Genocide Watch or Agitation for an Ethnic Cleansing and/or Genocide?

By Tesfaye Habisso
Nov. 30 2010

The Derg period in Ethiopia particularly the years 1977 to 1980 represent the darkest times in the annals of Ethiopia’s modern history. A junta which began its dictatorial rule with the mass murder of over 60 former officials of the imperial era without any due process of law in 1974 soon succumbed to the practice of pursuing numerous irrational and spontaneous measures of forced settlements of peasants from the densely populated highlands to remote hardship areas of the country such as Gambella, Benishangul-Gumuz, Wollega, Kaffa, Illubabor, etc. and coercive villagization programs similar to concentration camps in subsequent years. Then, in 1977 the Derg initiated what it called a “ Red Terror”—a vicious and deadly campaign perpetrated especially against the EPRP, TPLF, EPLF, EDU, OLF supporters and in the end against all those who were considered enemies of the revolution (the MEISON, MALERID, ECHAT, WOZ League, reactionary bourgeoisie, etc.). Sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, old and young were not spared during the “Red Terror” years (1977-1980); they were massacred like cattle, no compassion, no pardon at all! Many families were even forced not only to pay money (around birr 250) for the bullets that snuffed out the lives of loved ones, they were forced to walk over the dead bodies of these innocent creatures. Finally, around the last days of the Derg (1989/1991), as the southward march of the TPLF/EPRDF and EPLF forces gained tremendous momentum, moving victoriously and incrementally from Shire to Debre Tabor to Shoa, the junta began clandestine and selective killings against Tigreans and Eritreans, the two peoples and regions that contributed hugely to the liberation struggle from the yoke of military tyranny. Many individuals hailing from these peoples and regions were gunned down by cadres of the Derg in Metehara, Nazareth, Debre Zeit, Zewai, Shashemanne, Arba Minch, etc. The numbers could have reached hundreds and thousands if the TPLF/EPRDF forces had not hastened their entry into Addis Abeba and gained full control of the whole country in 1991. The Derg had also for long targeted the northern regions of the country for indiscriminate aerial bombings and destructions, especially Seqota, Mersa, northern Gayint, Tigrai and Eritrea.

It is indeed sad as well as mindboggling that the same Tigrean people as a people are today targeted by Dr. Santon of the so-called Genocide Watch and the Elias Kifles of the Ethiopian Review (see Ethiopianreview website) for another round of ethnic cleansing and/or genocide, however impossible that doomsday wishes would amount to. The Tigrean people have sacrificed more than 70,000 of their loved ones during the liberation struggle, not including the many gallant sons and daughters that gave their lives in the 1998-2000 Ethio-Eritrean war. Can any voice of reason underestimate the immense sacrifice that the Tigrean and Eritrean peoples and the rest of Ethiopians paid in defense of the nation’s security and the state’s territorial integrity and sovereignty against all the past invaders of the country—the Egyptians, the Mahdists, the Turks, the Italians and many others? How could any person of Dr. Santon’s caliber and leadership status wish an ethnic cleansing and possible genocide of any group, religious or social, let alone the heroic Tigrean people? Isn’t it outright ethnic hatred, crime against humanity and racism to target a people in whole or in part? Is there as such crime by association? Isn’t crime personal? How on earth would one target an entire ethnic group for an alleged crime perpetrated by a single member of the ethnic group? What sort of law is that? Even the law of the jungle singles out the concerned culprits. Whether Dr. Sandton & Co. agitate for this evil event to happen amongst the Tigreans, let this be known to all friends and foes alike that the doomsday wishes of the agitators will never, ever occur in this land of ours. NEVER AGAIN!