By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
If indeed Eritrea has abducted Ethiopian citizens and forcibly taken them to its territory, as the TPLF alleges, it is a crime under international law. After only a brief presumed absence of the victims from home, however, the TPLF regime Monday announced that Asmara has released the abductees “possibly due to Sudanese pressure.”
What the truth is, or the Addis Abeba regime motive is difficult to decode peering from the outside. Be that as it may, among factors that make this story unpalatable is the fact that until late Monday night, the usually active Sudanese media or their Middle Eastern brethren had no word on the matter!
If the TPLF has the truth on its side, in particular Eritrea’s notoriety in the eyes of the United Nations Security Council being what it is, I could not get my head around the calculation why Addis Abeba dreaded any political/legal remedy through the United Nations. The Security Council is never known as Eritrea’s friend, mainly because of its aggression against its neighbors (Djibouti, Yemen, later Ethiopia) from the get go, immediately after independence in 1993.
Further, the Council has shown this very clearly, especially with its adoption on December 23, 2009 of SC Resolution 1907 (2009), under Chapter VII of the Charter, pertaining to Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace and Acts of Aggression to punish Eritrea’s behavior.
Ever since Eritrea has been the subject of arms embargo, also hitting Asmara officials with travel restrictions and asset freezes that still remain in effect.
I very well recall that Eritrea has time and again pleaded its innocence before the Council, pointing out that what was being done against it is because of a conspiracy hatched in Washington D. C. and Addis Abeba; its latest effort to clear its name has not also found the support of Security Council members.
In the light of this, it is unlikely that the Security Council would have not expeditiously considered any such charges, had Ethiopia brought its case against Eritrea, especially given graveness of the crime of abduction of Ethiopian citizens, given their relations being in a state of war.
Let me reiterate that since abduction of any individual is a very serious crime, especially if true, it would have been in Ethiopia’s interest action by the Security Council against Eritrea forestalling any future attempts against Ethiopian citizens.
Not wanting such a course of action, nonetheless, in the last two weeks or so, the TPLF regime has been beating the drums of war in Ethiopia; it has been threatening to teach Eritrea a lesson for the above-mentioned allegations. TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda referred to this at a press conference on February 25, 2016 as Ethiopia’s “response to latest aggression by president Issayas Afeworki-led regime in Asmara”, according to the Sudan Tribune. On the Ethiopian media, however, he has presented Ethiopian response as warning by Ethiopia over Eritrea’s “mass abduction”, but not as “aggression.”
In other words, the justification for war by the TPLF regime had been the seizure of 80 Ethiopian gold miners, whose numbers sometimes is stated as 85.
What is surprising is the fact that, in the bankrupt African candidatures system for selecting African nations for membership in United Nations bodies, it is a body that selected Burundi as member of the UN Human Rights Council to serve as judge and jury on human rights issues starting January 2016 for three-year term – against the refrain of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In like manner, African heads of state and government at the recent summit of African Union have also endorsed Ethiopia from East Africa in the Security Council beginning January 2017 for two-year term.
At its worst, this action is a disservice to the all too clear interpretation of the UN Charter and the United Nations longstanding practices on criteria for membership of the Security Council. One of its requirements is national stability, which of late has become a commodity in short supply in Ethiopia.
For details of my objection to Ethiopia’s candidacy for a seat at the UN Security Council, read my article and the horsetrading thereon that has taken place between Kenya and Seychelles on one side and Ethiopia on the other.
Consult also another article on the same issue that at the latest African Union summit in Addis Abeba put to light the frustration of the Seychelles on being squeezed out of its candidacy to membership of the Council. Regrettably not included in the article, due to lack of information then is the future of the Ilemi Triangle, which the TPLF is also suspected of using it for dealmaking between Ethiopia and Kenya, the latter withdrawing its candidacy to the Security Council in favor of Ethiopia.
In return for this gesture, there is suspicion that the TPLF has foregone Ethiopia’s sovereign claim over the oil and mineral rich Ilemi Triangle. Ethiopia’s sovereign claim over the area was first established by a memorandum of Emperor Menilik to colonial Britain, a claim never withdrawn by any subsequent Ethiopian government. Now at the initiative of Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Kenya are to hold discussion in early March 2016, according to The East African. An Ethiopian delegation has already attended the pre-consultation meeting in Kenya late last month. This part of the deal is in addition to Ethiopia’s pledge to fight the International Criminal Court (ICC) from within the Council, since the Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto is battling for his freedom and exoneration, lest his chances under the Jubilee ticket in the forthcoming election would be threatened far more than it now already is.
