Leasing Ethiopian athletes to foreign governmentsMaryam Jamal
By Daliah Solomon
Leaders and citizens start asking questions when the national sports team they support fails to win expected medals. If a national Olympic team repeatedly suffers unexpected defeat, patriotic citizens will begin to scrutinize the National Olympic Committee responsible for the development, care and management of their national team. Citizens of democratic nations with under-performing Olympic teams freely voice their opinions about the managers of their failing national team. They will further rely on an independent free press to air their questions and concerns and to investigate exactly who or what is causing their team’s poor performance. More importantly, the lucky citizens of such nations will have political leaders and parties concerned about protecting national dignity and committed to raising the profile of their country, particularly at the world’s largest global event — the Olympics. During the London Olympics 2012, nationalistic leaders will monitor the performance of their respective teams, ready to ask probing questions if results are poor. If they are, then everyone will demand answers from their National Olympic Committee that is responsible for the success or failure of a national team. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for Ethiopians who have no democracy, no human rights, no free press and who are ruled by a repressive regime with political leaders and leaders of the so called “Ethiopian National” Olympic Committee (ENOC) who care nothing at all for Ethiopian national pride.
For starters, Ethiopians do not have a national leader. Although presently declared by some to be a missing person, and presumed dead by others, the currently invisible Meles Zenawi has never claimed to be a national leader. He is/was in fact a tribal chief, mandated to lead by his exclusive ethnic Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). It’s a small wonder that Ethiopian athletes have not yet been ethnically segregated to represent their respective ethnic Bantustans at the Olympics, in accordance with TPLF’s ethnic apartheid system of ruling Ethiopia.
A closer examination of the ENOC is leading to damning emerging evidence of yet another TPLF money-making scam involving the sale of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. It is becoming clearer by the day that TPLF, not content with selling the land, rivers, genetic wealth, babies and young girls, is busy leasing and selling Ethiopian athletes to foreigners via the commodity brokerage house wrongly called the “Ethiopian National Olympic Committee.”
Before examining the scam, it is necessary to examine the scammers. Firstly, the so called “National” Olympic Committee of Ethiopia is run by individuals who are not even remotely connected to sports in Ethiopia. Whilst it will come as no surprise to learn that the head of the ENOC is Tigrean, it is shocking to discover that the President of Ethiopia’s NOC, Berhane K. Mariam, is a party member of TPLF and General Manager of the notorious lie factory Walta Information Center. Though he claims to be President of a “National Basketball Federation,” it is not clear where this institution is located and what it does. Except for a few hastily organized events just prior to the Olympics, the so- called Ethiopian Basketball Federation is an invisible, inactive entity in Ethiopia.
Alongside the General Manager of Walta Propaganda Service is another Tigrean, Ms Dagmawit Girmay Berhane, with the fancy title of Secretary General of the ENOC. Like her colleague, Ms. Dagamwit, who is a full-time employee of an international NGO, presents a fictitious connection with a national sport that no one in Ethiopia plays — badminton. So, from the outset, when we talk of the Ethiopian National Olympic Committee we are talking about liars and cheats.
How is money being made at Ethiopian NOC?
What is being discussed here is not the money that Ethiopian athletes are allegedly being forced to pay as bribes to ENOC officials in order to be allowed to participate in international competitions. We get the first clue of the ENOC’s international crime involving large amounts of money courtesy of Bahrain, where the entire national Olympic team came out in support of the ongoing political protests and were promptly thrown into jail for their involvement in politics. Suddenly in the market for trained, tried and tested athletes, the Bahrainis were pleased to meet the TPLF’s ENOC who are always ready and willing to vet refer and transfer young Ethiopian athletes to the highest bidder- for a fee.
More than half the Bahrain national Olympic team is Ethiopian. The idea that these athletes were Ethiopian “refugees” or “migrant workers” not connected to the ENOC was quickly laid to rest due to a curious event that occurred much farther away, in Sweden.
The scam of TPLF’s NOC “leasing” Ethiopian athletes to foreign governments is best confirmed and encapsulated in this still unfolding scandalous Swedish saga of Ethiopian athlete Abeba Aregawi.
Ms. Aregawi did the unthinkable by daring to defy arrangements made by her clansmen at ENOC and decided to work for herself by switching citizenship without their approval and pre-arrangement, (i.e. commission). This rebellious act by Abeba Aregawi, and the vindictive threatening action of the ENOC which followed, was not reported to the Ethiopian public by their stifled press. The party-loyal “Reporter” newspaper covered up the scandal by presenting Abeba Aregawi’s attempted escape as a minor misunderstanding. In fact, Aregawi was severely pressured, blackmailed and frightened into returning from Sweden to Ethiopia by the thugs at ENOC.
The corrupt officials at ENOC were furious that Abeba Aregawi dared an attempt to make a deal directly with the Swedes without their involvement thereby endangering their commission and kickbacks! It is these recent events that prove unequivocally that EVERY Ethiopian athlete participating in international competitions on behalf of foreign nations does so with the full knowledge, management and “brokering” of the ENOC who is paid for each transfer and transaction involving Ethiopian athletes.
We are not only talking about Aregawi in Sweden and half of the Bahrain Olympic Team but many, many Ethiopian athletes who currently compete for foreign countries after being sold or leased by the TPLF-ENOC.
At the recent launch of a book written by the unjustly imprisoned young female journalist Reeyot Alemu, Prof. Mesfin WoldeMariam noted with dismay that 50 years after the establishment of the Ethiopian National Olympic Committee, and the committed leadership in sports administration by the likes of the late Yidnekachew Tessemma, a nation of 90 million people still could not garner anything more than the same few gold medals in the same few sports. In fact, Professor Mesfin was being optimistic to suggest that sports in Ethiopian is merely treading water. The truth is TPLF has given the slogan used by defecting athletes during Derg times, “Sport le Passport”, a whole new and much darker sinister meaning.
The TPLF ENOC’s management of and profit from the “defections” of Ethiopian athletes, their purposeful encouragement and promotion of young Ethiopians to compete for other nations is something that needs to cause great alarm for Ethiopians. What TPLF effectively and systematically doing is destroying the athletic future of Ethiopia by making sure Ethiopia does not have a generation of gold medal winning athletes to replace the current one that the ENOC is literally running into the ground! NO! The current TPLF Ethiopian National Olympic Committee has NOT slept on the job like the previous military regime as Prof. Mesfin wrongly suggests. On the contrary, the ENOC has worked hard to ensure Ethiopia does badly at as many international sports events as possible, including London Olympics 2012 in order to whittle away the national pride of Ethiopians. TPLF is working very hard indeed for a future that is free of any Ethiopian flag raising and flag waving caused by Ethiopian athletic victories during international events.
On August 6th 2012, Ethiopian athlete Abeba Aregawi announced she is leaving the losing Ethiopian team and will start competing for Sweden immediately after the London Olympics 2012, according to Swedish press. It appears a profitable deal has been struck. Whatever her decision and dirty deal that has now been done, Ethiopians owe Abeba Aregawi a debt of gratitude for her bravery in resisting and exposing the thuggery and corruption going on at the ENOC.
If there is any place, activity or institution in Ethiopia where Ethiopians can feel national pride, unity, and peace; whether it is in a sports arena, concert hall, in Mosques or in a Church or monastery; TPLF will be there to destroy it and make a tidy profit in the process.