Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Seattle Rising! Seattle Shining!

(full text of Prof. Al Mariam’s speech in Seattle, WA on January 28, 2007 )

Good afternoon Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Welcome to this event honoring special heroes in the struggle for human rights in Ethiopia.

Before I introduce our guest speakers today, I would like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent meditation and prayer in remembrance of :

193 Ethiopian children, men and women murdered because they committed the crime of exercising their human right to petition for grievances by vocally protesting the theft of an election, the thousands of other Ethiopians who were maimed, who lost their limbs, became paralyzed or otherwise suffered great bodily harm for going out into the streets to stop a daylight robbery of an election, and the defiant and heroic leaders of Kinijit, the human rights defenders and civic leaders who languish in jails and prisons today in Ethiopia, and the many thousands of victims of torture and human rights abuses.

Thank you.

Before I introduce our guest speakers, I would like to thank certain individuals and organizations for sponsoring this event in Seattle today.

First and foremost, I would like to thank Ethio-Americans in Seattle for working collaboratively with the Coalition for HR 5680 in organizing this event, and for coordinating the itinerary of our guest speakers tonight.

Ethio-Americans in Seattle has been in the vanguard of the struggle to promote human rights in Ethiopia. We are especially indebted to them for their unflagging and unwaivering support of H.R. 5680, also known as the “Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006.”

I want to specifically recognize two individuals whose contributions to the human rights struggle in Ethiopia is second to none.

I want to thank my good friend and free press defender Abreha Belay, and the tireless young men and women who work to make Ethiomedia.com our window into our homeland.

Zenawi thought he could silence Abreha by charging him with laughable and bogus crimes. But Abreha did not even blink. He kept on telling the truth and exposing Zenawi’s lies.

Abreha, thank you for being our voice.

I want to thank my good friend and fellow lawyer, Shakespeare Feyissa.

As we all know, Shakespeare was the first fireman who showed up on the scene when Zenawi tried to burn down our First Amendment right to free speech by using the American court system to muzzle criticism of himself and his regime.

But it did not take much for this young and brave fireman to put out Zenawi’s fire.

Thank you Shakespeare for defending the greatest and most precious of all our American liberties -- the right to free speech -- and for giving Zenawi his first practical lesson in the ways of free people.

Let me also thank Ato Sileshi Tilahun for coordinating the logistics of the events here, and the Ethiopian American Council of Portland and our dedicated friends from Vancouver, Kinijit Hebret, Kinijit Seattle and all of our friends who publicized this event in the community and those facilitating things in this hall today. Thank you all very much.

Let me thank all of you again for coming here this afternoon.

I am happy and honored to be here with you today, as are our guest speakers.

It is my special privilege to be with the most energetic and dynamic Diaspora advocates of human rights in Ethiopia, bar none.

Now, I do not make this statement lightly, but rather grudgingly, because I would have liked to reserve that description for my hometown of Los Angeles.

But don’t rest on your laurels because many of us in LA, DC, NY, Boston, Chicago and others places are working hard to snatch away from you the title of “most energetic and dynamic Diaspora advocates of human rights in Ethiopia.”

My friends: I wish I and my distinguished friends had come here today to talk about pleasant things.

Perhaps share with you entertaining stories about a Christmas vacation we had in Ethiopia and all of the fun we had, and the carefree time we spent there.

Or talk to you about a summer of travel throughout the Ethiopian countryside enjoying the beauty of Ethiopia and its people.

Or even to report on the findings of a scientific or historical research on the land of 13 months of sunshine.

Perhaps even talk about the big houses we built there and the millions of dollars we invested and made there.

We are not that lucky, my friends.

We are here to talk about murders and attempted murders that occurred over a 14 day period in 2005: June 8, 2005 in Addis Abeba, and November 1-10, and 14-16, 2005 in Addis Abeba, in Oromia, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region and in the Amhara Regional States.

We are here today to talk about 193 cold-blooded murders, and 763 attempted murders.

Now, these casualty figures are just for starters.

If so many murders occurred over a 14-day period, I will let you do the arithmetic and calculate how many tens of thousands of murders and attempted murders have taken place all over Ethiopia over a period of 15 years.

Now, the murders that we are talking about today are not ordinary heat-of-passion murders, or murders that occur during the commission of an ordinary robbery.

No, these are calculated political murders intended to send chills of terror in the bodies of every man, woman and child in Ethiopia.

These are signal murders, murders intended to telegraph to every corner of the country that the ruling regime will resort to massacres and carnage to keep itself in power.

These are murders of individuals intended to strike fear in the hearts of the people, and execute their spirits and souls, and destroy their yearning for freedom and liberty.

These are murders committed as part of a systematic program of state terrorism-- a program of violence unleashed on a civilian population by those who have control over the state apparatus.

Now, there is no question -- none whatsoever -- that these murders were committed.

We have a mountain of evidence on these murders that dwarfs Mount Ranier, not too far from here.

We have testimonial evidence from 1300 witnesses, including survivors of indiscriminate shootings, and bystanders who saw the murders being committed.

We have evidence from the families of murdered and injured victims.

We have evidence from over 1,000 Edder leaders who coordinated the funeral services of the murder victims.

We have the medical records and autopsy reports, expert analyses and investigative reports, official statements, daily police logs and photographs of murdered and severely injured victims of indiscriminate gunfire, and a total of 16,990 documents proving the commissions of these murders.

So, there is no doubt whatsoever that these murders and attempted murders took place on the dates I mentioned above.

Today, we are here to find out the identity of the murderer of:

1. Tensae Zegeye, age 14, died from a high caliber bullet wound to the head

2. Debela Guta, age 15, died from a high caliber bullet wound to the head

3. Habtamu Tola, age 16, died from a high caliber bullet wound to the head

4. Binyam Degefa, age 18, died from a high caliber bullet…

5. Behailu Tesfaye 20, died from a high caliber bullet…

6. Yusuf Jamal, age 23, died from a high caliber bullet…

7. Adissu Belachew 25, died from a high caliber bullet…

8. Tiruwork G. Tsadik 41, died from a high caliber bullet…

9. Admasu Abebe, 45, died from a high caliber bullet…

10. Elfnesh Tekle 45, died from a high caliber bullet…

11. Abebeth Huletu, 50, died from a high caliber bullet wound to the head


189. Regassa Feyessa, 55, died from a high caliber bullet wound to the head

Then we have other murder victims whose identities are known to God but not to Man:

190. Victim No. 21760, male, died from a high caliber bullet…

191. Victim No. 21761, male, died from a high caliber bullet…

192. Victim No. 21543, male, died from a high caliber bullet…

193. Victim No. 21762, age 75, (female), died from a high caliber bullet wound to the head

Yes, we are here today to find out the identity of the mass murderer of these men, women and children, these martyrs.

