Monday, November 27

it is well that war is so terrible ...

Do not fall into the trap set up by the EPRDF to make us fail.

Following reports of Christian - Muslim violence, the Anuak Justice Council gave the this warning, Beware of the EPRDF Hate Plan to Divide Muslims and Christians!. Below are a few excerpts:
Ethiopians are urged to exercise extreme caution as this conflict may not be about religion at all, but be about the EPRDF ... Do not fall into the trap set up by the EPRDF to make us fail.


When the Anuaks were massacred in Gambella in 2003, no one grieved with us but our own people. Many people have since shared with us their guilt and regret for not doing more for the Anuak. You have another chance now to be different.


The AJC has been alerted to a seriously misunderstood issue affecting Christians and Muslims in the Oromiya area of Ethiopia, about 350K west of the capital city, Addis Ababa. In the last weeks, international news has provided reports of inter-religious conflict in the region.

Reports allege that Christians were murdered by Muslims and that their homes and churches were burned, with threats of more to come. Muslims report that some Muslims were also killed by Christians. Such conflict comes as a shock to most Ethiopians who, despite ethnic and political divisions, have not seen serious religious conflict.

Historically, Muslims, Christians, Jews, traditionalists and non-believers in Ethiopia have been able to live peaceably, side by side in this country of about half Christians and half Muslims.

What is happening? Is a more radical form of Islam emerging in Ethiopia that will threaten the religious tolerance that Ethiopians have enjoyed for many years?

Well, in a more sinister direction, information reported to the AJC in the last three weeks points out a different possibility--that the conflict has been created by agents of the EPRDF-- the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), who have incited local militias, made up of pro-EPDRF government Muslims and allegedly, even some Christians, to kill Christians and burn their homes. The common factor between the militants is their allegiance not to Allah, but to the EPRDF.


[The] political survival of the EPRDF is at stake. Decreasing international support and increasing inter-ethnic unity amongst Ethiopians is causing increased difficulties to the current regime. An old strategy of fomenting conflict between ethnic groups has now come to the forefront to break down the historical religious tolerance between Christians and Muslims as Mr. Meles attempts to convince the West that the terrorists are here in Ethiopia.

Such violent conflict may strike deeply enough at the hearts of those in the West, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, to convince them that more is needed now than ever before to prevent the spread of radical Islam, associated with terrorism, in this strategic country in the Horn of Africa.

It will be a further indication--although untrue-- that Mr. Meles Zenawi, their partner in the War on Terror, is the answer to that need, despite the opposition from his own people who accuse him of a magnitude of human rights crimes, repression, corruption and terror tactics.
The folks at the Anuak Justice Council are absolutely right in our opinion.

Ethiopia's corrupt dictatorship is financed by the West because of the poverty it causes and perpetuates for its own people and the quite purposeful potential of Meles Inc. to destabilize not only Ethiopia but the entire Horn of Africa if protection money is not paid.

The Ethiopian government has to be begged and threatened to treat their own people decently - with no apparent result but an attempt to hide crimes against humanity that Mengistu would have been openly proud of. The creation and manipulation of ethnic hatred is the regime's bread and butter.

Like, the Anuak Justice Council, we were suspicious of the reports of religious based violence based on the government's most fundamental modus operandi: a long history of brutality and lies. The Anuak Justice Council knows exactly what they are talking about.


The section below is from Blood, Oil and Ethnic Rule in Gambela, an early 2005 post.

Often when the West questions the Human Rights practices of other countries the reaction is official protest at the ‘interference in internal affairs‘ or just plain denial. Sometimes foreign pressure can make a bit of a difference.

In situations like that detailed below a profound respect for all parties is evident in the ‘foreign interference‘. Simply put, it is reassuringly being assumed that third world governments ‘do know better’ than to hurt their own people and should be held accountable for it when they do.

One point to keep in mind when taking in the tragic events below is that the Ethiopian Consitution is based on ethnic and regional seperation with the dishonest and unworkable legal right for any 'nation, nationality or people' to become independent at will. All participation in political life is based on tribalism.

