BY: DAWIT FANTA
The Ideological Protégé of Stalin
Joseph Stalin was a dictator of the U.S.S.R from 1929 until 1953. He rose from bitter poverty to become ruler of the country that covered one sixth of all the land area in the world. For most of his years in office, Stalin ruled the country by Terror, Mass Repression, Cult of Personality, Brutal Interrogation, Torture, and Show trial.
By the same token, Stalin’s ideological protégé, Meles Zenawi, has imposed the copycat yoke of Stalinist method on the shoulder of our people for the last 21 years. The severity of his brutality ranges from mass repression to expulsion, from brutal interrogation to barbaric torture as detailed below:
1. Imposition of Different Repression Waves: For the last two decades, the Zenawi regime sustained his brutal rein by inflicting different waves of repression on whole or partial society of Ethiopia. Among them the following are the major ones:
A. The De-Amharization Repression Wave: This hatred-filled tendency was started at the infant stage of TPLF as a ripple [refer to: A Political History of TPLF (1975-1991), doctoral thesis Amsterdam, 2008, by Aregawi Berhe, Page 201]. But right after TPLF came to power, the ripple became a full scale wave of repression by mete out the Amhara people periodically in the following manner:
I. Demonization of the Amhara as a People: This includes historical revisionism, mudslinging, name calling as “Neftegna” and propagation of TV documentaries which vilify and antagonize the Amhara People.
II. Annexation of the Land of the Indigenous Amhara People to Tigray: As TPLF re-structured the boarder of different regions of Ethiopia during its early years in power, the re-defined demarcation of the geographical boundaries of Tigray has taken place by annexing the lands of Humera, Tsegede and Wolkait from Gondar province and the lands of Ashengie, Kobo, Alamata and Korem from Wollo province. In fact, these lands hadn’t ever been belonged to Tigray throughout history and their annexation was to privilege Tigray with an arable land of cereal and cash crops at the expense of Amhara people.
III. Internal Deportation and Expulsion: As the Chinese warrior Sun-tzu said “Remove the firewood under the cooking pot”, Expulsion of the Amhara people from different regions of Ethiopia by the Zenawi regime is one of the cruellest conspiratorial repressions to weaken and impoverish the Amhara people by de-stabilizing hundreds of thousands of families to start life from the scratch frequently. For example in 2012 alone 78,000 Amharas have been expelled from South region of Ethiopia by confiscating their tenure.
IV. Data Massaging: It is a kind of political manoeuvring tactic by which manipulating data for one’s advantage. The Statistical Decimation of millions of Amharas is a recent genocide in which its silent effect is intolerable. In year 2007 the population census report was made public. But contrary to the estimated 2.6% population growth rate which was based on the 1994 census and different demographic surveys carried out between the two period, the national growth rate was 2.51%; whereas, heretically and exceptionally the Amhara region population growth rate was disclosed 1.7%. Here, there was no any fundamental economic transformation or any cataclysm that had taken place in the region to cause such sharp decline; rather the available demographic and socio-economic data showed the Amhara region was in the same status as the other regions were. So the paradox of 1.7% growth rate is a TPLF made Statistical Weapon of Mass Destruction to depopulate and deracinate the Amhara people from the Ethiopia political and socio-economic realm by cutting budget which would be equivalent to the decimated 2.4 million people and by reducing the number of representatives in the parliament so as to lessen the Amhara influence.
B. Post Election-2005 Repression Wave: Election-2005 was a historical and ground shattering incident in Ethiopian politics. During pre-election the government owned electronic media was open enough for all political parties, expression of freedom and freedom of press was relatively free, except in some remote places there was no intimidation. As a result the oppositions had got a land slide victory over TPLF. The event was an unexpected to TPLF so it started to use Political Bullying which then let the opposition leaders to prison under false charge of “treason” and “genocide”; and since then Zenawi uses elections for non-democratic purposes, such as increasing his hold on power instead of allowing real political competition. To legitimize his rule, and he allow formally competitive elections in which opposition parties are allowed to compete, but then use manipulation and coercion to minimize his risk of losing power. At the extreme, he uses violent human rights abuses as a strategy to rig elections in his party favour, murdering, torturing or otherwise cruelly repressing voters and political opposition to suppress electoral competition and intimidate voters. Besides, in election-2010 he uses the ballot box deceptively, to publically validate and legitimize his government’s hold on power while at the same time violating the rule of law and human dignity of the people.
