"The other butcher of Addis"

Haile-Gabir Sibhatu
December 23, 2006

Pinochet of Chile died recently. For many, he escaped justice. And yet, he was buried with full military honors. Pinochet was a good friend of America. And that may have earned him a descent funeral ceremony. From my reading, Col. Mengistu’s crime pales when compared with Pinoche’s crimes committed in the run-up to and in the wake of the September 9, 1973 coup.
Agazi Boss
The Other Butcher of Addis Ababa "

A documentary film - “The Other 9/11” – shows the heinous crimes of General Pinoche. The documentary film took the title from the fact the coup that ousted the democratically elected socialist government of Chile was staged on the 9th day of the 11th month, September 9, 1973. A few days after Pinochet’s death, BBC reported that Mengistu Hailemariam is convicted of genocided. BBC didn’t stop there. BBC called Mengistu “the butcher of Addis Ababa”. I said to myself, what is Meles Zenawi to be called? By any indices, Meles Zenawi’s crime is no less than Mengistu Hailemariam. It is a very perplexing question. After some thinking, I decided to give my article the title, “The Other Butcher of Addis Ababa”.

In this insecure and angst-ridden reign of terror of Weyane, when the whole Ethiopians are at an apprehension and, gaze as to which route they should take, the thoroughfare into the future appears pitch-black by murkiness foretelling dangers of the 2005 type or worse massacre. The war against Somalia is going to be more costly primitive war than that of against shabia in 1998-2000, both in terms of human lives and material. It is only conventional forethought that we Ethiopians ought to take a fleeting look at ourselves and make an effort to weigh up the raison d'être of our mass suffering, starvation, death, humiliation in the hands of very few Hitler and Mussolini type monster creatures like Meles Zenawi and Bereket Simon.

We have also to look for the most apposite means of getting rid of them. Ancient Greek Philosophers said, “people get the type of leadership they deserve.” Do we really deserve these monsters like Mengistu, Meles Zenawi, Bereket Simon et al? We have to struggle hard to prove wrong those Greeks men of wisdom who lived before Christ. The only way to prove them wrong is to get rid of these monsters. The only way to prove them wrong is to oust once and for all these blood suckers.

The news of the week in the Weyane media is that Mengistu Hailemariam is convicted of genocide. All major electronic medias in the world, including BBC and CNN, gave it quite an extensive coverage. BBC called Megistu Hailemariam “the butcher of Addis Ababa”. It is this portrayal of Mengistu Hailemariam that motivated me to write this article. There is no ‘if and but’ that Mengistu was not a democrat. There is no ‘if and but’ that Mengistu did kill thousands. There is no ‘if and but’ that Mengistu was a dictator who ruled Ethiopia for 17 years brutalizing the Ethiopian people.

What surprised me are two things. 1. The timing of the verdict 2. The western medias too much babbling about it without uttering a word about the crimes of Meles Zenawi. To begin with, why now? The trial took over 12 years. Weyane is fond of playing such game. The Eritrean who killed Mr. Hayalom was convicted when Weyane was about to go to war against his jungle mate, Isayas Afewerki. The Person who killed Hayalom was from the break-away Ethiopian region, Eritrea. Many suspected Hayalom was killed as a result of a plot of Meles Zenawi. This man’s trial was deliberately dragged on, but finally condemned to die when Weyane was weeks away from the 1998-99 war. It is the political culture of Weyane to give such a “trophy” to its supporters any time it finds itself in a crisis.

I can’t really tell what it means in terms of political benefit. I don’t even see a real benefit out of such silly and meaningless exercise. Maybe, it may help Meles Zenawi to attract the attention of world media. The second perplexing question is: what does CNN and BBC mean when they tell us “Mengistu was a butcher of Addis Ababa”? We have a wonderful Amharic saying, “Imparting a person’s death to a person who attended that person’s funeral ceremony.”

