Wednesday, January 26, 2022
HomeOpinionPiso’s Justice and Sebaht Nega et al (Maimire Mennasemay)

Piso’s Justice and Sebaht Nega et al (Maimire Mennasemay)

Sebhat Nega _ Piso’s Justice
Sebhat Nega, captured and released TPLF leader (left) and Abay Tsehaye (right), one of the top TPLF leaders killed during military operation in Tigray region of Ethiopia in January 2021.

Maimire Mennasemay

The decision to release Sibhat Nega et al., known for the horrendous crimes they have committed against Ethiopians from 1991 until their capture in 2021, has shocked many Ethiopians within and outside the country. The social media was ablaze with condemnations and even violent language directed at the PM and those perceived to be his supporters. A serious concern here is that these reactions to the decision to release Sebhat Nega et al. may have awakened passions that could lead to more dangerous consequences than the decision itself. 

In the 1970s and 80s, the Ethiopian educated class—those who have secondary and post-secondary education and who were the ideologists, and the organizers of political movements and parties—engaged in verbal violence against those with whom they disagreed, with the catastrophic outcomes we all know. Ethiopia’s future was sacrificed on the altar of ideological purity. 

Will the Ethiopian educated class sacrifice in 2022 the unity and integrity of Ethiopia on the altar of “justice purity” or Piso’s Justice: “Let justice be done though the heavens fall” (fīat jūstitia ruat cælum), because Sibhat Nega et al. are released? The verbal violence that we thought we have left behind us in the ideological graveyards of the 1970s and 80s seem to be rising from the dead in the aftermath of the release of Sibhat Nega et al., this time in the name of justice. Are we really willing to destroy the difficult unity of purpose that Ethiopians have built since the TPLF attack on Ethiopia on November 4, 2020, because Sibhat et al. are not brought to justice?  Could there be something more important than punishing Sibhat Nega et al.? 

Justice and politics do not always see eye to eye. It is not the first time in world history that war criminals have been released to protect more fundamental national interests. Our reactions to the release of Sebaht Nega et al. should be measured by the possible dangers to Ethiopia these reactions could generate if they are formulated in a divisive and violent language. 

Justice and the unity of Ethiopians

It is the new-found unity of Ethiopians—both within and outside Ethiopia—that has been the shield defending Ethiopia against the richly-funded TPLF lobbying campaign that has turned American and European politicians, Western journalists and NGOs, and even certain UN officials against Ethiopia. This new-found unity has also made possible the delivery of aid to the Afar and Amhara areas devastated by the TPLF. Similarly, this new-found unity has stymied the enemies of Ethiopia from overtly interfering on the side of the TPLF. It is this unity that allows us to be optimistic about the successful completion of the GERD and the political and economic future of Ethiopia. 

If we let this unity dissolve, because we believe justice has not been done by the release of Sebhat Nega et al., we will be sacrificing Ethiopia on the altar of abstract justice: “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.” For Ethiopians, justice is fulfilled only and only with the political elimination of the TPLF. If the release of Sibhat Nega et al. facilitates reaching this goal, then be it. Indeed, if the price to pay for the political elimination of the TPLF is to give safe passage to its leaders out of the country, why not do it?  At this moment of our history, the quest for “justice purity” (Piso’s Justice) will divide us and subvert the unity of Ethiopians. We need this unity to carry through the important and difficult tasks ahead of us.

The tasks ahead require unity

The TPLF is like the many-headed mythological figure: The Hydra. Cut a head, and it grows another. Sibhant Nega et al. are just one head of the TPLF-Hydra. The justice Ethiopia needs is the political elimination of the TPLF. Our unity is a powerful instrument that we could wield to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to concentrate on the achievement of this justice, for its achievement is a necessary condition for the defense of Ethiopian unity, sovereignty, and democracy, and for the liberation of Tigreans from being the cannon fodder of TPLF’s pointless war.

Moreover, our unity is a testimony to the devastation the TPLF has perpetrated in Afar, Amhara, Tigray, its crimes against humanity, and its project of dismantling Ethiopia. Our testimony will force itself into the consciousness of those who are the victims of the lies of the TPLF. The development of such awareness could create dissensions within the TPLF, and between the TPLF and Tigreans. It could force the Tigrean educated class, at least some of them, to abandon the lies of the TPLF and opt for truth; it could wean away Western politicians, journalists, and opinion-makers from their misguided support for the anti-democratic and violent TPLF. 