The ruling party, which is inseperable from government, uses brute force as well as local and national divide and rule - all for the sake of absolute control. The fate of the Anuak is a natural consequence of current Ethiopian governance and ethnic manipulation.

Ethiopians and interested foreigners are fed up.

[or so it seemed at the time]
The US on Tuesday [February 3, 2005] called on Ethiopia to punish those responsible for violence in its western Gambella region that claimed hundreds of lives last year.
[US Ambassador Aurelia Brazeal], whose comments came after a visit to the region, also called for greater protection of human rights by the security services in Gambella. She said the region, which is rich in oil and gold reserves, was "the conscience of Ethiopia".

Gambella’s population of 228,000 is multi-ethnic. In addition to people from the Nuer, Anyuak, Majanger, Komo and Opo ethnic groups, it includes an estimated 60,000 people from other parts of Ethiopia, who are known locally as highlanders.
The attention of the Ambassador is of critical importance for the wellbeing of the Anuak and of Ethiopians in general. We have pointed out on several occasions that without the interest of Western aid donors, even the current Potemkin Village of democracy and human rights as well as the Cargo Cult ersatz market economy in Ethiopia would be absent.

Usually there is the stunning omission in reporting on the Anuak issue that. the entire system of governance in Ethiopia today is based upon the manipulation of ethnicity at the pleasure of her rulers. It is to be expected that such ethnic violence occurs and a surprise it does not happen more. Or perhaps it does, out of the purview of dedicated Ethiopians who pursue such issues at great risk and far from the protection of Western Embassies no one really knows what is happening.

The highlanders mentioned above are ethnic Amharas and Tigrayans who have over the past two decades been resettled in Anuak territory in ill conceived resettlement schemes - all are victims of government policy such as the absence of property rights that can further inflame all manner of rivalries.

'No, we want to talk about the oil now.'

The Anuak were under the radar of government enmity until a new factor appeared in Gambela to cause state mandated violence - oil.
On June 13, 2003, Malaysia's state-owned petroleum corporation, PETRONAS, [with two Chinese subcontractors] announced the signing of an exclusive 25-year oil exploration and production sharing agreement with the EPRDF government to exploit the Ogaden Basin and the "Gambella Block" or "Block G" concession. On February 17, 2004, the Ethiopian Minister of Mines announced that Malaysia's PETRONAS will launch a natural gas exploration project in the Gambella region. Block G covers an area of 15,356 square kilometers within the Gambella Basin.

According to Anuak sources, the Ethiopian government held a public meeting in Gambella in February, even as violence against Anuak in rural areas was continuing to rise. One witness testified: "They told people about the oil and how it would benefit everyone. But the Anuak said: 'How can you talk to us about oil when people are still being killed? We don't want to talk about the oil.' But the government said, 'No, we want to talk about the oil now.'"
This all sounds distressingly like what happened in Central and Southern Sudan when oil was discovered. Trouble began
[i]n July 2002, the regional government accused the central government in Addis Ababa of flagrant interference in the day to day affairs of the Gambella region, an act which contradicts the commitment to regional autonomy and devolution of power to the regions.

In November 2002, the central government in Addis Ababa reacted swiftly and severely by overthrowing and virtually disbanding all democratically elected regional institutions in the Gambella region, including the Regional council.

The former Regional President and other council members were arrested and transferred to federal prison in Addis Ababa and remain in detention without being charged of any crime.
This despite the Constitutional mandate for decentralization of power and the right of all ‘nations, nationalities, and peoples’ to seccede at will. At a UN Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva on April 8, 2004 the Anuak Survival Organization representative said
I speak to you as the representative of a forgotten people, the Anuak (or Anywaa) of Ethiopia. We number only 100,000 persons in the Gambella province of south-western Ethiopia. Our province is the tongue of fertile land, rich with natural resources such as oil, gold and other minerals that extends into southern Sudan. In the past four months, over 1137 Anuak have been murdered by the Ethiopian defense forces and some others from the highland.
He described how thousands have fled to Sudan and blamed government incitement of some highlanders following an ambush of eight officials by parties other than Anuaks. Over three days hundreds were killed in placed in mass graves. Noting that although
The Ethiopian government claims that ‘only’ 57 Anuak were killed and blames the murders on ‘ethnic conflict’ between Nuers and Anuak but the Nuers had nothing to do with the killings. In fact, it was Nuers and the majority of Ethiopian civilians from the highlands who helped save thousands of Anuak lives by hiding them under their beds. This is not an ethnic conflict between Nuers and Anuak or between highlanders and Anuaks.

