War criminal Meles Zenawi dies a free man

We are heartened to learn that President Obama is staying away from the funeral of Ethiopia's late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, whose death was announced last week, instead sending a comparatively low-level delegation led by the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. (Nazret, Sept. 2) This may indicate a long-overdue distancing of Washington from Meles' odious regime, which we fear may change little with his passing. Meles, who ruled (either as president or prime minister) since 1991, made himself very useful to Washington, "renditioning" terror suspects for brutal "interrogations" in his prisons, and even now providing a military proxy force in Somalia. After Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006 (with a US "green light," and probably military advisors), Meles' forces were shortly accused of war crimes by international human rights groups. (NYT, Aug. 16, 2007) Yet this now gets virtually no play in the overwhelmingly and sickeningly favorable media coverage of his legacy—contrary to Julius Ceasar, the evil Meles did is being interred with his bones.

Some media reports have noted that Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by The Hague over the Darfur genocide, will be attending the funeral without fear of arrest, because Ethiopia is not a signatory to the Rome statute. (Sudan Tribune, Aug. 30) But the fact that Meles himself was not wanted by The Hague is yet another testament to the double standards of international justice.

This official amnesia is all the more troubling given that Meles' abuses actually did receive plenty of mainstream coverage when he was alive. BBC News reported Aug. 5, 2011:

A joint undercover investigation by BBC Newsnight and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has uncovered evidence that the Ethiopian government is using billions of dollars of development aid as a tool for political oppression.

Posing as tourists the team of journalists travelled to the southern region of Ethiopia. There they found villages where whole communities are starving, having allegedly been denied basic food, seed and fertiliser for failing to support Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The investigation has also gathered evidence of mass detentions, the widespread use of torture and extra-judicial killings by Ethiopian government forces.

Yet Western donors including Britain—which is the third largest donor to Ethiopia—stand accused of turning a blind eye by continuing to provide aid money despite being warned about the abuses.

Note that this is the same sort of stuff that Zimbabwe's much-reviled Robert Mugabe is accused of—and, more ironically, also what Meles' predecessor Mengistu Haile Mariam (overthrown by Meles' insurgent forces in 1991) was accused of. Yet we hardly even have to mention that the while Zimbabwe faces sanctions and isolation, Ethiopia's top aid donor under Meles was Washington. 

For those few outside the region who are paying attention, the sense of "Meet the New Boss" to Meles' rule was truly sinister. Under the Soviet-backed Mengistu, as under the Western-backed King Haile Selassie before him, Ethiopia's traditional Amharic ruling minority were on top. During the famine of the 1980s, Mengistu notoriously denied food aid to excluded peoples who took up arms against his brutal rule—most notably the Tigreans, who were also forcibly relocated by the thousands from their homes in the northern highlands to camps in the southern lowlands in a counterinsurgency strategy of "draining the sea." (See The Telegraph, Jan. 12, 1990) Meles' Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), upon overthrowing Mengistu, went about establishing what even Voice of America (May 25, 2010) had to call a "de facto one-party state"—with the TPLF clique being the real power behind the officially ruling coalition of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). So a state dominated by minority Amharas was replaced by one dominated by minority Tigreans—and unfavored ethnicities continued to get slapped around. Principally, these have been the Oromo and Ogadeni.

The Oromo, in the west-central part of the country, are actually Ethiopia's largest ethnic group. The Oromo Liberation Front, which opposed Haile Selassie and Mengistu alike, now continues to oppose TPLF/EPRDF rule. The Oromia Support Group noted Meles' passing by accusing his regime of 4,407 extra-judicial killings and 992 "disappearances" since 1991. (QEERROO, Aug. 24)

The Ogadeni are the ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia's east, who have likewise waged an armed struggle against successive Ethiopian regimes. Ogadeni advocates on the Countercurrents website noted Meles' passing by accusing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay of suppressing a report on his "genocide" in the Ogaden region:

A report on the genocide in the Ogaden remains under lock and key in Navi Pillay's office under her direct order. The investigations this report was based on were conducted by at least two teams sent to the Ogaden in 2007 after the independence war and counterinsurgency being waged there first hit the worlds stage with the killing of a dozen or so Chinese oil workers exploring for oil despite being warned off by fighters from the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

According to persons with first hand participation in the investigation in the Ogaden in 2007 the report contains words such as "murder", "mass murder", "scorched earth policy", "food blockade", "medicine blockade", "crimes against humanity" and even "genocide". 

