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Once again on the wrong side of history

Ethiopia _ The Right and Wrong side of history


Dawit W Giorgis
Africa Institute for Strategic and Security Studies  

I started this article by this heading and through the process I questioned  myself: What is the right side or the wrong side in history? Does this really  exist? Unless it means the religious concept of justice after death the idea  of injustices committed today will be corrected 50 or 100 years from now,  here on earth, is simply superstitious or a myth, for me. It is a moral justification that falsely promises hope to the victims. What is wrong today should be judged today not left for history. Morality changes and there  cannot be ethics and morale debate beyond our times. None have the  authority on human morality and ethics. They evolve. On many instances  history is written by winners and what have been accounted as crimes  today could be written as ‘just’ in history. If it was true, America could have  been on the wrong side of history since it has committed mistakes in the  past that it has not learnt lessons from. But has history made them wrong  or have prices been paid for those mistakes that were done in the past?  

The right and wrong sides of history are about where you stand on issues  that are contentious in a given time. Martin Luther King Jr. who famously  encouraged hope by saying that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it  bends toward justice,” later offered a different approach.  

“In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” he wrote: “Such an attitude  stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely  irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that  will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used  either destructively or constructively.” 

Amharas of Ethiopia have to fight every day for justice and redemption  today. Amharas, being so deeply religious, may have hope on biblical  redemption. That is God’s work. But while they live on earth, they wait for  redemption every day. They have to fight for justice on this earth with all the  power that they have. No justice should be left for history. There is no  justice without peace or the other way round. Which comes first is a  political decision but they are mutually inclusive. We cannot have one  without the other. As the suffering of our people in Ethiopia, particularly the Amharas, continues unabetted we have wondered why America is so  quiet. Everything was not always politics. There was the human side of  America which has saved the lives of millions of people across the world.  

Yes! many Ethiopian lives were saved through decisions made by American  administrations to protect many from persecution by their own  governments. We Ethiopian Americans are witnesses and we are grateful  for this. Since World War II, more than four million refugees have come to  America in order to find safety and freedom. They flourish in the creative  openness that the United States has to offer. This aspect of American  policy has survived despite enormous stress from conservatives. But the  American compassion and the pressure it exerted on policy makers  resulting in creating movements across America and the world, to save  lives and to help the poor, the displaced, the persecuted and those in  conflict or those under severe starvation is absent these days. That is why  consecutive administrations have allowed themselves to behave contrary to  what the American people would have wanted them to do. Americans are  not informed, or are misinformed or distracted.  

I was here in the USA, Hollywood, when the United Artists of America  decided to publish a song to promote the cause of those starving in  Ethiopia in 1983;85. The song which came out after my discussions on the lyrics with some of the artists of Hollywood: “We Are the World” mobilized  the sympathy of millions of Americans and millions more across the world.  It embodied the spirit America thrives to be. Immediately after our ports in  Ethiopia were overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of tons of food, to  the point where the problem became, not the availability of food but the  transportation of the food within the country. Later on, as I took around Harry Belafonte, the representative of the artists and his team who came to Ethiopia, to the shelters, established to feed and treat the starving and  those displaced from their villages, there was a sense of pride in him and a  sese of grief. He was proud and grateful to be amongst the people because  he knows thoroughly their history of as the people who had been the  symbol and inspiration of the black movement which he was part of in his  youth and later as a leader of the African American civil rights movement.  He had songs on the plight of black people which inspired Bob Marley to  continue on that path. Bob Marley sung about the black pride and black  oppression until his untimely death. Harry was sad because he saw these valiant and dignified people succumb to natural disaster and failure of their own government to stand on their side in their time of need. 