Mengistu came to power as the result of a popular uprising against Emperor Haile-Selassie.The military, which was the only armed and organized group, hijacked the revolution and used it for its own advantage. Nevertheless, one doesn’t have to forget Mengistu was fighting against well organized and armed groups who were killing his supporters in a broad day light. EPRP, A Marxist Leninist movement, was bent on taking over power claiming to be sole vanguard of the revolution. EPRP killed thousands in a year time. EPRP killed prominent intellectuals like Dr. Mekonnen Shegene and Dr. Fikre Merid (I know both had Masters degree in management and law, respectively. If they were not doctors, they were for sure PhD candidates in Yale and Harvard, respectively).

Meanwhile, TPLF (then TLF) was 7/24 engaged in bank robbery and killing district and provincial governors. Mengistu had to fight these two forces. I am not trying to condone Mengistu. I agree With BBC’s characterization that Mengistu was the butcher of Addis Ababa. My whole attempt is just to state the facts and let the facts speak for themselves. By the way, two of my closest relatives and three distant cousins died during Mengistu’s Red Terror. I lost also many hallowed friends. My question to the BBC and CNN is that how do they wish to characterize Meles Zenawi? The 2nd butcher of Addis Ababa?

I wish I could hear from them. Haven’t BBC and CNN heard that Meles Zenawi killed thousands in Gambella region? Haven’t BBC and CNN heard that Meles Zenawi brutally massacred 193 innocent civilians in June 2005? Haven’t BBC and CNN heard Meless Zenawi banned independent newspapers? Haven’t BBC and CNN heard the prominent elderly academic, Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, is languishing in the Weyane prison? Haven’t BBC and CNN heard the massacre in Bedeno and Arbagugu? Haven’t BBC and CNN heard that Weyane skinned a man by the name Getu alive? Haven’t BBC and CNN heard that Meles Zenawi killed children as young as 5 years old and elderly in their 70s and 80s? Haven’t BBC and CNN heard that all elected leaders of the people are languishing in prison? Haven’t BBC and CNN heard that all the journalist of the free press /print media/ are incarcerated into jail? Haven’t BBC and CNN heard Meles Zenawi killed tens thousands innocent civilians during the last 14 years? How many should a dictator kill to be called a butcher? Haven’t BBC and CNN heard how many millions of Dollars Meles Zenawi has stashed in foreign banks? Haven’t BBC and CNN heard that the UN convention regards corruption in the poorest of the poor, like Ethiopia, a crime against humanity?

Meles Zenawi in a futile attempt to divert attention from the core issue is grabbing anything nearby. The Amharic saying, “a sinking man catches a straw” excellently portrays Meles Zenawi’s frantic effort to hang on to his bitter end. Now, it is the guilty verdict on Mengistu Hailemariam and other Derg officials. BBC, CNN and many other mainstream western medias reported about the verdict. I don’t know how many have read the details about the verdict.

Mengistu and his cronies were charged with murder. The number of victims according to Weyane’s prosecutor charge is something like 2100 persons. I don’t know if those are the only people killed under Mengistu. Meles Zenawi’s killings seem better documented. Meles Zenawi killed several thousands in Gambella alone. The Ethiopian Human Right Council /EHRC/ has, excluding Gambella, documented the extra judicial killings of several thousands people. BBC and CNN can look into the consolidated report of the EHRC. I am quite positive BBC and CNN perfectly know about the minutest details of Meles Zenawi’s crimes. The Ethiopian saying goes: “You can never wake up one who feigns asleep.”

I am very much disappointed BBC and CNN, not only, still harbor their historical cold war era grudge against the allies of the ex-Soviet Union, but also is their outlook and journalistic reporting tragically colored by this mind set.

The post cold war era reality dictates the preservation, in each line of work, the uppermost and purest benchmark of fair-mindedness and of precise dealing. It is fundamental to high-ranking thinking in such crucial issue that we should not only entertain a narrow or technical conception of justice. We need to over stretch ourselves to try to see what is behind.

Finally, I want to pose a few fundamental questions to BBC and CNN. How many Ethiopians should an Ethiopian monster, like Meles Zenawi, Kill to be called the butcher of Addis Ababa? When will you start condemning devilish deeds even if committed by a friend of America and the west? When will you stop condoning heinous crimes committed by the friends of America and the west?

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The writer can be reached for comment at hailegabersibhatu@yahoo.com

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