Monday, January 30

Letter from Kaliti Jail

Letter from Kaliti Jail

By Bertukan Mideksa
January 24, 2006

A specter is haunting the EPRDF [1]--the specter of Kinijit [2]. Reports are seeping through the prison walls into my cell that cities and towns all over the country are exploding, furiously burning with the quest for freedom. In schools and colleges people of tender ages are articulating and demanding their liberties with extraordinary air of confidence and dedication. Priests are dumbstruck when young men approach and ask them to tell and live the truth as God requires. The tormentors couldn't muster up enough courage to face and address these heroic men. Instead they decry them as Kinijit and try to exorcize the specter.

These protestors are 'romantic' youths. They may not be partisans of some clearly articulated ideology or world view. Rather, their romanticism consists in a dedication to freedom, adventure, risk, emotion and living life to the hilt. These men and women are fearless. When they are beaten and jailed, they come back for more.

On the first day of November, EPRDF's security men dragged the leaders of Kinijit away from our homes and assigned us a new home, at prison, hoping that the ignited flame of liberation would have stopped flickering soon. In a political soap opera that could only compare with the Salem witch hunting, false charges were heaped against us, evidences fabricated and witnesses trained. The institutions which are traditionally entrusted with safeguarding the rule of law are now being used to suppress all shades of dissent. Re-energized by the suffocating inaction of some powerful members of the international community, the authoritarian regime now gloats over the so-called wisdom of the repression.

Indeed, living behind bar is painful. I have felt pain when hearing about the struggle of my fellow country men; for being forced to experience it all vicariously, for being near but far away from the terrain of the fight. Yet the pain ends right there. Our incarceration hasn't liquidated the spirit of freedom. Instead, it degrades those who are fighting against it into something hateful and undignified. Toughened by the crackdown on dissent and other forms of oppression, other democrats, genuinely committed to the cause of liberty and equality are emerging. I am hearing that when the political space for free speech is closed and the free press banned, Internet journals are mushrooming, creating avenues for free exchange of ideas. Talented young writers, passionate about their own freedom, are blogging in the cyber space. The perfidious and loveless treatment of the seekers of freedom and justice is getting the victims more and more resolute. Thinking of that, even within the confinement of my cell, is a pleasant captivity.

The struggle is an emphatic confirmation of the statement that I made four months ago--Kinijit is a spirit. It is a spirit of freedom, a spirit of love and unity. This spirit engulfed the lives of many during the election debates. Kinijit then became an amazing confluence of people with different ideas and experience, and yet united in their compulsive quest for freedom. From Laptop savvy professionals to daily laborers, the spirit has left none untouched. There must be times when even our haters would have asked themselves as to why they are opposed so passionately. Like all dictators they would, of course, carefully steer themselves from the truth. They are, nonetheless, affected by the spirit.

In a sense, Kinijit is like the Polish Solidarity movement of the 1980s. Solidarity began its protest with a demand for economic reform. It then metamorphosed into being the leader of the struggle of the Polish to liberate themselves from the Soviet indirect rule. Kinijit was just an alternative political party before the election debates. Its transformation to being the spirit of resistance against tyranny was both dramatic and intense.

Kinijit leaders are, in the Lockean sense, trustees of the spirit. Our relationship with the Ethiopian people is merely contractual and representational. Prison may disable us from fulfilling our duties, but the cause will continue to live on.

In 1981, General Wojchiech Jarzuzelski's government started a crack down on Solidarity, formally dissolving it in 1982. Its leaders were arrested. But the movement persisted as an underground organization. In 1989, the people of Poland forced the government to legalize Solidarity. In the election contest that followed, it swept parliamentary seats all over the country ending decades of communist rule.

The parallel with our situation is worth considering. A few days after our arrest, the Election Board declared that Kinijit didn't exist. Aided and abetted by Lidetu Ayalew and the editorials of The Reporter, the government tried, in vain, to divert the nation's attention from the quest of freedom to administrative matters--to the "which group will take over Addis Ababa?" nonsense. Well intentioned diplomats in Addis Ababa, unaware of the nature of Kinijit and the resistance of the citizenry, innocently subscribed to the government’s plot. What the EPRDF, Lidetu, and The Reporter failed to grasp is the nature of our fight, the fight for liberty. What is man without his freedom?


Ms Bertukan Mideksa is vice-chairperson of the Coalition for Unity & Democracy Party. She sent out the above letter from her prison cell in Kaliti, the suburb of Addis Ababa.


A few comments and definitions:

{1} The EPRDF is the Ethiopian Revolutionary Democratic Front. Supposedly a grouping of tribal and regional parties, it is in fact totally dominated at every level by and run exclusively for the interests of the central Politburo of the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) that rules the country.

The EPRDF allegedly rules in the name of all Ethiopians just as the TPLF allegedly rules in the name of all Tigrayans. The EPRDF owns every square inch of land in the country, dominates the economy through a vast machinery of graft and patronage at every level through government monopolies / party owned conglomerates / crony owned businesses.

The parliament, the judiciary, the armed forces, the police, private party milias, the secret police apparatus, the media and most ngos (non governmental organizations) are also wholly owned subsidiaries of the EPRDF. All dedicated to the proposition that as a matter of definition all Ethiopians support the government's eternal rule - or they had better do so.

{2} Kinjit is a name for the Coalition for Unity and Democracy which is an alliance of opposition parties that won every seat in the election of 2005 where foreign observers were present and by all non-governmental accounts most of the rest of the country as well.

A reign of terror begun after the government election defeat has seen immeasurable oppression, much of it lethal in rural areas while in the cities there has been a series of street massacres and mass arrests of the opposition, which has behaved with exemplary peaceful civil disobedience.

131 prominent members of the opposition, journalists and leaders of civil society are in prison charged with capital crimes of genocide and treason for their refusal to bow before Ethiopia's dictatorship. Tens of thousands of others suffer and are dying in anonymous silence in a network of concentration camps.

This letter, its spirit quite appropriately from Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'Letter from a Brimingham Jail' speaks for them all and all who think that Ethiopians can do better than accept suffering as tradition.

Imagine that Ethiopia's dictators were white. The world would not long tolerate what is going on in Ethiopia today, comparisons with apartheid would be accurately and forthrightly made while comdemnation and sanctions would follow.

Ethiopians must wonder about the international license for barbarism that is awarded when the killers just happen to look like their victims.

Text source: Ethiopian Review
Picture source: EthioMedia

Saturday, January 28

The Natural Language of Dictatorship

January 23

EthioMedia reports Bomb Blasts in Addis.
The windows of a Commercial Bank of Ethiopia were shattered when a bomb exploded in the Teklehaimanot-located building, which also houses the famed Assab Restaurant.

Another bomb went off at a medical students' dormitory of Black Lion Hospital but there were no known casualties. Witnesses said students were seen clearing the debris.
Satisfy My Soul {ego} reports Explosions in Addis
The location of the second bomb is now official. ... A grenade was thrown into Black Lion High School Hospital Student Dormatory in the night. Both incidents involve a grenade.
Both wonder about who set off the explosions. During every incident so far when the regime has massacred Ethiopians in the streets since the fake election of 2005 there have been claims that government use of combat units with assault rifles, snipers, and .50 caliber heavy machine guns against innocents was justified because grenades were allegedly thrown.

If we are to believe the ruling party then we should somehow accept that forces of violence are constantly and relentlessly morphing between diverse identities such as revanchist tribalists bent on genocide and treason, agents of the Dergue, the Eritrean government and of the former Monarchy who do these bad things because they are inspired by the European Union.

We're not making up any of the above charges.

The only thing missing is branding the victims as agents of Lord Voldemort of Harry Potter infamy or as part of an unreformed Klingon / Romulan alliance from the Star Trek universe. Every observer, particular supporters of the government know all of these lies and their profound level of absurdity very well. Every Foreign Ministry and every Embassy who has any conception of the oppostion and the government knows the charges to be lies as well.

As we have said before, for Ethiopia's rulers, Politics is a Continuation of War by other Means. The language that the government is most fluent and the debates it finds most comforting have nothing to do with region or ethnicity but are best translated as the stuttering echos of AK-47s, the wailing of the bereaved and screams of the tortured.

The Ethiopian opposition has never shown any inclination towards violence of any sort and indeed that is their greatest strength. Confronted with a powerful moral national force opposed to it the government has for a decade and a half and most aggressively of late tried to change the subject from the popular will to one of war.

This fits in with the dubious and reflexively unheeded calls for another generation of popular struggle and ruin in guerrilla warfare. All such efforts only serve to further shift the rules of the game exactly to the bloody ground where the government is most free and to serve as a backdrop for discrediting the opposition in cases of staged terror such as these bombings.

When we hear that the opposition can go into the bush and fight for power or that La Lutta Continua from the Prime Minister while other untenable, absurd and fevered charges of genocide are thrown about what we are hearing is the language of war. That is what the government speaks best and what it is best at - that is all far more familiar ground than democracy or human rights for permanent revolutionaries.

For a decade and a half much Western and particularly American attention to Ethiopia have centered on Washington's Lethal Delusions of Stability where the current regime serves as a bulwark against terrorism and other bad things. Like the fake bombings before these at Police stations and elsewhere at the time of the 'election' the purpose is to put that Politburo inflated and purposefully manipulated issue of national disintegration and of the entire Horn of Africa in flames squarely before the West.

It is all meant to be a threat to Ethiopians and the world. In a sense it matters little if anyone believes the government set off the bombs or not. Actually the threat of instability is even more ominous if the government is definitely seen as guilty by those whose larger policy considerations make them want to believe the opposite. This is the equivalent of a Mafia protection racket firebombing a business as a general warning to those who think they don't require that particular brand of protection.

The Ethiopian government has 70 million hostages in its protection racket.

