By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
Ethiopia, a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) since 2013, re-elected in October 2015 and an incoming member of the United Nations Security Council as of January 2017 is no longer a credible member of the international community.
Ethiopia under the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has a notorious reputation of violating its own laws and also international human rights laws. Further, it has achieved notoriety in refusing to cooperate and collaborate with the international bodies it is member of, such as the the Human Rights Council to investigate its suspected crimes against humanity.
For the third time this year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights accused the TPLF regime publicly on September 13, 2016 of non-cooperation in the international investigation of its massacre of peacefully protesting citizens. This has smacked of the world community with the suspicion of the regime of trying to hide the commission by its security forces of crimes against humanity.
It is in that context, the high commissioner reiterated his demand for international investigation of the TPLF’s crimes, insisting:
“I find it mystifying we are not being given access to areas where the expertise of my Office can so clearly be of immediate and sustained assistance.”
This past Monday, five UN experts, comprising the Special Procedures of the UNHRC’s, added their voice for the second time since January 2016. They expressed their outrage “at the alarming allegations of mass killings, thousands of injuries, tens of thousands of arrests and hundreds of enforced disappearances”. “In light of the lack of progress in investigating the systematic violence against protesters, we urge the Ethiopian Government to allow an international independent commission to assist in shedding light on these allegations”, they added.
Clearly, one of the few oldest nations in the world, the Ethiopian state has become Africa’s worst killing machine – people slaughtered on a daily basis as sacrificial lambs – merely to enable the former guerrilla fighters from Tigray that have miserably failed to become statesmen to remain in power until the Second Coming.
The mass executions and the genocide into which the United Nations has been refused investigation could not deliver what the TPLF has wanted – terrorization of the public to cower them into submission.
It is against this backdrop that as of October 8, 2016 the TPLF has declared a state of emergency throughout the country. The mockery is that the TPLF attorney general Getachew Ambaye is telling the nation that in so doing the regime’s intention was to ensure protection of the human rights of the Ethiopian people. Surely, this explanation clearly shows that in Ethiopia citizens and the state live on planets far apart.As the idiom has it, in TPLF Ethiopia wonders never cease. While the TPLF has been notorious in its refusal to uphold both national and international laws, in 2016 it has presented Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom, a member of its criminal politburo that decides on who lives and dies as candidate to the post of the ninth director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO); the phased election processes is already underway.
This has been a troubling development for many Ethiopians. This is due to the TPLF’s dictatorial record, which has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of Ethiopians and the incarceration of several tens of thousands of innocent Ethiopians.
On the other hand, the conquest of diseases on our planet and improving the human conditions should not be exploited as source of fat salaries and prestige for those that cannot add value to the organization’s mission. The elimination of diseases in today’s world is neither metaphysical, nor akin to Ethiopia’s story of walls standing as health centers, even in places where there is no water; or the building of universities with no teachers, books or computers.
WHO has already shown that the eradication of smallpox, as its first success. There are many conquests to be had. Such success is rather an outcome of human beings making the right choices and the right decisions in the best interests of the individual member of society and the community, not a political and public relations gimmickry as the TPLF has made it, having predicated the efforts on ethnic politics.
Inequality in the midst of profound poverty
Dr. Tedros Adhanom had served as Ethiopia’s minister of health for seven years from 2005-2015. Experts are of the view that his was a time when infectious diseases have received little attention until 2012. Accordingly, it is part of his record that among the obstacles for disease eradication, for example, of guniea worm disease in 2015, about Ethiopia being one of the four nations in which three of the 22 cases were found, along with Chad (9 cases), Ethiopia (3 cases), Mali (5 cases) and South Sudan (5 cases).
We learn from the Carter Center International Task Force for Disease Eradication of six additional diseases as potentially eradicable: lymphatic filariasis (Elephantiasis), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and pork tapeworm.
In 2014, WHO disclosed “about 80% of diseases in Ethiopia are attributable to preventable conditions related to infectious diseases, malnutrition; and personal and environmental hygiene.”
While Ethiopia has made “noteworthy improvements” in vaccination, according to Ethiopia’s National Human Development Report (2014) the UNDP has prepared, the country’s problem is the TPLF’s ethnic policy of becoming criterion for everything and obstacle. In that connection, the report touches upon a tragic problem of “uneven immunization coverage rates and hence unequal chance of protection from vaccine preventable diseases.”
