Friday, September 2

Ordinary Mortals

A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.

Joseph Stalin

The following accounts of the events and aftermath of the June 6th massacres in Addis Ababa are known due to the efforts of the Ethiopian Review. Ordinary mortals were shot that day - the European Union did not send them to their deaths, they weren't imported agents of Rwandan genocide, they weren't bank robbers, they weren't plotting a coup, they weren't spies from Eritrea, they weren't agents of the opposition, no government code-words for inciting tribal hatred can describe them, nor were they hooligans.

By definition, however, anyone on the planet who is not a supporter of the ruling party or who even causes it inconvenience by being shot in public by its agents is 'against the people' - so they get what they deserve. The government is the party, the parliament and the judiciary are its own organs - so don't wait for an investigation. The killings were state policy - just in case anyone got any strange ideas about democracy or protesting.

The press is muzzled, opponents and voters are routinely killed, harassed and intimidated unless they are personally known to donor nation diplomats. To say that the 'election' did not meet international standards is a breathtaking diplomatic understatement of fact. What 70 million Ethiopians have to live with every day - a government that has chosen their suffering in favor of its own security in power while presenting a grotesque painted clown's smile (or rather a scowl at the moment) to foreigners - that is an ongoing departure from international standards of decency as well.

We have never believed that only 42 died that day and in the countryside and other cities far from prying foreign eyes the numbers are likely far higher. We have never believed that only thousands were arrested or that most were released. After all, in revolutionary democratic Ethiopia, who is to know the truth of anything besides a resigned acceptance of the wisdom of the politburo? Reality is defined by a ruling party's constitutionally determined tribalism to divide and rule that only serves a tiny revolutionary aristocracy that grasps every square inch of land, every ethnicity and region and religion tightly in its own private interest.

We should know the names, faces and stories of at least a few.


Messeret is fourteen years old. She was attending an elementary school in Kotebe until she was shot in the back with a high caliber bullet on June 6. Miraculously, she survived.

Fighting uncontrollable tears, Messeret recounted her story to Ethiopian Review: "As I was heading home from school, soldiers with red berets started coming after me. I ran. They followed me with their machine guns pointed at me. I was frightened so I continued to run while holding my books. I heard one of the soldiers saying "shoot her." That was the last thing I heard until I woke up at a hospital at midnight, feeling thirsty.

The people by my bedside told me that people in the neighborhood found me lying in the street and rushed me to the hospital. I asked them to give me water. They said to me that I could not drink water because I had undergone a stomach surgery. I was dying of thirst. I asked the people around me to call those soldiers in to finish me off."

The frail young girl continued to tell her story: "The bullet had pierced the left side of my back and came out in the front, destroying one of my kidneys. I am surviving on one kidney. They inserted this tube on the right side of my stomach to help me urinate. I have three holes in my belly. I'm in constant pain. I can't turn to the other side."

Meseret passed away in early November 2005 due to her injuries sustained in early June.

Her name is ShiBire Desalegn. She is the first person to be killed when Meles Zenawi unleashed his forces following a peaceful protest by Addis Ababa University (AAU) students on June 6. She was shot and killed by EPRDF troops as she and her friends tried to block the road in Kotebe that leads to the Sendafa torture camp.

She helped escape several AAU students from torture by helping them jump from the trucks that were taking them to Sendafa. She didn't have any weapon. But that didn't stop the EPRDF troops from shooting her to death.

A high caliber bullet pierced through her neck.


From Addis Zena via Weichegud ET Politics here is the story of the mother of two victims of the Addis Ababa Massacre.

One son, Fekadu Negash, 20, who work[ed] in a garage, was at his home around a place called 'Addis Ketema'. He was standing by his door when he heard shootings and screamings. He went out to see what was happing, and before he knew it, he was shot dead on his doorstep.

His younger brother, Abraham Yilma, 18, came running out of the house and called his mother shouting that his brother was shot. Both of them went out, and as Abraham took a step to pick up his brother, he saw the person who shot him.

"He picked up his hand and said, that's my brother, let me pick him up," their mother, Etenesh, recalls in grief. "Then he shot him too. I saw my sons lying on the road, their blood flowing like water."


