Monday, July 30, 2007

Milllennial Opportunity: Abusing Open Letters to Disrespect Our Senior Citizens and Elder's Council

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity-;

Dear Patriotic Global Citizens and Friends of Ethiopia:

I read with disbelief this rather unpatriotic and disrespectful letter to the Chair of the Ethiopian Elders' Council that mediated the full pardon of the Kaliti Prisoners and felt compelled to respond.

It reminded me os a similar incident that took place in 1974. An infamy in Ethiopian history, that transpired almost 33 years ago at the Jubilee Palace, Addis Ababa, where the Military Junta organized a group of military officers and youths to insult the Emperor as he was driven out of His Palace for the last time.

The Emperor at the age of 84 was ignominiously driven out of His palace in a blue Volkswagen- with jeering crowd organized by the Creeping Coup leaders to humiliate and create a vulgar culture that continues to hold hostage the writer of this letter. This rather historic and yet sad picture has been printed on a special cothe and I I still keep it on the door to my bedroom to remind me every day, why I am here in Diaspora and to work against the criminal and culture that has been unleashed on our consciousness by dishonoring this great man.

This Open letter does exactly the same thing, by dishonoring Professor Ephrem Isac a 70 years of so senior statesman and scholar and his over 27 highly respected Elder's Council. This new culture that is being unleashed by this author, needs to be confronted for what it is an unpatriotic, rather treasonous scar in our consciousness.

This same picture is being re-drawn by this Open letter that is repeating the same culture of disgrace that violates our culture and value system by the same group of Derg Cadres in exile whose job was to dishonor Ethiopian culture and replace it with the Marxist Revolutionary construct that defines the same citizens as class and ethnic enemies and create unnecessary conflictual paradigm which they refer to as a struggle and justify to demolish any thing that is sacred. This letter is designed to do the same so that no intellectual of any competence can speak against these treasonous behavior at home and abroad.

The respected and distinguished Professor Ephrem Issac and his associates deserve better and we need to defend their honor and their freedom.

Professor Issac led a group of 28 highly respected and Noble Ethiopians to convince both the prisoners and the government to come to a common understanding towards their release after the courts decided to put them behind bars for life. He does not deserve such humiliating and rather disingenuous letter.

Truly, by any stretch of imagination, this distinguished first class professor who educated the who and who of modern black leadership at Harvard and Princeton, and that synergizes classical Ethiopian and Modern western civilization with such ease and eloquence should not be insulted by left overs of the old cadre system of Major Melaku Teferra - popularly known as the "Butcher of Gondar"! We all should respond aginst such henious behavior and keeping quiet at the time of such inhumane treatment is beyond any justification.

I have personally met and seen this unique genius of a person- who is humble, and yet wise, highly interactive and very intelligent; modest and un-assuming person, being violated and insulted by people who have very questionable background in the first palce and are masquerading as democrats and patriots who were in the service of the treasonous and barbaric military junta for almost all their lives.

We hav never seen them communicate any thing worthwhile for over 30 years when the Junta was massacring the population in the cities and the villages of Ethiopia. So, why the crocodile tears now and why this letter?

The spirit of reconciliation and humility that Profesor Ephrem Issac exudes and articulates cannot and should not be defiled by such level of crude and rather misplaced anger, hate and revengeful spirit. It is such misplaced anger that has created the environment of the failed Orange Revolution and kept the prisoners for jail for over 20 months in the first place.

At no time did the Professor take sides, and his favourite statement is that .."those who seek pardon are heroes and those who pardon are saintly or honorable" very appropriate to the current circumstances we all find ourselves in. He had tried to make peace between Asmara and Addis during the most shameful period of 1998-2000 with another set of Elders' Council and this is not his first attempt.

The professor was the first to remind us about the Ethiopian Millennium as early as some 10 years ago.

Let us be fair and try to envision our state of affairs and what we have been the paradigm of hopelessness, without out the Professors' intervention.

What would have happened had Professor and his 28 team Elders' Council had not intervened

Would this writer have done any thing? None. Who else among Ethiopians and even the international community tried to mediate at this level with his or her own expense traveling back and forth between US and Ethiopia for over 18 months.