I took Senator Kennedy, another giant American, and his children to the  shelters. When they visited, he shelters at Makale the family cried.  Senator Kennedy refused to eat that night. Early morning, he left his room  without telling anybody and walked to the shelter where he has been  during the day, 3 kms away. People found him there feeding children along  with our staff. He wanted to extend one more day just to be with the people.  He did the same when I took him to Bati and jijiga. The most striking thing  about those trips, he told me, was “the dignity and calm of the people. It  was hard to comprehend how people facing imminent death from starvation  could wait in orderly lines to receive the meagre rations” He said in most  other countries, there would have been riots, -an observation repeated by  many foreigners. Senator Kennedy was a staunch supporter of Ethiopia in  the Senate and mobilized enormous resources and stayed as a friend of  Ethiopians till his last days. Such were the compassion of Americans during  those critical days for millions of Ethiopians.  

Today our people have been stripped of this dignity, their pride, their culture  and their rights to worship. Today the Amhara population, the bastion of  valor, are being mascaraed indiscriminately in their homes and farms by a  home grown Fascist group organized by a leader gone mad. Every day  when I pick up my computer to start writing about the ongoing massacre, I  find out hundreds or thousands more are being killed and displaced for who  they are: Amhara. No word can explain these crimes except genocide.  “People being intentionally killed for who they are.” Today armed  government forces and militia are fighting the poor unarmed women and children. They know that they cannot fight the Fanos.( the organized  Amhara resistance movement). They are deliberately after the weak and  the helpless. Day after day, for the last five years, intensified more recently  as the government felt more insecure, people die in horrific mass killings across the Amhara region; and the world is not there to even write about it.  

Americans used to be sensitive to human rights violations wherever it  happened. Millions of distressed and helpless people depended on food  aid from America. America used to support people fighting for democracy. It  advocated for change and threatened authoritarian governments (though  not in all cases) who oppressed people. Yes; much has changed since the last few decades. America has become numb and the only thing that it  sees through the sufferings in Africa is; its national, material and strategic interests. Human rights used to be a national interest at the time of the  song “We are the World.” Jimmy Carter, the American president  between 197 to 1981, believed Human rights should be part of the national  interest of the USA. and proclaimed human rights an important part of his  administration’s foreign policy. Carter and other idealists argued that human  rights were consistent with the national interest of the United States. 

On November 4 1984: I addressed the UN General Assembly expression  our gratitude for the overwhelming response of the America and the  Western countries during the famine crisis in Ethiopia: 

“Mr. Chairman, one cannot help being moved by the thee sight of  human suffering depicted in those pictures (referring to a film) Even  governments which were hitherto less than forthcoming is now  following the humanitarian example of their public. We in Ethiopia are  actually protected by the goodwill and generosity shown by ordinary men and women. All this renews our faith in humanity, reenforces our  confidence in international solidarity and indeed encourages us to try  even the impossible to have the lives of our unfortunate brothers and  sisters. “ 

In all these difficult years unprecedented help was received from the US  and the Western world as a result of the pressure from the American public.  Through the PR skill of the of the RRC (Relief and Rehabilitation  Commission) we were able to mobilize the sentiments of the American and  European people. In the UK, the Band Aid led by Bob Geldof produced a song: “Do they Know it is Xmas”. It circulated like wild fire and  galvanized much needed international support. Through all these it was again the public and not the governments that played critical roles. From  states after states the fire that started in Hollywood consumed America and  Ethiopia was the topic for every adult and child.  

During my tour in Europe and America, Canadian PM, Pierre Trudeau,  called me in New York and asked me to come over to discuss Ethiopia’s  urgent needs. I was busy with other appointments and asked for change of  time. He said that he is flying to India for the funeral of PM Gandhi and that  he would like to meet me by next day if possible. I was not able but I did go  lo Ottawa later and met his senior staff. The question was ‘What can we do for Ethiopians?’ The former Italian PM Giulio Andreotti asked me, while I as  in Brussels, if we can meet in Rome on a particular day before he presents Ethiopia’s case to his parliament. I told him I had another appointment with  