Now you may ask, who are these victims?

I have never met any one of them in person, or even heard of them.

But I do know something for sure about them.

They were somebody’s son, somebody’s daughter, somebody’s father, somebody’s mother, somebody’s sister, somebody’s uncle, somebody’s aunt, somebody’s grandmother or somebody’s great grandmother.

I also know something else.

I know these murder victims were our brothers and sisters, who intoxicated on the sweet potion of democracy and inspired by the promise of freedom poured out into the streets to taste the sweeter flavor of liberty for the first time in their country’s 3,000-year history, only to be cut down like blades of grass.

So, my friends, we are here today to find out the identity of the murderer of our brothers and sisters. And after you hear the evidence from our witnesses, you will surely know beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Today you will hear from the murder victims and those victims who barely survived with their lives. They will speak to you from their graves and from wherever they are nursing their near-fatal bullet wounds.

You will hear their cries and wails for justice in the meticulous, dispassionate and unimpeachable reports of the members of the Inquiry Commission.

And no tribunal, no court or forum of justice can have more convincing and more persuasive witnesses than the witnesses we have here today.

No witness in the Diaspora can speak more eloquently, more knowledgeably, or more truthfully on behalf of the murder victims and the thousands of others who have been victims of arbitrary arrests and detentions and torture than the Chair and distinguished member of the Inquiry Commission, and the former Deputy Attorney General.

And now, I would like to introduce to you these witnesses.

Our first witness is an extraordinary young judge. Born in 1975, Judge Frehiywot Samuel graduated from the Faculty of Law of Addis Ababa University with an LLB degree in 1997.

Judge Frehiwot has held numerous positions in his short but amazing professional life.

He began his career as a legal advisor to the head of the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State in 1998. That same year, he was appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court of Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State.

Judge Frehiwot has held numerous positions of significant responsibility. He was the President of Supreme Court or Chief Justice of the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State.

He has also served as Chaired the Supreme Court Plenum and the Regional Judicial Administration Commission.

Judge Frehiywot was appointed as Chairman of the Independent Inquiry Commission by the Ethiopian Parliament to investigate the clashes that occurred after the May 2005 elections. His appointment letter from the Parliament vouches for his integrity, professionalism, impartiality and high ethical standards.

Judge Frehiwot speaks English and five different Ethiopian languages.

As if all that is not enough, Judge Frehiwot was also the Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Law of the Supreme Court. (Debube Yiheg Metshet).

Would you please give a round of applause to Judge Frehiwot.

We also have his wife Genet with us today. They got married a few days before Judge Frehiwot went into exile. Genet please stand.

We are indebted to Genet for standing by her man through these difficult times.

Our second witness is Ato Mitiku Teshome. Ato Mitiku is the father of two children and a lawyer by profession.

Ato Mitiku worked as a legal advisor and consultant for different organizations and institutions, including the Catholic Church in Ethiopia.

He was also a private entrepreneur and ran his own consultancy business.

Ato Mitiku was appointed to become a member of the 10-person Inquiry Commission, and his letter of appointment attests to his integrity, professionalism, impartiality and high ethical standards.

Ato Mitiku was one of the eight members of the Commission who voted to find that excessive force was used to quell protests that erupted following the May 2005 elections.

Ato Mitiku was the third Inquiry Commission member to follow Judges Frehiwot Samuel and Wolde-Michael Meshesha into exile.

Our third witness is Ato Alemayhu Zemedkun. Ato Alemayehu received his LLB from the Addis Ababa University Faculty of law.

He started his career as a High Court prosecutor, and served in that capacity for seven years.

He was subsequently promoted to the position of Cession Bench Prosecutor for the Ethiopia Supreme Court, and served in that position for four years.

Ato Alemayehu also served as Senior Expert at the Legal Research Institute for 3 ½ years.

In 2002, he was promoted to Deputy Attorney General, Civil Division. He held that position until he was forced to leave the country in August 2006.

In November, 2005, the State Minster of Justice, Dr. Hashim Mohammed, directed Ato Alemayehu to bring civil action against the jailed opposition leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and civic leaders, and obtain a multimillion dollar judgment against them for alleged damages caused by the protesters.

Ato Alemayehu declined to file the civil action because there was no evidence to link these individuals to any tortuous acts committed by any of the protesters.

He advised his superiors that proceeding with a civil suit against the jailed defendants, and very likely losing the lawsuit, could result in a multi-million dollar judgment against the government for filing and prosecuting a frivolous and groundless lawsuit.

By refusing to become a tool of injustice and taking such a heroic act, Ato Alemayehu thwarted Zenawi’s carefully laid plans not only to put the Kality defendents in the jailhouse, but also send their families to the poorhouse.

I am missing a fifth witness. This witness first broke the truth about the murders and indiscriminate use of deadly force against unarmed protesters in the aftermath of the May, 2005 elections.

This witness carried the evidence -- the documentary and other physical evidence on his back and crossed the wilderness and desert, stalked not only by the wild beasts of prey, but also shadowed by Zenawi’s goons and thugs.

At every checkpoint, this witness resolved his life was over because if any enemies of truth had discovered the evidence he was carrying, that would have been the end for him.

But through God’s grace he made it into exile in Europe.

And so, I regret to say that Judge Woldemichael Mesehsa will not be with us here in person today. We hope to have him join us long distance by telephone. (Judge Woldemichael was subsequently able to join the discussions by phone broadcast to the audience by a public address system.)

I call to the podium our first witness, Judge Frehiwot Samuel.

Closing Remarks

(Because of time constraints, the following closing remarks could not be delivered and were withheld.)

In my introduction, I said that today you will find out the identity of the mass murderer of innocent men, women and children on those dates investigated by the Inquiry Commission.

So, I am going to ask you a few questions:

Who murdered and maimed the hundreds of men, women and children in June and November 2005?

Were they murdered by untrained soldiers who were trying to defend themselves against a violent mob using deadly force against them?

No. None, none of the protesters was armed.

Were they murdered because of confusion and the improper channeling of orders and commands to the soldiers?