It will kill and threaten tens of thousands to stay in power and kill and threaten millions more just like them for another day at the wheel of a vast machine of corrupt power and cash. It is possible that the grenades used were left over from the Dergue's armories.

More likely they were purchased with Western aid money meant for budget support, siphoned off other aid or taken directly from the massive slush fund that is the reality of the party / government / crony control of an entire national economy and every square inch of land.

Politics of peace, accountability, liberal democracy, the rule of law and responsibility are concepts as utterly alien and undecipherable to this government as whale songs are to street gangs. These bombings certainly do have a lot to do with the opposition - they are meant to discredit the combined will of the Ethiopian people of every ethnicity, region and religion so that all observers will step aside as the vicious Beast of Revolutionary Democracy stalks the land laying waste to all before it.

Why do we even mention the West? Well European, American and Japanese taxpayers are financing this government that cherishes the suffering of its people like the storied clans of beggars who mutilate their children for a better market share of pity. The only constituency of the regime besides the revolutionary feudal aristocracy is abroad leaving Ethiopians themselves far out of the loop of any imaginable civic contract where they simply don't know their place at the bottom of a pyramid of graft and violence.

Watch for the absurd theater coming right up where the words of the government will be repeated as though anyone believes them.

Thursday, January 26

Perfidious Albion

Not really, we are actually just jaded Anglophiles.

Despite some occasional unpleasantness over the past centuries - the historical balance sheet of that one and only sceptred isle from the Magna Carta onto Monty Python remains positive. In addition, while Blair was elected to serve the interests of the British people it is clear that the interests of Ethiopians are a higher priority at No 10 Downing Street than they are in the Ethiopian seat of power, the Gibee. After all what can an aid donor do when it has to threaten and beg to get a government to treat its own people decently?

Having said all that, Blair’s Britain gladly saw itself become the principal political constituent and economic patron of the Ethiopian regime to the exclusion of Ethiopians themselves and the accepted norms of liberal democracy and capitalism of any stripe. Tony being ‘best friends forever’ with the likes of Meles while rewarding his best buddie's actually poverty generating policies and despotism with billions in aid from British taxpayers seem poor substitutes for long term British or Western interests in the proven rewards that free men and free markets can bring all.

What did Britain get for its unusual investment of money and prestige? Nothing at all it seems but memories of Commission for Africa meetings past when it all seemed like wishing really hard would make the world a better place for a change.

We usually give the British Foreign Ministry more credit for understanding the world. The theory or rather the illusion is that in some Whitehall basement office in central London that there are at least two bureaucrats, one old and one young, who have dedicated their careers to the subject of Ethiopia. As living repositories of centuries of accumulated wisdom they know the history and country, view it with an acute (actually chronic is the right word here) appreciation for reality and British interests in the LONG term. They then give advice accordingly and are listened to by politicians who left alone may have a hard time finding the Horn of Africa on a map.

It is clear that the foreign policy of every nation is based upon self interest. Nations that don’t obey that rule generally tend to stop existing or suffer pretty badly. Examples of this are the Nazi and Soviet attempts to take over the world driven by evil messianic ideologies or the smaller scale religious train wrecks of Cuban Revolutionary Democracy or Taliban era Afghanistan’s paradise on earth for export. What happens in cases like these is that a few lead many into stupid and always corrupt re-imaginings of creation that seem vibrant for a moment before they fall apart as the designed failures that they always were.

The most ridiculous statements that is most widely held as a standard of absurd wisdom in far too many circles is that “X did that for their own benefit and not for Y.” Get real - why else should they be doing it then? It seems to us that one of the most important developments in human thought and one of the main benefits of post-Enlightenment and post-Industrial Revolution ideas, reinforced by the bitter lessons of the bloody 20th century, has been that the benefits of peace and stability in every corner of the globe are good for everyone.

That provides some breathing room in human affairs for expression of mutual self interest outside of the great game where war is a continuation of politics by other means. Self interest in seeming altruism can sensibly co-exist at times as long as rationality is never purposefully avoided.

Yet and still, for most countries today and throughout most of history the world, have seen it all as one vast zero-sum game where what one player had was by definition what was taken from another. Thankfully, for the sake of humanity, the zero-sum game has proven wrong. Tragically, for Ethiopians, the very basis of their regime is based upon a zero sum world view that takes its core beliefs from the totalitarian examples noted above. It will by definition fail and take millions along with it if sustained.

Indeed the new Ethiopian experiment with a third way of government is actually just a variation of the familiar totalitarian way. It has been failing for over thirty years and just as much in the past fifteen since the newest incarnation of heaven on earth messianic ideology took over. We loathed the Mengistu regime but in fairness to that devil it should be said that excluding the Mengistu vs Meles battle and the duel to see who the real communist was, including billions in foreign aid and most importantly given better table manners at places like the G-8 summits - that there is almost nothing to distinguish Meles and Mengistu from each other.

Both are as the old term goes “red in tooth and claw” with the principle difference being a good deal more sophistication at pulling the wool over ferenji eyes on the part of Mengistu’s heirs. The only reason that Meles has a lower body count than Mengistu is that as yet, he hasn’t had to kill so many people - but it is always an option. All of the prerequisites of exactly what made Britain the democratic aid donor and Ethiopia the despotic aid getter are missing in Ethiopia. It is getting poorer every year and is the poorest nation on earth while it is one of the most corrupt and most poorly governed on the planet.

The party through government and a web of crony enterprises literally owns all the land and the great majority of economic activity. There is no rule of law or civilized standards of behavior, indeed, wearing suits and ties while sipping tea with pinkies extended before talking of Parliaments and Courts does not distinguish Ethiopia’s leaders from barbarian warlords trading on tribalism and blood. The invisible reign of terror among tens of rural millions and the occasionally visible one amongst urban millions is loud testimony to the poor service done Great Britain by Blair and Whitehall.

How was it ever imagined that supporting this regime would create something, anything good for anyone's interests? After all the reason that Meles needs Blair to begin with is that he has designed Ethiopia with an eye on staying in power from one day to the next regardless of the eventual or current human cost anywhere. One is tempted to assume that British policy is based on keeping Meles from ruin and taking the whole Horn of Africa with him but there are important signs that Britain, or at least Blair, actually believed in Meles.

Certainly for a New Labor child of the 1960’s like Blair, someone like Meles was a very appealing source for the ‘what if’ redemption of old student day debates and really sincere desires to ‘change the world.’ Imagine if you will, a real life revolutionary guerrilla leader who left university to fight AND who knows which fork to use at state dinner! The occasional banter about the old ways, sober appreciation of the new ones and the subtle hint of danger when slipping back and forth must have been an intoxicating combination for a reformed politician of the Left to experience vicariously.

Certainly, the political qualities that made for a meteoric rise in the extreme by even Machiavellian standards vanguard, tribal revolutionary front was adaptable to a laser like beam of charismatic charm for the benefit of ferenjis with cash in hand. Ethiopians, get burned by that same light regularly and receive in turn assurances that they really do love their Prime Minster more than anything - after all they are always told so, he has so many important ferenji friends and folks who don’t like him are bent on genocide and treason - by definition.

Politicians of the Right are far more straightforward about Meles and equally as disturbing from the point of view of Ethiopians. They expect nothing good from the Ethiopian regime but what can serve their interests in the short term with no sentimentality. The long term is for another administration to deal with when the current Ethiopian regime finishes demolishing the country - in the meantime Somalia and Sudan need to be taken care of. Bush never took Ethiopian democracy seriously because he always understood Meles far better as a totalitarian wolf in democratic sheep clothing.

By killing and putting down enough people, dictators can reach that curious place of international respectability where they are honored and respected as the representatives of the millions that they kill and oppress. Make no mistake - from Japan to Europe to North America - all of those nations who keep Ethiopia’s Revolutionary Democratic nightmare stumbling along know exactly what they are dealing with in the Ethiopian government but are confronted with what to do about it if anything.

Take the example we have heard of where Meles was pressed on the issue of democracy by the Japanese Ambassador and responded with some lame and arrogant line about how long Japan's Liberal Democratic Party had been in power. Like the Euorpeans the Japanese smile in such situations and contemptously hand out the cash lest the ill behaved dictator end up hurting Ethiopians even more. It does not matter that the comparison is ridiculous.

Ferenjis must treat the regime with respect - it is after all a government. They must feed it because it has seventy million hostages and might with absolute malice and purpose destabilize an entire region of Africa. The American approach may seem more cold-blooded but the only difference is the illusion of European sincerity on the subject of democracy. There is actually a curious division of labor - not quite good cop / bad cop - but just as dated.

If the US were the one clamoring for democracy, accountability and rule of law using aid as a means to those ends it is not only likely but guaranteed that the Europeans would out of habit and natural inclination be stridently supportive of Meles just to be on the other side of the issue than the US. Like European support of Saddam it is likely that Meles would be universally acknowledged as a hero of anti-American imperialism while taxpayers from Lisbon to Berlin would contribute more to the despot's private fortune.

Thus, American indifference has been expressed in the form of silence when American election monitors were expelled as agents of imperialism, responses to street massacres of blaming the opposition for provoking the government by expecting it to act like a democracy and of course halting the shipment of HUMVEES. This has strangely given Europeans an opportunity to have the sincere like Ana Gomes and the cynical like Hilary Benn take the respectively real and simulated high moral ground to the ultimate end of absolutely no difference in policy.

The Europeans have under the terms of the Cotonu Aid Agreements threatened or decided (it changes from day to day) to stop giving money to the government which is dependent on aid not just for making up for its failed policies to see people fed but even to pay for pencils in government offices. Britain which first stopped increases in aid in response to June massacres decided recently to cut all aid to Ethiopia but then backtracked and said aid would go through other levels of the government and NGOs which are either owned by the government or depend on it for existence.

