By Dawit W Giorgis
(This article is available in Amharic, French and German)
As I write this article AP on June 20 reports: “Witnesses in Ethiopia said Sunday (June 19) that more than 200 people, mostly ethnic Amhara have been killed in an attack in the country’s Oromia region” A source from inside Ethiopia informs me: 400 Amhara’s were killed and 6000 are in hiding. “The number of dead and buried based on latest information for human rights activist on the spot: 1511 dead already collected and buried 300 more discovered not yet buried and more than 10000 fleeing.”
Another source quoted an elderly Muslim Amhara man; “We ran to hide in the mosque. They entered the mosque and killed 46 people and 12 of my family members. I wished that they had killed me too. Why did Alah spare me? I would have liked to die with them.” Witnesses state children as young as 5 were slaughtered like animals in public. These are the grim realities in Ethiopia in the last four years.
The last several decades have shown the worst of human behaviors towards fellow human beings. When the world said “Never Again” after the second world war, it was believed that the worst was behind us and a new order with accountability to crimes like genocide would replace the old and primitive order of dominating, killing, displacing and oppressing people for control of resources, territory and the unlimited exercise of power over people. Since the signing of the Convention of Genocide in 1948, 152 countries have ratified that treaty. The world pledged then to work together to prevent another genocide.
From the genocide and atrocities in Cambodia to the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Liberia, and genocides in Rwanda, Srebrenica, Darfur and now in one of the most ancient countries with over 2000- year of recorded history, Ethiopia, the killing machines have not been silenced. Extermination of people for who they are goes on in this ancient land with the oversight of an indifferent society with “an imposed forgetfulness, a society that depends on public amnesia”1, willfully forgetting the phrase it had been echoing since the second world war: ’Never Again’.
“Again and Again” might more accurately characterize the years that have passed since the Genocide Convention was adopted in 1946. The reasons for this failure are many, “including naked political calculations, imperfect knowledge, deference to sovereignty, and isolationism. However, political explanations do not tell the entire story. It is true that ex ante considerations have often left nations reluctant to intervene in order to prevent genocide from occurring. However, the ex post judicial responses once genocide has occurred have been perhaps equally fatal to the promise of the Genocide Convention.” 2
For over thirty years the Amharas (Muslims, Orthodox Christians and Orthodox Oromos: named in this article; the Group, as the word used in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide) to refer to victims of genocide) in Ethiopia have become the targets of a systematic extermination, which I call ‘Creeping Genocide’ by a state sponsored terrorism. I call it Creeping Genocide because it did not happen in a given specific time. Creeping means in this sense: “occurring or developing slowly or gradually and almost imperceptibly”3. I know that the word genocide has been abused internationally to mean what it is not. Genocide was codified as an independent crime in the Convention. The Convention has been ratified by 152 States (as of July, 2019). The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has repeatedly stated that the Convention embodies principles that are part of general customary international law.
” This means that whether or not States have ratified the Genocide Convention, they are all bound as a matter of law by the principle that genocide is a crime prohibited under international law. The ICJ has also stated that the prohibition of genocide is a peremptory of international law (or ius cogens) and consequently, no derogation from it is allowed.” 4
Ethiopia has ratified the Convention and included similar articles it in its it’s Criminal Code 10 years later. I have been to all the places in Africa where war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity has taken place and I can say boldly and honestly that I have not seen or heard of any crime more heinous than the kind of crimes that have been committed in Ethiopia by government sponsored armed groups. The heinous crimes include opening up the sacred body of pregnant women and playing with the fetus or roasting a human being alive, cutting the organs of men and showing it around as a trophy, killing helpless people whose hands and feet have been tied with automatic rifles, over and over again in many parts of Ethiopia. There is no adult Ethiopian which has not seen these atrocities from recorded videos. Surprisingly there has not been a single word of condemnation from this PM or his government. It is not at all incomprehensible how Ethiopians came to this level and most surprising how such criminal acts are being tolerated by the leader of a nation. If this PM and his followers are not put to justice under international law, nobody else should. This is the most brutal, the most irresponsible leader with a narcissistic personality disorder bordering madness that the world has seen since the second world. The world is on notice worse will happen unless he is stopped.
The intent has been the most difficult element to determine in cases of genocide. To constitute genocide, “there must be a proven intent on the part of perpetrators to physically destroy a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Cultural destruction does not suffice, nor does an intention to simply disperse a group. It is this special intent, or dolus specialis, that makes the crime of genocide so unique.”5 Genocide has therefore two major elements: Physical (the actual commission of crimes) and Mental which establishes the intent of the crimes. Importantly, the evidences must show that the victims of a crime have been deliberately targeted – not randomly – because of their real or perceived membership of one of the four groups (national, ethnic, racial and religious) protected under the Convention. “This means that the target of destruction must be the group, as such, and not its members as individuals. Genocide can also be committed against only a part of the group, as long as that part is identifiable (including within a geographically limited area)”6
As a student of international law, as a senior diplomat and above all as a person who has attended many international legal hearings of people accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, and after thoroughly examining for two years the incidents that took place in four locations in Ethiopia, it is my professional opinion that genocide has been committed in Ethiopia in the strictest definition of the letters of the Genocide convention. The hardest part of proving the intent of the crimes committed in these four locations in Ethiopia is actually the easier part in the case of the Genocide perpetrated against the group.