No. The orders were clearly channeled. There was no confusion in the directives sent to the soldiers. The order was: “Aim to the head and shoot to kill.”

Were the victims murdered and maimed by trigger-happy soldiers?

Well, the soldiers may have pulled the trigger. But there was an invisible hand, yes, there was one invisible hand that pulled the fingers that pulled the triggers.

Now, you know the true identity of the mass murderer!

We are truly fortunate to have these young truth-tellers with us this afternoon.

We hope you have learned a great deal about the human rights situation in Ethiopia.

The evidence they have presented to us today is as informative as it is shocking. But this afternoon we have learned the truth about human rights abuses in Ethiopia today.

It would be ungrateful of me not to offer a few comments on the reception and sheer enthusiasm for human rights, truth and justice that we have seen in Seattle today.

This large hall is packed to capacity, and I can see from the head table towards the back, there is barely any standing room left.

As I reflect sitting here on the huge turnout, I ask of myself what it is that “you got in Seattle that the vast majority of us in the Diaspora don’t got.”

Is it the energy of youth? Is it the harmony of collaborative work? Is it your keen awareness that concern for human rights transcends all political ideologies and differences? Is it a question of leadership, organization, tolerance and respect among yourselves? Could it be a case of super-patriotism for you? Or is it the water in the Evergreen State?

Whatever it is, you need to share your secrets with us. You have the template for collaborative work, and a solid track record for delivering on your promises. We are indebted to you for doing more than your fair share in the cause of human rights in Ethiopia over the past year.

So, thank you Seattle for giving the Inquiry Commission members such a magnificent send off.

They return to the East Coast overwhelmed by the warm embrace of your love, and the deep respect and honor you have shown them.

If they ever had any doubts that they had done the right thing in sacrificing everything for the truth, let me tell you that they have no doubts today. You have reaffirmed their faith that they did the right thing when they stood up for truth and justice, and walked out to make sure all of us knew the unvarnished truth.

I believe they will take back one message from their visit with you here today. “Onward, Onward, Messengers of Truth! Preach the truth to all of Disapora Ethiopia.”

So, on behalf of Ato Frehiwot, Ato Teshome and Ato Alemayehu and myself, thank you Seattle. Thank you for the privilege and honor of being with you, and may God bless you all!

Hooray! Seattle Rising! Seattle Shining!

Monday, January 22, 2007


Never was so much owed by so many to so few…

How does one thank those who put everything on the line to stand up for justice, truth and the Ethiopian way?

How does one express appreciation to those who left their families, friends, neighbors and country to expose the truth about unspeakable crimes committed against children, and call international attention to the massive human rights abuses committed by Zenawi’s regime?

How does one express admiration to those who left high positions of authority and willingly gave up their professions and livelihoods because telling the truth was far more important to them than any amount of personal gain or advantage?

How does one say thank you to Woldemichael Meshesha, Frehiwot Samuel, Mitiku Teshome, and Alemayehu Zemedkun?

I am overcome by deep emotion as I struggle to answer these questions. And I find myself lacking the eloquence of diction or enough words in my vocabulary to express my respect, admiration, gratitude and appreciation for what these young men have done in the cause of freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia.

Our Four Points of Light…

These young men are four points of light in a country gripped by the darkness of fear and terror. Frehiwot, Woldemichael, and Mitiku illuminated the dark secrets and the ugly truth about the massacre of hundreds of our children by Zenawi’s specially recruited storm troopers.

They undertook a thorough and meticulous investigation of the massacres. They conscientiously documented the facts of the murder of each child and young person, interviewed hundreds of witnesses including those who were wounded and maimed in the brutal assault and talked to family members of victims. They examined the photographs of the grotesquely disfigured and bullet riddled corpses of the young men and women, and evaluated all manner of physical evidence related to the killings.

They energetically interrogated evasive, cagey, cocky and imperious officials who spared no effort to stonewall their investigations. And they fearlessly pursued their fact-finding mission without backing down. Not even once!

Then they reported to the world the shocking facts by way of a briefing to the United States House of Representatives. The body count: at least 193 young people murdered in cold blood. Over 760 suffered life-threatening bullet wounds. These were only the victims for whom documentation could be obtained or their deaths and injuries forensically verified. There were thousands, tens of thousands of other innocent citizens who were executed, made to disappear or grievously injured in the prisons, in the streets and in their homes and places of work. No documentation could be found for them, but the whereabouts of these patriots is known only to God.

But that was not all: These young men documented what the world had suspected all along. The young protesters were righteously indignant in challenging the election results, and they went about it in a peaceful and civil manner. They destroyed NO private or public property. Not a single one of them was armed! They were just a feisty throng of youthful demonstrators.

And finally, they forced us to confront the shocking truth that caused the deepest wounds in our hearts. Zenawi’s troops fired on these children not disperse them, and not to scatter them away. No, No, No. Zenawi's troops intended to butcher as many of them as they could that day. They intended to mow them down like grass stalks and leave their bodies littering the streets. Yes, all of those young men and women died from bullet wounds to their heads and/or upper torso. Such are the facts these young men discovered.

In the end, Mitiku, Woldemichael and Frehiwot revealed to the world the truth about the monstrous crimes committed against Ethiopia’s future, its youth. Their report became a devastating indictment of Zenawi and his regime for crimes against humanity, and a testament of truth for history and succeeding generations that there once was a regime in Ethiopia so cruel, so vicious, so depraved, so barbarous and demonic that it massacred its youth in the streets in cold blood.

Alemayehu Zemedkun was the deputy attorney general for the civil division in the state ministry. He was ordered to initiate civil action against the imprisoned leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, human rights defenders and civic leaders for damages allegedly caused by the young protesters. “Sue them in civil court. Let’s take everything they got. Let’s not just send the opposition leaders to the jailhouse, let’s also send their families to the poorhouse,” Alemayehu was commanded.

But he declined to prosecute. He told his bosses that there was no evidence to prove the opposition leaders had anything to do with the protesters or any damage that may have been caused by them He told them the civil process can not be used to persecute citizens for their political views or beliefs. It is fundamentally unfair to have these individuals defend against both a criminal prosecution and a civil action at the same time, he told them. In any case, he was not in the business of using the law to steal from the people, or to oppress them.

He knew he had no place among a horde of thieves, and so he packed up and went into exile. By taking such a heroic act, Alemayehu thwarted Zenawi’s carefully laid plans to send the families of the opposition leaders to the poorhouse.