Just looking at the mix and make up of the Elder's Council shows how wise the Professor has been in selecting very respectable members of the community from different age groups, religious and ethnic background which is the mosaic asset of what makes Ethiopia and Ethiopians unique in the world.

As to HR2003, however high minded and well intended it looks it is in effect a highly punitive, pejorative and most importantly undermines the self determination and the traditional evolution of a democratic culture of a society by imposing outside pressure and connecting it to economic and diplomatic and military strings which no Ethiopian would ever accept.

The writer of this open letter, has no idea how Ethiopians perceive themselves when it comes to their freedom and when their dignity and honor is defiled by outside forces.

The experiences of Ethiopians history is replete with facts to show that Ethiopians which ever generation will ever give their sovereignty under any pretexts, be it good governance or monetary or any diplomatic or military pressures.

Just reviewing the past 200 years, one cannot ignore the facts that glare on the world history and literature.

The experience of Maqdela during Emperor Theodor's time,

the experience of Adwa during Emperor Menelik's time,

the experience of Sudan, during Emperor Yohannes time,

the experience of Emperor Haile Sellassie during the Second World War and

the recent experience of Badme and Baidowa in 2000 and 2007 confirms the same trend.

All this well recorded events are ample evidence that even over the last 200 years alone, Ethiopians have defended their spiritual, moral and state sovereignty and made the supreme sacrifice when other nations be it Somalis, Bahre-Negash, Sudanese, Italians, British, Turks and even Lincoln Defeated Generals of the Civil Wars were defeated by Ras Allula and his patriotic troops.

No Ethiopian will accept any bill that sounds like the Wuchale Treaty in its impact, that will dishonor their freedom, and HR2003 and the new Millennium is no different. How can we expect Professor to be a neutral observer when the deadly criminal forces usurp Ethiopians freedom and sovereignty? Is it fair to expect him to be a bystander and a disconnected neutral person. Ethiopians can not be neutral when there is an assault on their freedom by well meaning friends who try to take away their independence.

Remember the foolish and criminal Mussolini, declared a civilizing mission to Ethiopia, blessed by the then Roman Catholic Pope. What is the difference of the current Congressmen Payne and Chris Smith HR2003 to what the Roman Catholic Pope and Mussolini claimed in the 1930 at Mai chew and their predecessor claimed in 1896 at the Wuchale treaty and the Ethiopian victory at Adwa. They all had good intentions, but the outcome was different. This author needs to read the history of Ethiopia to understand the content, context and perspective of this letter and the Professor's stand on HR2003.

Remember: even the Retired and defeated Southern Generals of the Civil War were hired as mercenaries to fight against Ethiopioa with the Egyptian invading forces at Gundet and they were summarily defeated by Ras Allula Aba Nega forces during the reign of Emperor Yohannest the IVth. So, the American experience is not that blameless even though, this was not done under the blessing of the government; although imagine former generals getting to Africa without their government's blessing is hard to explain.

So, the current US HR2003 is not a new venture of diplomatic and military pressure on Ethiopia. Most importantly its connection to the current security and military relationship with the US cannot put under any pressure for any pretext. Security and survival comes before any sort of representative good governance. It is the question of priority, Mr Open Letter!

Professor Ephrem like all Patriotic Ethiopians will not surrender or acquiesce on any overt and covert attempts to denigrate Ethiopia's sovereignty.

As for the track record of the current Prime Minister, history will speak loudly, as even the Derg prisoners are still alive after the judicial proceedings where they were found guilty of genocide and massacre of a nation for over 17 years. This is compared to how the Military junta massacred without any form of justice the 60 Who and Who including the Emperor, two sets of Prime Minsters and their cabinet members and the intelligentsia of the nation.

Ironically, the current ailing Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam was the chair of the Commission that was commissioned to investigate those great Ethiopian heroes. Regardless of the many articles, books and associations formed by this Professor who is one of the 38 released by the PM, there is no record of his investigation.

Mengistu's me moires spells out that this same professor pressed the Junta to murder those Ethiopian Who and Who heroes.