killings and mass rape

In May of 2004, the International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and Genocide Watch reported that killings and other acts of ethnic cleansing were ongoing
“We have interviewed numerous victims and eyewitnesses from the minority Anuak ethnic group who fled south-western Ethiopia in the wake of massive and unprovoked violence against unarmed men, women and children,” said Genocide Watch/SRI researcher Keith Harmon Snow.

“We have collected detailed testimony suggesting that acts of genocide and crimes against humanity were committed against unarmed civilians by Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Defense Forces (EPRDF) and ‘highlander’ militias.”

“There is irrefutable evidence of atrocities against thousands of civilians, and we continue to receive reports of killings and mass rape,” Mr. Snow said. “We are very concerned about rural areas where communications and access to civilians are prevented by isolation and a heavy military presence
The Ethiopian government asserted that the military presence was preventing further violence and
dismissed reports that the Ethiopian army targeted and killed Anuaks as ‘fiction’ and said that at the most 200 people had been killed in clashes in the region. He stated that the “only people who had been killed by the military in the area were armed Anuak insurgents who had staged cross-border raids from Sudan.”
However, unlike Sudan, the relative aid dependence of the Ethiopian government has made it more amenable to early Western intervention. The government appears to appreciate the need for action on the issue so the attention may already be working.

[but ... the Ethiopian government is if anything more willing to kill its own people today despite any Western threats or criticism]
The Ethiopian government has apologised to various ethnic groups in the western Gambella region for failing to avert clashes which claimed more than 300 lives since December, reports said on Saturday.
The Reporter says that a Parliamentary Commission found that some members of the Ministry of Defense were involved in killings. However, the numbers of victims seem to be deflated from other accounts and only “some "unidentified" troops from the defence ministry had murdered 13 people“ is reported. Of the above reported population of 228,000 up to 51,000 are still displaced.

a litany of crimes ... ongoing

Cultural Survival Quarterly details some of the history of Anuak exploitation at the hands of Ethiopian government that has grown ever more brutal with time.

Historically, the Anuak were victims of slave trading. From the 1980s on the frankly murderous Dergue used every means at the disposal of its totalitarian state from helicopter gunships to brutal local rule to abuse the Anuak as the process of resettling highlanders from the north began.

Those highlanders themselves were moved involuntarily and remain victims of government policy. In the 1980s the Dergue was then conducting a campaign of death and destruction against the people of Tigray, among others, and moved thousands south in poorly planned resettlement schemes. One aim was to isolate potential supporters of Tigrayan rebel forces, who have now become the government of Ethiopia.

Amnesty International reports that Oromos, Amharas and Tigrayans were among the resettled highlanders who were incited to act against the Anuak by government officials. Next time if it serves the purposes of power and ethnic divide and rule - any number of combinations of tribes will be made to fight each other countrywide.

The Ambassador’s recent statement seems to be made in encouragement for the admission of error accompanied by pressure against the minimization of the problem. There is also an growing sense of American and E.U. wariness of and weariness with the Ethiopian government, its pronouncements and unmistakable reality. Given the parts of the American President’s State of the Union speech that touched on human rights, more of this type of pressure should be expected - and should be welcomed by all observers.

[wishful thinking that was, it seems the speech wasn't meant to apply to Ethiopia]

“The Minnesota media is an early warning system for this African genocide” according to the McGill Report run by Doug McGill, a journalist close to the Anuak Community of Minnesota. Anuak Genocide Watch, is a dormant blog from Bethel University whose archives and links are of value. Genocide Watch, is also following developments closely.

