Sunday, June 14
An awaj by any other name ....
"What's in a name?
That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet
or as vile."
Quote adapted with apologies to Shakespeare
Awaj is an Amharic term for a proclamation of law made by government. When one is dealing with civilized government the concept of law carries with it not only the the weight of law but also of necessity, precedent, and hopefully some concern for the common good.
Rather than being outlets that simply spew forth awaj after awaj, civilized governments also have institutions such as courts and parliaments that allow for accountability and the expression of the common will.
The idea is that no one is above the law and that the full force of government is not only done in the name of its citizens but is bound to serve their interests. If not there will be a reckoning with other agents of the law and ultimately the citizens.
But what do you do in a society where the law itself and all of its supporting structures are meaningless?
Ethiopia today is such a place. Government, the economy, ownership, law, and even the most basic definitions of reality or even Ethiopia itself are simply expressions of the will of Ethiopia's dictator and owner - Meles (a.k.a. Legesse) Zenawi.
We are continuously astounded when critics of the government refer to the institutions perverted or created by Meles in terms and language that should be reserved for civilized institutions. One would expect cadres to do so but why should anyone else?
Ethiopia's courts decide as Meles wants them to and are appointed according to their degree of slavishness. Ethiopia's parliament was handpicked by Meles according to the degree of submission of its members. It debates and makes law exactly as Meles pleases.
There are no independent institutions of any kind in Ethiopia. It is high time that discourse about Ethiopia and its dictatorship reflect this. How about the ultimate guarantor of freedom, the right to own land and the fruits of one's labor?
There are no rights to private property so all of the millions in the countryside are his serfs who may lose their land at the whim of his cadres or have it given away to his businessman with power or foreigners with checkbooks.
Trotsky, one of Meles's ideological and practical mentors said that "where the state is the sole landlord - opposition means death by slow starvation." Ethiopian suffering means power and money for Meles. Ferenjis see the starving and never wonder why it is happening they just funnel billions through Meles hoping some of it will help somehow.
Meles is the head of a party apparatus that defines Ethiopian government, enriches him and gives him absolute power. Indeed it is a revolutionary feudal aristocracy more grasping and vile than any other Ethiopians have ever had to deal with. No affair in the public or private realm is beyond their reach.
The entire economy from grain and coffee through fake dam projects and silly wind farms are beyond the profit and control of the Meles gang. Fake institutions like the Commodities Exchange and false tribal / regional economic activities cover the fact that Meles owns his party, government, massive government monopolies, and the economy at every level.
This incestuous mess polices itself and has a vast army of tribal militias and secret police to enforce its rule. Actually, we are talking about a culture of lies and brutality at every level. Ethiopia's constitution, laws, and pronouncements are all meant to serve Meles Inc. and his eternal enrichment and power. That is all.
Speaking of this law moving through parliament or that bail hearing before a court is nonsense. Meles knows it, his cadres know it but for some unfathomable reason the sincere critics of Meles take those fake institutions more to heart than anyone else.
The law restricting NGOs went through because of the will of Meles. Everyone who is in jail is there because of the will of Meles. Every execution and disappearance happens because of the will of Meles. Tens of thousands of Ethiopians have been killed because of the will of Meles. Millions starve and suffer because of the will of Meles.
A nation is being throttled to death because of the will of Meles.
Germany's Holocaust was conducted because of the will of Hitler. The Soviet Union's Great Purge, the Ukranian Famine, the Gulag, tens of millions of lives lost, all of it happened because of the will of Stalin. China's even higher body count happened because of the will of Mao.
Always in the name of the people or at least some people. Those dictators did all of their crimes perfectly legally. After all they controlled the courts and the assemblies. Does that make them any less criminal?
But ... they personally decided what the law was so the law was meaningless. Just because Meles has named institutions to carry out his will does not mean that his institutions deserve to be taken seriously enough to name them and discuss their workings as though he was running a civilized government.
The rule of law and its institutions don't have meanings because they exist or because of what they are called or because of what they pretend to be - they have meaning because of what they express about a country and its people.
As we have said so many times before the civil contract of Ethiopian society that defines all relations between the governed and the rulers has nothing to do with Ethiopians. It is a matter of negotiation between Meles who has tens of millions of hostages and ferenjis who fund him in the name of the hostages.
No one should pretend otherwise.