By Getahune Bekele
(The Horn Times) SOUTH AFRICA— Wincing in terror and shedding tears of blood, more than 85 million disillusioned Ethiopians are this week solemnly remembering how their beloved nation, nicknamed Africa’s Yugoslavia, was stripped of sovereignty to a degree not seen in Africa or elsewhere since the end of the Second World War.
It happened 25 years ago in May 1991, and after being dismantled, the impoverished East African nation was permanently placed under brutal Tigre regency in the hands of melancholic secessionist Tigre warlords dubbed “the May criminals”.
Ethiopians are since living in barbaric apartheid police state, forgetful of the world by which they are forgotten and utterly betrayed; all due to US machinations and sickening geo-political game played by western powers. Twenty five years later, severely tyrannized Ethiopians still do not know who to hold responsible for the impoverishment, disintegration and distraction of their beloved motherland. Are western powers alone responsible for the supreme crime or should we blame an invisible hand from somewhere that forced the land of patriots into a humiliating surrender?
The next 21 years after May 1991 were the most chaotic and the bloodiest in the country’s history, largely characterized by ethnic purges, genocide and unimaginable ethnic persecutions perpetrated by mad Tigre Peoples Liberation Front/TPLF war criminals. The ex Soviet satellite state- Ethiopia, once a militarily continental super power and the jewel of African independence was mercilessly dismantled, disarmed and looted by home grown terrorists under US supervision. The large scale pillaging then wrecked the already weakened economy and as a result, millions nosedived into the sea of bone crashing poverty overnight. The so called “change” only brought an endowment of shame upon the battle- hardened and battle- scarred people of Ethiopia and when the much talked about change failed even to silence the guns, Ethiopia stretched out her hands to the Almighty and lapsed into a coma.
Thereafter, in awe and in sheer agony, millions of shell-shocked young country men and women watched their nation forcibly made undressed and placed on hilltop naked, for all generational enemies to see and laugh at her. A humiliation that will never be forgotten, a humiliation that will never fade away from our collective memory, even in million years.
That was how Ethiopia’s vicious downward spiral kicked off and that was how the proud nation with very strong anti-colonialist, anti- imperialist and anti- capitalist tradition turned into a bloody police state with unschooled and uncultured TPLF warlords, infected by the same communist virus, taking full control of the abandoned nation. The next step was to cleanse Tigray republic of non-Tigre Ethiopians. “There is not one Amhara who has not murdered our fathers. Every Amhara is a killer. Every Amhara is a murderer.” One of the most feared TPLF warlords Aboy Sibehat Nega openly declared in June 1991. All non-Tigre Ethiopians were then deported empty handed after being held at Adigrat sport ground under squalid and appalling conditions for months.
Some deportees who made it alive and camped on the outskirts of Addis Ababa told reporters, including this writer of ordeals during their detention in the Tigre town of Adigrat while the world’s attention focused entirely on the conflict that was raging in the former Yugoslavia. One Amhara woman recalled that notwithstanding the unrestrained brutality that pervaded most other aspects of daily life in the camp, rape or other forms of sexual assaults at the hands of bad-tempered TPLF rebels was common or somewhat “normal.”
The ethnic cleansing campaign of TPLF was followed by the emergence of ethnically homogeneous “killils” or provinces, replacing the old ethnically mixed administrative regions. The hostile Killils or provinces or sometimes referred to as tiny banana republics with the right to self determination, were hastily carved out to deliberately fuel centuries old ethnic nationalist grudges to end the so called “problematic” and “doomed” One Ethiopia-One Africa ideals of revered supra-nationalist Ethiopians such as the late Emperor Haile Selassie.
The prime engineer of such divisive move was, of course, none other than the dead totalitarian terror guru and the ring leader of TPLF May criminals, Legesse Zenawi a.k.a Meles Zenawi.
As we all remember Zenawi, son of notorious traitor Aboy Zenawi Asres who fought Ethiopia alongside the Italians during the second Italo-Ethiopian war, did that to legitimize the ceding of his native Eritrea and to jumpstart the creation of semi-independent greater Tigray, the historic hotbed of treason, deceit and betrayal throughout the existence of Ethiopia as one nation.
Nonetheless, why so harsh punishments were imposed on war ravaged and impoverished African nation that gave up communism and made a fresh start in the post cold war world? Why was Ethiopia handed over to dastardly and credulous TPLF warlords with her hands tied behind her back? If accepting communism was a crime punishable by hanging, then why hang more than 50 million indigent people who had no stake on the matter?
That was nothing but a punitive victor’s justice administered on a subdued nation.
The 27 May 1991 abortive London peace conference that sealed the fate of Ethiopia was very similar to the controversial 1919 treaty of Versailles that sealed the fate of Germany after the end of the First World War. Germany caused the death of millions and massive distraction across Europe and was punished accordingly with significant loss of territory and hefty payment in reparations. Then 73 years later, an African nation without any war guilt clause suffered more crippling, unprecedented territorial and massive financial loses.
But how did a nation that caused the death of 8million European soldiers and 5million civilians, Germany, and a poor country that was decimated by internal strife, Ethiopia, received similar punishments? Wasn’t that at least morally invalid?
The treaty of Versailles bore more resemblance to the so called London peace conference. The same Victor’s justice mentality was easily discernible, even if the incidents were separated by more than seven decades. Just as Woodrow Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Orlando destroyed Germany in the Hall of Mirrors, Individuals who pronounced Ethiopia guilty were Herman J Cohen, then assistant secretary of state for Africa, alongside Isayas Afeworki of EPLF, Meles Zenawi of TPLF and Lencho Leta of OLF,- the May criminals.
Moreover, with highly respected Tesfaye Dinka systematically ejected from the conference, Ethiopia had no representative at a gathering that took away her ports and eventually made her the world’s biggest land locked nation. What a notorious miscarriage of justice.
However, the biased and most disapproved conference which gave Tigray and Eritrea far more than they bargained for, but left Ethiopians embittered, didn’t restore stability or maintain a lasting peace in the Horn of Africa. Only seven years later, a senseless boarder war that claimed the lives of 70,000 soldiers broke out between EPLF and TPLF in 1998. Eighteen years later, large numbers of troops are still stationed along both sides of the boarder, making a mockery of the so-called London peace conference of May 1991.
We Ethiopians have derived unspeakable deprivation, modern time slavery, genocide, ethnic cleansing, Ethnic apartheid, war and terror out of the ill- fated London conference. We remember the conference among other things for bringing forth a cold hearted and shallow murderer known as Meles Zenawi. Journalists who suffered in his prisons call him “the mad black Caligula.”
The tyrant died in office in 2012 without facing war crimes tribunal for the bloodcurdling atrocities he committed against the non-Tigre population of Ethiopia. And as distance from the sea, corruption and serious economic crimes continue to make life unbearable for the people, the month May remains month of national mourning and month of national rage in Ethiopia proper.
Those who were massacred during the recent Oromo protest and those desperate souls who perished at sea and beheaded by ISIS extremists in Libya while fleeing ethnic persecutions back home, are all direct victims of the decision taken at the London conference.
Moreover, Ethiopians shall never forget victims of the Gondor pogroms and the May 1995 martyrs of democracy, -also direct victims of the so called London peace conference of May 1991.
We reject all the outcomes of the conference that created an apartheid state and formed the most barbaric minority Junta of the 21st century, with the contempt it deserved. In addition, we strongly denounce the covert formation of ethnic supremacist Tigray sub-state on occupied land of Gonder, including Wolkayt.
The cry for justice, freedom and liberty is reverberating.