Unlike Tigray, the home of the ruling party, for instance, the report underlines that regional disparities in human development index (HDI) values are significant, especially where these are lowest in Afar, Amhara, Oromia and Somali regions, far below the national HDI of 0.461. The same is also true in terms of education as well.
Regarding the problem of inequality in Ethiopia in the midst of poverty, the national UNDP report underlines: “Ethiopia’s IHDI [inequality adjusted human development index] for 2013 was 0.307 in contrast to HDI of 0.435 indicating an overall human development loss of 29.4 per cent.”
A detailed explanation of this shows that between 2004/5 and 2010/11, there was observable “worsening of inequality among the poor, that the very poorest have not seen their incomes grow and that poverty severity has increased.”
In the light of the TPLF policy and ideological problems and having been sufficiently familiar with the United Nations system as well having reflected on the value added the TPLF candidate would bring, I am of the opinion not only that he lacks what the WHO badly needs. These include vision, good management skills and personal integrity. But also it is the obligation of the 194-member World Health Assembly to reach the conclusion that with TPLF Ethiopia’s atrocious human rights record, the political system no longer has the moral and political credibility to present the right candidate to leadership of international organizations.
For those aware of today’s Ethiopian reality, this man’s case must clearly show what it takes to be nominated by Ethiopia and then seconded by Africa to any post with no accountability whatsoever in the international system: belonging to the “right ethnic group.” In such situations the filter stops working, thereby allowing run of the mill candidates making to important and vital institutions, the outcome of which is inefficiency and good professionals dispirited.
This is primarily because of the shoddiness of the system shaping the experiences of professionals, as a matter of fact including Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s. I am strongly persuaded that this is what has now landed him as candidate aspiring to become the ninth person to lead the organization in an apparent break from its tradition, wherein eight of them since 1947 have been medical doctors.
Professionalism & integrity
I am on record in my article of April 18, 2014, loudly asking whether Dr. Tedros Adhanom has the requisite qualifications to become next WHO Director-General. Two things bother me about my countryman’s candidacy: (a) his poor management record in the offices he has been working in Ethiopia, and (b) and also the personal integrity of the candidate. It is common knowledge that under Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s leadership, the ministry of health’s aid resources have been fleeced. To this day, there is dispute over the lost resources, estimated at seven million dollars.
Firstly, I now want to be louder in articulating my discomfort with propriety of making a break with the seven decade-old tradition of medical doctors running WHO.
Secondly, on careful reflection I strongly reject the idea of a deputy director-general helping the non-medical doctor DG, qualified both as a physician and management-specialist, which is not likely to work. One cannot encourage a beginner skier to go faster on a downward slope, simply because he owns good ski gears.
As to the personal qualifications of the African candidate, by the admission of the dictator Meles Zenawi, the TPLF nominated Dr. Tedros Adhanom to the ministerial post on the criterion of ethnic balance to represent the ruling party.
One needs to bear in mind that multi-ethnic Ethiopia under the TPLF has become in the last quarter century a killer of talents in a country where people are sent to the good and best schools or land on good jobs not because of the correlation between brain power and equal opportunities as citizens, or what they could do better to contribute to the nation’s development. It is rather ethnicity and political connection, the purpose of the selection criteria being ensuring the ethnic minority regime’s grip and aspiration to dominate other Ethiopians.
This has not been good for Ethiopia. It cannot be for any United Nations bodies.
Of course, today’s Ethiopia’s political reality loudly speaks of its rejection of this discrimination and unlawful ethnic domination experiment. Finally, it has come down in Ethiopia to the nation’s lock down as of October 8, 2016 by the declaration of state of emergency, which is a misnomer since it is a marshal law.
This is because all the top leadership of the TPLF (save two or so militants, including Dr. Tedros Adhanom) had come to power after 17 years as guerrilla fighters and in the last 25 years have ruled the country as military dictators their grip firm and their speed for clampdown and killings of citizens as militaristic.
Still on importance of qualification, Ethiopians attribute the revelation in public by Meles Zenawi’s arrogance of power that suddenly had him announce the primary criteria for the selection of his ministers for the ‘government’ constituted in the post-2005 stolen election was their loyalty to the cause the ruling party has stood for.
By coincidence, I presume, when the dictator announced this, he used as example Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s name and noted that there was no kinkiness. He made clear that, the criterion’s applicability to all other ministers, and that Dr. Tedros Adhanom was hardly selected “for his ability to handle the syringe, but his full loyalty to the ruling party objectives.”
Does Dr. Tedros Adhanom have the requisite qualifications to become next WHO Director-General?