Swedish foreign office. He told me to come early morning and fly to  Sweden in the afternoon and talk over breakfast at his home. He was in his pajamas’. He said: “In this competition to help Ethiopia I assure you Italy  will lead”. The same day he authorized the immediate donation of 80 trucks  and 5000 tons of food aid. A few months later, through the Italian  Government grant I signed the Belesa project with Salini. Margaret Thatcher talked to me over the phone from the office of the minister of  Foreign Aid, Minister and MP Timothy Raisin, in London and asked me to  cooperate so they can send the Royal Air Force to help transport the food  from our ports to needed places in the country. Country after country  offered their hands for Ethiopians. They were specific. They wanted to be  sure that their aid reaches the people it is intended for. There were  numerous such gestures that came because there was enormous pressure from their people at the grass root level. It was like a movement to save  Ethiopians. Elected officials were engulfed with demands from the public to  act immediately. Officials were never given any chance to ignore these  demands. The response had to be big and immediate. We won and we  saved lives. No other country since the second world war has garnered  such responses. It was the Cold War period. But the East and West met in  Ethiopia for a joint operation, the only one of its kind ever. The operation  was then dubbed as the largest humanitarian operations since the second  world war. It was; indeed 

“If it had not been for Dawit Wolde Giorgis it would have been  impossible to achieve the aim of saving the lives of 1.6 million Ethiopians.” Kurt Janson, United Nations Assistant Secretary General  in his book ‘The Ethiopian Famine; ‘It was not meant to be personal. it  was to the highly skilled and passionate staff, the men and women of  the RRC I was heading and the American and Western public that  made it possible. It was international compassion at its best.  

Many books and documents have been published about this operation and  the event in general. 1.6 million was considered a huge number then. Today more than this number have been decimated by the brutal force of  PM Abiy’s government on its people. One 8-month war alone, in Ethiopia  between Abiy’s and TPLF forces, took the lives of over a million people, according to official documents. The number of Amharas, not only starved but killed through the most heinous form of execution, and brutally  displaced, runs to millions. Ethiopian government wanted to hide it. In  1984 and 85 the world was not able to know about the famine in time.  Today with the communication technology the world has, it cannot say: It  did not know.  

There will come a time when the US will be forced to take a strong position.  That is when the entire region is completely destabilized and its interest in  the region is directly affected. But that will be too late. Millions would have  died by then. It will not address the paramount needs of our people: the  need to be protected and the need for the establishment of a political order  that ensures their safety and guarantees their rights and their basic needs.  This might come but at a great price. We need the world to take a position  that will allow our people to handle their own problems by fighting back to  bring change on their own not through proxies: Now. Change through  proxy will never bring the desired change that can guarantee sustainable  future. Sooner or later the resistance forces known as Fanos will win. No  one should doubt that. The question is what price our people will pay and  what the consequences will be in the region and perhaps globally. America  is on notice. There will be strategic and material loss. The entire region is  volatile and it needs little to explode.  

Western media has refused to acknowledge the ongoing genocide. Human rights is not seen as an American National Interest. Further; Americans  have been denied from knowing the truth. There are more important issues  for the press and their interest lies in the money that news can generate.  Journalists are paid to write any story including fake stories. Independent UN human rights exerts are warning that there are overwhelming  atrocity crimes that will continue in Ethiopia.” Nov 2023. Yes, it has  continued. The massacre continues every day and wherever Amharas  live; they hear about friends, family, neighborhood villages and poor  helpless people being uprooted killed and maimed for who they are.  AMHARAS. Here in the USA Amharas make demonstrations; write to  State Department; to their elected officials; tell their neighbors; work mates  but that magic is yet to be seen. It seems that that point can only be  reached through a movement that can shake the establishment the way the  1984=85 movement did. The media can do it if it wants to but it must be  pressured or bought. The public is the answer. Todays’ media can make  anybody so angry through fake stories and headlines without realizing that  it’s not real. The media can make you outraged on an issue if it wants to. It is the greedy media that has changed not Americans. I have still faith in  humanity. 