Godsend to the Diaspora…

Frehiwot, Mitiku, Woldemichael and Alemayehu are a Godsend to Ethiopians in the Diaspora at this crucial stage of our struggle to improve the human rights situation in the homeland. As we pursue our human rights agenda in the United States Congress and H.R. 5680 returns to the legislative process under a different number, we will have our unimpeachable witnesses to tell the American people of the horrific crimes that are being committed on Ethiopian citizens by Zenawi’s regime. We will show them how their tax dollars are being used to support a vicious and ruthless dictator.

And in time, these young men will make their mark on the human rights struggle and make their contributions to us in many ways and forms. In their West Coast Tour, we will be learning a great deal from them. As Inquiry Commission members and judicial officials, they have seen the ugly underbelly of Zenawi’s regime and the massive human rights abuses he has unleashed on the people. We want to know firsthand what really goes on in the “belly of the Beast” where the innocent are arbitrarily arrested, tortured and killed, and often disappear altogether without a trace.

We aim to interact with them and sharpen our awareness of human rights abuses in Ethiopia, and tap their insights about what specific things we can do in the Diaspora to help out. So, as they begin their tour of the West Coast, we are confident that they will inspire us all to be better organized and become more effective advocates in the cause of human rights in Ethiopia. Ultimately, we are hopeful that their civic efforts, moral authority and legal skills will help us bring those who have committed crimes against humanity to the bar of justice.

Our Messengers of Truth…

As we think of the ways to thank these young men, we remain mindful of the fact that they are part of a generation that had faced the greatest challenges in Ethiopia’s modern history. For much of their lives, they have known and lived under tyranny and oppression -- first it was the red terror, then white, then terror in Technicolor under Zenawi’s regime.

During their adult lives, they lived in a country of extreme contrasts: a country with a few millionaires, and tens of millions of poor people. They lived in a city bursting with “economic development”, and a country agonizing under grinding underdevelopment. They walked among elites who spend their work and play time in posh and plush hotels sipping the best French cognac and champagne, and a country where the bar tab for the evening can sustain several families for a year. They grew up in a country where the powers that be believe that everybody has a price -- cash, a house, a fancy car, a good paying government job, influential position, title, whatever.

But there is no price to buy Alemayehu, Woldemichael, Frehiwot and Mitiku. Neither all of the gold mined and stolen out of Adola, nor the aid money siphoned off from international organizations and donor countries is enough to buy off these young men. Zenawi found out, much to his dismay and mortification, that these young men are not for sale, at any price.

But they will be available to us in America freely, to share the truth about the brutal dictatorship of Zenawi’s regime, the massive violations of human rights and ruthless suppression of dissent in Ethiopia. They will be our messengers of truth; and they will tell it like is! They will visit the cities of Sacramento, San Jose- Oakland-San Francisco, Los Angeles , Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego and Seattle to spread the truth.
(See their tour schedule at http://ethiomedia.com/addfile/ic_official_tour.pdf)

Forever indebted…

As we stretch out our hands and welcome these young men in our midst in the West Coast, it is going to be an extraordinary experience for most of us. Few of us have ever met real Ethiopian heroes. We know more about brutal dictators and child killers than heroes who tell the truth and uplift the spirit of their people, give them hope, and inspire faith in the future of their homeland. You could say we are besides ourselves having them in our midst.

And as they visit with us, we shall thank them profusely, but not necessarily in the usual way of lavishing them with empty words and hollow phrases. No, we shall thank them by asking them deep and probing questions that will help us better understand the human rights crises in Ethiopia, and inspire us to take effective collective action.

We want to know about the human side of their investigative work. How did they feel when they found out that 193 young people were intentionally shot and their bodies thrown into the streets like rabid dogs? How did they feel when they spoke to those young victims who suffered life-threatening bullet wounds or were maimed for life and learned about their pain and suffering? How did they handle their grief and sorrow? How did they feel when the world remained silent or made empty gestures and sounded hollow words about human rights violations and extrajudicial killings, yet did nothing to help bring the criminals to justice?

We want to know about how it felt to show courage under fire: What was it like to look the Beast in the eye and say: "No! No! No! We will not change the truth. We will not fudge the facts. We will not falsify our conclusions. You can do whatever you like, and if it must be so, we will go to our graves clutching the truth close to our hearts.” Halleluja!

And we can’t wait to learn about duty, honor and country from these young men.

Duty. We want to know the enormous difficulties they faced performing their fact-finding duties, and how they managed to find the truth and document it massively despite relentless official stonewalling and bureaucratic obstructions. And once they discovered the truth, we want to know how they made it their sacred duty to stand for the innocent children who were murdered, to speak out against injustice and to hold a candle of hope for human rights for all their countrymen and women who suffer in quiet despair under Zenawi’s regime.

We will ask them about how ordinary people like themselves -- fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, neighbors and jolly ole’ good fellows in their communities -- become extraordinary moral leaders by merely performing their duties with fairness, diligence, expertise, meticulous care and professionalism. We want to know about the moral supremacy of those who perform their duties with unflinching fidelity to the truth, while upholding the virtues of honesty and integrity, over the wicked villains who extol corruption as their highest moral virtue.

Honor. These young men would rather honor the memory and suffering of their young countrymen and women, than sell their souls to the Prince of Darkness for a few pieces of silver. They chose honor over everything -- self, family, profession -- and never gave in. As Winston Churchill said: “Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Woldemichael, Frehiwot, Alemayehu, and Mitiku never gave in, except to the truth and the facts they discovered in their investigations. We hope to learn about honor from them.

Country. We want to ask them about patriotism and their love for their homeland and people. Like all patriots the world over, they did their duty out of love of country and pride in their people. They believed in their Ethiopia, no human life, no person, however poor or wretched, deserves to be killed or maimed for exercising basic human rights. They loved their country and people so much, and had such great hope for the future, that they stood ready to offer their own lives and liberties in exchange for liberty and justice for all!

We want to talk to them about others things as well. Perhaps talk them a little bit about character. What is it in the character of a man or a woman that will embolden them to stand up and shout a mighty shout when confronted by acts of injustice? We live in America in relative comfort with robust constitutional rights, but most of stand mute in the face of manifest injustice and unfathomable acts of political cruelty. We have the means to help bring about change, but we lack the will to act.

We can organize and use our resources to promote human rights and freedom, but we spend more time pointing accusatory fingers at each other and showing each other’s fault. We criticize others for being intolerant, oppressive and tyrannical, but we hardly practice the virtues of tolerance, respect, compassion or collaboration. We want to know what it is that these young men “got that we don’t got”?

