in a shoddy way tried to copy the July 20 July/2015 approach by the Kenya Government. In that, State House made effort to make Kenyans part of President Obama’s visit to that country, intimating the agenda the two countries would discuss.
Feeling like a motherless child, because my envy of the openness and deference our neighbor shows to its citizens, I was so pleased that I started tweeting about President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision. I sent the first saluting Kenyans for their achievements and making known to them the substantive, ideological and mental differences between our two countries, in three tweets, including our hugely varied approaches to business, Ethiopia’s being mostly top-bottom it largely being either state or TPLF-owned, the rest being a preserve of the Saudi multi-billionaire Mohammed Al-Amoudi and China.
It seems, following Kenya’s example the TPLF’s habitual secrecy has opened the veil a little bit. On Thursday 23 July/2015, the TPLF ‘news agency’ Fana outlined the three lead topics of engagement with President Obama in Addis Abeba early next week.
There you go, the TPLF regime’s lead agenda are: peace and security in the Horn of Africa, AGOA II and Ethiopia’s evolving democracy and respect for fundamental human rights.
Ambassador Taye Atske Selassie of the Ethiopian foreign ministry pointed out that under the human rights item, Ethiopia and the United States would engage in discussing the differences of views between the two countries.
As a matter of interest to all Ethiopians and the international community, therefore, I would focus on the latter item: the human rights agenda.
Indeed, while admitting democracy and human rights are the two clashing points between Ethiopia and the United States and in explaining the essence of that agenda item on behalf of the TPLF regime, Ambassador Taye Atske Selassie noted that there is no difference in outlook and objective between the United States democracy and that of Ethiopia’s evolving practices – in Amharic: “የሁለቱ ሀገራት ዴሞክራሲ በአስተሳሰብና እሴት ልዩነት የለውም ያሉት አምባሳደር ታዬ፥ ኢትዮጵያ ዴሞክራሲን የህልውና መሰረት አድርጋ እየተንቀሳቀሰች መሆኑን ተናግረዋል። In the end, interjecting the longstanding regime’s usual propaganda to hoodwink Ethiopians and the international community, the foreign ministry official claimed “democracy is the basis of Ethiopia’s continued existence.”
Further, the ambassador observed that every effort would be exerted by the TPLF regime to make use of the opportunity to correct the United States Administration’s misunderstanding of Ethiopia’s human rights and democracy realities – in Amharic – “አሜሪካ ኢትዮጵያን አስመልክቶ ያልተረዳዳቻቸውን ጉዳዮችን ቀዳሚ በማድረግ ውይይቶች ይደረጋሉ”።
In blunting the harsh rhetoric he perhaps was instructed to state but chooses to blunt the harshness, nonetheless, he added that, if at all there are differences between the two nations on this, it is important to realize that they might be amenable to resolution through discussion and mutual help – “አንዳንድ ልዩነቶች እንኳን ቢኖሩም በመወያየትና በመረዳዳት ይፈታሉ።”
In dismissively minimizing the national and international human rights noises about Ethiopia’s horrendous human rights situation, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, known to have strong ties to the TPLF regime stated, “the president travels to many countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East that have human rights concerns.”
In recall reading in the August 22, 2012 issue of Forbes, Requiem for a Reprobate: Ethiopian Tyrant Should Not Be Lionized
the authors Thor Halvorssen and Alex Gladstein strongly accusing Ambassador Susan Rice, along with others choosing “to remain blind to [Meles] Zenawi’s systemic human rights abuses”, whom they described as “undoubtedly, charming… perhaps more worryingly, excus[ing] his tyranny for his development and economic acumen.”
This time, nonetheless, it seems in response to the enormous pressure on the president, Ms Rice is showing a reconsidered view – for all we know the Administration’s view because of her influence on the president – stated:
“In Ethiopia in particular, we have consistently expressed concern about the treatment of journalists, among other issues,” Rice said Wednesday. “Our aim is to be forthright about the concerns where we have them and strengthen and deepen cooperation in our mutual interests where we can.”
Yes, indeed as Sarah Morgan mentioned, a few of the Zone 9 bloggers and journalists were released from prison on eve of Obama’s visit. What the world does not understand is that, the insecure TPLF regime has locked 20 times more since then. We are not talking here about a government, but bandits and criminals in power!
It is time the United States opened its eyes. Ethiopians have become impatient to the TPLF regime’s crimes, and are prepared to take matters in their own hands. This is not the best choice for a nation and people that loves and focus on what belongs to it. When push comes to shove, and humankind finds his/her back against the wall, like all animals, Ethiopian healthy instincts also know to go all the way through and defend themselves with honor.
This Ethiopians have shown during their abandonment by the whole world during Mussolini’s invasion of their country in the 1930s, which became the prelude to World War II; and before that in 1895 and spring of 1896 the ultimate war that crowned Ethiopians with the sterling Battle of Adowa victory.