The two monuments of Stalin erected in his life time in his home state of Georgia were removed from public squares in Georgia with effect from June 2010. But the shocking memories of his gross violations of human rights are alive in the evil deeds emulated by despots like Meles who ranks among the top 10 worst of the worst dictators in the world. Ethiopia under Meles is number 17 out of 56 failed states in the 21st century – falling far behind Eritrea in both cases. Under his rule, 90% of Ethiopians are poor – ranking last but one in the world. His insidious evil policy of the last 19 years resulting in economic mismanagement and grave violation of human rights is no longer bearable.
Fate of the works and memories of Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, the author of “Marxism and the National Question” - which was hailed as one of his universal contributions to scientific socialism - died in 1953. In his life time he was by his inner circles lavished with accolades such as the father of the Soviet industrial power and foremost military genius and unrivalled hero in the Great Patriotic War against the invasion of the former USSR by the armed forces of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. But he was posthumously transformed into a villain by the revelation of his shocking crimes and betrayals of his comrades in a secret report by his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, to the Central Committee of the Communist Party. His heroic feats in the Great Patriotic War were also questioned in the secret speech made by Khrushchev in 1956, three years after the death of the monster.
Excerpt from Stalin’s Biography (1): “After Khrushchev's revelations, attempts were made to erase Stalin's image from the Soviet Union. Statues and portraits of Stalin were removed from public places. Towns, streets and parks named after him were changed. Stalingrad, which had been closely associated with his generalship during both the Civil War and the Second World War, was renamed Volgograd. Even his ashes were taken from the Kremlin Wall and placed elsewhere.”
The last two statutes of Stalin, erected in his lifetime in his own state of Georgia - one in his hometown of Gori and the second in the town of Tkibuli - were pulled down by Georgian authorities in June 2010. The following statute was the last one torn down.
Excerpt from Stalin’s Biography (2): “Approximately 20 million, including up to 14.5 million needlessly starved to death. At least one million executed for political "offences". At least 9.5 million more deported, exiled or imprisoned in work camps, with many of the estimated five million sent to the 'Gulag Archipelago' never returning alive. Other estimates place the number of deported at 28 million, including 18 million sent to the 'Gulag'”.
Stalin ascended to the pinnacle of power through intrigues; he built an aura of personality cult for himself and his ideas reigned supreme. Capriciousness, lies, betrayal of colleagues, rudeness and brutality constituted his character. By his own admission, Stalin was “rough and uncultivated individual with a troubled personal life who set a benchmark for the ruthless pursuit of social engineering”.
This was the monster that leftist elites in the aftermath of the 1974 Ethiopian revolution ennobled and imposed on the people. Mengistu Hailemariam exalted Stalin as his role model and caused consternation in the Kremlin; Meles consecrated Stalin publicly at the inauguration of his Marxist-Leninist League (MLLT). And during the 2010 Ethiopian election, he proved to his generous Western donors that Stalin’s way is for him (Meles) the only best way to stay in power.
No construction without destruction
The authorities of the Imperial regime in their wee hours of demise were out to subdue a young charismatic revolutionary Marxist-Leninist whom I tried to talk out of his radical views. He responded to my advice by saying: “There is no construction without destruction” – a dangerous crude generalization devoid of a blueprint for construction, which is senseless given that he was adamant that the existing culture had to be entirely demolished. He was a self-proclaimed firebrand Maoist who was finally executed by the Derg which, even by its brutal standards, thought he was moving too fast. I recall that his covert organization was in touch with Marxist Leninist League of Tigray.