History and fate had the same professor in the same boat after almost 35 years. He was pardoned, but the Professor and his Commission never gave those heroes a chance to defend themselves leave alone for a pardon. They were shot by a firing squad in one night and buried together and to date no one knows where their remains are.

Comparing Meles with Mengistu is just below the pail and I will not honor it by tyring to defend it.

For the record in the last 16 years of the rule of the current government, the only legally known person that has been legally condemned to death is the murderer of General Hayalom in the history of the current administration. The Orange Revolution has its own regrettable story and that is exactly what the prisoners said in their written plea bargain and request for pardon that they were partly responsible for creating a lawlessness environment that promoted the terror that was the cause of the death and injury of about 200 people and over 800 people respectively.

As to the HR2003, the writer forgets to inform the readers, this was a draft that was proposed by supporters of the Shabia Terrorists in Asmara post the 2000 defeat at Badme. Badme was the result of unprovoked attack on Ethiopians by the terrorist regime in Asmara, where over 70,000 lives were lost.

This bill evolved from 2228 to 5640 and now to 2003 where different liberation front sympathisers including the former military junta supporters were involved to its current development.

The initial draft was so gross that many friends of Ethiopian and Ethiopian Americans shot it in its draft stage. Each time the bill was defeated or never managed to see the day of light in the floor of congress. Why? because there is no merit for it regardless of all the insinuations by the different lobbyists attempt to misinform Congress.

By the way, it is a crime here in the US, to willfully misrepresent the truth and misguide the US congress! Just follow the current hearing of the Albeto Gonzales testimony to the congress and recall, Why the Mr Libby, the former Chief of Staff almost went to jail had it not been for the Presidential Pardon.

When hearing takes place officially, many of the current lobbyists will invited to testify and if their testimony is found to be an exercise of willfully misleading the US congress, the price is jail term and may be no pardon like the one this noble professor managed to get from the magnanimous President of Ethiopia.

This is fact and not fiction. Ms Nancy Pelosi is saving many a potential lie rs from getting into jail! Any wonder why it failed three times?

Regardless of the several good sounding lingo in this bill, it still has the punitive and pejorative element that says, if you do not do this, you will be sanctioned like this and that unbecoming of modern diplomatic communication between Allies against the war on terror.

In effect, threatening the only ally in the region for the United States led Global War on Terror, where Ethiopia has sacrificed its citizens and its meagre resources.

With British support dwindling, there is no other country that has put its resources to protect the region from evolving regional and global terror. Even the African Union could not live up to their promises of providing the 8,000 promised soldiers, except Uganda that offered the 1,5000 contingency.

So, all this high sounding lingo marred with evil intentions cannot go unchecked by Patriotic Global Citizens and friends of Ethiopia and the United States of America.

What level of ignorance can suggest that the US congress drops a bill three times because of few disgruntled Diaspora pressure. This bill was dropped because of the pressure from the White House, State Department, the Pentagon and those highly placed democratic and Republican congressmen and senators who can see beyond the author of this so called malicious open letter.

With due respect, the US Congress can see through between good intentions and punitive and pejorative language that is not diplomatic nor factually accurate.

I for one will honor Professor Ephrem Issac and he deserves to voice his opinion with the clarity and intelligence that he alone can muster and no amount of Open Letter camouflaged as a disgraceful insult should be allowed to muzzle his opinion about the most important and special unique US-Ethiopia relations.

Bravo! Professor Issac and your 27 colleagues who made a break through in this crucial time in Ethiopian history.

As to the Millennium, this writer appears to be so ignorant about its significance and importance that has been appreciated by the UN General Assembly, African Union and even the Mayor of Washington, DC. The most despicable section is the reference about Mandela.

The man which this authors wants us to remember, as his hero literally worships the name and culture of Ethiopia and has a great admiration for Ethiopia, the country that gave him diplomatic and military support to his movement the ANC and he would not go along with this bizarre open letter that tries to dishonor the special place that Ethiopia has in the hearts and minds of many great leaders around the world.