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com

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6 COMMENTS

  1. “What is the wrong side in history?” asks Derg Shaleqa Dawit Giorgis. Sir, Look at yourself. This is one of Shaleqa’s poorly written articles, mixing civil rights in America with his and his supporters bigotry. Remember what he said a year ago?: He will re-take A Rat Kilo and drive out everyone else to once claim Ethiopia to her original owner! Not joking at all! Any considering conflict in Amhara region should differentiate the noble Amhara people from a/ lying Abiy and 2/ merchants of war and ethnic supremacists (such as Eskinder the lion-hearted monk). Btw, why does Shaleqa keep writing in English?

  2. THERE SHALL NOT BE, MUST NOT BE AND WILL NOT BE ANY MORE “ TALKS” OR “ NEGOTIATIONS” OF ANY SORT WITH THE FASCIST REGIME OF abiy ahmed the butcher of Ethiopians and his soon to be defunct oromumma riff ruff collection of hoodlums, mass murderers and low life thieves.

    Justice delayed is justice denied!!!!!! The butcher and his accomplices must be brought to justice. No Ethiopian is going to be fooled by the demagoguery and jingoism, empty bravado, useless braggadocio and endless trumpeting of the butcher masquerading as the pm of all Ethiopians.

    The butcher and his repulsive pp sycophants and enablers must all be held accountable for the endless bloodsheds, massacre, eviction and displacement of millions of Ethiopians in their sorry miserable five years of power.

    1) abiy ahmed is an incompetents, incorrigible, extremely corrupt, malicious and mendacious individual. He is an antisocial sociopath and psychopath with uncontrollable lust for power and self love. Unscrupulous by nature with zero self awareness of himself, he lies, cheats degrades, denigrates and defiles everything he touches. What a curse!!!

    2) this buffoon who is really confused and disillusioned calls himself a parliamentarian system prime minister but thinks and wants to be treated as an absolute monarch, a king and emperor. The problem is he does not know how to be any one of those figures.

    How on earth are Ethiopians expected to live with this deranged mad man soaked and drenched heads to heels with the blood and tears of millions of helpless Ethiopians.

    ThE DESPOT HAS IMPRISONED MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT IN VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 63 OF THE ETHIOPIAN CONSTITUTION THAT PROTECTS MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT.

    By now the global community, especially the West is well aware of the incontrovertible fact that no Ethiopian who dares to question or confront the atrocities of abiy ahmed, including members of parliament is free from the forceful abduction, imprisonment and torture by the abiy pp squad.

    Democratic governance and democracy will never see the light in Ethiopia, on abiy’s watch!!!!!!!

    Ethiopians will never be able to exercise and enjoy their basic human rights to life, security of the person, enshrined in Articles 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 of the Ethiopian Constitution as long as abiy ahmed and his pp remain in power.

    Now this inept and inexperienced walking sticks of contradiction is also spreading his venom and destabilizing the entire Horn of Africa.

    The only available solution is for international and global pressure to mobilize against this demagogue and his pp entourage to step down now. abiy ahmed must resign and RESIGN NOW!!!!

    1) Ethiopians should and must demand for justice now!!!

    2) EOTC must proceed with suing the “government “of abiy Ahmed both domestically and internationally as planned in the mass movement of EOTC faithful and the Holy Synod last time. It is understandable that the EOTC fathers , expecting this hoodlum to be a man worthy of civilized talk and truly Christian reconciliation, held off, despite the doubts by majority of people. Now the butcher has continued his attack and defilement of the EOTC and her faith followers, the appropriate response must be meted out, until this anathema and cursed madman and and his enablers learn an unforgettable lesson that their time is ephemeral, their bravado but nothing, a dust, a speck. THEY ARE NOBODIES IN THE EYES OF THE ALMIGHTY!!!!!!!!