The adoption of the broad and ambiguous “Anti-Terrorism law” Proclamation No. 652/2009 is also one of the post election-2005 repression wave that wrecked freedom of expression and press freedom in that any news reports or commentaries on rebel groups can be taken as supporting, promoting, encouraging or endorsing the causes of terrorists; and journalists reporting on rebel groups could be convicted for terrorism. The implication of the “law” has also endangered the basic human rights including the rights to bodily integrity, peaceful assembly and the right to fair trial. The “anti-terrorism law” denies citizens the right to fair trial by stating a terrorist suspects can be held for up to four months without being charged; however, according to the international law an arrested person must be rapidly brought in front of a judicial authority.
And recently, the Zenawi regime has generated a new repression wave relating to technology by ratifying a new legislation which bans the use of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) like Skype; anyone who violates this provision can be sentenced up to 15 years in prison.
C. The Land Grab Repression Wave: It is one of the incidents that the indigenous people of the Gambella Region have been denied its natural right to live on its ancestral land. 42% of the Gambella region has either being earmarked for lease or awarded to neo-colonizers (particularly Saudi Arabian and Indian land-grabbers) at a giveaway price (0.9 Euro per Hectare) by Meles Zenawi which left more than 70,000 indigenous people for forcible relocation to the place where the soil is dry with poor quality and without infrastructure. As a result the indigenous people are suffering from hunger and starvation.
To enforce the forcible relocation of the indigenous people the dictator Zenawi deployed a mechanized army on the unprotected civilians. And the Ethiopian Defence Force (aka: the military wing of TPLF) has committed genocide, rape and conflagration of villages.
2.The Ethiopian Gulag Archipelago: The Zenawi regime has set up Gulag like three federal and 120 regional major prisons. However, there are also innumerably unofficial detention centres in which most of them are located in military camps including in Dedessa, Bir Sheleko, Tolay, Hormat, Blate, Tatek, Jijiga, Holeta, and Senkele. These prisons accommodate both criminal prisoners and tens of thousands of political prisoners. Their condition is extremely harsh, overcrowded and life threatening. Lack of appropriate sanitary facility, shortage of water and round sleeping are common. After all the Zenawi regime provides a budget of 0.25 Euro per prisoner per day for food, water and health care. In regional prisons forced labour is compulsory.
But above all, in the central police investigation headquarters in Addis Ababa called Maekelawi (with its nick name “Guantanamo”) and in an unofficial military camp prisons the Zenawi henchmen often use a series of torture and brutal interrogation to extract confessions particularly from prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. It includes whipping on the soles of feet, overstretching of limbs, slow dripping of water on the head, pulling out of nails, forcible extraction of teeth, weights suspended on testicles, plunging into water, solitary confinement in dark cell for long period of time, signing a confession, forced self-incrimination, threatening with injection of HIV-infected blood, forcing to denounce others, burning with cigarette, drowning into ice cold water and beating with rifle-but, stick, whip, belt etc.
There is of course a clear sign that the situation will get worse because the Zenawi regime announced that it earmarked a 210 million Birr (12 million USD) budget for the expansion of prisons rather than improving their condition and release of political prisoners.
3. Show Trial: Trials of political prisoners are held only for show. Their “guiltiness” has been determined in advance. And most charges on political prisoners are fabricated to incarcerate them and to intimidate others to total submission. Incidentally the Ethiopian courts are one of the institutions that have lost public credibility.
In conclusion, Meles Zenawi is a cold-blooded dictator that rules our country under iron grip and causes millions of citizens for exile, death, abject poverty and famine. His period on power is also full of mass deception and lie. Besides, he divides our people into ethnic lines which might result in our country into total dismemberment. Now we are in a life or death struggle. If we let him stay in power, a full-scale ethnic based war and genocide is inevitable. This is the right moment to break the yoke of repression. No time to think twice, no time to hesitate. We have to act valiantly until we regain our freedom and bring those oppressors in to court of justice.
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