In the case of the latest development with respect to the abduction issue, there are indications that the TPLF has possibly employed its habitual scarecrow of war with Eritrea for one of two reasons:
(a) Since the TPLF has been bogged down by unyielding popular uprising in Oromia region, Ethiopia’s biggest coffee producing region, among others, it may have ambivalently and without any accountability used this shenanigan again to threaten Eritrea to refrain from taking advantage of the country’s internal troubles and commit acts of aggression. Oromia already is a region, where in the last three-and-half months – according to some estimates – over 350 Ethiopian student protesters, farmers, young and old women have been slaughtered; and,
(b) The TPLF claim of abduction of citizens was possibly intended to divert public attention from the internal challenges it has faced by signalling it was preparing to go to war with Eritrea, which for some reason could not be/ has not been executed.
The question then is why has the TPLF regime not taken such a serious charge as abduction of Ethiopians, about which it kept on hammering on the nation its propaganda day and night, to the Security Council of the United Nations. The Security Council has very proud record of seriousness when it comes to state abduction of citizens by another nation. This is because the Council primarily sees the crime as violation of the human rights of the victims concerned and also under international law as violation of sovereignty of the affected country, thereby endangering maintenance of international peace and security.
Indeed such is the case, whether a child is abducted (out of ‘love’) by one of the estranged parents, or extraordinary rendition, as the case in the United States since 911, all the same are considered crimes under international law.
In principled democracies, courts also do not recognize the manner a foreign individual is brought before them, especially if the accused is kidnapped, for instance, for violation of the laws of the kidnapping country or harming its interests. In legal lingo, this is known as Male captus, bene detentus (wrongly captured, properly detained). The case of Andargachew Tsige’s abduction by the collusion between Ethiopia and Yemen is also a crime under international law, including his incarceration in Ethiopia without the right to see a lawyer for over a year now.
Legal history also shows that, when presumed Israeli agents kidnapped Nazi Col. Adolf Eichmann from Argentina on 11 May 1960, although he was a criminal for collaborating in the gassing of millions of people under Nazi Germany, the Security Council in its resolution 138 (1960) of 23 June 1960 primarily saw his kidnapping constituting “violation of sovereignty of a Member State of the United Nations” and declared such acts…[to be] cause [for] international friction, may, if repeated, endanger international peace and security.”
Having stated that, the Security Council thus “requested Israel to make appropriate reparation in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the rules of international law.”
My concern in the alleged abduction of Ethiopians is continuity of the same pattern in TPLF behavior year after year, because it serves the interests of those that are in power. The regime is abusing the right of Ethiopians with mis- and- disinformation, or only selected information, which can neither be processed nor hardly consistent and that for long time has been cause for national indigestion.
At the same time, the whole world understands that the TPLF regime has faced serious challenges at home in Oromia, of late a region popular with the international media. The truth is that Ethiopia has been beset by far more problems with popular uprisings than the outside world fathoms. It is the case, for instance, in Gondar, Gambella and starting February 29, 2016 the capital city Addis Abeba itself that has been hit by taxi drivers strike, which is seen as progression of the problem.
Since the underlying disaffection of the public has deeper roots and longer maturation period – 25 years of TPLF oppression and repression – this latter act is feared to spread beyond taxis and buses to strangling major transport services, and etc. Most disturbing, therefore, is the regime’s lies that are being propagated to the nation, because it is in the habit of taking citizens for granted.
Moreover, the man in the Ethiopian prime minister’s office in his usual deceptive manner has attributed even the public anger in Oromia to be the work of Eritrea.
Speaking for myself, as a citizen, I feel my rights violated by the regime’s false propaganda and irresponsible politics on the question of war and peace, especially given the regime’s pathetic and cruel human rights record!
This gamut of developments must be considered in the context of Ethiopia being the country that has presented itself as sole candidate from the sub-region for a seat at the United Nations Security Council, whose election by the General Assembly would take place at its 70th resumed session in June 2016.
Let there be no doubt that, at a time when there are too many dangers for international peace and security – terrorism, conflicts and global economic problems – what the Council needs is hardly lethargy and habitual bargain hunter from its pavilion of crisis!
Is there anything the TPLF doesn’t accuse anyone of something, including Ethiopians ‘as anti-peace’ & Eritrea of ‘hijacking Oromo protests’? Better attend to Gadaa’s ultimatum!