Events are detailed here from Genocide Watch and Survivors’ Rights International in a report titled “Today is the Day of Killing Anuaks”.

Testimony to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, “The Anuak Massacre of 2003”.


when Somali politics becomes an excuse for eternal Ethiopian dictatorship

Almost two years since the writing of the above post it is safe to assume that foreign involvement from donor governments and private citizens, especially the Anuak diaspora, have saved the lives of countless people. Just like every other silly and alleged parliamentary investigation on any issue of note once the ink is dry in press reports all is forgotten.

What else could one expect?

Even the Anuak killings were carried out amid a massive public relations effort to simulate democracy and civilized government that collapsed in the wake of a poorly managed 'election' and the loss of every area where observers where present.

Since then it is widely accepted that tens of thousands have been placed in prison camps and hundreds murdered while it is known hundreds of opposition, human rights and free press leaders are in prison on trial for their lives.

Remember, even the new figures for dead account for Addis Ababa only and remain official figures. Believing any official figures out of Ethiopia is a mistake and puts one in the dubious company of self interested aid agencies and 'too lazy to fact check' reporters who believed a few months ago that lies about 7% economic growth would make Ethipia become part of the first world in a decade or two.

The numbers of dead may not have come to light without defections but the true numbers are likely to be far higher nationwide where there were no ferenji eyeballs to keep Ethiopia's own government from brutalizing its own people. Actually they serve an odd purpose of sorts on the government's behalf: no one believed that only a few dozen were killed so the big show of a number approaching two hundred brings a momentary relief as though there is nothing more to discover.

One defector recently compared Meles to Mengistu saying something like the following: "Mengistu boasted about his killings while Meles kills and has an investigation." Meles is different principally in being far more intelligent and shrewd than Mengistu.

Beyond that Mengistu and Meles share the essential basics of hostility to the legitimacy of Ethiopia's existence, politics of eternal war and ethnic divide and rule, Marxist-Leninism and foreign aid to rule over their own people with only the consent of masters in Moscow and Washington / Brussels respectively.

Today the ruling aristocracy, the ruling party, the government, the corrupt party / crony businesses and government monopolies that command the peaks and valleys of the economy,, the secret police, the 'courts', the private militias, the 'parliament' and the press are all venomous heads of the same hydra headed monster.

We are thankful to the former American Ambassador on behalf of the Anuak but in her valedictory speech after the 'election' she had retreated to the old foreign policy dead end / stand by of "sure he's and S.O.B. but at least he's our S.O.B." when she called on Ethiopians to just accept the regime as is and rest in appreciative silence for the privilege of being ruled by Meles.

Her successor encouraged the jailed opposition leaders to just give up because Somali society was again imploding - as though an Islamist takeover in Somalia was reason for Ethiopians to live in subjugation.

That conflict has become a blessing from hell for Meles Inc. Just the right enemy has appeared at just the right time with all the usual suspects present - Al Quada, Iran, Hezbollah, Eritrea etc. amid shouts of Jihad against Ethiopia.

The US has asked for non intervention from all but with a wink and a nod towards Meles and his invasion of Somalia on behalf of a non existent government in internal exile. Issues raised by these events and intense US Administration and Ethiopian government lobbying were amongst the principal reasons why HR 5680 did not advance in Congress and in Europe why the Cotonou Agreement on human rights and aid is being ignored.

But wait a minute - aren't national interests such as Ethiopia's eternal regardless of who runs the government?

Yes - but it is not that simple. Since Somali indpendence the whole raison d'etre of the country was the conquest of Djibouti, Eastern Ethiopia and North-Eastern Kenya. The five points of the star on the national flag represented those areas belonging to neighboring countries with a minority of Southern and Northern Somalia actually at hand.