Perhaps these young men can tell us a little bit about courage since they have practiced it so well. How does one acquire courage when one is overwrought by moral cowardice to the point that one is afraid to take a stand in public. Some of us write in pseudonyms and made-up names to criticize and castigate evil; yet we are afraid to show our faces or be known. Perhaps they can tell us where to shop for courage?

And while they are with us, we would like to tell them a little bit about ourselves in the Diaspora. They probably already know that far too many of us have gone into “survival” mode or AWOL from the CAUSE. We have become businessmen, learned men in the arts, sciences, the law and medicine. We are all very important people. We can’t be bothered by the situation of those poor little people who are dying over there. There is not really much we can do. We will probably explain to them in sophisticated scholarly language: “You must understand human rights abuses are systemic and structural problems. To improve things over there, you need process change and structural transformation.”

Perhaps we’ll change the subject and ask them: “By the way, how are things over there? We hear business is booming. We want to go back and invest, you know, help the poor people there, give them jobs. May be snag a parcel of land and build a house while setting up the business. What do they think?” They may look at us in disbelief and amazement, and ask themselves: “Are we on the same planet with these guys?”

But we are also apprehensive about some tough questions they might ask of us: “In our short stay in America, we have noticed the deafening silence of the Diaspora intellectuals on the human rights situation in Ethiopia, could you please explain why that is so?” Not an easy question. Got to do some hard thinking to answer this one.

Or they could ask: “It seems that Diaspora Ethiopians always react to what is done or not done by Zenawi or his regime. Many of you seem to be standing in a fog of uncertainty and vacillation about what you support and what you oppose. Could you please explain to us your agenda for Ethiopia?” Even tougher to explain this one.

Perhaps they may ask the most dreaded question of all: “What is the Diaspora’s vision for the future of Ethiopia?” We are mindful of the fact that these guys are lawyers and skilled fact-finders who will ask many follow up questions. Ummm! What to say?!

And we will ask them to join us in celebrating other great heroes and heroines of human rights in Ethiopia -- 193 young men and women slaughtered defending democracy along with 763 wounded, the leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy and other civic leaders and human rights defenders, and the thousands of unnamed political prisoners and torture victims, and their families who have sacrificed so much and suffered so greatly to advance the cause of freedom, democracy and human rights. Lest we forget, we shall also celebrate our sister in the cause of human rights, Ana Gomes.

So, how do we thank these young men? Let me count the ways…

It is hard to resist the temptation to use mere words to thank these young men. But thank them we shall: for speaking the truth, for helping wage a human rights struggle against a monstrous tyranny that has set a new benchmark for cruelty and viciousness in the modern annals of crimes against humanity.

We shall thank them for putting justice above ethnicity, human rights above personal gain and democracy above partisan interest.

We shall thank them for lifting our hopes, for giving us pride in the determination and steadfastness of purpose of the younger generation.

We shall thank them for reinforcing our faith that not all of Ethiopia’s heroes are dead and gone; and for proving to us that we need not look to history to learn about duty, honor and country.

We shall thank them for keeping the memories of the young people massacred by Zenawi’s troops alive, and for reminding us that though these young people have died, the principles of liberty, freedom and democracy for which they gave their lives will endure and outlive any two-bit tyrant.

We shall thank them for teaching us the true meaning of being an Ethiopian -- it is not ethnicity, religion, language, profession or bank account or residence -- which is love of justice and belief in the dignity and worth of every human being.

We shall thank them for making us aware that millions of our countrymen and women who suffer under tyranny, and whose true leaders languish in prison, look to us for moral leadership and encouragement, even though we are separated by space and time.

And we shall thank them for teaching us the greatest lesson of all: “Never to give in, never to give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never to give in” to the underhanded trickery, bullying, threats and intimidation of the bloodthirsty Beast who devoured so many of our children!

West Coast Challenge to the Rest of the Diaspora…

And so we freedom-loving human rights defenders on the West Coast call on all freedom-loving Ethiopians in the in the United States of America -- our home away from home -- to join us and say to Frehiwot, Woldemichael, Mitiku and Alemayehu: “THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE FOR OUR HOMELAND AND OUR PEOPLE. THANK YOU FOR AWAKENING OUR CONSCIENCE AND FOR BEING OUR CONSCIENCE. THANK YOU FOR GIVING US HOPE. AND THANK YOU FOR REINVIGORATING OUR FAITH IN A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR ETHIOPIA.”

We on the West Coast also put out a challenge to all Ethiopians living in America -- from sea to shining sea, to those who live on the East Coast, in the Midwest, the Northeast and Northwest, the South, Southeast and Southwest -- upon whom God has shed his grace, to open your arms in a warm embrace and welcome these heroes into your communities and personally say to them: “THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.”


On a personal note…

I am overcome with a sense of deep humility and great pride that these four members of the legal profession spearheaded the effort to expose the truth about the massacre of the young people after the 2005 elections, and for unearthing evidence of massive abuses of human rights in their investigations. In many ways, these young men remind me of the great African American lawyers who fought against racial segregation and discrimination in American society. Such dedicated lawyers as Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, Oliver Hill and Elaine R. Jones, all great African American lawyers who stood up for truth and justice at great risk to their lives, and who ultimately cast their lot with the oppressed and the weak, and the wretched of the earth.

Though separated by distance, time and culture, our young lawyers also stood up before the court of world opinion and shouted a might shout: “193 children cry out for justice from their graves. Their families float in a sea of tears. Thousands of others are imprisoned daily, tortured and killed.” These young lawyers are now the voices of all of these victims from the grave, and from the prisons and jails, in exile and from wherever else Zenawi’s victims cry for justice. I have never been more proud of the members of my profession than I am now. I am overwhelmed. My cup runneth over!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Poof! The Magic Jihadist!

In the 1979 animation adventure, Puff the Magic Dragon and the Land of Living Lies, the Dragon takes a little girl called Sandy, who has a vivid imagination and lies a lot to escape the problems of her troubled home, to the Land of the Living Lies, where she meets such famous fibbers as Pinocchio and the boy who cried wolf, and honesty is prosecuted:

Sandy: Puff, look!

Puff: That is the famous purple cow that no one has ever seen.

Sandy: And the pink elephant.

Puff: That some see too often.

Sandy: Who is that?