See Meskel Square, 'When is an aid cut not an aid cut' for that bit of classic newspeak laid out clearly. Basically, the British threatened, the Ethiopian government called their bluff by oppressing and killing even more and the British government folded. This may be a pattern for the future since Britain has taken the lead on Ethiopian affairs in Europe. If only those pesky Ethiopian people could just shut up then it might all just go away. But they won't shut up and the government will always be a sinister piece of work.

All parties willingly placed sanctions against Zimbabwe today and would have applauded the sanctions against apartheid South Africa. However, all of a sudden the aid needs to go through for the sake of the poor who are made poor by the government that siphons off most of the aid to begin with and whose policies make them poor. Why did that logic not hold in Southern Africa for decades now but does somehow in Ethiopia. As we discussed in No More Appeasement there are far more benefits to the poor political and economic victims from accountability than the reverse.

Tony Benn and his government know this very well but are dealing with a despot in Meles who will play a game of chicken with the lives of Ethiopians that will easily see millions dead if he is not left alone to rule them as he wants. Ethiopian government is like a classic Mafia protection racket. Beyond that they wonder what actual harm he may do to the entire region by extending the instability that he rules by and that he cherishes to bring and encourage Western interest and support.

So what real difference is there between the British / European and American approaches? None really. Meles can always be counted on to be vicious in any situation with no consequences. That is a result of the absolute terror of knowing how widely and deeply the current revolutionary feudal aristocracy is reviled from Badme to Moyale and all points in between amongst every ethnic group, region and religion. Even religious holidays can’t get by without killings lest people get the idea in their heads that any sphere of life is theirs to decide on without interference.

Meles can always be counted on to keep killing. Violence is the language that the regime is most fluent in and a default setting of war interrupted by truces where the party still gets what it wants is its own version of reality. At some point there will be a break between the West and Meles Inc. It is a matter of the regime’s brutal and bloody nature and of the will of Ethiopians to resist with dignity and courage their continued subjugation using the language of peace and unity that the government can not speak and can only fear.

The total sum of British and European calls for Ethiopian democracy at this late date is that the opposition members, figures and civil society and journalists PERSONALLY KNOWN to EU diplomats are only suffering in prison and not dead. Thousands of others without their names on Embassy rolodexes are dead or dying or their days are numbered. Given time just like the slow killing of Professor Asrat the government will kill them all if it is allowed to do so by its European patrons.

British statements on aid cuts and its abject retreats are an expression of several facts - they are, if only with cash, a frustrated attempt to do something right by the Ethiopian people against a government that has to be begged and threatened to take care of its own people. As ever this is a problem for Ethiopians to fix. They have been through worse in the past, not much worse mind you, but they will win in the end.

In the meantime knowing that Britain is not Perfidious Albion nor a toothless lion with mute meows with which to remember roars long gone is important. Along with rational calls to British self interest outside of alliance with a regime that has already produced a failed state kept alive by aid alone the moral element of such an alliance must be made clear.

Remember that point. Ethiopia is not in danger of becoming a failed state - it already is. Only billions in aid prop up its regime determined planned pyramid of profound dysfuntion and Biblical suffering. There is no reason for it to be that way but that the government feels safer with a destitute and disenfranchised people taken care of by foreign constituents. A system that has managed to totally bypass Ethiopians.

Like relations with all nations there are permanent interests in common that dangerous short term calculations can damage. Britain helped Ethiopia against Italy and others at times but was actively harmful at other times for its own interests in Europe, locally and elsewhere. She then went on to help liberate Ethiopians liberate themselves and considered staying on indefinitely using the same tribal divide and rule that Meles Inc. so cherishes.

Britain reconsidered and recalculated and so must we all based on mutual self interest. The most apt example is actually further back in history. Britain outlawed slavery in the very early 19th century and sent the Royal Navy to enforce a ban on the Atlantic Slave Trade long before the rest of humanity on the whole planet ever even pretended to have a problem with slavery. This came about from their own economy being too advanced for slavery to be of use as well as a crucial and honest impulse of abolitionism.

The all powerful force represented by the union of free men and free markets will yet leave Ethiopia's permanent class of revolutionary feudal aristocrats in the dustbin of history. Sadly it didn't happen in the 20th century when civilized rationalism was born from the lessons of that century both bloody and full of hope.

But it will come and sooner than we believe.

As we have often said providence owes Ethiopians a break, their struggles for survival will not end and they will outlive Meles Inc. as they did millennia of other invasions and occupations. That their oppressors look like them is of no consequence - they are occupied and the chains in the hands of their government are tightening not because of the regime's strength but because of its manifest weakness.

The Ethiopian government kills and lies because it is terrified of Ethiopians. Ethiopians know better than to believe Mr. Benn who speaks for the now silent Mr. Blair on the subject of Tony's good friend Meles and the already failed state that he created. The British know better too. By doing what it does naturally to stay in power the Ethiopian regime will continue too illustrate the point and decide the ending of this whole ugly episode in history.


The following are must reads: we have mentioned Meskel Square above. Ethan Zuckerman has a 'A modest proposal for Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi' In addition
  • Weichegud! ET Politics
  • Things We Should Have Written
  • Ethio Media
  • Ethiopian Review
  • Nazret News Portal
  • Dagmawi
  • Addis Ferengi
  • and other Ethio-links on the sidebar are worth following.

    Just a few great other blogs include
  • Booker Rising
  • Foreign Dispatches
  • Global Voices
  • Instapundit
  • Publius Pundit
  • and
  • Gateway Pundit
  • .

    Tuesday, January 24

    The Japanizers

    Lij Araya Abeba & Co. in Japan circa 1934

    Front row, right to left: Lij Araya Abeba, His Excellency Heruy, Lij Tafari, and the interpreter, Daba Birru. On the back row are Mr. and Mrs. Sumioka. Picture taken from Heruy’s Dai Nihon.

    In the Selected Annual Proceedings of the Florida Conference of Historians for 2004, a fascinating paper was presented by Professor J. Calvitt Clarke III. Titled "Seeking A Model For Modernization: Ethiopia's Japanizer's" it is a window into an almost forgotten Ethiopia.

    The story begins after the 1896 victory over Italy at Adwa in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. If you don't know much about this battle Professor Donald Levine outlines its historical significance in his article "The Battle of Adwa as a "Historic" Event". Ethiopian Filmmaker Haile Gerima made an exceptional documentary about the battle; "Adwa: An African Victory" in 2000.

    Some excerpts from Professor Clarke on the Japanizers

    In the early twentieth century, these foreign-educated Ethiopians (the Japanizers) generally sought positions at court, and many of them refused to share the complacency of their countrymen after Ethiopia’s military victory over Italy at Adwa in 1896.

    The term (Japanizers) highlighted the impact of Japan’s Meiji transformation on Ethiopia’s intellectuals. Japan’s dramatic metamorphosis by the end of the nineteenth century from a feudal society—like Ethiopia’s—into an industrial power attracted them. For these young, educated Ethiopians, Japanization was a means to an end—to solve the problem of underdevelopment. Japan’s rapid modernization, after all, had guaranteed its peace, prosperity, and independence, while Ethiopia’s continued backwardness threatened its very survival.

    Blattengeta Heruy Welde Sellase (1878-1939)

    Perhaps the most influential of the Japanizers in Ethiopia was Heruy Welde Sellassie.

    In 1932 after an official visit to Japan, he published Mahidere Birhan: Hagre Japan [The Document of Japan]...Of the Japanizers, he most elaborately compared Ethiopia and Japan. Both had been ruled by long and uninterrupted founding dynasties: Hirohito was the 124th monarch of the Jimu dynasty while Hayle Sellase was the 126th ruler of the Solomonic dynasty. He compared Emperor Menilek to the Meiji. In the entire world, only Ethiopia and Japan had preserved that long the title of "emperor" to designate the chief of state.

    Both countries had experienced roving capitals in their histories. He compared the Tokugawa Shogunate to the Zamana Masafent: the only difference was that while the overlordship of the Yajju lords had been confined to Bagemder, while the Tokugawa exercised authority over all of Japan. The manners of the two peoples were similar. Heruy went on to conclude that, despite these similarities, the two countries had long lived in mutual ignorance of one another—much as do the two eyes of one person. Just as a mirror helps one eye to see the other, so too his visit to Japan had brought mutual awareness between the two countries.

    Bajerond Takle-Hawaryat Takla-Maryam and the Constitution of 1931

    Ethiopia’s Constitution of 1931, modeled on Japan’s Meiji Constitution of 1889, best illustrates Ethiopia’s desire to follow in Japan’s progressive footsteps.

    With only a couple of exceptions, when comparing the 1889 Japanese constitution and the 1931 Ethiopian constitution, even the chapter divisions were identical, and in both cases, the guarantees of civil liberties were constrained by nullifiers such as, "within the limits provided for by the law" or "except in cases provided for in the law."

    Araya Abeba

    A figure of underestimated importance in the Japanizer movement was Araya Abeba, a member of Hayle Sellase’s family. If he is remembered at all today, it is for his proposed marriage with a Japanese, Kuroda Masako, a subject of great mirth and greater fear among many European observers. A handsome young man in the 1930s, in truth he played an important part in Ethiopia’s relations with Japan, and he gives every appearance of being groomed for greater things until the Italo-Ethiopian War intervened.

    By the first half of the 1930s, Japan and Ethiopia were drawing closer together to the acute concern of all of Africa’s colonial powers, most especially Italy.

    Teferi Makonnen (Hayle Sellase) (1892-1975))

    The crucial force behind Ethiopia’s desire to use Japan as a model was the emperor himself. His father, Ras Makonnen, had studied foreign military literature, and Russia’s defeat by the Japanese Navy at Tsushima in 1905—following as it did in Ethiopia’s footsteps by defeating a European power—surely electrified him. By 1906 when Ras Makonnen died, the thirteen year-old Teferi apparently had already developed a mental blueprint for his goal. An essential part of it was to draw upon the Japanese model, that other empire, which had proved that a non-European nation could embrace modern civilization and stand culturally and technically on par with European countries.
    Professor Clarke goes into great detail about Ethiopian history and her relations with the United States and the European imperialist powers of the time. The many historical convergences and divergences with Japan are also detailed.