Ethiopian Review
also has a partial list of those innocents killed that day:

1. Shibire Desalegn
2. Imamu Ali
3. Girma Alemu
4. Jafer Seid
5. Nebiyu Alemayehu
6. Zulfa Surur
7. Yesuf Abdella
8. Anwar Kiar
9. Million Kebede
10. Dawit Fekadu
11. Dereje Demena
12. Kabtamu Amensisa
13. Asnakech Assefa
14. Tesfaye Delgeba
15. Getnet Ayalew
16. Abrahm
17 Fekadu
17. Leggesse Tulu
18. Melisachew Demissie
19. Wosen Assefa
20. Kasim Ali
21. Tesfaye Adane
22. Yonas Assefa
23. Esubalew Ashenafi
24. Binyam Denbel
25. Fikadu Negash
26. Endalkachew Megersa
27. Gezahegn Mengesha
28. Washibhu Kebede
29. Rebuma Eshete
30. Mohammed Hassen
31. Aliyu Yusuf
32. Ermias Fekadu


These ordinary mortals aren't statistics.


South Africans and their friends worldwide remember March 21, 1960 and the Sharpeville Massacre. Ethiopians and their friends in every country should remember June 6, 2005 and the Addis Ababa Massacre. In both places, we can only know what happened to a few officially acknowledged victims. Such brutality is always accompanied by state policy such as the identity politics of apartheid and its revolutionary democractic kin that always cause successive waves of repression and bloodshed that claim uncounted victims throughout a country.

One day we will know the names of all the Oromo, Tigrayan, Amhara, Agew, Anuak and Somali victims who have suffered for the sake of 21st century revolutionary democracy of the EPRDF, 20th century scientific socialism of the Dergue and for the petty desires of the few who stood above all of them. For now, we should acknowledge that they are all out there and always have been.

Unfortunately, South Africa then and Ethiopia today lack an essential element that can help elections or peaceful popular movements become successful. Both governments lack the concept of sincerity and the ability to feel shame for what they do or have done. However, Ethiopians have untapped reservoirs of strength that will see them win this struggle as South Africans did.

In the fourteen months or so since we have been sporadically contributing to ethiopundit we got one big point right. Namely, given Ethiopia's current government there is no dream of democratic or economic progress - based on its most essential and defining factors as a Marxist-Leninist inspired despotism.

However, we got one equally important point very wrong. We ignored the opposition and the voters who took their chance far more seriously than so many (especially the government) imagined they would. They believed and they elected across the spectrum of every division 'real - manufactured - and imagined' in Ethiopian society, leaders to carry forward their hopes for the future as individuals and as a nation.

Despite the best efforts of her rulers, Ethiopians saw beyond tribalism, empty rhetoric, being told they were forever unworthy or untrustworthy to form a free and prosperous nation, or that they were destined to be poor and to suffer forever as a beggar nation. It must always be known foremost that Tigrayans are Ethiopians above all and that they are given the least choice of all to reject the party that rules in their good name.

Ethiopians, sadly, are no strangers to struggle. They defeated the Dergue, Fascist and Imperial Italy and countless other invaders and oppressors at great cost with their unity, blood, sweat and tears. They have given us a glimpse of that unity this year as well.

The fact that Ethiopia's few dictators happen to know Ethiopian languages or happen to look like Ethiopians or that they are in residence in places of power gives them no honor or credit compared to the architects of apartheid.

The war against the Dergue was finished more than a decade and a half ago. At this late date, when all of the Dergue's policies such as ethnic divide and rule, a command economy and government ownership of land is law - it is hard to see the difference. It is well past time to leave.

We are reminded of what was said to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in Parliament (a real Parliament) when a member delivered a devastating indictment of Chamberlain's conduct of the war and the appeasement before it.
You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you.

In the name of God, go.
This was first used by Cromwell against the rump Parliament that he saw as a failure - Chamberlain understood.

No number of fake elections, fake institutions and fake congratulations can legitimize eternal dictatorship and the wrong policies on every possible issue important to economic and political development. It is well past time to leave.

This struggle will not take the form of a ruinous civil war but will be fought on millons of private and public battlefields both large and small where Oromos, Tigrayans, Gurages, Amharas, Anuak and others will together resist and disobey those that want them to hate each other.

Their friends who have the blessing of speaking freely have an obligation to see that all voices are heard and never forgotten. Ethiopians will stubbornly carry on and continue to dream of the better that six billion others on the planet share in everyday.

... and they will win ...

The government's brutality can only defer that common dream's eventual realization ... and it will come sooner than we can expect today. It is clear who should be in the rubbish bin of history and it is not Ethiopians but it is their despotic rulers. They are brutal and desperately aggressive in every situation because they are terrified about the consequences of what they have done and because they know intimately how very weak they really are.

