“If the dignity of the individual is upheld across Africa… Americans will be freer as well… I believe that none of us are fully free when others in the human family remain shackled by poverty or disease or oppression.” President Obama, June 30, 2013
This is true in my country of origin, Ethiopia where a single party has ruled for 25 years and intends to rule perpetually. This “Orwellian” state receives over $4 billion annually, the largest in Africa and the U.S. is the largest bilateral donor. Imagine one party winning elections every 4 years in the U.S. by barring or intimidating contestants. Imagine candidates being clubbed, jailed and or forced to flee if they protest peacefully. Imagine an election without meaningful policy debates. Imagine the notion that despite $40 billion in development aid, Ethiopia is ranked as one of the poorest and most corrupt countries on the planet; per capita income is a third of the African average. This food aid dependent country supported by the U.S. lost $10 billion in four years through illicit outflow. Imagine how many factories this would build in a poor country.
It is not the stolen money that forced this American voter to write this op-ed. It is gross violations of human rights and degradation of Ethiopians, decimation of civil society and criminalization of free expression and political contest, values Americans cherish the most. In “Journalism is not a crime” Human Rights Watch had forewarned donors “The Ethiopian government’s systematic repression of independent media has created a bleak landscape for free expression ahead of the May 2015 general elections…at least 22 journalists, bloggers and publishers were criminally charged, and more than 30 journalists fled the country.” The Ethiopian government uses the 2009 Anti-Terrorism and the Charities and Societies Organizations (CSO) legislations as blunt instruments to punish those who stand up for freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Employment opportunities are guided by ethnicity and political affiliation. Don’t you think these conditions contribute to instability and terrorism? Is this in America’s long-term interest?
Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Report 2015 ranks Ethiopia “43 out of 49 Sub-Saharan African countries” that are not free. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) identifies Ethiopia among the “two top jailers of journalists in Africa and among the top four in the world.” It is my genuine belief America’s long-term security and trade interests and the interests of the Ethiopian people will be best served by promoting and defending respect for human rights and freedoms, civil society, accountable and representative governance in Ethiopia unconditionally. At minimum, the U.S. should stop providing aid dollars to a regime that decimates independent media, obstructs the participation of opposition parties and jails or forces critics to flee in droves. These requests are consistent with America’s own core values of political pluralism, free expression and freedom of the press, respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. No free, fair, open and credible election would take place on May 24, 2015 under this suffocating environment. I do not believe Americans want dictatorship over democracy.
Consider an editorial comment on May 6, 2015, “Elections, Ethiopian Style” by Human Rights Watch. “Since the last election, the ruling party has exerted more control and increased its repression of basic liberties, including the rights to free expression, assembly and association…As Ethiopians go to the polls in late May, 2015, prospects for the opposition to fully and fairly campaign are grim” and a similar editorial by the Washington Post on May 1, 2015 “Make-believe in Ethiopia” rebutting remarks by the Department of State’s Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman that “Ethiopia is a democracy that is moving forward in an election that we expect to be free, fair, credible, open and inclusive.” I commend the post for stating the facts. “The regime’s repression deserves condemnation, not praise, from Washington.” I fear genuinely that the Ethiopian government has created a suffocating environment of disempowerment engendering terrorism that may lead to the fracturing of an already polarized and volatile country. I urge the Government of the United States and American voters to help avert another failed state in the Horn of Africa.
Would you urge your representatives in Congress and Government of these United States to do all they can so that your taxes no longer shore up one the most oppressive governments in Africa?
By Aregawi Berhe (PhD)
For the second time in forty years, a European power, Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. Until this time, Ethiopia was a traditional polity with a predominantly feudal socio-political system, while Italy was an industrialized nation under the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. The invasion was conducted with the most advanced military organization and hardware - vast killing machine - against a spirited people of an old nation. In defiance of the occupation that ensued, the Ethiopians were engaged for five years in a multi-dimensional ‘patriotic resistance’ to drive the invaders out of their country, while the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie was engaged in an outmatched diplomatic struggle from exile. It was a resistance against many odds, including indifference from the League of Nations and the Western countries.
This paper will look into the resistance that was launched to counter a five-year long Italian occupation in Ethiopia. It is intended here to reconsider the nature and impact of this resistance and highlight some aspects of its role in ‘redefining Ethiopia’: its internal policy and its position in the global community since the start of World War II. The paper will commence with a brief historical background to the resistance in which national, religious and traditional values that drew together millions of people into the resistance are narrated. Then the occupation itself and the resistance it triggered shall be discussed. This will be followed by the actual resistance as it unfolded, focusing on momentous aspects of its features. Finally, I dwell on how the resistance came to an abrupt end as result of the intervening external factor without which the resistance would probably have continued as long as the invaders tormented the nationhood of Ethiopia.
Why Resistance: Historical Background of Ethiopian Nationhood
It is beyond the scope of this paper to narrate the history of Ethiopia’s nationhood. A brief sketch of this history, however, is provided in order to better grasp the essence of the resistance, as it was nurtured by the larger section of the population with strong notions of cultural identity and nationhood.
Its reign stretching as far as South Yemen across the Red Sea, the recorded history of Ethiopia as a state dates from the third century A.D., when it was known as the kingdom of Aksum. Around 340 the Aksumite kings adopted Orthodox Christianity,1 which quickly became the religion of the inhabitants and provided the symbolism and substance of the
royal ideology. For almost seven centuries, the empire gradually expanded over the Ethiopian highlands thereby giving form and structure to the longstanding Ethiopian state.
The aggressive expansion of Islam after the seventh century led to a loss of international trade routes and revenues for Aksum and a decline in its regional influence. In the tenth century, a revolt by an Agew queen, Yodit, from further south, led to the demise of the...... Read full article in pdf
Commentary by Aklog Birara (Dr.)
Michel Chossudovsky “The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order”
In October each year the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund created in 1944 to reconstruct worn-torn Europe and the rest hold their meetings alternating between Washington and other countries. These meetings discuss and define global monetary and development policies that affect and often bind the global community regardless of economic and political status. I had the privilege of attending these meetings representing Ethiopia and as a Senior Member of the World Bank Group. My observation is that wealthy and powerful countries decide policies that help their own societies first. As the only independent country in Africa, Ethiopia served as a founding member of numerous multilateral and UN and regional agencies and is recognized as a founding member of the Bretton Woods Institutions. Committed to multilateralism, Ethiopia served the world community (Korea, the Congo, for example) much longer than the vast majority of countries that were colonized at the time. It played a leading role in the formation of the Organization of African Unity and its successor the African Union that it continues to host. Nevertheless, largely because of its poverty and technological backwardness, its influence in the Bretton Woods institutions is minimal; as is the influence of the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. Poor and underdeveloped nations are by definition at a disadvantage in globalization. They are receivers rather than policy makers. So, why is Ethiopia preferred as the largest aid recipient in Africa today?.......... Readmore