    It all makes for fascinating reading but we are delighted that this alliance did not pan out. Contemplating an Ethiopia morally bankrupted by such an alliance in the Second World War is simply too bloody awful to imagine. We have to make moral judgements about alternative history as much as we have to do about history.

    The time for close relations with Japan and for learning lessons is right now.

    Saturday, January 21

    Notes on the Information War

    Normally, it would never occur to us to highlight the information outlets of the Ethiopian regime but this seems like a good time to encourage familiarity with them. What will result is either incredulous anthropological fascination at the reincarnation of Pravda and Tass as they were in 1982 or utter boredom. The two of the government's open news sources in question are Walta and the Ethiopian News Agency. They are really meant to be taken seriously.

    Both essentially define news and reality as they are relentlessy presented to Ethiopians from monopoly official news sources and serve as primers for government supporters on the overall party line or provide them with daily talking points. In an Ethiopian environment with absolutely no freedom of press or opinion there is also the extra effort made to create a whole host of fake news sources and stories to defame, sow dissent and generally confuse.

    The purpose of information is then not to inform but to serve the regime's will to power. There simply is no objective reality beyond that which makes opponents look bad, makes the government look good or that at least makes both look equally bad. That leaves a default preference for the government as a known quantity of disappointment in a world where no better can be expected from or for Ethiopians.

    Classically, such information policies are predicated upon assumptions that people are a mindless herd liable to manipulation or distraction at every turn. The volume just has to be turned up loud enough or the ashattir (trickery) has to be clever enough and anyone who can't be directly imprisoned, killed or 'disappeared' can then be shut up.

    Typically a degree of degenerate street credibility is obtained by virulent often violent and tribal attacks on the government that are then followed up with attacks on the opposition. As above this makes the opposition look bad or as least as bad as the government.

    Increasingly the first part is wrapped in layers of concern and sincerity while the last bit of the formula is skipped in the interests of subtlety. Therefore the optimal (from the government's point of view anyway) reader is thought to have their resulting opinions reinforced by the idea that he or she arrived at the main point of the propaganda campaign somehow independently or just doesn't want to bother with the whole business anymore.

    The purpose is not to convince (everyone, especially every government supporter) already knows the government is a fount of lies) but rather to make all regret discussion or thought of Ethiopian politics. If debating the government is like arguing with the armed and criminally minded denizens of a seedy waterfront bar then dissent is discouraged everywhere. In the same way if debate means hearing relentless repitition of government talking points it all seems equally pointless.

    Another way to serve the same purpose is to play exactly the same game but with far deeper cover of sorts. Although in the end the regime sees that it has the guns at hand it takes the internet and even bloggers more seriously than they might imagine. The internet is now in its second generation or so of 'wolf in sheep's clothing' government blogs in a subtle variation of the purpose noted above - the theory being to sound just like the critics and to eventually drown them out with a twisted variation of their own voice.

    When truth beyond what serves a particular purpose is not seen to exist the possibilities for deception become endless, tragic and comic. Take the government campaign against the Voice of America that has resulted on one hand in the arrest and possible death sentence for its employees in Ethiopia while in Washington a very tiny few of coerced unfortunates and government employees used the freedom of American democracy to protest the VOA's honesty.

    It is well documented how brutally all in Ethiopia are treated for denying the reality that all Ethiopians, indeed all humans along with the very lillies of the fields and the birds of the sky - by definition love and absolutely support Meles Inc.

    Meles Inc has millions of dollars at hand squeezed from peasants, siphoned from aid as well as all the profits of an entire economy of government monopolies and party owned businesses to get its points across. Those millions are also sent far abroad to veritable armies of lawyers, lobbyists, public relations firms, and varying degrees of pet or for rent specialists, academics and news sources.

    Despite all of this, the thrust of informed common wisdom and generally perceived morality has turned against the government as it has made itself, ever red in tooth and claw, ever more transparent through its natural brutality and lies. This matters because the opposition and the tens of millions who support them from every region, ethnic group and religion represent an ultimately omnipotent moral force.

    In the meantime the regime has the guns and sees itself set against a nation of seventy million counter-revolutionaries who can not be given an inch of space in which to make up their own minds without fear. The regime is beyond any civilized consideration of shame, regret or any sort of censure of its actions.

    What matters is how long the bonds of guilty, bloody, fearful, selfish and very slippery hands reinforcing the pyramid of government power can be maintained by fear. Equally important is how long the only constituency of the government, namely Western aid donors, will continue to finance it.

    Money and Fear.

    They are the sinews, the blood and the very soul of Meles Inc. The Information War lies at the core of that power maintained by both money and fear. Read Walta and the Ethiopian News Agency for a clear view of the regime's desired version of reality and objectives. Beyond them take every source you come across critically and think critically of what they are saying, advocating and whose purposes are served in the end.

    On the information front the government can continue to suffocate fact only if no one is paying attention. More on this in the future.

    Thursday, January 19

    The World Is Yours III - The Commission

    Me, I want what's coming to me...
    The world ... and everything in it.

    Tony Montana and his gang leave Montana Real Estate Inc.
    (an entirely independent enterprise connected in no way to Tony's 'other' business interests - only a revanchist, genocidal Eritrean agent would say different) in Scarface


    Opposition leader Merera Gudina on the 'election':
    "The EPRDF would not give into defeat because without the power all its investments and luxurious life would be at risk."

    With the kind permission of the author, we are serializing over a number of posts, Chapter 16: The Economy of "Revolutionary Democracy" from Dr. Theodore Vestal's remarkable book Ethiopia: A Post-Cold War African State.

    One point to remember always is the essentially corrupt worldview of tribal opportunism and divide and rule held by the government. The TPLF nor Meles Inc. speaks for or serves the interests of the Tigrayan people despite the insidious efforts of the Politburo to associate its activities with the good name of Tigrayans. More on this in the post In Whose Name?


    The Economy of "Revolutionary Democracy"

    Since coming to power in 1991, the EPRDF has been committed to a market economy for the country. Most of the legislation in force during the Derg regime restricting a market economy and private business has been abolished. Although a substantial number of public enterprises are still owned and run by the government, many of these eventually will be privatized. State ownership was to be limited to certain strategic sectors including civil aviation, the railway, energy, mining, the chemical industry, telecommunications, insurance, and banking. Changes in the global economy, however, forced the EPRDF leaders to modify their plans and privatize parts of some of these sectors.

    In 1994 the EPRDF announced a Five Year Development Program with the goals of improving the infrastructure and the climate for investments with assistance from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The program focused specifically on projects in health, education, agriculture, roads, and mining.

    [Sounds good so far? The above paragraphs are essentially a loose statement of intention from Meles Inc. - further below is reality. Also - the whole concept of Five Year Plans is silly - economies work when good policies are in place in general.

    To think that an entire economy and its growth can be micro-managed years into the future is an example of faith in totalitarian control that has always failed everywhere it is attempted. Indeed, the whole concept of Many Year Plans is from the defunct Soviet Union - we all know how well that economy did.

    Despite $1.5 billion in annual aid (true) and claims of double digit growth every year and billions in foreign investments annually (both false) Ethiopians have been getting poorer every year.

    Aside from a veneer of a free market to please donors little has changed from Mengistu except that the identical party / government owns the economy rather than the government alone. Both systems grant absolute land ownership to the government - another recipe for disaster with a benefit for some of absolute control over tens of millions of lives.

    One must wonder how well Mengistu would have done with that much aid. The Haile Selassie government, which received a tiny fraction of the EPRDF aid levels, did not get $1.5 billion over the entire thirty years through 1974 and performed far better economically.]

    As part of the strategy for attaining the Front's economic goals, the EPRDF nuevo conversos of capitalism secretly established a substantial number of large "private" companies in the names of party cadres. The firms, operating in Ethiopia and abroad, have a total capital of hundreds of millions of dollars. How did the Front, an armed movement with a narrow social base in a devastated area of a poor country, accumulate such capital in a relatively short time?


    The massive capitalization for such ambitious undertakings began with donations and contributions by exiled members and supporters of the TPLF, but more importantly, it gained impetus from illicit sources. Former TPLF officials have testified to shady fiscal dealings by the party to provide income for the organization. In the 1980s, such nefarious schemes as the sale of relief food donated by aid agencies via Sudan for the people of Tigray helped fill the party coffers.

    The Relief Society of Tigray (REST) was used as the fulcrum for bilking well-meaning NGO representatives who bought and distributed the same grain over and over again in areas controlled by the TPLF. In addition to relief assistance, donor agencies gave the TPLF medicine, agricultural tools and heavy machinery, road construction equipment, and transport vehicles and spare parts--all supposedly for the rehabilitation of Tigrayan refugees in the Sudan or farmers in drought-affected areas. Instead, those donations were sold to Sudanese buyers to finance the TPLF's war activities and to invest in income-producing businesses, such as printing, vehicle repair, and commercial farming in the Sudan.

    During the civil war, TPLF fighters raided and looted Derg-held towns, robbed banks, pillaged hospitals, and ambushed Red Cross and other relief agency convoys carrying food and medical supplies. The plunder from these forays was supplemented by war booty abandoned by the Derg in its final months. Millions of dollars in tax revenues also were paid by people living in the areas controlled by the Front. In sum, the TPLF had accumulated wealth as well as military power before the final overthrow of the Mengistu regime.

