Ethiopia : business matters more for UK than human rights

Martin Plaut pretends to be a friend to many Ethiopians. And he actually knows what the political Ethiopia looks like these days. Yet, the report he published on theguardian regarding the abduction of Andargachew Tsige, British national of Ethiopian origin, by Yemen and hand over to Ethiopia sounds rather a disservice to me. It is less than even a mediocre report, not surprisingly though.

The thing is there is no such thing as integrity in business. And journalism is increasingly turning out to be a business by way of being a propaganda tool for the big business – among other things.

And the business of countries like the US and UK is the interest of, long term or short term, of their business people who are regularly looking for a means to make a lucrative investment overseas. It’s their business interest that matters most for them. It’s their cultural interest that matters more. It is not human rights issue or democracy that matters most to them, if it matters to them at all. And these countries do business with the regime in Ethiopia in different areas including in the area of military training.

Yet, we still seem to think they could actually help. I am not asking for an official stand on this matter. But at least we need to be aware of the situation in regards to their relation with the regime in Ethiopia and understand the reality. And what they are doing is actually consistent with the record they have on the issue of Ethiopia. No policy divergence or paradigm shift. At least since the London Conference before the fall of Derg regime they have been firmly standing behind the brutal regime in Ethiopia – a fact we seem to fail to understand or overlook – which has a lot to do with problem of political consciousness.

Yesterday, a BBC journalist was asking a beautiful Brazilian girl regarding a collapsed infrastructure. Her response remarkably demonstrate political consciousness. “We didn’t want it . We want quality life, education, health, job…” She is aware that Brazilians are not getting redistribution in the form of social services and insane spending on prestige project like infrastructures has little or no meaning for the downtrodden people.

By any means it is not an attempt to compare Brazil with Ethiopia. The story is about her political consciousness. It is a story so prevalent in the rest of Latin America.

Ethiopian Youth talk a lot about infrastructure development and economic growth. Yet, they seem to barely understand what it means to them or to the greater Ethiopian mass. They seem to be unaware about requirements of economic exploitation.

Much of the infrastructure in Africa was developed during colonial era and the purpose was to facilitate exploitation. South Africa is most developed in that regard. Yet, South Africa still has one of the biggest slum in the world and it’s facing renewed popular discontent because of problems of redistribution, and as part of the quest to meaningful freedom.

Coming back to the point, if averting the extradition of Andargachew Tsige was in the interest of the UK in light of upholding democratic principle, human rights or otherwise, they would have done everything to avert the extradition. It appears that they were actually informed about the development while Andargachew was still in Yemen.

The reality is that the administration in Ethiopia matters more to the UK in a number of ways – a reason that explain omission of the duty of the UK government to stand up in protection of their citizen of Ethiopian origin, and a reason that explains their all-out support to the regime in Ethiopia -from financial to military training and what have you.

It is not lack of knowledge on the matter either. UK is is well informed that Andargachew Tsige is already sentenced to death in absentia. The UK failed to protect him in Yemen where he was abducted at Senna international airport with his valid pass port, how could they defend him in Ethiopia? Of course, it is expected that they will pretend as if they are doing everything. Sadly, the story is not even in BBC world service as if it is nothing.

by Dimetros Birku

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