In addition, the current situation is very fluid. Events or acts detrimental to the goal of the political elimination of the TPLF could emerge unexpectedly. Our unity could provide the backbone and the inspiration the government needs to overcome such unexpected harmful events. 

If ever the Ethiopian government enters into negotiations with the TPLF, the unity of Ethiopians is absolutely necessary to prevent political concessions, and to ensure the political, civil and human rights of Afars, Amharas, and Tigreans are respected. United, we could push through the idea that a necessary condition for the respect of these rights is the political dissolution of the TPLF. Our unity is also a powerful deterrent to those who would like to revive the TPLF or imitate it, and to outside powers who would like to weaken Ethiopia.

In our unity we discover the truth of the Ethiopian aphorism, “ሰው ለሰው መድሃኒቱ” / säw läsäw mädhanitu. That is, our unity creates conditions that relate us to each other as a people with shared conditions and aspirations. Our unity will empower us to be the authors and actors of shared solutions to our country’s problems. Thus we could generate the necessary political, social, and cultural grounds for transiting from ethnic politics to citizen-based politics without undue turmoil. We could thus bury for good the ethnic politics with which the TPLF has poisoned the lives of Ethiopians. 

I do not mean that we should not criticize the decisions and policies of the government. By all means, we should. But the goal of our criticism should not be to accuse it of betrayal. Rather, it is to nudge and persuade it to consistently pursue the goal we all share: the political elimination of the TPLF. In short, we should criticize the government without resorting to language that disunites Ethiopians and weakens Ethiopia. 
_

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10 COMMENTS

  1. I think justifiably many Ethiopians were disappointed at the sudden release of Ethiopia’s tormentors of the past successive decades. That said, I don’t think the PM said he was “horrified when he heard of the decision to release those renegade TPLF officials.” From my reading of his speech, the PM said taking the decision made him and others horrified. And given the gravity of the decisions and the outrage it could stir among his supporters and detractors, it was human to feel so. I wish the Govt had prepared the people better before announcing the bombshell decisions, demonstrating once again the Govt’s abject lack of PR work.

    The question I think we should be asking now is — what concrete concessions did the Govt elicit from the TPLF or other players (US) and political calculus he factored in arriving at the painful decisions. We’re beginning to get a glimpse of that in the days since the decision. Ending the war quickly and avoiding the deaths of tens of thousands and further destruction of the economy are likely on top his mind. Still the Govt should pursue the current political leaders of their high crimes (no compromise on that!) . What dynamics would the decision have on the TPLF’s internal dynamic, morale, etc? Let’s wait and see.

  2. So we should be begging the ruling party to adhere to its own judicial system?

    Furthermore, creating a united front with Amharas/Afaris and Tigrayans is a foolish pipedream as one of those groups is widely partaking in a war against Ethiopia while advocating for secession.

    What a trash article.

  3. That is — the govt should not compromise on its pursuit of the current “political and military leaders of the TPLF” for their high crimes and hold them accountable. They should disarm and surrender!!!

  4. We win or lose it all. Either tplf and shene are eliminated for good, or they win and form a new map, with the Republics of Oromia, Qimant, Tigray, Awi and ‘the rest of ethiopia” )(Note that Amhara will be totally gone being spoiled between Oromia (Wolllo, Shoa, Gojam) and Tigray (Gondar). How about such an ending? If you don’t like it….only option is to eliminate tplf and shene.

  5. The writer obviously very educated argued that “It is not the first time in world history that war criminals have been released to protect more fundamental national interests”. Well, I don’t believe so. Can you please mention one example that a leading member of a fascist organization that is responsible for 40+ years crimes have been released or pardoned. I know a lot of Nazi criminals were either jailed for a few years & released later but the leading Nazi leaders like Keitel, Goring & especially Alfred Rosenberg who was the primary fabricator and disseminator of Nazi ideology, are hanged as a war criminal. Sebhat Nega is very similar even more that similar with Rosenberg. What national interest does protect a release of a fascist leader? The national interest of Ethiopia should only be protected if the regime can serve justice to all. Sebhat has committed the highest treason ever committed by anyone except by his fellow senior Woyane leaders. He committed war crimes, crime against humanity, he planned & executed genocidal war. How on earth his release help our nation? I am really bemused by our so called elite’s

  6. The government is back to the same old lie, confuse and convince OPDO style of politics. Its sinister agenda is all out in front of everyone’s eye. Meaning it is incapables of change. Also meaning there are more sinister secrets and plots against Afar and Amhara.