Puff: Kilroy. Always was there, and never was anywhere.


Prosecutor: Little girl, isn’t it true you zipped the zapper when you snipped the snoo?

Sandy: I can’t understand him.

Puff: Because he’s the prosecuting attorney: a genuine flim-flam.

Prosecutor: And furthermore, you frightened the flip by frying the frisbee. Uh huh!

Therefore I put to case that all the while the fluster flittered, your velocipede matriculated. DIDN'T YOU?


Puff: [eating homework]

Arithmetic. Ketchup goes well with lower mathematics.

Sandy: Where are we?

Puff: Oh, a long way from your house, I'm sure.

Puff: Don't you think it’s odd that I, a dragon, should eat homework for lunch? Of course it’s odd, for it never happened. It was a falsehood, a canard, a prevarication. Oh, why beat about the bush. It was a simple lie told by a little girl named Sandy.


The jihadists are coming! The jihadists are here. Poof! They are gone. “It was a falsehood, a canard, a prevarication. Oh, why beat about the bush. It was a simple lie told by….”

And so the horned jihadists of the Horn of Africa have come and gone like the “purple cow that no one has ever seen” or “the pink elephant that some see too often.” Across the dusty Ogaden border, we were told, lurked 8000-strong wild-eyed jihadists poised to overrun Ethiopia. “Mothers, hide your children! Fathers, come out with your pitchforks! Soldiers, put on your battle dresses and sling your guns. The jihadists are coming! The jihadists are here!” Where are they? Here! There! Everywhere! Poof, the magic jihadists are gone! Darn, you missed the whole show!

The Fireman and the Jihadists

The current invasion of Somalia by Zenawi evokes images of the fireman who deliberately sets a house on fire and calls the fire department to come and put it out. As the firemen arrive, he is heroically fighting the blaze, earning the gratitude and admiration of his colleagues.

Zenawi invented a jihadist bogeyman in Somalia, exaggerated the Islamist qua Al-Qaeda threat and sought to cynically exploit the Bush Administration’s knee jerk reaction to terrorism. He sought to depict Somalia as the New Front in the ongoing global war on terror, and flimflam the U.S. Now, having routed the ragtag motley crew of Islamist militiamen perched atop pickup trucks toting 50 cal. machineguns, Zenawi hopes to present himself to the world as #1 Al-Quaeda hunter and terror fighter in the Horn of Africa, and defensor pacis (defender of the peace) to boot. But we all know he is a “foo fighter.”[1]

The truth of the matter is that the whole jihadist menace in the Horn of Africa -- the “New Talibans” -- is a figment of Zenawi’s imagination. The jihadist bogeyman was invented to divert international attention from Zenawi’s massive and gross violations of human rights in Ethiopia. But nobody bought it, except perhaps Jendayi Fraser, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, who seems to share Zenawi’s hallucinations about wild-eyed and fire-breathing terrorists lurking behind every desert rock in the Ogaden.

The year 2006 was not a particularly good one for Zenawi. His cherished image of “democratic reformer”, “new breed of African leader dedicated to democracy, human rights and development”, etc. was gone, forever. He became known as the tyrant, the butcher, the mass murderer, the thief, and so on. Undaunted, he kept on tyrannizing, butchering, murdering….

The Somali jihadist PR offensive was supposed to provide respite and cover during a period of extremely bad publicity for Zenawi. He was facing increasing international condemnation for his brutal suppression of opposition and dissent in the country. The kangaroo trial of the opposition leaders, civic society advocates and human rights defenders provided comic relief to all (but not the defendants) as the prosecutor paraded screwy perjurers before the court. When their lies were exposed on cross-examination, the perjurers fingered lead prosecutor Kamal as their coach for lying. The Inquiry Commission charged to investigate the massacre of unarmed protesters in November, 2005, returned its verdict, albeit in a briefing to the U.S. House of Representatives: “Zenawi, your boys did it! Ain’t nobody here to blame, but you. You are responsible!”

So, the Somali jihadist bogeyman was a God-send (no pun intended) to create a convenient diversion from from the adverse international attention, and hoodwink the locals. The initial PR for the diversionary campaign was handled in standard “Keystone Cop” style. At the outset, Zenawi denied having any military presence in Somalia. A few days later, he admitted dispatching some military advisors to provide technical assistance to the Western-backed Somalia Transitional Government (STG). Shortly thereafter, he admitted having a few hundred soldiers loitering outside of Baidoa to protect the STG from being overrun by the Islamists. As he launched a full scale offensive, he declared he was pursuing Islamists who were battle-ready to attack Ethiopia and destabilize the Horn region. He explained, Ethiopia’s defensive measures are targeted only at this terrorist group.”

One can not overlook the subtextual attempt to inflame religious passions in the war rhetoric. Zenawi charged the Islamists are fundamentalists who want to govern Somalia according to Islamic law, and have recruited foreign Muslims to join their jihad against Ethiopia. The Islamists publicly invited support from the Islamic world by presenting themselves as victims of Ethiopian Christian Crusaders supported by Islamophobic Western countries. Sheik Hassan Aweys, the leader of the Shura Council, charged that Ethiopia was a Christian nation in a Muslim region of the world. Bishop Eiustatwos Gebrekristos, a top prelate of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, countered by accusing the Islamists of trying “to convert Ethiopia to Islam.” Fortunately, the rhetoric found little traction among both sensible and not-so-sensible people in the region.

The Fire Department and the Jihadist

The Bush Administration has been supportive of Zenawi’s adventures in Somalia, first tacitly (“we urge restraint on all sides”), and in the past week days, openly “Ethiopia has genuine security concerns about the Islamists”). The rationale for supporting the intervention is the old “Islamists/Al-Qaeda-terrorists-running-loose-in-the-Horn” canard. Two weeks ago, Jendayi Fraser claimed that Sheik Aweys and the Shura Council were “controlled by Al-Qaeda cell individuals.” She alleged that “the top layer of the courts are extremists to the core, they are terrorists and they are creating this logic of war.”

For the past 15 years, Somalia has been in a state of internecine warfare and anarchy. Somalia has the dubious distinction of being the archetypal “failed state[2]”. U.S. policy in Somalia (if there ever was one) during this period has been a dismal failure. In 1993, the U.S. undertook Operation Restore Hope with the aim of averting a humanitarian disaster from the factional fighting and general anarchy in Somalia. A year later, the U.S. made a hasty exit following the disastrous attempt to capture the warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed. 18 American troops were killed in the battle, and their bodies dragged in the streets of Mogadishu.

The bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 oriented U.S. policy in Somalia towards counterterrorism, particularly, the capture or killing of a small number Al-Qaeda operatives and Somali collaborators who are believed to be responsible for the attacks. Repeated U.S. requests to turn over these operatives -- the so-called core of the East African cell-- have fallen on the deaf ears of the Islamists. The CIA spearheaded the counterterrorism effort by financing secular Somali warlords and businessmen under the auspices of an organization known as the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism.

The CIA effort failed to neutralize the terrorists, but contributed to the ascendancy of the Islamic fundamentalists, who were presumably coddling these terrorists. The Islamists, apparently spooked by all of the covert and no-so-covert CIA activity launched their own preemptive strikes, overrunning their opponents in a relatively short time and capturing Mogadishu in June.

This past summer, the State Department took over the policy role for Somalia from the CIA (cloak and dagger was out) hoping to diplomatically engage the Islamist militias, whose victory was claimed to be a major setback to American policy in the region. A few days ago, President Bush declared that the first priority for the United States was to keep Somalia from becoming a safe haven for terrorists. Ho-hum, the cycle repeats itself!

The Truth About U.S. Foreign Policy in Somalia

It is apparent that the U.S. has not had a comprehensive policy for Somalia over the past 15 years. The ironic truth is that 1) the Bush Administration does not have a coherent policy for Somalia as a failed state, and 2) the two individuals who are responsible for developing such a policy, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and Assistant Secretary Jendayi Fraser (regarded by many informed commentators as lacking the authority and skill to craft a diplomatic solution), both African American, have manifested little interest or political will to deal with the Somali issue.

Recent comments by important American policy makers on U.S. policy (or lack of) are revealing. John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, asserted that Somalia “has come back on the radar screen only fairly recently.” Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), the incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. had special criticism for the Bush administration: “By making a bad bet on the warlords to do our bidding, the administration has managed to strengthen the [Islamic] Courts, weaken our position and leave no good options. This is one of the least-known but most dangerous developments in the world, and the administration lacks a credible strategy to deal with it.”

Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-WI), the incoming chairman of the Senate Africa Subcommittee criticized Rice for failing to develop a “comprehensive strategy” and give high-level attention to Somalia. He has promised to hold hearings in January, 2007. Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ) implicitly rejected the Administration’s policy on the Horn by “strongly condemning” Ethiopia’s “aggression and called for the immediate withdrawal of Ethiopian and all foreign forces from Somalia.”

Gen. John P. Abizaid, chief of the U.S. Central Command, following his recent meetings with Zenawi urged “restraint” ahead of the inevitable invasion. According to Zenawi, Abizaid “shared his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan with us and he indicated that we have, to the maximum extent possible, avoid direct military intervention in Somalia.”

John Prendergast, an expert on Africa who served in Clinton’s National Security Council described the Bush administration’s Somalia policy as “idiotic.” He claimed U.S. support for Ethiopia’s military incursion has “incalculably strengthened” the Islamic Courts, rejuvenated Somali nationalism and “made our counterterrorism agenda nearly impossible to implement”.

Following the sweeping victory of the Islamists, Prendergast argued: A successful counterterrorism effort would require the United States to pull the political and military threads together into a coherent strategy of broader engagement…. Long-term counterterrorism objectives can be achieved only by American investment in the Somali peace process. Yet the State Department has just one full-time political officer working on Somalia -- from neighboring Kenya, and he was just transferred out of the region for dissenting from the policy on proxy warlords.”

In response to the scathing criticism from all quarters, the administration announced the formation of the Somalia Contact Group to hold talks with representatives of the Islamic Courts, the STG, other regional actors and U.S. representatives.

Throughout the crisis, the State Department has gone to extraordinary lengths to help shape favorable American public opinion, including issuance of a memo advising: “The press must not be allowed to make this about Ethiopia, or Ethiopia violating the territorial integrity of Somalia.” The U.S. has sought to dispel the belief that United States is using Zenawi to launch a proxy war against the Islamists. Zenawi has denied any involvement of American soldiers or weapons in battles in Somalia. He says there has been a sharing of intelligence, perhaps a little assistance in pinpointing the exact location of Islamist militiamen for artillery practice.

Quick Flashback: Why did Zenawi Invade Somalia in the First Place?

Zenawi has asserted that he has a legal and moral obligation to support and defend the STG, which is purportedly recognized by the international community. Of course, the claim of a “legal obligation” to invade a sovereign country is nonsense, and unsupported in international law; and there is no such thing as a “moral” obligation or justification for military invasion. (See e.g. ENDNOTES for international legal authority on the use of force.) If external military action needs to be taken against a sovereign country legally, that authority belongs to the U.N, first and foremost. Even intervention motivated by humanitarian concerns requires U.N action, except under the most extraordinary circumstances (which Somalia does not present). Indeed, in 1992, the Security Council authorized a United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) to aid in humanitarian relief.[3] Other U.N.-sanctioned humanitarian interventions have taken place in Cambodia, in Haiti and in the various republics of the former Yugoslavia. But Zenawi has no authority under international law to invade Somalia on the grounds of “legal” and/or “moral” obligation.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Zenawi had a “legal and moral obligation” to invade Somalia, we should ask the following questions: 1) Does the defeat of the Islamists bring about an end to terrorism in Somalia and the Horn? 2) Will Zenawi’s “support” to the STG result in the reconstitution of Somalia as a sovereign nation (and not merely establish the STG as an Ethiopian puppet government)? 3) Will Zenawi’s support for the STG guarantee security, peace and territorial integrity to Ethiopia? 4) Does Zenawi’s “support” to the STG obviate the need for an international and/or regional peacekeeping force in Somalia? How long will Zenawi have to provide “support” to the STG before his troops vacate Somalia and let the Somalis sort things out on their own?

Is there a Possibility for a Negotiated Settlement to Put Humpty Dumpty together?

The familiar children’s rhyme goes:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the king's horses and all the king's men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

The questions is: After 15 years of clan warfare, anarchy and chaos, is it possible to put Somalia back together? Can Zenawi’s horses (tanks) and troops put Somalia back together? Can the U.S.? Can anybody put Somalia back together?

The answer is: Only Somalis can put Somalia back together. On their own terms!