    Since the TPLF expanded into the EPRDF and assumed power and control of public finances in 1991, millions of dollars have been transferred from the government treasury to the party. In one instance, former Prime Minister Tamrat Layne was involved in a scheme in which the EPRDF sold medicine to the Ministry of Health and then took money from the budgets of public hospitals to "reimburse" the Front for medicines the party had distributed in various regions during the civil war.

    [Tamrat fell afoul of the Politburo and was charged with corruption and was likely guilty too. That what he was doing was what the whole party enterprise was set up to do by intention is clear. Therefore in Ethiopia corruption is normal but the criminilization of corruption is political.]

    Further, the government's fiscal policies have favored state enterprises and companies allied with the Front. Tax breaks are extended to party-approved businesses, and using its power to control the banks of the country, the Front has extended credit at very low rates or given direct start-up capital to its affiliated companies.

    At war's end, the EPRDF took over a number of economic institutions and government-owned companies that the party has used for its own ends. Cash generated by these enterprises has been used as start-up money for party firms. Public property, such as construction equipment, machinery, and vehicles, that fell into EPRDF hands was sold to foreign buyers or converted into fixed assets for companies set up by the Front.

    The EPRDF's vast network of "free" enterprises have been established in the names of individuals, who coincidentally are party members. In virtually every sector of the economy, nuevo conversos, former revolutionary politicians, have transmorgified into shareholders and managers of million dollar "private" businesses. In the process, these "crony capitalists," high ranking members of the Front, such as Sebhet Nega and Siyie Abraha,

    [who himself was a victim of charges of corruption for what was basic political disagreement within the TPLF Politburo over policy towards Eritrea and some other more internal TPLF issues. Under the guise of reform and transparency in government (Ethiopia is now considered one of the most corrupt nations on Earth), this is a frequent weapon used against political foes. See this article, “Disabling a Political Rival Under the Cover of Fighting Corruption in Ethiopia” from Deki-Alula. ]

    among others, have become millionaires while providing the party with income. To staff these businesses, the party again has turned to its own. EPRDF cadres and members, many lacking in requisite formal education and experience, have been hired as well-paid administrators and foremen.


    The Prime Minister on economics:
    "Unlike in [Western Style] Liberal Democracy, in [Ethiopia’s] “Revolutionary Democracy,” there is no economic area that is outside its preserve. Only available capital and procurable management can limit its investment capacity.
    This will be another long series from numerous sources detailing the essentially corrupt system that Ethiopians suffer under. A system that simultaneously wastes billions in aid dollars and euros while impoverishing millions:

    The World Is Yours I
    The World Is Yours II - The Syndicate
    The World Is Yours III - The Commission
    The World Is Yours IV - "An Offer They Can't Refuse"
    The World Is Yours V - Capo di tutti Capi
    The World Is Yours VI - Our Thing
    The World Is Yours VII - Wise Guys
    The World Is Yours VIII - Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game
    The World is Yours IX -

    You get the idea.

    Tuesday, January 17

    In the Future Everyone Will Be Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize

    In the Future, Everyone Will Be Famous for Fifteen Minutes
    Andy Warhol

    Andy Warhol & Tookie Williams & Alfred Nobel
    This will all make sense in a moment ...


    Wikipedia is usually a good source of information and this article on the Nobel Prize is no exception. The Nobel Prize Site itself rounds out a decent introduction to the subject matter quite nicely.

    Needless to say, getting a prize is rather a big deal and awards are often quite controversial and certainly competitive. To say that the awards are political is certainly an understatement. Perhaps less so in Physics than Economics - but as you can imagine the awarding of awards is a complex business.

    Alfred Nobel himself took the very unstable explosive nitroglycerin and combining it with various substances like diatomaceous earth (the skeletons of millions of millions year old sea creatures) created the stable explosive dynamite. It was of course famous for peaceful uses in man's conquest of the earth and infamous for war in man's conquest of other men.

    He went on to pioneer work in other forms of explosives and smokeless gunpowder. Along with investments in oil, all this made Alfred a very wealthy man indeed.After premature rumours of his death led to him reading his own obituary, he decided to make himself remembered for something more pleasant by leaving his estate to the establishment of the Nobel Prizes.

    That purpose has largely been met. Now let us take a step back several paragraphs to the issue of controversy and the prize. Obviously, the most subjective one of all is the Nobel Peace Prize
    Aside from humanitarian work and peace movements, the Prize has been awarded to a wide field of work including advocacy of human rights, mediation of international conflicts and arms control and disarmament.
    There are often disagreements on the awarding of this prize and its evolving political meaning over time. All are free to take or leave their estimation of the Peace Prize and its value - however, the whole process of being Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize is ridiculous .

    Way too often, in our opinions, we are all subjected to the rationalization that someone who was so nominated is suddenly to be accorded the status of at least a middle weight Martin Luther King Jr or a featherweight Lech Walesa. So sorry but there is a whole lot of difference between being nominated and winning.

    Here is, according to the Nobel Site, a description of how the Prize is awarded. Hidden towards the bottom of the page is a list of who can nominate someone for the Prize.
    The following are entitled to nominate candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize:

    1. Present and past members of the Nobel Committee and the advisers at the Nobel Institute.
    2. Members of national assemblies and governments, and members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
    3. Members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
    4. Members of the Commission of the Permanent International Peace Bureau.
    5. Members of the Institut de Droit International.
    6. Present university professors of law, political science, history and philosophy.
    7. Holders of the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Observing the rules given in the statutes of the Nobel Foundation, the Committee does not publish the names of candidates.
    This sounds perfectly reasonable on first reading but check out numbers 2 & 6 again. These two constitute loopholes that the Titanic could easily fit through along with several aircraft carriers. Perhaps that is why the names of candidates are secret?

    Certainly there have been enough pseudo-legislatures and even real legislators in the past century who have nominated more than their fair share of frogs rather than princes. Strangely enough there is a nomination database associated with the Nobel Site. But ... it only goes up to 1951. It is our opinion that sometime in the latter 20th Century the list become rather silly and long.

    What legislature would not nominate its own dictator for a prize? Mussolini, Mengistu and Meles were certainly potential nominees albeit unsavory ones. Should they and their ilk then go about parading their nominations before the world like they mean something? Tookie Williams received six nominations from Swiss legislators and California academics who were oddly far from the nominee and his shotgun at the time they nominated him.

    An even greater level of absurdity is reached in the ability of basically any "law, political science, history and philosophy" to nominate folks. This sounds suspiciously like almost anyone who teaches above the high school level can send in a nomination and the nominee can then forever affix to his name of have affixed for him the term "nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize" as though that actually means anything.

    That leaves probably several hundred thousand people, not all of them rational or nobly motivated, who can go around nominating as many people as they want to. This is beyond the level of a kid wanting to be the first Nobel Peace Prize Nominee on his block but rather rises to the level that we should all ask ourselves why we personally have yet to be nominated.

    So next time you hear the "nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize" mantra about anyone, just smile and go get one for yourself. It doesn't seem to be that difficult.

    Sunday, January 15

    From Professor Donald Levine

    A message from Professor Donald Levine, a long time Friend of Ethiopia:

    In the face of Ethiopia's disastrous slippage in 2005, I cannot remain silent. As Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

    As we begin a new year, I want to voice some thoughts with you about chartering a new direction for Ethiopia in 2006. This must be a direction in which old hatreds give way to new possibilities of living together harmoniously. You know what I mean.

    In order to promote some movement in this direction, I have undertaken to return to Ethiopia on January 7 for several weeks. First, in Addis Ababa, I shall attempt to meet with leaders from all sides in order to further the process of mutual understanding and joint constructive action.

    Next, in the capital of the Southern Region, I shall help inaugurate the Awassa Peace Center. Many of you previously received notice from me about an aikido dojo for Ethiopia. That idea has now expanded to become a cornerstone of what is emerging as the Awassa Youth Campus and Peace Center.

    I ask you now to join with the group of us who will not remain silent. You can do so by making a contribution, however modest or grand, to support the peace center.

    Your contribution payable to Aiki Extensions, Inc. can be sent by check to:

    Awassa Children's Project
    PO Box 824
    Chicago, IL 60690-0824

    or make a contribution through Paypal @ Aiki Extensions and select "Ethiopia Aikido Fund".

    If you would like email updates about this exciting endeavor, please send your name and email to

    Melkam addis amat'nna iwenetañña addis zemen.


    For additional information on the sponsoring organizations, visit Aiki Extensions and Awassa Children's Project. For information on associated organizations, see EINEPS.

    Friday, January 13

    Too Spicy for Some

    In the post Geldof vs. Girl Power we accused Bob Gledof of making a 'cruel and capricious' decision in preventing the Spice Girls from re-uniting for the Live 8 concert. It seems that we may owe him an apology ... maybe ...
    Mel B is the lone holdout to a proposed Spice Girls reunion, says Live 8 organizer Bob Geldof. He further reported that she just did not want to revisit "something she did in the past."

    Also known by the nickname Scary Spice and her full name Melanie Brown, the singer is having "difficulty" agreeing to join her erstwhile bandmates at the July 2 show in London, Geldof revealed on a British chat show Monday.
    Asked about the possibility of the Spice Girls reuniting without Scary Spice, Geldof was adamant that it must be the original lineup. "No, it's got to be all or nothing," he said.
    The other Spice Girls were reportedly devastated by Scary's decision. Melanie C., Sporty Spice said "I would love to be part of Live 8. I'm so sad I won't be there - or the other girls who really wanted to. Only four of us could make it" which lends further credence to Geldof's version of events.

    too spicy for some?

    Frankly, this does not reassure us that Geldof tried hard enough to convince Mel B. to re-join the group once more or that he did not actively work against the reunion behind the scenes. It also raises some very difficult questions about his possible role in the breakup of the group years ago when Geldof's own star was fading.