    3) theft and embezzlement of public resources must be investigated and divulged to the public on national and social media of all capacities

    4) this highly predictable and laboriously boring individual thinks he can fool Ethiopians by calling for another prayer and forgiveness show at Meskel Square. This is a distraction. This is a useless agenda for this immoral and incorrigible and shameless butcher to deflect attention.

    በእውነቱ በዚህ እብድ ሰውዬና ስሩ በተሰገሰጉት የብልፅግና ካድሬ ጉግ ማንጉግና የገዳዪ ስርአት ፍርፋሪና ከጌታቸው የሚወረወርላቸውን አጥንት ለቃሚዎች ሽንገላ ከአሁን ወዲያ የሚታለሉ ኢትዮጵያውያን ካሉ አንድ ባልዲ ሙሉ ቀዝቃዛ ውሃ በመቸለስ ከእንቅልፋችሁ ንቁ ከማለት ሌላ ምንም አማራጭ የለም!!!!

    አቦ ባልዲውን ደግሞ ውሃ ሞልተን እንዳንቸልስ ውሃም የለም ለካ ሁሌ ይዘጉታል:: ምን ይሻላል???? የመንደር ጥሩንባ መቼም አይጠፋም ከእንቅልፋችሁ ንቁ ብሎ መንፋት ነው ጥሩንባውን::

    ነገ ጧት መስቀል አደባባይ ተሰብስበን ንስሃ እንግባ ምናምን ብሎ በቅጥረኞቹ ለመደለል ቢሞክር:- መልሱ እናንተ አባ ገዳዮች ይቅርታ ማለትም አባ ገዳዮች sorry አባ ገዳዎች ማለትም አባ ገዳዮች ያፈሰሳችሁት የንፁሃን ደም የሚዳኘው በፍርድ ነው::
    ነውርኛን ነውረኛ ብለው ካላጋለጡት ባለጌን ባለጌ ብለው ካልነገሩት የሌላው ገርነት ይቅርታ ባይነት ትልቅነት በራስ ጥላቻና ከማን አንሼ ባይ የምድር ትል አንጎሉ (ragworm has one of the smallest brain compared to other creatures) ስለማይረዳው ማረድ መድፈር መግደል መዝረፉን አያቆምም አምስት አመት ሙሉ እንዳሳየን:: ይሄንን በህገ አራዊት የሚመራ መንግስት ተብዬና አሽከሮቹን ህግ ምን እንደሆነ ማስተማር ግድ ይላል:: በተጨማሪም ይሄንን ተውሳክ እና ኢትዮጵያን ላይ እንደመዥገርና ትኹዋን ጀርባው ላይ ተጣብቀው ደሙን ከሚመጡት ቅርሻታም የበሰበሰ ካድሬ ስብስቦቹ ጨምሮ ማለትም እንደ ጋኔን ክስረት አይነቱን ማለት ነው አሽቀንጥሮ ከጫንቃ ላይ መወርወር የሰብአዊና የሞራል ግዴታ ነው::