Like Eritrea today, Somalia did everything it could to harm Ethiopia just as a matter of basic government principle and regardless of the cost to any party. When Mengistu had weakened Ethiopia sufficiently Siad Barre saw his chance and invaded in 1977 setting into motion the chain of events that destroyed Somalia just over a decade later.

Was the war against Somalia justified even though bloody Mengistu ruled? Of course it was even though national feeling manipulated by the Dergue allowed for the solidification of Mengistu's then shaky rule for years to come and even though it was his policies of encouraging internal hatreds like tribalism that made Ethiopia seem like an inviting target to Mogadishu to begin with.

Was the war against Eritrea from 1998 justified even though bloody Meles ruled? Obviously, even though like Mengistu, Meles conveniently first manipulated and then forgot national feeling. Just like Siad Barre, Issias in Asmara was encouraged by official tribalism in Ethiopia and the weakness such policies promised.

In the end, the Ethiopian people rose above the expectations and practices of Mengistu, Siad Barre, Issias and Meles and kept their country together.

So the question then becomes - if a ruler has invited war by making his country weak as though he were a parasite requiring a weak host - what credit does he deserve for convenient last minute recognition of always obvious long term interests?

In our opinion the answer is none at all.

Especially when there is literally money to be made and security to be found for the regime in crisis and instability. Just like the forgotten Anuak investigations there have been numerous alleged acts of terror since the 'election' that were blamed on the target of the moment with arrests announced and ... nothing ever comes of it until the lies are repeated a few weeks later with another target of blame.

In Gambela and elsewhere the government has shown a pattern of and propensity towards fomenting tribal / religious hatred for momentary tactical gain. The strategic aspect of the behaviour is the generals sense of danger, chaos and suspicion that is encouraged whether it exists or not.

So ... the new Islamist government in Somalia will be hostile to Ethiopia - so ... what else is new? Actually compared to the past and to history the balance of forces on the Horn has never been more favorable to Ethiopia in terms of the realpolitik world view that is being encouraged to support the Melesian adventure in Somalia.

Somalia does not support the Islamists and is anyway chronically weak and divided. Islamism is guaranteed to keep it that way. Ethiopia's military superiority is absolute. Ethiopians have not shown for a long long time any interest in that type of religious adventurism.

Ethiopia's only potential weakness in the face of the facts is its own government.

The potential profit for Meles Inc. in encouraging violence between Ethiopians, encouraging Somali Jihadist hostility (as if it needed encouragement anyway) and encouraging Western insecurity and moral blindness in the just War on Terror is far too lucrative an enterprise for Meles to resist.

There is always a great danger in warfare however simple or necessary it seems. Look what has happened to Somalia and Eritrea after they started wars just as easily and confidently as Meles marched into Somalia. Both governments told the truth just about as often as Meles does.

And ... remember the shared excuse for why Eritrea and Somalia could not develop and become democratic - both Siad and Issias said because they were to busy fighting the permanent Ethiopian enemy in a crisis whose end would bring days of milk and honey. Sound familiar?

There is an old saying from an old general that goes something like this "It is well that war is so terrible or we should grow too fond of it." Meles has displayed an inordinate fondness for war: he has already been at war with the people of Tigray for more than thirty years and at war with all other Ethiopians for almost sixteen years.

The threat of war, chaos and the harm he may do to Ethiopians is what has kept him in power so far. In this first voluntary foreign war the interests being served are the corporate ones of Meles Inc. - we should expect that the most obvious interests of Ethiopia won't be served at all regardless of whoever makes whichever excuses.

All of the myriad legitimate national and international interests against Islamism will be harmed because for Meles to rule, Ethiopia must always be weak - especially when Somali politics becomes an excuse for eternal Ethiopian dictatorship.


We got an email within minutes of posting the above to let us know that the quote is from Robert E. Lee from sometime during or after the Battle of Fredericksburg on the 13th of December 1862. Lee was a vile traitor to the Union who used his abundant talents to keep alive the evil cause of slavery at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives. It is appropriate that Arlington National Cemetery was once the Lee ancestral estate and also appropriate that this bit of his thoughts is remembered here.

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