    Could it be that the former Boomtown Rat was jealous of the attention that the Spice Girls commanded on the international stage? According to one observer, the Spice Girls are 'Exactly the Reason Why Bin Laden Hates the West.' Hanging out with Bono, assorted dictators, various Hollywood types and Jeff Sachs for the better part of two decades has never gotten Geldof that kind of notice among the geopolitical players of our times.

    Sure, Geldoff was knighted by the Queen, but the Spice Girls went as far as to pinch Prince Charles on the bottom - in Buckingham Palace no less. Clearly, the girls in their day were far more comfortable in the corridors of power and dominated the very air around them without the need for masses of third world extras. The campaign against the unity of the Spice Girls bore fruit for Geldof in 2000 at the dawn of a new millenium. Is it possible that Geldof thought the world wasn't big enough for him and the girls?

    Were they on to him and his plans? In the only feature film the girls were allowed to make, Spice World, the girls displayed an uncanny ability to get themselves into and out of some hair raising adventures. It is likely that they shared a similiar ability to figure out mysteries but because of Geldof, a sequel was never made. One devastating point against Geldof is that, Simon Fuller who got the girls started out in music is also the originator of American Idol a show that has featured rock AND pop music ... and he is also British.

    perfidious albion

    Amazingly, PM Tony Blair is also British and for that matter so is British MP George Galloway. Tony Blair is known to be best friends forever with Ethiopian Dictator Meles Zenawi. Galloway is Marxist-Leninist and Ethiopia's ruling ideology is a variant of Bolshevist-Maoism. It is apparent that given the easy almost untraceable modern flow of information using - the internet, phones, faxes and even telex- not to mention old fashioned letters and human couriers hypnotically implanted with memories they don't even know that they have - that they all had ample opportunity to coordinate action against the Spice Girls and cause their breakup.

    Consider this, the British Henry VIII broke with the Vatican in 1534 while the first Live Aid Concert was in 1985 - exactly 451 years later! The numbers 4+5+1 added together equal 10 - not only the number of Commandments but also the count at one time of the number of members of the European Economic Community, now the EU.

    When the first Spice Girl, Geri aka Ginger Spice, left the group she went to work for another disreputable international organization - the UN. Coincidence? We think not. Ginger had been seduced away to the dark side.

    We have no doubt that Haliburton, the Trilateral Commission, the Democratic Leadership Council, Bill Gates, big oil, the Bush White House and the big pharmaceuticals are involved along with the KGB (that's right), MI-5 & -6, Courtney Love, the CIA, the DGSE and Suge Knight.

    Actually the deaths of Tupac and Biggie Smalls are far to close temporally to the break up of the Spice Girls to be ignored. Was 'East Coast vs West Coast' actually the start of Geldof's plan to use violence and intimidation to take over music and the world at large?

    The truth is out there. Some horrible purpose has brought these diverse actors together despite their differences and has given them a common purpose. All to serve the nefarious purposes of Sir Bob Geldof.

    We demand that the 'gentleman' account for his actions against the good ladies in question. We do not find his reasons for their absence from Live 8 to be credible and given his associations over many years he could conceivably be the linchpin of a long standing plot against them and against humanity in general.

    the geldofian hydra

    The music video where they threw metal boomerangs and raced around in the desert breaking up vases were surely symbolic of their struggle to crush the budding tentacles of the Geldofian hydra of world domination ... and tragically, how those earnest efforts would rebound against our heroes in the real world.

    Even the video that has them tearing down curtains (certainly symbols of the Geldofian reign of terror that silences real talent in the music industry) is no longer enough to keep the dream alive. The lyrics 'if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends' obviously refers to the need for an alliance by all people of good will against the Geldof machine.

    The world needs the Spice Girls back in the difficult days ahead. The likes of Sir Bob can not keep the lid of tyranny over the magnificent humanity that they represent. Just look at them above ... how can any decent person disagree? Especially Mel B., aka Berbere Spice, is she wonderful or what?


    If you are still reading here is a historical note about the poses and the chairs in the picture above.

    The naughty girl pictured is none other than Christine Keeler and the first photo from the 1963 series was among the most iconic images of the 1960s. Christine was at the center of the Profumo Affair which in brief involved
    Espionage, Russian attaches, political treachery, top-notch Tory politicians.

    Sex parties, call girls, secret FBI investigations, lies told in parliament.

    The downfall of a cabinet minister, and ultimately the resignation of the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.
    Even more briefly, Christine, who lived by the kindness of strangers, was 'involved' with a Cabinet Minister and KGB spy at the same time. Secrets weren't the issue as much as the British staple of basic Tory sex scandal. Actually, a fairly decent movie by that name, Scandal, was made in 1989.

    The chair was the work of
    Arne Jacobsen(1902-1971) was one of Denmark's most influential 20th century architects and designers. Both his buildings and products, like his Swan and Egg Chairs, combine modernist ideals with a Nordic love of naturalism.
    Jacobsen is best known for the
    Model 3107 chair of 1955, known also as the "Number 7 Chair" which has sold over 5 million copies. The Number 7 chair is perhaps best known for being the prop used to hide Christine Keeler's nakedness in Lewis Morley's iconic portrait of 1963.

    Morley just happened to use a chair that he had in the studio, which turns out to have been a copy of Jacobsen's design. Since then, Number 7 chairs have been used for many similar portraits imitating the pose.
    Decades past in Addis when Mosvold's was THE (only?) department store in the country there was an absolute dominance of Scandinavian styles in furniture that makes his work seem familiar over time.


    Spice Girls Links: Plenty of pictures at (image source) and a scholarly treatment at Wikepedia.


    Satisfy My Soul (ego) describes a strong blow for human freedom.

    Wednesday, January 11

    The World Is Yours II - The Syndicate

    Who put this thing together? Me, that's who!
    Who do I trust? Me!

    Tony Montana in Scarface


    Opposition leader Merera Gudina on the 'election':
    "The EPRDF would not give into defeat because without the power all its investments and luxurious life would be at risk."

    The passage below Accounts of “Transparent Corruption” below is humbly lifted straight from Crime and Nourishment one of the best and most pointed summaries of current Ethiopian affairs and the challenges facing the Ethiopian People. The whole is very well documented - please see the original for sources.

    In its 2005 World Report, Transparency International,the international anti- graft watchdog, lists Ethiopia as one of the most corupt African countries in the same general group as the likes of Nigeria, Somalia, Liberia, and Siera Leone. Some of these are countries with failed states that are run by diamond smuggling warlords. Indian Ocean Newsleter makes clear that the Prime Minister’s political party even has an Economic Afairs Department headed by Sebhat Nega, one of his trusted lieutenants and a founding member of the ruling party.

    Coruption in Ethiopia, like in the Mafia, is a family afair. The Indian Ocean News leter reports that “Other members of the prime minister's inner circle who have the reputation of having enjoyed unwaranted privileges include his brother Nikodimos Zenawi(a former government employee who has struck it rich), the Prime Minister’s wife Azeb (known as Lemlem and former head of Mega Net, a firm which has benefited from untaxed imports), and Benyam Mesfin (son of the foreign minister and owner of a fleet of Scania trucks). Acording to the Economist Inteligence Unit, “Coruption in Ethiopia poses various problems for its busines environment, as patronage networks are firmly entrenched and political clout is often used to gain economic prowess.”

    A World Bank’s report confirms that “political parties belonging to the [ruling party] have established companies which include banks and insurance companies.” The ruling party also runs other business conglomerates in construction, agriculture, transportation and import and export of key products.The World Bank report referenced above documents that“companies and NGOs with party afiliations receive preferential treatment for licenses and permits.” The recommendation ofthe World Bank, however,is to “consider establishing a modest anti-coruption unit in the Prime Minister’s ofice to deal with coruption.”

    As a cynical African writer once opined, “what the heck, after all this is Africa where anything is possible and everything is permisible!” How else could one understand the recomendation of a leading international development bank advising the very Prime Minister who is engaged in grand corruption to set up 'a modest anti-corruption' unit and place it under his office. It is no small wonder why the level and scope of corruption in the country is increasingly worsening. Transparency International's 2005 Global Reportmakes clear that corruption in Ethiopia has gotten worse.


    Marina Ottaway in Africa's New Leaders writes from a generally optomistic perspective of the EPRDF / TPLF / Meles Inc. that is part of a comprehensive whole but that is now at best dated. She explains the origins of the current system in her thoughtful book and we paraphrase the appropriate passages thusly:

    The TPLF early on during the war with the Dergue set up NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations in name at least) of areas they controlled such as REST (Relief Society of Tigray). REST was formed to facilitate food distribution from the 1970s on and the TPLF's successful policy was to encourage Western aid directly to REST rather than Mengistu's government. Near the end of the war the Tigrean Development Association was also formed.

    Since 1991 and gaining national power TPLF economic activity has increased with a network of supposedly private corporations controlled by prominent TPLF officials believed to be funded by the party itself. In 1995 the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray was formed thus formalizing the TPLF role in the economy.

    The fund controls non-military assets captured from the Dergue (i.e. pretty much the whole national economy), TPLF companies extant, party funds, funds from international NGOs, and capital borrowed from the state bank. Alone and with other 'private companies' the TPLF has launched many projects which it claims are not subsidized parastatals but commercial enterprises.

    This pattern is repeated in other regions. Ottaway demures from further analysis based on lack of information of the size of the TPLF and crony economy but today it is clear that the critics she quotes were correct on the TPLF business empire.
    Others see it as an obstacle to economic growth, believing that the party linked enterprises will never function along purely commercial lines, and that they will push genuine private entrepreneurs out of the most promising areas by getting better access to credit and licenses.
    File that bit under obvious. Now if the above was written in a generally positive view of the regime it is hard to imagine how harsh criticism could be much worse. Ottaway ends by saying that the glimmer of pluralism she saw in Ethiopia then was driven by private sector economic activity.

