Monday, March 27

Despots and the Terror Excuse

From Instapundit this link to a Financial Times piece on the EU view of the 'elections' in Belarus.
EU ministers endorsed the damning findings of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s 476-strong observer mission.

The mission’s report found that Mr Lukashenko had “permitted state authority to be used in a manner which did not allow citizens to freely and fairly express their will”.

It said statements by the Belarusan KGB associating the opposition with terrorism and accusing it of planning a coup had led to a "climate of intimidation". Campaign workers and opposition figures had been subject to "physical assaults, detention and even imprisonment."
Note how "the Belarusan KGB associating the opposition with terrorism and accusing it of planning a coup". Sound familiar? It should that is how the prison camps, the killings and the Potemkin treason and genocide trials have been justified against Ethiopians in general and their elected leaders in particular by the ideological soulmates of the Belarusan KGB in the form of Meles Inc.

The usual blaming of the diaspora, the long dead Dergue, Eritreans, the OLF and the elected opposition - jointly or singly is also in the KGB handbook. Lies about terror and lies about plans for genocide and other ridiculous charges are beyond laughable to anyone except for maybe the folks at Reuters.

Actually the charges of planned genocide began in Ethiopia long before the election. The fiction that without Meles Inc. that Ethiopia would plunge into tribal chaos started 14 long years before that. There is little 'carrot' in the regime approach to Ethiopians and their prospects. Rather what is at issue is how severely the 'stick' should be applied - the choices seem to be 'very hard blows or 'extremely hard knocks' - depending on the level of obeisance.

Fake acts of terrorism are part of this effort. In Ethiopia foils 'terror' plot we hear of 'TNT explosives'. Then in Ethiopia says Eritrea behind bombings there is a leap to 'using a grenade known as C-4'.

Someone at the newly minted Federal Police Anti-Terrorism Task Force was catching up on their Hollywood DVDs for that jump to occur in the space of a week or so and it is generally the same grenade and cache of weapons being thrown or discovered week after week.

The TNT to C-4 transition is absurd because it is unlikely that TNT is used much anymore anywhere but it is firmly rooted in the popular mind as a generic explosive. It was just the first serious sounding explosive that came to the propagandist's mind. Later on, memories of all those Hollywood movies were the hero cop / secret agent mentioned C-4 and everyone's eyes widened on screen at how bad the bad guys were to use something so bad, caused the newer explosive to be mentioned.

We must wonder what is next. Perhaps the opposition in concert with Eritrean agents and the rest of the usual list of suspects will be caught red handed with Semtex or maybe the very same 'nuclear grenades' that Idi Amin complained were unfairly used against him and the PLO during the Entebe raid.

No one believes any of this nonsense but it allows those inclined to cozy up to the regime to find excuses for doing so since they figure Ethiopians can do no better than Meles Inc. anyway. The likes of Reuters can be counted on to pick up and repeat any government story without context or analysis so it is hoped that it will spread around and influence just enough minds or at least to cloud the truth enough so that the weak willed just go along with the government program.

That is why there is such a spate of fake good economic news being spouted of late. It is an attempt to gain confidence that should be had in no arena. The message is "sure we aren't running a democracy here. But we deserve your money because at least we are developing the country or at least we have gotten enough of the media to say so. Go on and send the reward money we would have gotten for being democrats and we will all agree never to expect much from Ethiopia."

Don't expect those who go along with that meme to turn around and report that the ruling party / government literally owns the economy of the whole country and runs it for its own benefit. From the days of Lucy (Dinkinesh) walking the earth millions of years ago through today only Mengistu and Meles have had that much of an absolute monopoly on wealth and power in Ethiopian history.

There is literally no place where money can be made or traded all the way from remitted, loaned or donated dollars and pounds onto lone birr snatched from peasants that is not dominated by the party / government / crony business empire.

Back to the matter at hand, here is what the EU final report (pdf) had to say about the 'elections' in Ethiopia presented as a 'best of' list from Addis Ferengi
During the campaign

"Nevertheless the opposition alleged widespread intimidation and arrests of its supporters. Often, intimidation in the rural areas included threats with land dispossession and deprivation of fertilizers or food assistance. The EU EOM was not able, for logistical reasons, to verify all these allegations, but could confirm most cases that it looked into. For example, observers confirmed arrests and imprisonment of CUD candidates in Debre Tabor/Gonder, in Betucha Angalo/Oromia and in Addis Ababa. In Gambela, 52 supporters of independent candidates were arrested under the charge of ‘hooliganism’. In Gebre Guracha/Oromia 12 supporters of the opposition ONC were imprisoned. The EU EOM recorded no arrests of EPRDF supporters for campaing offense."

The election day

"Across the country, almost all EU observers received reports from opposition party representatives alleging intimidation of their supporters and candidates by government or EPRDF representatives, including threats against their lives, beatings, presence of militia, arrests, etc. In some cases observers were given detailed accounts by persons who alleged that they were victims of intimidation, including violence. Some 20 per cent of EU LTOs spoke to election officials who reported that they were fearful of negative reactions against them if the EPRDF did not win in their area. As many of the officials held government jobs, they were particularly concerned about their professional future. In a few cases, in areas where opposition won, they expressed fear for their lives, because they felt they would be held responsible for the results."

After the elections

"On 5 June, incidents started at the University of Addis Ababa and spread, the next day, to other parts of town. According to the Police, on 6 June, 520 students were arrested in the campus and more than 50 “vagrants” were arrested elsewhere. On 7 June, army, police and armed militia trucks patrolled the city streets day and night. On 8 June, demonstrations took place in Addis Ababa in which the security forces killed at least 36 persons. (...) Following the demonstration and killing of demonstrators, the government conducted a wave of arrests, some directly connected to the demonstration, others without any obvious connection. The exact numbers are controversial and cannot be ascertained in absence of official figures, but were in the thousands. In late June, Federal Police stated that 3,132 people were held at one prison (Ziway, near Addis Ababa), of which 2,665 would be released. High school children were among those detained, some of whom informed the EU EOM Chief Observer that they had been picked up at their homes late at night."

During the "investigation process"

"The complaints investigation process took place in the context of serious violations of human rights and freedoms, namely of opposition leaders and suspected supporters. This undermined the opposition’s ability to participate effectively in the process, independently of their competence to argue their case: material evidence was unobtainable because detained or fearful witnesses were unable to testify and, in one case, an important witness was killed. The climate of threats and intimidation was maintained throughout the complaints investigation process. EU EOM observers reported cases, where militia, police or armed forces were present around the location of the hearings. Also opposition witnesses were arrested before or after they testified in front of the panel, and many witnesses or opposition supporters reported to the observers that they were threatened in various ways, as it happened in Albuko and Eteya constituencies."
It didn't take the EU almost a year to decide what is happening by other Revolutionary Democrats in Belarus was awful but in all fairness the EU did begin to be critical right around the May 'elections' in Ethiopia.

We do expect, however, that the consequences for the regime in Belarus will be far more serious than for the one in Addis. In addition we will assume that Reuters won't choose this very moment to recycle government propaganda about how really well the economy in Belarus is supposedly doing without checking its facts first.

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