Smaller peoples without an international diaspora to mobilize on their behalf have, we can imagine, fared even worse. Meles' regime was accused of a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against the indigenous Anuak people in the Gambella region of Ethiopia's west—again with the apparent aim of clearing the territory for oil exploitation and corporate land-grabs

The TPLF and the Eritrean liberation movement had been allied during the struggle against Mengistu, but when he was overthrown and Eritrea declared independence they shortly fell out. Meles fought a two-year war with Eritrea starting in 1998, and tensions remain high, with the border still in dispute. This conflict also occasioned another opportunity for Meles to emulate his old enemy Mengistu in forcibly relocating troublesome populations. Amnesty International reported Jan. 29, 1999 that in recent months 52,000 people believed to be of Eritrean origin had been arbitrarily deported from Ethiopia.

And of course it is practically superfluous to mention that dissent to all these abuses was kept under tight control. Columbia Journalism Review, to its great credit, noted upon Meles' passing how he muzzled the independent press and arrested reporters and editors who failed to toe the line.

As we have had plenty of reason to complain before, another Western-backed despot has died a free man. And this one still in power, to boot.

  1. …Amb Rice
    A few days ago UN Amb. Susan Rice called those who opposed Meles ,”idiots” as it is, to glorify the Ethiopian Genocidal Maniac,on his funeral. Maybe this is the “it” word for the Obama campaign. Voter Ethiopian-Americans are furious about this and are demanding she take it back. Is Obama’s “big vision” & “FORWARD” , sending out envoys around the world praising and cheerleading dictators,mass murderers and genocidal maniacs? Where is her next stop Iran? Compared to the dead Ethiopian PM the Iranian President has done nothing,except in “words” for wanting to wipe out Israel from the face of the earth! Or maybe she will make a quick stop in Syria and congratulate Assad for the good job he’s doing now? North Korea? Meet with General Bashir of Sudan and cheer him up for the 200,000 + dead? What a shame!!!!!!

    http://www.ethiopianreview.com/content/41173 http://www.abugidainfo.com/index.php/20732/ http://www.ethiopianreview.info/index/?p=1825




    1. What Rice really said about Ethiopians
      OK, none of the links you provide actually give the exact quote, and some of them are slightly misleading about what she was referring to. We found the exact quote on Sudan Tribune via AllAfrica. Here it s:

      “He was uncommonly wise, able to see the big picture in a long game” Susan Rice said of the late Ethiopian leader, adding that he was consistently reasoned in his judgment and thoughtful in his decisions.

      “He was driven not by ideologies but by his vision of a better future for the land he loves. Of course he had little patience for force or idiots as he like to call them”.

      Now, this is an utterly repulsive quote. But it is clear that when she said “idiots,” she was quoting Meles. And, while it is awkwardly worded, the use of “force” together with “idiots” makes it pretty clear that the reference is to Ethiopia’s armed opposition—not to the opposition generally, much less to diaspora Ethiopians generally. She should still be called out on it, but be clear about what she said.

      We agree the US client Meles Zenawi had far more blood on his hands than Ahmadinejad. Life’s little ironies.

      1. …Amb. Rice
        Yes,all links are verified. They point to either quote or original video. But wait…WOW,allAfrica.com has replaced the original statement with their own.Seriously!

        “He was driven not by ideologies but by his vision of a better future for the land he loves. Of course he had little patience for force or idiots as he like to call them”.

        ORIGINAL / FROM SPEECH AS DELIVERED VIA the US State Department page

        Meles was disarmingly regular, unpretentious, and direct. He was selfless, tireless and totally dedicated to his work and family. In the toughest of times, he retained that twinkle in his eye, his ready smile, his roiling laugh and his wicked sense of humor. True, he never belied any lack of confidence in his judgments. He was tough, unsentimental and sometimes unyielding. And, of course, he had little patience for fools, or “idiots,” as he liked to call them.

        Forced,armed or peaceful, that pretty much says that ALL those who opposed him are idiots!!! And she represents the US? For the record,dont know what she was thinking,but she started out with a “Good Morning” although she delivered the speech as scheduled @ 5:00pm Ethiopian time. Must have been smoking whatever Meles showed her in the past!

        1. Yes, Sudan Tribune got it wrong
          Apparently so. Good catch. Probably their reporter heard “force” for “fools.” Still, she doesn’t explicitly say she was referring to the Ethiopian opposition, but we can assume that’s who Meles meant… We agree, this is very bad.