For well over a decade, there have been countless efforts at national unity and reconciliation in Somalia. None have produced any meaningful results. In 1993-1994, Ethiopia sponsored several peace conference to bring together the numerous competing factions to develop a consensus without much success. Efforts by the governments of Egypt, Yemen, Kenya, and Italy to bring the Somali factions together have equally failed. In 2002, Kenya organized the Somalia National Reconciliation Conference, which led to the establishment of the STG under the leadership of Mohammed Gedi, the government for which Zenawi has now taken conservatorship.

Quo Vadis Somalia?

Where do we go from here in Somalia?

First and foremost, all foreign troops must go, immediately withdraw from Somalia. That includes Ethiopian troops, Eritrean troops, if any, the motley crew of mujahadeen fighters, if any. The African Union has called for the “the withdrawal of all troops and foreign elements from Somalia.” Other countries and international organizations have made similar calls.

Second, diplomacy must be given priority over any military solution, including one imposed by Zenawi as a matter of “legal and moral” imperative. The Arab League and various neighboring countries have called for dialogue and negotiation among the various Somali factions. Even the U.S. supports a diplomatic solution. The Somalia Contact Group aims to hold talks with representatives of the Islamic Courts, the STG, other regional actors and U.S. representatives.

Third, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1725 which passed just a few weeks ago should be vigorously implemented and monitored so that “all Member States, in particular those in the region,…refrain from any action in contravention of the arms embargo and related measures.” This resolution also authorized an East African peacekeeping force to prevent the overthrow of the STG by the Islamic militias. With the exception of Uganda, few other countries have expressed in building a peacekeeping force for Somalia. Even Museveni seems to be retreating in the face of a conspicuous absence of enthusiasm for such a force. Nonetheless, control of the influx of arms into Somalia will be critical to the overall success of any diplomatic solution, but also very difficult to achieve. A recent U.N Security Council report has confirmed that Ethiopia, Eritrea and other countries have circumvented the international arms embargo imposed on Somalia since 1992[4].

Learn from the American Experience of “Shock and Awe” and “Mission Accomplished” Syndrome

When the U.S. invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, it adopted a strategy called “Shock and Awe”, based on the military doctrine of using overwhelming military might to destroy not only the material capabilities of the enemy, but also his will to fight and resist. Six weeks later on May 1, 2003, President Bush delivered a speech on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and declared the end of major combat operations in the Iraq War. In the background was a large banner declaring: “Mission Accomplished.”

The parallels between Zenawi’s invasion of Somalia and Bush’s Iraq folly are manifest. It is easy to feel irrationally exuberant about a victory against a ragtag crew of militiamen toting rifles and machineguns mounted on pickup trucks. Although some of the defeated Islamists have cast off their uniforms and joined the civilian population in the face of the advancing Zenawi/STG troops, others have presumably fled to the south to make a last stand or carry on a guerrilla war. Wherever they may be and however many are left, they will continue to hover in the shadows (but not lurk behind every desert rock) as a reminder to the larger Somali population that Somalia is under occupation by her historical enemy – her nemesis -- determined to install a puppet government. The riots that broke out in Mogadishu at the sight of Zenawi’s troops should be an indication of things to come if Zenawi insists on staying in Somalia for long.

The bottom line is that Somalia has been spinning out of control for a very long time; and one must grudgingly admit that the Islamists brought about a measure of internal stability and a semblance of order unseen in Somalia for a decade and half. Zenawi’s problem is whether he will be the one to restart the centrifuge that will plunge Somalia back into the familiar abyss of clan warfare, chaos and anarchy, a land where life is short, nasty and brutish! We should all pray that the future of Somalia will not be a mirror of its past.

“We Will Not Let Mogadishu Burn!”

As Zenawi’s forces entered the Somali capital, he made a curious statement of special interest to history buffs. He said: “We will not let Mogadishu burn!”

In 64 A.D., when fire broke out among the shops lining the Circus Maximus[5] in Rome, Emperor Nero played his violin from a distance and watched Rome burn. Historians blamed Nero for the disaster, insinuating that Nero started the fire so that he could bypass the Roman senate and rebuild Rome to his liking.

If Zenawi “will not let Mogadishu burn,” what plans does he have for it anyway? Perhaps a series of villas and pavilions set upon a landscaped park and a man-made lake right in the middle of Mogadishu?

Anyway, now that the jihadists have come and gone (Rah! Rah! Rah! They have gone, haven’t they? ), along with the “famous purple cow that no one has ever seen and the pink elephant”, could we please talk about the serious issues of human rights, release of political prisoners, arrest and prosecution of the murderers of 193 peaceful protesters and 2500 Anuaks, …, and that sort of thing?



UN Charter:

Article 2 (4) All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Article 33(1) The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.

Article 35 (1). Any Member of the United Nations may bring any dispute, or any situation of the nature referred to in Article 34, to the attention of the Security Council or of the General Assembly.

Article 37 (1). Should the parties to a dispute of the nature referred to in Article 33 fail to settle it by the means indicated in that Article, they shall refer it to the Security Council. (2) If the Security Council deems that the continuance of the dispute is in fact likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, it shall decide whether to take action under Article 36 or to recommend such terms of settlement as it may consider appropriate.

Constitutive Act of the African Union:

Article 4 -- The [African] Union shall function in accordance with the following principles:

(a) sovereign equality and interdependence among Member States of the Union;
(b) respect of borders existing on achievement of independence;
(e) peaceful resolution of conflicts among Member States of the Union through such appropriate means as may be decided upon by the Assembly;
(f) prohibition of the use of force or threat to use force among Member States of the Union;
(g) non-interference by any Member State in the internal affairs of another;
(i) peaceful co-existence of Member States and their right to live in peace and security;
(p) condemnation and rejection of unconstitutional changes of governments.

[1] Imaginary fighters believed to have shadowed allied fighter planes during WW II.

[2] The Crisis States Research Centre defines a “failed state” as a condition of “state collapse” -- e.g. a state that can no longer perform its basic security, and development functions and that has no effective control over its territory and borders. Among the various characteristics of such a state are: mounting demographic pressures, massive movement of refugees, legacy of vengeance, sharp and/or severe economic decline, criminalization or de-legitimization of the State, progressive deterioration of public services, widespread violation of human rights, rise of factionalized elites, intervention of other states or external actors.

[3] Security Council Resolution 794 (December 3, 1992).

[4] United Nations Security Council Resolution 733 (Implementing an Arms Embargo on Somalia).

[5] Hippodrome or open air stadium for mass entertainment and games.