With respect to democratic dialogue, Professor Ephrem Issac needs our respect and this open letter does not do justice to this genius and humble person that is so much lacking in the author of such a disgraceful account of our well meaning and imminent Professor and his Elder's Council

Please review this Open Letter attached below and make your own judgement.

with regards and seeking your alternative and considered opinion and discourse,

I remain;

Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
Founder and Chair
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity

Open letter to Professor Ephrem Isaac

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana

By Abebe Gelaw / 30 July 2007

Dear Professor Ephrem,

First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for the mediation efforts that you and other fellow Ethiopians have been undertaking.

The release of some of Meles Zenawi’s political hostages, despite the ransom paid to the tyrant in the form of transfer of his guilt unto his victims under duress, is one little step in the right direction to resolve the huge political challenges facing Ethiopia.

It is with a great deal of interest that I followed your interviews with ETV and Addis Dimits Radio. Unfortunately, the ETV show was done to brainwash the nation how merciful the tyrant is for releasing the most “dangerous criminals” in the country who were just condemned by the Kangaroo court to spend the rest of their lives in jails. I felt unease when I watched such eminent Ethiopians like you to have been used wilfully as propaganda tool.

It was quite troubling to watch you on national TV heaping accolade on tyrant Meles Zenawi. According to your eminence, Meles Zenawi is a wise, visionary and magnanimous leader and his decision to release the popular leaders makes him a holy man. I have no problem with your assertions provided you can support your claims with hard facts. I am sure there is no single document or fact in any library in the world that can corroborate your unjustified and misplaced accolade.

As an eminent historian, you are fully aware of the fact that, even Col. Mengistu Hailemariam, as is always the case with other despots, became a bold dictator after his followers and admirers started calling him the infallible great leader whose crimes against humanity were the right measures to exterminate reactionaries and agents of imperialism. Be it for the purpose of diplomacy or for its own sake, praising destructive tyrants can only backfire with the undesired outcome of emboldening them to get more committed to unleashing even greater atrocities and terrorist acts.

Your interview with Addis Dimts was as good as it could have been. When you were asked what your views were on HR2003, you said that you had not read the bill. Well! That should not have raised any concern, had you not avoided direct questions whether you have been making any efforts to help the tyrannical regime to kill the bill. Though you spoke at great length expressing your patriotic thinking, you said that you would oppose the bill if it is a scheme to “enslave” Ethiopia.

As you are aware, Meles Zenawi, the man who has actually enslaves the whole nation, succeeded in frustrating HR5680 using highly paid agents and lobbyists including DLA Piper which is paid over $50,000 a month to do such a dirty job. Professor Al Mariam was honest enough to tell you that he found it hard to believe you did not have a chance to scan through the ten-page document. In case you honestly did not have time to have a look at HR2003, which is not significantly different from HR5680, before you allegedly went to the US Congress accompanied by Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York to discuss issues related to the bill, here are some of the most eye-catching phrases:

Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 - States that it is U.S. policy to: (1) support human rights, democracy, independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, peacekeeping capacity building, and economic development in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; (2) collaborate with Ethiopia in the Global War on Terror; (3) seek the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia; (4) foster stability, democracy, and economic development in the region; and (5) strengthen U.S.-Ethiopian relations.

Dear Professor,

After your visits to the US Congress, it has been reported by credible sources that Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Tom Lantos was directed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer not to mark-up H.R. 2003 on July 31, 2007.

Why does the tyrant lose sleep over the good intention of the US Congress to help promote human rights, democracy, independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press and steady economic development in Ethiopia? What has HR2003 has to do with the release of political hostages? The answer is simple. Dictators love no one but themselves. Meles Zenawi knows full well that he will never have a place in a democratic Ethiopia, where nobody will be allowed to be above the law. His victims, dead, maimed and jailed, will be vindicated if democracy prevails. This may haunt him day and night.

Nobody should rush to condemn you as a mediator with a sinister motive. However, one might be tempted to point out the glaring fact that any mediator should make utmost efforts to remain neutral. If, at any time, you try to help the tyrant to derail a bill that can greatly facilitate the attainment of democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance, you will inevitably face the wrath of millions of Ethiopians who still respect you as an elderly Ethiopian scholar. The release of some political hostages, who should never have spent a single day in jails, cannot be exchanged for the aspiration of the whole nation to be free at last.