    That is certainly the way it is supposed to work in normal economies but the buds of both political and economic enterprise were trodden on fairly early in the game in preference for a unitary political economic force under the politburo aka Meles Inc.


    Negussay Ayele in Norway, Ethiopia and the Yara foundation gives us a glimpse into the world of some international business 'co-operation'.

    In the midst of a failing economy dependent on Western handouts, zero to no foreign direct investment, falling per capita agricultural yields WITH increasing fertilizer usage, no private ownership of land, strict government party control of the personal / political / economic life of tens of millions of peasants, widespread corruption AND in the midst of street massacres in the cities the foundation of a major fertilizer company gave the PM a large prize for being a great leader of his people and all around swell guy.

    This was written in September of 2005 - in January of 2006 the contracts were not surprisingly renewed. Indebtedness from fertilizer debt is used as a potent weapon to surpress rural dissent in combination with total life insecurity based on the lack of private ownership of land. Below is a passage lifted straight from the article.

    In 2000, the Meles regime decided to sideline other, longtime suppliers, in favor of Yara, agreeing to pay it more than the going market price per metric ton. Since then, Yara has become the major exporter of fertilizer to Ethiopia, albeit a relatively small market by Yara’s profit calculus.

    Companies like Ethiopian Amalgamated Limited, which serviced the supply of fertilizers from the plant to the farm, streamlined the process and helped reduce the cost. Yara, however, shipped the fertilizer to Djibouti from where Mr. Meles Zenawi’s EPRDF’s designated parastatal agency with a fancy name-- Agricultural Inputs Supply Corporation or Enterprise (AISCO/E) or another so appointed body takes over.

    About two-thirds of the fertilizer supply is then distributed to subsidiary parastatals of EPRDF’s ethnic regions namely Dinsho in Oromia, Ambasel in Amhara, Guna in Tigrai, Wondo in Southern Peoples of Ethiopia. AISCO/E or its variant reserves the rest of the supply to use as politically expedient.


    The Prime Minister on economics:
    "Unlike in [Western Style] Liberal Democracy, in [Ethiopia’s] “Revolutionary Democracy,” there is no economic area that is outside its preserve. Only available capital and procurable management can limit its investment capacity.
    This will be another long series from numerous sources detailing the essentially corrupt system that Ethiopians suffer under. A system that simultaneously wastes billions in aid dollars and euros while impoverishing millions:

    The World Is Yours I
    The World Is Yours II - The Syndicate
    The World Is Yours III - The Commission
    The World Is Yours IV - "An Offer They Can't Refuse"
    The World Is Yours V - Capo di tutti Capi
    The World Is Yours VI - Our Thing
    The World Is Yours VII - Wise Guys
    The World Is Yours VIII - Friends of Ours

    Sunday, January 8

    In Whose Name?

    Details of Mekele Martyr's Monument from Andrew Heavens.

    We are all so familiar with monuments that the anti-monument that is Washington's Vietnam War Memorial from the 1980s is more evocative in significant ways than the massive Battle of Stalingrad Monument in Russia from the 1950s or even the Arch de Triomphe in Paris built during the 19th century.

    One must wonder if a process of maturation is represented in the progression noted above or one of changing fashion. An evident truth is that the more democratic a society is the more human in scale and personally experienced are its monuments.

    Monuments reflect in any society how its builders want themselves and history to be remembered and interpreted. They are worth looking at because they hold vital clues about the natures of the socities that they represent.

    One monument that, at first glance, seems to embrace those traditions and to become to us one of the most affective ever is the monument from Mekele in Ethiopia pictured here.

    The presentations of the people, their pain and perseverance against odds is stunning. The young are reassuring the old as they head into an uncertain future determined by their will and sacrifice. The colors are of the native soil and their scale is near human creating a moving whole of purpose and respect.

    We have started with the human figures although the main part of the monument, which should be all theirs by definition, towers far above them to unreachable and inhuman heights in both symbolic and actual meaning. Observers are certainly being asked to find grandeur and majesty in the soaring modernist columns but we find only tragedy.

    It is certainly a cliche to speak of betrayed revolutions but that does not make cliches into lies. This monument tells the whole story.

    All the way at the top is a gear, a familiar and eternal symbol of communism and the enslavement of reality to pseudo-science beloved by totalitarians everywhere. Mengistu once said that "we shall place creation itself under our control" - the gear was a symbol of the ideology shared by both past generations of Ethiopian dictatorship.

    We aren't sure about the orb. Perhaps it is a representation of the divine power that rests by the throne of Marx in Communist Paradise. (That is assuming that Lenin has not yet managed the schemes necessary to overthrow him.) The point is that humanity, here the Tigrayan people who gave of their blood, sweat and tears to change the world, have shrunken before an idea.

    That idea, that invariably became a nightmare everywhere it was seen, took on the nature of a jealous religion whose sacred books required interpretation by a priestly class. That priestly class became the current polituburo with the Prime Minister at its head and as a matter of definition they alone know what is good for Tigrayans, Ethiopians in general and the world (although they lack the power to do anything about the last).

    What is to us the beauty and significance of the human figures in the Mekele monument are dwarfed by the self-justifying ideology of their unelected leaders. It is seldom that symbols can be interpreted this easily but the Mekele Monument was very obviously built for Meles Inc. as a justification for the eternal rule of a few.

    The principal message seems to be that people - the individual men, women and indeed children who brought about change don't matter but what does is their nebulous destination determined by a few who allegedly speak for them. Just as profoundly offensive to us as the idea that Ethiopians by definition support the government is the idea that Tigrayans necessarily support the government.

    Have no doubt - there is no grouping of humans of any size however similiar of different that all think the same way. The idea that all Indians in Uttar Pradesh or Puerto Ricans in Spanish Harlem think alike would be considered highly offensive as would the idea that one voice spoke for all of them.

    However, there seems to be some degree of acceptance abroad that is greatly encouraged by the government that the TPLF speaks for Tigrayans. We absolutely reject this idea - indeed, Tigrayans have far less political rights than any other Ethiopians. The Politburo sees the estrangement of Tigrayans from Ethiopians as their ulimate insurance policy and guarantee of power.

    Tigrayans may be used involuntarily against Ethiopians by tribal manipulation and the structure of the state but most importantly the government seeks to have Tigrayans become hated by other Ethiopians so that they have no other place to turn for security and common cause than the original authors of their misery who may look and sound like them but who only care for themselves.

    The myth of absolute Tigrayan support of the TPLF and its policies is one of the most insidious and damaging lies that are the foundation of Meles Inc. and its rule. It is not logical and acceptance of it is immoral.

    Here is an example of the idea of eternal rule of the priestly class and tribal manipulation in action:

    Treason charges filed in Ethiopia
    Prosecutors in Ethiopia have charged 131 jailed opposition leaders, reporters and aid workers with crimes ranging from treason to "genocide". ... Under Ethiopian law, some of the crimes carry the death penalty.
    129 opposition activists remanded in custody
    Prosecutors added that Tigranians [sic, read Tigrayans], who form an ethnic minority group and perceived to be the holders of power in the country, were victims of stoning and arson.
    Ethiopia charges opposition members with genocide
    Under a section entitled "genocide", the charge sheet seen by Reuters specifically accused the CUD of trying to isolate the Tigrayan people of Ethiopia, who are largely supporters of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's victorious Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

    "The accused organised under the CUD umbrella and conspired with the intent to cause physical and mental harm to the people of Tigraya region and the attempt to isolate members of the EPRDF from society," the charges presented in court read.
    Is the Ethiopian government protecting Tigrayans from genocide? No. It is abusing their good name in the service of the lethal will to power of a tiny professional and permanent revolutionary feudal aristocracy. Tigrayans were just the first and are among the most constant victims of the current government.

    According to the Ethiopian government, the opposition has been planning genocide since long before the election and according to the Prime Minister in his BBC interview after the first set of massacres in June, the election was carried out with that certain knowledge of planned genocide by the opposition.

    Actually, genocide and such labels of absolute evil are a matter of original defining sin staining the souls of anyone who opposes the government in any way and they deserve to die for it. It is a matter of definition - as certain as the laws of gravity - that the Ethiopian people and indeed providence support the eternal rule of the Prime Minister.

    Observers can be occasionally forgiven for reading or hearing words like 'constitution, law, court, treason, genocide, election, election board, parliament' and assuming that there is some reasonably sincere simalcrum of those civilized concepts in existence in Ethiopia. There are none to be found.

    All are simply cover for dictatorship and justifications for barbarism. Take the government charges against the oppostion. Literally no one on this entire planet believes them to any degree. It is only the lethal reality of despotism, however dressed up that makes their meaning clear.

    Essentially what is being said is that the Prime Minister and his Politburo will never leave power voluntarily and they are busy making that point clear to all at home and abroad who thought otherwise. Policy has made accountability in Ethiopia a matter of relations between the government and Western aid donors - 70 million Ethiopians are excluded from consideration in that civil contract beyond knowing their place and keeping to it silently.

    Before any discussion of the charges of genocide and treason against over a hundred opposition leaders, journalists, and leaders of civil society we should make a comment about the crude traps set by tribalism in any Ethiopian discussion. Professinal tribalists set these traps to isolate Ethiopians from each other and particularly to isolate Tigrayans.

    Tigrayans have far more in common with all other Ethiopians than their self designated ethnic elite that oppresses everyone together regardless of ethnicity.

    The rulers of Ethiopia are popularly imagined to have their roots in an ethnic liberation front and in Marxist-Leninism. This is only half true. The former is only an excuse for a small like minded group to draw others to their own cause by trick or by force. The latter is proven means of focusing their own will to power

    Such atavistic ties to ethnicity and ideology serve only the cause of power. The Ethiopian Constitution reflects that atavism as does the whole of a decade and a half of Ethiopian governance of the country.

    ethiopundit is not denying the importance of ethnicity. It is a profound and necessarily respected aspect of every person. However, that aspect of identity is more often than not manipulated for selfish ends with the classic aim of divide and rule.

