By Yilma Bekele
Some of our independent Web sites have put me in a quandary. That is not a good place to be. A certain amount of certainty is a must for rational existence. There have to be stuff that we all have to take for granted. Some things like a mother’s love for her child or the fact of gravity are not open for discussion. I include Shale Mengistu in this category. His crime against my country is not a talking point or something to bargain with. He was evil and he did evil things to us. No need to split hairs.
Well this last week I was forced to rethink a few things I took for granted. What made me wreck in agony was the issue of Shaleka Mengistu Haile Mariam and his place in our history. I know it is another assault on our country but this time I believe the blow was self-inflicted. Mengistu Haile Mariam was prominently displayed on our Independent Web sites. It was not to commemorate or celebrate his demise or some catastrophe that has befallen him but rather an interview with some Australian Amharic radio station offering us his advice and opinion.
That is what brought depression, sadness and a big dose of uneasiness in my already precarious existence. I was left wondering if something is wrong with me to so much obsess about such a matter. Was seeing the individual being quoted on our ‘fiercely pro democracy and upholders of Human Rights’ Web sites so troubling to loose sleep over?
I have come to the conclusion that it is something to worry about. It looks like our understanding of the concept of good and bad or evil is based on a shaky ground. It seems to be very fluid and open to interpretations based on other factors, which we are free to tack on. We love to qualify all our statements. He is evil but he loved his country is a common comment. I guess he loved us so much that he was willing to kill us all to see it his way.
It actually took me four days to force myself to listen to the so-called interview. It was a very difficult decision. I feel sickness when I see his name while his voice causes me nausea. His picture brings negative and violent feelings inside of me. If I have my way, I would love to live in a world where he does not exist. I braced myself and pushed play and listened. To start with I was disappointed with the interviewer addressing the individual as “erso”. I knew we were on rocky ground here. Then the monster began to speak. I got sick. My stomach was turning over. My mood became dark. I wanted it to end. I listened but I did not hear.
The Shaleka speaks in a monotone. There is no feeling or emotion in his voice. It seems like he has
rehearsed it so many times that it comes out cold and stripped of any feeling. It has a strong resemblance to some one we know. You can tell he is street smart but not intelligent. You can say the same about most dysfunctional leaders. They can talk. Most of it is garbage but they believe it.
My issue is not with the Shaleka but with our Independent Web sites. What were the editors thinking when they posted his ugly mug and the stupid interview? Did they think it was news worthy? If so in what way? Was it supposed to inform us, motivate us, make us laugh or remind us of the good old days? What exactly was the message here? I am afraid I don’t have a good explanation but I do know how it affected me personally. It got me in a very funky and ugly mood. That is not fair.
Do you think this is an issue of freedom of information and the press? In a way, yes it is. But I am not debating whether they have the right to publish or not. My issue is regarding their editorial judgment regarding using a criminal to discuss such important concept as freedom and democracy. That is what SBS Amharic radio from Australia did. Someone actually asked the monster about his feelings about our country, the current regime and independence of South Sudan.
It is very humiliating to hear this murderer talking about my homeland. It was a shame to see it prominently displayed on the Internet. It is an insult to his victims to have the criminal discuss our issue from his luxurious hiding place. The crimes he did to us is still fresh. The mothers and fathers that lost their precious children are still with us. The image of our parents that died humiliated by his tugs is etched in our brain forever. Millions of us are uprooted from our homeland due to the decisions he made as a ‘leader’. The exodus that started during his watch has continued unabated. Our country lost the best and the brightest. A generation was wiped out at a critical moment in our history. All this disaster leads to Mengistu Haile Mariam and his associates.
There isn’t a single Ethiopian family that has not been negatively affected by Mengistu Haile Mariam. His crimes are recorded by so many of his victims that there is no punishment enough fit for this monster. He made so many ill-advised policies that millions paid the price. He was not man enough to stand behind his decisions. He lacked the courage to answer for his actions. He choose to flee to save himself. He is what you call a coward.
This is the person the radio station brought out to discuss the country he left behind in the middle of the night in a chartered plane with his family and immediate criminal friends. Today he is a refugee, a Diaspora what ever you call it like the rest of us. But he did live with suitcase full of US dollars and he does not have to sweat like the rest of us. I hear he is a gentleman farmer in Zimbabwe. I also understand that he is on the look out for another location due to the precarious position his friend Mugabe is in. My only good wish to the Shaleka is may he roam the planet in search of a home and may he not find it!
What I think is that this philosophy of the enemy of my enemy is my friend is not really a winning idea. It is too simplistic and void of value. Like the FIFA rule states ‘winning is without value if victory has been achieved unfairly or dishonestly.’ Trying to use Mengistu Haile Mariam to point out Meles Zenawi’s fault is like taking a sucker punch, it might work but it is vile. Wining will be empty. I hope it is something better we are working for and aiming at. For it to work it has to be honest and fair. If not what is the point?
I have a few things to say to this sorry ass of a human being named Mengistu Haile Mariam. I would rather he shut up and stay under the rock he has been hiding under. I am saddened to think that the last twenty years have not been a time of reflection on his part. A little amount of remorse would have been better. It has confirmed my strong suspicion that he is a mentally deranged person unable to understand the gravity of his crimes and the extent of the havoc he has caused on millions of Ethiopians. The dude is not fit to be a leader. His lack of knowledge, understanding and training among other things were evident in the final result he left behind. There is no need to explain because it cannot change the result. We are living it.
This is my message to the varmint. We want you to take care of yourself. We want you to live a while longer. It is not because all of a sudden we are interested in his welfare. No sir. It is because we want to see the day that he would stand for trial and answer for his crimes. When Ethiopia becomes free and democratic, we will do all our very best to haul his sorry ass back home and face the music. He will be kidnapped by our special forces like his counterpart predecessor Adolf Eichmann. To refresh your memory Israeli agents abducted this garbage from Argentina and he was tried and hanged in Jerusalem. The Shaleka deserve no less.
Let us make something clear here. Criminals like Mengistu have no place in the Ethiopia we want to build. Twenty years ago if we have arrested this monster and his associates and brought them to justice we would not be faced with the same situation today. Our current leaders would have understood the consequences of crime and punishment. That is why witnessing the Mubaraks facing justice brings a certain amount of satisfaction to our heart. It is not really whether Mubarak is jailed or not but rather the fact that he has to answer for his actions is a lesson to future Egyptian leaders. We missed our chance and we are faced with the sons and daughters of Mengistu.
My advice to our independent Websites, please respect the sensibilities of your readers. You are our voice and use your mighty power with caution. Calling one criminal to testify against another waters down the severity of the transgression. We are not here to compare the degree of lunacy of our illegal leaders. This is not ‘Merkato’ where you can bargain over stuff but real life where the actions of monsters like Mengistu and Meles have real life consequences. Tell you what the next time we want to hear about Mengistu is to inform us his death or arrest which ever comes first.