In your ETV interview, you also said that you would make efforts to reconcile the Meles regime with the Ethiopian Diaspora before the new millennium. Common sense has it that those of us, who have tasted the sweetness of liberty in exile, hate not the ethnic junta in power but their misdeeds and misrule. We hate their heinous crimes against humanity, injustice, corruption and their unacceptable dictatorship.

Who cares about the so-called new millennium if it doesn’t usher in a new era where every Ethiopian lives in peace and liberty governed by elected leaders? If our long and glorious history fails to make Ethiopia a country that its citizens are proud of, who cares about the millennium party that Meles Zenawi and his servants have hijacked for cheap propaganda ploy?

Dear Professor,

You should not also forget the fact Meles Zenawi should stop his futile effort to reverse the popular demand for a new Ethiopia where leaders are accountable to the people. You will also do Ethiopia a great service if you remind the tyrant to start living as a man of the new millennium rather than being a stone-age despot whose survival hinges upon the barrel of the gun. If he listens to this simple piece of suggestion and surrenders power to the elected, then we will all join you to praise him as “THE GREATEST EHIOPIAN OF THE MILLENIUM.” We will hang his pictures on top of every mountain for the whole world to appreciate and admire a great saint.

Here is what one of the greatest leaders ever born did before the festivities of the millennium. On the eve of the new millennium, December 31, 1999, Nelson Mandela returned to his prison cell in Robben Island, where he was locked up for 18 years to light a "flame for freedom".

Handing a big white candle to his successor, President Thabo Mbeki, he said: "There are good men and women around the world that will always keep that flame burning. It symbolizes that the freedom flame can never be put down by anybody."

The great man said with a great sense of humility: "In particular, let us make our country and the world a safer and more caring and respectful place.” He never said let us oppress, kill, maim and jail innocent victims. Meles Zenawi, whom some naively thought would be our Mandela, is a man who is out to turn the clock back to stone-age. He is the one who wants to put down the flames of freedom. What a visionary leader?

The new millennium can be a watershed in Ethiopian history only if every Ethiopian, regardless of their ethnic origin, social status, gender, age, educational background or political affiliation, gets equal opportunities to attain their fullest potential. The new millennium can only make sense only if Ethiopians will never be enslaved and brutalized by dictators who continuously shatter our hopes for a new era and condemn us to live under the darkness of tyranny and abject poverty. Celebrating the so-called millennium with the lords of poverty who are allergic to the dynamic changes of the 21st century is nothing but re-enacting April fool’s day in Ethiopia on September 12.

Dear Professor,

If the tyrant allows you a peace envoy to discuss what ordinary Ethiopians wish to have for the new millennium, please tell him to

- free all political hostages without any preconditions and ransom

- respect the sanctity of life and human rights

- respect the rule of law and independence of the judiciary

- respect the constitution and allow citizens to elect their leaders

- allow citizens to stage peaceful protests or go on strike without any fear

- give equal access to public funded media to all citizens

- ensure freedom of the press and stop censoring the internet

- close down illegal party run businesses that undermine free market economy

- create an enabling environment to defeat abject poverty

- start a comprehensive national reconciliation

- and most importantly hand over power to those who have clear mandates to rule.

As a historian, you should also remind Meles Zenawi, who does not seem to be interested in learning from the past, the simple truth that “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” as George Santayana said.

An enlightened nation can no longer live under the darkness of tyranny. No leader can rule Ethiopia with arrogance and force but with humility and meekness.

If Meles Zenawi refuses to learn from history, I suggest that he should invite Col. Mengistu Hailumariam as a guest of honour to his millennium party. After all, they are two sides of the same coin that have turned poor Ethiopia up side down! Nobody with a conscience wants to rave, dance, wine and dine with bloody tyrants.

Dear Professor

Finally, I would like to beg for your forgiveness for being too bold to say my mind, but I assure you that I have no intention of diminishing your great patriotic efforts and accomplishments. My intention is to make a small point so that your good deeds remain untainted with doubt.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

God bless Ethiopia.

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