    By falsely wrapping themselves in a tribal mantle ethnic politicians seek to protect themselves from legitimate opposition. Thus involuntary enmities and artificial loyalties against self interest are manufactured. Ethnic politics does serve the interests of a very few whose security in power trumps all other considerations.

    To paraphrase Samuel Johnson - for the Ethiopian rulers
    'ethnicity is the last refuge of a scoundrel'.
    ethiopundit will not fall for the baited trap of assigning millions characteristics that are shared only within a ruling class that misfortune has placed in everyone's way.

    One thing for Ethiopians and foreigners to be constantly aware of when considering ethnicity in the recent past and present is the minefield set by ethnic opportunists. When ethnic politicians say that their party speaks for a whole people, it is always without the consent of those people.

    By demanding absolute conformity and national discipline of the variety of Lenin's 'democratic centralism' today's rulers want Tigrayans to be isolated and unable to look outside of the party structure for common cause with anyone.

    The 'leaders' contrive and manipulate enmity and then cynically charge critics with being the real tribalists. Revolutionaries of every stripe think that 'the people' (be they Ethiopians in general, Tigrayan, Oromo, Amhara or others) are a fundamentally ignorant herd that must be defined by the passing fancy and personal interests of the revolutionary class.

    Ethnic / tribal manipulation is just another destructive aspect of Marxist-Leninist politics and Ethio-radicalism. It was adapted by Lenin a century ago to cripple rivals within and without his own party by creating or exacerbating societal divisions for use against potential rivals who called upon patriotism, nationalism, tradition or any other notion inconvenient to the Bolshevik mission.

    How about the continual invocation of the martyrs of the war against the Dergue? Remembering them should not be abused by a few to form a holy shield that is used to defend every crime committed by a few decades later. Those martyrs did not die in their tens of thousands and others did not suffer by their millions so that the Revolutionary Feudal Aristocracy of today could rule forever atop a pyramid of suffering as policy.

    On June 22, 1988 the Dergue criminally bombed a market place in Hawzen claiming great numbers of dead and wounded. The Dergue met its just fate for that horror and countless others. However, we firmly believe that all of the jealously guarded villas and Range Rovers, the hoards of hard currency in foreign banks and all of the party businesses and monopolies held by a few atop a pyramid of suffering and despair are not the appropriate legacy for those or any martyrs.

    They did not die for anyone's board chairmanship nor for their executive office suite. They certainly did not die to one day justify the killing of fellow Ethiopians.

    Never forget that Tigrayans are Ethiopians first and that the forces united against the current government and its stolen election represent a unity unseen since the wars against Italian fascism or colonialism. The very idea that Tigray is so united behind the party is by necessity a lie. No group of humans, certainly millions of them so passionately believe in any cause or person to the exclusion of all else.

    One might ask the people of Tigray if an opportunity were ever given
    In March [of 2004], the residents of Aby Adi, a town in Tigray region, conducted a peaceful demonstration, protesting the lack of electricity, usable roads, and running water. Three members of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) Central Committee reportedly threatened to arrest the organizers of the demonstration if they did not apologize.

    According to reports, the Government also sent security agents to prevent any further protests. The Government rejected requests to hold similar protests in the Tigrayan towns of Maichew and Samre.
    We know the Prime Minister ran unopposed in the 'election' where he voted with a bunch of reporters and THREE EU election observers on hand. What don't we know about the 'election' in Tigray and the aftermath? The party approached the Tigrayan people with the lie that they were not communists until it was too late to do anything about that fact. This was done because Tigray is where rights of private property have been traditionally strongest in Ethiopian history. In addition the ethnic agenda of TPLF rule was kept from Tigrayans who historically have most consistently held the banner of Ethiopian unity aloft.

    Professor Levine reminds us that in the 1970s the TPLF's ideological and horrific real battles to make Tigrayans submit was directed such that
    the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray ... conjoined the principle of class struggle with that of self-determination of nationalities. Like other radicals of the day, they appropriated the myth that Ethiopia was the invention of Minelik in order to legitimate the independence of Eritrea, and the principle of self-determination within Ethiopia.

    This ethno-Marxist sentiment drove the most ambitious elements of the TPLF movement. It led those who took political control of the TPLF to turn against Tigrayan political elements who did not support Eritrean independence. Before long that led, evidence suggests, to a policy of liquidating those elements.

    Tigray became, survivors of those horrific years aver, a "killing field." According to many reports, which must be investigated further by future historians, Tigrayan civilians were slaughtered right and left–in many cases following gruesome torture, according to eye witnesses.


    One veteran of those killings confesses that when he told another, early in the fighting "the number of people we have killed thus far has reached 10,000," his comrade replied: "So what, Red China had to kill a million people in order to become victorious."
    The brutality used to try and divorce Tigrayans from their identity, history and traditions so that they could not make common cause with other Ethiopians can not be forgotten. One anecdote from an international bureaucrat looking to set up a pilot development program is revealing.

    In every region of Ethiopia, the group had around them government officials or friendly 'minders' who they suspected were there to prevent them from hearing anything directly. When they got to Tigray, they met groups of peasants and farmers without interference.

    Later, their embassies in Addis explained to them, "that is the one place where no one even dreams of dissenting or complaining - the fear is set so deep that it looks like agreement and that makes the government confident [at least it used to do so]." This is certainly a more likely explanation than believing all residents of Tigray love the government. Any group of humans is too complex for that to be true.

    At first glance the charges of treason and genocide against the opposition seems to be the only story in the news or the only one that matters. The death threats being held over the heads of the opposition leaders are not only a threat and warning to the known opposition but just as importantly to Tigrayans everywhere.

    All of the crimes of the past decade and a half have been done in the name of the good people of Tigray by Meles Inc. who does not speak or act on their behalf. From the loss of Tigrayan neighborhoods in Addis that we know about in the 'election' to the total absence of opposition allowed in Tigray proper it is evident that the government fears for the support of the original hostages of its power, the Tigrayan people.

    All government actions and words including in particular the threats to kill opposition leaders are also clearly directed at Tigrayans. They are being told "without us you will be targeted and even if you know we are lying about that you had better believe that we will create the conditions for the lie to become truth - unless you give us your absolute support."

    Tigrayans and all other Ethiopians already know their way around the government lies and manage as best they can to live lives of dignity and courage against great odds. The truth should be equally obvious to observers of every kind everywhere - don't believe the government except when it threatens to be brutal - that mission it will certainly carry out.


    Tigrayans were not at the forefront of a general Ethiopian struggle and sacrifice against the Dergue for

    *the TPLF / government business empire,
    *the government / TPLF economic monopolies,
    *the eternal dictatorship of Meles,
    *the creation of a permanent feudal revolutionary aristocracy of unprecedented historical wealth and power
    *the abuse of their good name to serve the lethal will to power of a selfish few whose policies of tribal divide and rule would estrange Tigrayans and all Ethiopians from eachother

    Simply put, Tigrayans were the first victims of the TPLF. Many Tigrayans have always been opponents of the TPLF. Other Tigrayans are either initial, long time, conditional or even current supporters of the TPLF.

    However, it must be remembered that any people have a right to change their minds at any time of their choosing in any direction that they want for whatever reason that they want. Support of any political movement should not be a life sentence nor should any political movement demand blood oaths of eternal subservience.

    Actually the issue here is not the TPLF as much as its current leadership. Reform of the TPLF is vital to all because it has within it a great majority of vital Ethiopians concerned for all other Ethiopians. Unfortunately their better instincts are tainted by the structure of corruption above them.

    The revolutionary feudal aritstocracy making all of the bad decisions wants to dig an even deeper hole (i.e. La Lutta Continua!) and drag all Ethiopians, particularly Tigrayans in it with them to perpetuate as long as possible a morally and financially corrupt system designed for the benefit of a tiny few.

    If the walls of the new Lutta's trenches cave in on all Ethiopians one day - as they surely will - the elite of the professional revolutionary class will not be around to deal with the consequences.

    Accelerating 'externalization' of funds through and into shell companies, into property in the names of lawyers, relatives and friends, non-transparent bank accounts and political favors worldwide have been preparing a soft landing for the top ranks of Meles Inc. for over a decade and a half now.


    In 'The EPRDF and the Crisis of the Ethiopian State' Aregawi Berhe one of the founders of the TPLF details his vision of the complexities of the modern Ethiopian state and the Tigrayan relationship with the ruling organization named for it.

    In 'The Origins of the TPLF' Aregawi Berhe traces the history of the TPLF, places its history and the rise of Meles Inc. in historical context and shows how early Marxist-Leninist roots and ethnic seperatism was carefully hidden from the Tigrayan people until it was too late for their opinions to matter.

    In a 'A Flourishing Democracy in the State of Tigray' Dagmawi makes some of these points quite clearly and lays bare the tribal excuses of contemporary dictatorship.

    In 'Not In My Name', GK makes the point more eloquently and personally than we ever could. A reader let us know about this article after reading our post above, sorry for any similiarity in the titles at least. Link from Solidarity Tigrai.

    In 'Crime and Nourishment in Ethiopia: American Taxpayer's Money at Work' by anonymous presents a strong and comprehensive case is made for the withdrawal of American and British support for Ethiopia's dictatorship. Link from EthioMedia.Com.

    There are too many intelligent, witty, on point and thoughful posts from Weichegud to note any one in particular. Suffice it to say that it remains consistently one of our absolute favorites and wishes that 'we should have thought of that'. It is a source of constant amazement for us as we see the nimbleness of the author's mind and the breadth of the author's experience.

    The reporter Andrew Heavens at Meskel Square is another excellent source of wry commentary and clear observation that is well worth visiting. He has also managed an ability to write short significant posts that we really envy.