    • I agree with most of your writing. There is no chance of Ethiopia reversing the deplorable state the country fell under the governance of the fake Dr. Abyi.
      However don’t be fooled that America or any powerful country does anything out of morality or care for human life and dignity. The USA government has specifically stated they have no friends, only interests. This means that they will help (by giving $$) as long as it serves it’s own interests.
      In the case of Ethiopia, USA alone has been giving 1 billion/year for the last 32 years. Another billion is given by EU and other countries in the form of money, food and essentials. This help however stopped when the government refused to play the game dictated by US and started to form alliances with Russia, China, Iran and other hostile to the US countries.
      So, don’t be expecting help from outside. They way this article is written sounds more like a eulogy of Mr. Woldegiorgis actions, rather than expressing which side Ethiopia is, or even which is the right or wrong side of history.
      No one is going to help Ethiopia, if Ethiopians are not willing to help themselves. So this professor is just perpetuating a beggars mentality, where the people of other countries are supposed to feel sorry/guilty for the troubles of the Ethiopian people, to give their hard earned money while at the same time been scorned as colonialist thieves , godless people. The funny thing is that one hand is begging for farenji $$ while the other hand is constantly overstating Ethiopia’s supposed superiority over the other Africans and scorning the Western culture and civilization. Its a paradox when the beggar begs, but at the same time suffers from a superiority complex, baseless pride and fear of all things farenji other than iPhones and Mercedes cars.
      So the right side of history should be either to completely relay on yourselves and fix your African problems with African solutions, or to accept that a beggar cannot be choosing what he likes and what he doesn’t. It is impossible to have the best of two worlds, without consequences and blaming others is the easiest and stupidest thing to do, because it hinders change and progress. Self awareness and self criticism are very hard to achieve but necessary in order to improve, move forward get out of misery and poverty.
      Currently Ethiopia has chosen to abandon their old allies in favour of China and Russia. They play on both sides, hoping to benefit from the competition between the big world powers. But maybe you are over estimating the importance that Ethiopia has on the world chess board, whether its with the US or China.
      In any case no one is going to fight your battles, especially when looked over with contempt by the same people asking for charity. It’s extremely naive to believe that a country will give money to another country without preconditions, without asking questions about the use of their money or without giving directions and having expectations from the benefiting country, in this case Ethiopia.

  3. Shakleqa Dawit should be aware by now that Westerners, including the USA, do not have a favorable view of the Amharas. The UN Security Council convened over 12 times during the Tigray war, and all Western nations were eager to pass a resolution to weaken the Abiy government. Fortunately, China, Russia, and India supported his government. Not a single country showed empathy for the Amharas’ massacre. Let’s accept this reality and move on. Instead, we should emulate the Taliban’s spirit, fight, and win our independence.

    • Emulate the Taliban!! What are my poor eyes reading. You got no clue, right? First of all the Taliban were fighting an external enemy, they were originally a creation of the French to fight off the Russians long before the US army invaded. Afghanistan was a modern country in the 60s early 70s before the Sharia law that the Taliban brought. Don’t you know they rule by fear and that many Afghan people hate them. We have hundreds of thousands living in my country and i have heard a lot of horror stories from them.
      The west doesn’t hate the Ahmara… believe it or not the vast majority don’t know of your existence. They know Ethiopia and the more involved and knowledgeable people know and supported the Tigreans because they were keeping this country under control and because for 30 years they were the ones that were representing Ethiopia in the West. Russia and China your new allies do not interfere in the internal matters of a country and that’s why you (the government) approached them and abandoned US and the west in general. Turkey your other “ally” now supports Somalia, geba?
      Ignorance is bliss, but for the rest of us it is pain. Nowadays there is no excuse for ignorance, you got a smart phone, educate yourself before you write nonsense.

  4. Emulate the Taliban!! What are my poor eyes reading. You got no clue, right? First of all the Taliban were fighting an external enemy, they were originally a creation of the French to fight off the Russians long before the US army invaded. Afghanistan was a modern country in the 60s early 70s before the Sharia law that the Taliban brought. Don’t you know they rule by fear and that many Afghan people hate them. We have hundreds of thousands living in my country and i have heard a lot of horror stories from them.
    The west doesn’t hate the Ahmara… believe it or not the vast majority don’t know of your existence. They know Ethiopia and the more involved and knowledgeable people know and supported the Tigreans because they were keeping this country under control and because for 30 years they were the ones that were representing Ethiopia in the West. Russia and China your new allies do not interfere in the internal matters of a country and that’s why you (the government) approached them and abandoned US and the west in general. Turkey your other “ally” now supports Somalia, geba?
    Ignorance is bliss, but for the rest of us it is pain. Nowadays there is no excuse for ignorance, you got a smart phone, educate yourself before you write nonsense.

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