The Derg regime started with by attacking the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Meskel Square renamed as ‘Revolution Square’ was the first victim. Everything named after Emperor Haile Selassie (public squares, statutes, institutions, streets ad infinitum). A tall monument of the Revolution was soon erected near the then called Prince Mekonnen hospital a not far from the Ministry of Defense. An imposing statute of Lenin was erected near the Jubilee Palace at a prominent public square opposite the Headquarters of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). A bust of Karl Marx was erected at Sidist Kilo near the main campus of the now called Addis Ababa University. All these statues were demolished soon after TPLF entered Addis Ababa in May 1991. What is important to note here is the shameful order of priorities of the stupid Derg. However, in all fairness the Derg held in reverence the statute of Emperor Menilik II, the statute of Abuna Petros, the Statute of Liberty at Arat Kilo, and the Statute of Yekatit 12 Martyrs at Sidist Kilo – all of which Meles holds in contempt to this day for he has never laid floor at any of them.
Meles began to do much of the same on grabbing power in 1991. He started with desecrating the Ethiopian flag; he secretly agitated for the removal of the statute of Emperor Menilik II, which incidentally, the Fascist Italian invaders took down and hid from the Ethiopian people who made it their secret meeting place to plot resistance to the occupation. Menilik died penniless working hard for the honor and dignity of his people who called Him “Imye Menilik” (Mother Menilik) affectionately. It is not therefore surprising that Meles wanted to erase the memory of this beloved Emperor so that he can write the history of Ethiopia counting from May 1991.
Meles built up his politico-military power base with the resources meant for the victims of famine in Tigray in 1984/85; he masterminded the aerial bombardment of Hawzeen to secure the trust and support of the valiant people of Tigray in whose good names he is still trading; he conceived and oversaw the erection of a monument for the victims of Hawzeen in Mekele, capital city of Tigray, while the destructive effect of ethnic-based evil policy was raging.
I condemn the aerial bombardment in the strongest terms with all my heart, consistent with my long-held view that no regular military force should be involved in internal civil strife. I am convinced that the monument will stand as an object of divisive debate in contrast to a symbol for martyrdom – until the inevitable truth of who masterminded the aerial bombing inevitably comes out.
It is hot topic in the news media that a bronze statute of the illegitimate Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has been put up in front of a Church in Addis Ababa contrary to the cannon of the Church that condemns the act as heathen. Many say that the time will come when the statute will be disgracefully demolished. It is worth noting that that the illegitimate Patriarch hails from the same place of birth as and is a close confidant of tyrant Meles who is now illegitimately in power by stealing votes for the second time – refer elections May 2005 and May 2010.
Statutes remain permanent and revered only so long as they depict fundamental universal values among which are independence, freedom and liberty that are common to humanity. It is in that sense that divisive statutes erected on the whim of dictators in Ethiopia should be revisited to justify their existence.
The cardinal question, however, is: when is the series of divisive, arbitrary and emotional trend of erecting and demolishing of statutes and erasing of memorabilia by successive regimes, which grab power by sheer force, is going to stop?!
Summary in closing
The recent removal of the statutes of Stalin in his home state of Georgia vividly shows utter disgust of the young generation for dictators. It stresses that respect for basic human rights should be at the center of all burning issues of the 21st century. This is due to increasing realization in this age of information that activities in the spheres of socio-economics, politics, safeguarding of the environment should be for the benefit of mankind.
Stalin did contribute to the industrial might of the USSR at the expense of neglect of human rights and suppression of democracy. The example of the removal of his statues in Georgia and the censorship of his works in the defunct USSR and to date is a vivid reminder of the impending fall of Meles and cohorts in his inner circle of thugs covertly driven by precepts of Stalinism while overtly appearing democrats.
Pro-Ethiopia democratic forces should: drop the misplaced communist ideology which has thrown us into political chaos in the last 36 years; apologize for the colossal mistakes made in order to build trust among and between us for the sake of the Ethiopian people relegated to grinding poverty in the last 19 years of the misrule by Meles; bear in mind that 90% of Ethiopians are poor – ranking last but one in the world; act vigorously to evict Meles, the arch enemy of Ethiopia, from power as a matter of top priority before he inflicts further destruction on the country and people he so intensely hates.