  2. Meles called a hero, what a ferry tell
    Dear Mr Weinberg,

    thanks for denouncing what the leaders of this world could not call the dog a dog, in this case meles the dictator a dictator! Besides the fact that I am an exiled ethiopian, I am also a jewish …yeah, all the things you can’tbe at this time in Ethiopia…we don’t exist to the society yet we are…jewish ethiopian are of course by essence Amhara…and Amahara are born either jewish or they convert like vast majority …and today, we are seen chrisitan or jewish as the real problem or nightmare of TPLF , meles ruling party…their hate on us started with a myth…that the King was amhara, Menguistu another one…but as you know, both leader never privilegded us . quite the opposite – we remain poor peasants, forgoten by many…Meles hate on Amhara started in case you don’t know , from his birth actually: during the italian war, his father, a tigre 100% married to meles mother (she eritrean) decided to collaborate with italians as he was sure we were defeated de facto…after a long time collaboration with italians, it is said that meles father started to have remorse, and he confessed half of his sins…in exchange of him denouncing other traitors, the kind spaired his life…meles father was therefore graced for his confessed and after the victory, he left the tigray region in which his own population would not receive him and persecuted him for tigre knew his father was a collaborator…therefore, his famther married an eritrean at least from language perspective it was far much better for him…since he behaved and acted as a man who asked forgiveness, the kind allowed him actually to progress in life, and had a quiet reasonable position in the army. Big mistake of our King! but could you blame him…? Meles went to saint joseph school american private school , top one back then in Addis…that tells you he was born in good condidtion but it is said that at school kids always reminded him he was the son of a Banda (name given to traitors) so Meles had to live with that and psychologically it was atorture for him and another tigre friend of him, in the same school called Meles…they left university medical school to declare war …the real meles was killed by the King after he had placed several bombs in several location in Addis, one of the bigest attempt was the municipality of Addis…the real meles died and Leguesse (who is actually the deceassed PM) became Meles in honor of his terrorist friend…that is for the background…and no one tells the world who Meles is really…why???? Meles and legesse (now no more confusion cause they are both finally dead!) are ennemies of the people of Ethiopia, specifically Amharas…beyond that you definitely know that this is purely spiritual because evil people hate the Thorah as it reminds them everyday that one day G-od has a purpose of its children, primary us…Ethjopian are the jewish that the world neglect but not G-od! Amharas are jewish copt orthodox too…meles is trying to wipe them off the earth! he wants actually tigrayto be the capital of Ethiopia…he has re.written a new story saying after all Axum is in Tigray and the war was on by tigres…amharas stole our story! that ‘s the new book of history in elementary school in Mekelle…gradually he had a plan…But G.od …But our G.od of Israel took him before together with his false pape, that he nominated from tigray too! Removing the Amhara pape still alive actually! which was the first time in our history! A pope living can never be replaced…meles had no regards to spirituality, he was a comedian…he kissed the cross with his fony pope…but look how G-od showed us mercy: in a week time, he took both of them out of the learth…west should watch Ethiopia, especially Amhara people differently…we are not one of those poor people…we are the people chosen by G-od to watch over Israel…we fast we pray day and night! Meles was an evil man who directed his troup to destroy the waldeba prayer house…go , investiguate and you will see what happened! meles said that oil is there, so no need to keep our rabbis…today they are looted, chased away, and living in hiding place…you can contact esat television or ginbot 7 , Dr Birhanu, a scholar Professor at American University, he will explain to yoyou with concrete facts what is at stake…I urge everyone, especially those of jewish faith and friends of Israel, to come help the Amhara people. Hevenou Shalom Haleireim.
    Amos 9:7 says it all: oh Isareal are you not for me like the Ethiopians says the Lord.

    the conversion to coptic orthodox of course divided us…in those days, the King ruled that everyone should be converted so jewish people who did not convert suffered…but this is another century where people had no education …Amharas converted or not are still jeiwhs in their souls though many do not know it even because they were not properly educated….I had the chance to be abraod, study and make a lot of research…my country is a chosen country by G-od if not why would we be listed 41 times together with Israel??? 

    If we don’t stop meles vision , we are heading towards a ethnical war…i urge you to alarm your colleagues, friends for the sake of our nation, history…and above all for G-od of Israel, our hope.