In their minds they are facing 70 million counter-revolutionary enemies of the people arrayed against them from Badme to Moyale and the Sudanese border to the Somali one. The only loyalty they hold is based on fear, opportunism, the purchase of weaker souls and the bond of slippery, guilty, bloody hands gripping each other while it is convenient.

Ultimately, that is about as weak a position as any government can ever be in.

The thought of creating a society where it is safe to be in opposition or to step aside without defeat in war is beyond their understanding. But in time Ethiopians will have their will and be free - remember there were long times when South Africans felt even less hope. We have no doubt that the politburo will and should face no more sanction than a 'truth and reconciliation commission' as in South Africa. After all, everyone is not as bloody minded as this set of communist dictators or the ones they replaced.

The revolutionary feudal aristocracy has built their outdated sand castles on the backs of freedom loving people. Those people know who they have always been and are tired of being told who to be at the point of a gun.


From Ben's News Page here are some accounts accounts of Part II of the ongoing Addis Ababa Massacre in November 2005. This round of violence was begun by the government in response to an opposition call to blow car horns during rush hour and a morning session of the African Union, a call to boycott ruling party owned businesses and a call for a general strike.

Police came for Teshome Legesse, a CUD city councillor, as he was having lunch with his family on Nov 1.

When they beat him with rifle butts, his wife, Etenesh Yimmam, 46, became hysterical. They beat her with sticks, then one of the police shot her twice.

The man who killed Mrs Etenesh received a shouted order from another officer: "Just do it." At that moment, he fired again, apparently aiming at the woman's son, bent over her body. He missed and wounded one of the family's neighbours. Then two officers fired in the air, dispersing the crowd, and the police left in a pick-up, taking the dead woman's husband. (Telegraph)

The pale white stone steps of the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa are soaked with the blood of Ethiopians killed or injured by their own government. Thirty-six died in protests this past June. Eighty have been killed since then. Some have been punished for speaking out against a corrupt leader who uses his power to permanently silence opposition and maintain complete control. Some were wrongly targeted as protesters, caught at the wrong place at the wrong time and paying with their lives. (Silver Chips)

Today, the entire senior leadership of the CUDP is reportedly in jail and has been held incommunicado in harsh conditions, without access to their families or legal representatives. Amnesty International considers these individuals to be prisoners of conscience who have neither used nor advocated violence. (Senator Patrick Leahy)

One man who had endured 19 days of almost constant beatings at the hands of Ethiopia's security forces is Dereje. 'The federal police beat us with batons and big sticks,' he said. 'A man was shot in his leg, but he got no medication. People lost their eyes and had their feet smashed. Many people were suffering there.' He was referring to Dedesa camp, a former military base, in the far west of Ethiopia, where thousands of detainees have been dumped in recent weeks as part of a massive and unprecedented crackdown by Ethiopian security forces.

He was stuffed inside a truck with 150 other men and wedged under a pile of mattresses. Three men suffocated to death on the way to the camp. Once there, he says, several men, weakened by hunger and malaria, were beaten mercilessly by the guards even as they urinated. He says he knew of at least 30 who died, their bodies taken away to an unknown location for burial. He discovered from overhearing conversations between two police guards that there were at least 43,000 detainees in the camp. . . . Clark said: "We've been hearing from Dedesa camp about atrocities taking place. It's extremely worrying. We have not witnessed anything like this in Ethiopia before.' (Guardian)

Dawit then met some friends and, his father says, began to chat with friends when he saw the police chasing a group of young boys who were running towards where he and his cousins were talking in a circle 30 meters from his home. Instantly, the troops started firing at the boys who were running to their houses and killed one of them. Shocked by the merciless killing, Dawit and his friends decided to get back home with their heads down and running. '' But too late, he was gunned down from the back," says his father with his eyes swelling with tears. (The Reporter)

On the third day of the protest that took place last week ,Wednesday morning, the Mercato area, like any other part of the city, was lifeless and abandoned. Fekadu Negash, 20, who works in a garage, was at his home around a place called 'Addis Ketema'. He was standing by his door when he heard shootings and screamings. He went out to see what was happing, and before he knew it, he was shot dead on his doorstep.

His younger brother, Abraham Yilma, 18, came running out of the house and called his mother shouting that his brother was shot. Both of them went out, and as Abraham took a step to pick up his brother, he saw the person who shot him. "He picked up his hand and said, that's my brother, let me pick him up," their mother, Etenesh, recalls in grief. "Then he shot him too. I saw my sons lying on the road, their blood flowing like water." (The Reporter)

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