    On one side the attack on TPLF is stalled to give time for TPLF to regroup, reorganize, rearm and return back to attack and destroy Afar and Amhara regions. On the other side OLF Terrorist are free to slaughter and rob Amhara with snipers and modern weapons with cover from OPDO and Oromia administrators, while the government unashamedly again and again lies to have caught OLF fighters by showing few village dwellers with rusted and dusted weapons.
    On top of this another big lie dropped after the abrupt announcement of decision to release the very perpetrators of the Northern Command attack and responsible for 27 plus ONE year long of killings and mayhem of Afar and Amhara people.
    It is not honest at all. Just being elected doesn’t meant it can do anything it wants without the consultation and participation of the people by dropping shocking and horrible plots in a blanket of “it is good the the country”. NO!! people know what is good for them and the country and they must have a say in it!! Whenever a bill comes before a government body, people must be told. No more lies. Even after throwing horrible surprises followed by outrage and protests Correction must be done.
    No cover ups, no excuses, and no undermining !!! People have spoken and their voice must be respected. Government is to servant people not to serve its hidden agenda. .

  7. What a contradiction! Abiy government few months ago abducted without warrent and jailed Meaza Mohamed and Tamerat Negera for never hurt a soul but fight for political transparency and justice. On the other hand he has released Sebhat Nega on humanitarian grounds. Abiy is a cold blooded cruel man that feels sad for cold blooded mass murderes.

  8. Okay, let Abiy go but I want him to be replaced by the Republic of Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, Afar, Somalia and Sidama, The rest should be handed over to Kenya, South Sudan and Sudan. Wait a minute I almost forgot about the Republic of Black Mane Lion, Snot Nosed Shrew, Colobus Monkey and a Special Administration Territory within The Republic of Oromia to be ruled a lawyer in Minnesota, a professor in Virginia and the ones in London and Melbourne with Chief of Staffs from Oslo and Tufts University. Problem solved!!! See how I made it easy for you? Y’all were just wasting your time. You should have consulted me even before Abiy was born! Slackers!!!

  9. For those who claim nobody has the right to grant amnesty should be asked ‘who gave you the right not to forgive?’ You see, this is not a winning argument. If he/she claims he was given the right not to forgive, does she/he have that in writing or on a record of any kind? That may not be in writing but it can be a vast majority of the surviving victims telling him/her not to forgive. Amnesty and forgiveness is deeply etched in our history and culture. Our forefathers had at times to swallow their anger and utter grief no matter how it was so bitter and decided to choose magnanimity over retribution for the good of their country and people. Let’s take the aftermath of the defeat of Italy’s fascist bullies in 1941 as an example. Didn’t the late Emperor forgive those Ethiopians who worked for and or collaborated with the fascist rulers? Many of those British officers around him would have loved it to see ‘niggers’ butchering ‘niggers’. But he chose the skills they acquired during the occupation over the revenge even though many of his officials went on ranting about it. Remember those fascist bosses were not like their comrades who invaded France but devils in human flesh who gassed our countrymen/women. They were those fascists who herded families inside thatched roofed huts and burned them alive. They were not just fascists but ‘nigger’s’ blood thirsty psychopaths. He pardoned their ‘for convenience/survival collaborators and peace returned to the country at an instant. That did not render him a ‘traitor, wimp or himself a fascist’. He had the power and the means to line up those collaborators and execute them. But he did not because he knew very well that amnesty is as Ethiopian as it is the coffee it gave the world. But in doing so he never pardoned Mussolini and his fascist hordes. Nuff said for me now!!!!

  10. Ittu Aba Farda, granting amnesty is not a random decision that anyone can give or take when every they feel like it. The process and procedure are already written and must followed accordingly. the whole reason to have laws, procedures and process is to avoid random decisions and to avoid any one who wants to step out of line. That is why. You are trying hard to make it sound like any one at any time can randomly give or take amnesty and decided the fate of a country.
    Look at Nazi systematic ethnic cleansing and genocide accused criminals. They are still hunted from their dying bed, old, crippled or ill. Sebhat and Co. are all the exact types of criminals they should be kept away from normal people and locked in prison cells for life or sent to electric chair.

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