The Politics of Genocide Denial in Ethiopia.

AuthorDugo, Habtamu

"We Oromos naively think that this world cares, and somebody in it is going to help us solve our political problems. We fail to understand that we only get support from others if we first help ourselves and convince others that they can benefit by helping us."

----Asafa Jalata


Genocide is the intentional act or attempted act of destroying a defined group of people. Slow genocide is the intentional destruction of a group without the rapid mass murder that is so globally shocking. Denial of genocide, whether by perpetrators or observers, is an attempt to deny intent to destroy a group in order to avoid the shame and responsibility of charges of genocide. Confusing the political reality of intent to destroy a group can continue decades after the violence ends. Because the UN Genocide Convention definition of genocide requires proof of intent to destroy a group, genocide does not exist without such proof although other horrendous illegal acts can be present.

The problem for a nation which commits genocidal acts and multiple human rights abuses, like Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (hereafter referred to as the government of Ethiopia) which shares borders with Eritrea to the north and northeast, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south that includes over 102 million inhabitants, making it the most populous landlocked country in the world, as well as the second-most populous nation on the continent of Africa whose leaders are enamoured of the plunder of foreign aid, stems from the need to prevent knowledge of mass atrocity from leaking into global awareness, so that the reputation of its ancient grandeur might not be sullied, and aid would continue to flow. This aid, as we shall discuss in is about 3.6 billion US dollars per year, about one half the budget of the government of Ethiopia and about equals the amount stolen by government of Ethiopia officials.

Since financial aid funds both slow genocide disguised as development and the amount available for theft, government needs to carefully control the narrative. There is an information blackout, and the minimal information that escapes into global awareness is excused by the donors who have been fooled into believing that aid purchases Ethiopian loyalty.

Such donor denial enables government to freely continue to commit heinous genocidal acts upon the populace. In a slow genocide, there is no sudden outbreak of rapid mass murder that forces at least some global notice, and we shall argue that foreign governments and other donors are complicit in the cover up and in the funding of the violence in return for friendship.

At the present there are two sides to the denial of genocide in Ethiopia. The first consists of the minority Tigrayan group who rule and the second consists of the global elite cronies of the Tigray rulers, including foreign governments, media, aid agencies, and some human rights organizations. These two groups have engaged in denial for decades. While denial is a stage of genocide usually placed after the genocide, at a time when it has become generally recognized as genocide, according to Dr. Gregory Stanton (1) of Genocide Watch, these stages of genocide are predictable. Stanton elucidates that the stage of denial can exist simultaneous with ongoing genocidal atrocities.

In Ethiopia, denial is a way of life. The elite do not desire a violence free society with a thriving public because they are a minority people who have made many enemies. And they fear being overwhelmed by those enemies if there were to be a wealthy, educated, thriving, democratically run society. They believe that their only method of survival is to continue as they have. The gullible expectation of donors and the UN that the government of Ethiopia actually desires to control internal deaths and violence is unfounded. "We have your back, so please fund our development, but don't watch" is the cry, while the corrupt elite steal donated funds and destroy the human capital of targeted civilians. David Steinman advises that, "Ethiopia's government believes it has America over a barrel and doesn't have to be accountable to us or its own people." (2)

Because government is receiving foreign funds while carrying out a slow genocide, it is certainly in government's interests to deny that they intentionally attempt to eliminate targeted segments of the population.

The government of Ethiopia narrative blames its own violence on resistance by 'outsiders' and denies intentional atrocity while the globe watches exactly that. And so by tolerantly misunderstanding that the denial of culpability for internal mass death or tragedy during these projects is prevarication, the United Nations, the World Bank, donor nations and most global media are setting the stage for continued violence in the Horn. Although there might be promises of improvement, as soon as donors engage their attention elsewhere, atrocities begin again.

We observe that acts that relate to Article II a, II b and II c of the UN Genocide Convention (3) are repeatedly committed against targeted populations, such as the Oromo, and result in many deaths. Article II b states, "Genocide means... Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group" and Article II c states, "Genocide means... Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part." The situation in Ethiopia should not be referred to as human rights abuse or mass murder, but as genocide. It is the epitome of denial for observers to accept the government narrative and to ignore the truth on the ground. Donors are very careful to name the chronic hunger as food insecurity, and forced evictions and police violence as atrocities in order to avoid the serious situation of naming genocide. Nevertheless, they have involved themselves in genocide in exchange for favors from the Ethiopian regime.

Because these deaths are not caused by violence, but are indirectly caused by hunger or illness or lack of medication or clean water required to sustain life, are they easier to ignore? Mass deaths due to starvation have been so masked by occasional periods of drought as to be blamed on natural disaster. However, decades of alternative theories such as those discussed by Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze whose explanation for mass deaths due to hunger give other, more sinister, and shall we dare to admit, intentional reasons for mass hunger, and death.

They stated that, "... there is no real evidence to doubt that all famines in the modern world are preventable by human action... " and that the responsibility for action or lack of action deserves, "explicit attention and analysis, not evasion." (4) We would also suggest here that children who survive would be a reduced future threat to the Tigrayan minority because, according to The Lancet, "damage suffered in early life leads to permanent impairment, and might also affect future generations." (5) We believe that government policy that repeatedly creates hunger is evidence of true genocide and must be so named. Because of multiple denials and constant cover-ups by the government of Ethiopia, those observers who wish to remain unaware of the facts find that they are able to mask truth. It has become all too easy to permit politics to make the decision.

Hence, we examine the crucial question of how genocide is legally recognized, and we show that some acknowledge genocide in Ethiopia and the denial narrative of genocidaires that transcends time and borders and we explain the national historical development of the genocide denial in Ethiopia which includes the "Wax and Gold" cultural propensity of Ethiopian leaders to prevaricate. We also discuss the narrative of the international deniers that arises from the use of definitionalism that blurs the line between human rights abuse and genocide.

Next, we explain definitionalism as it concerns the narrative of denial and show parallels between the politics of global denial of the Armenian genocide and the Ethiopian donors political reasons for denial of intentional genocidal acts. And also, we discuss definitionalism using the genocide trial of the Derg leadership. We relate an incident of forced displacement which occurred during the Derg regime to further explain the how definitionalism blurred the presence of slow genocide during the Derg era. And we also outline two of the ongoing genocides, using the situations in the Omo Valley and the capital city of Addis Ababa as examples of the current appearance of the slow genocide that is carried out with global aid and complicity to demonstrate an unstable political situation that is leading to chaos.

Development projects in the Omo Valley, in the south, are easily destroying the starving peoples who have been displaced. Global populace knows little of these acts because victims cannot easily communicate with outsiders and have been intimidated into silence. The donor countries who fund these projects usually turn a blind eye to the plight of the involved families. When donors finally acknowledge that problems exist, they focus on the presence of human rights abuses, and ignore the pattern showing that these abuses are realistically, genocidal mass deaths and disabilities. At this time, some donors have been shamed into action, but donor action only means changing the names of the aid projects. And because money is fungible, and because the intent of Ethiopian regime remains the destruction of the Oromo and other peoples, as aid funding continues unabated, so does death and devastation.

Further, we discuss that in the very center of the country, the Addis Ababa Master Plan, an incredible expansion of 20 times the present size of the city, was touted as required for modern development of the city.

When completed, it would displace an estimated million Oromos. Because...

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