The targets have been clearly expressed by the EPRDF government which the current PM was part of since the age of 15, on various occasions. Sebhat Negga the founder of the TPLF and senior member of the EPRDF stated once: “the Orthodox Church and the Amharas are the chief obstacles to the agenda of the EPRDF and therefore must be dealt with”. This may not be a direct quote but the point was made that Amharas and Orthodox Church were seen as enemies to the agenda of the EPRDF. There is overwhelming recorded and documented evidence which proves intent beyond reasonable doubt. Almost all the incidents of genocide that myself, my colleagues and international legal experts have examined have been documented with audio, video, print and a list of numerous witnesses. Regarding the four cases, international legal experts have certified that there is ample evidence to conclude that genocide has taken place in Ethiopia in those particular cases and fulfils the requirements for submission to the ICC for further investigation and prosecution of high-profile people identified as perpetrators in these four cases. ( Shashemene, Wellega, Metekel, and Ataye)*.
The evidences have been collected from abroad using independent investigators on the ground which did a good job under difficult circumstances without the knowledge of the government. The government does not allow independent investigators or even journalists to be seen in the area where such crimes have been committed. Since the government is a participant or to these crimes it was evident that it will not allow independent investigators. As we work on the crimes committed two years ago other worse cases have been piling up making it an impossible task to complete without the help of the UN Human Rights Council which has recently been mandated to investigate war crimes since Nov 2021.( the war between the government and the regional forces of the TPLF in the Northern part of Ethiopia.) What Ethiopian human rights activists are requesting now is for the UN Human Council to amend its resolution and extend the time limit from the time this PM took power and to include the genocide of Amharas which human rights activists consider is the most pressing and concerning problem in Ethiopia at this moment.
The Ethiopian government is not a state party to the Rome Statue; The treaty which created the ICC in 2002. Therefore, it makes it difficult but not impossible to bring the genocide case to the ICC. The case of Ethiopia is similar to the genocide case in Darfur. Sudan refused to cooperate with the ICC. It was not obliged to because it is not a state party to the Rome Statute. The UN Human Rights Council recommended the case to be seen by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The UNSC determined that “the situation in Sudan continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security”, and referred this situation to the ICC in March 2005, taking note of the report of the International Commission of Inquiry on violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur (S/2005/60) The situation in
Darfur was the first to be referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council, and the first ICC investigation on the territory of a non-State Party to the Rome Statute. It was the first ICC investigation dealing with allegations of the crime of genocide. Former Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir is the first sitting President to be wanted by the ICC, and the first person to be charged by the ICC for the crime of genocide. Neither of the two warrants of arrest against him have been enforced, and he is not in the Court’s custody yet.
The ICC was created, with jurisdiction over the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The court was given the power to prosecute nationals of states that were parties to the ICC Statute, and also to prosecute where the crime was committed in the territory of a state party, whatever the nationality of the alleged criminals. It had further jurisdiction when the Security Council referred a situation to it. Article 86 of the Statute is a general provision concerning state co-operation and judicial assistance. In accordance with this provision, ‘‘States Parties shall, in accordance with the provisions of this Statute, co-operate fully with the Court in its investigation and prosecution of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.’’ Article 87(5) is a provision on co-operation by non-party states with the ICC. It stipulates that the Court ‘‘may invite any State not party to this Statute to provide assistance under this Part on the basis of an ad hoc arrangement, an agreement with such State or any other appropriate basis.’’7 Only state parties are obligated to co-operate. The ICC can only exercise jurisdiction in the territory of State Parties, non-State Parties that consent to jurisdiction, or non-State Parties that are referred to the Court by the UNSC. Since Ethiopia is a non-State Party, cases can be brought to the ICC only with the consent of the government or through referrals from the UNSC just like in the case of Darfur.
There should be no doubt that the case of the genocide in Ethiopia is not an abuse of the definition of genocide. The followers of OLF have plundered, killed destroyed burnt Amhara villages like medieval marauding invaders. “Oromuma” is the phrase the OLF has created to denote the building of a new Oromo Empire under the leadership of the current PM who has publicly, in parliament, stated that his mother had always been telling him that he would be “the seventh Emperor of Ethiopia” He states he believes in his mother’s prophecy. To many it seems that he is busy building that empire.
The Amhara are the main obstacle to the building of this empire because it is an attempt to recreate a country on the ruins of Amhara civilization, culture religion and the extermination of millions of Amharas and their associates. While the TPLF, representing six million people would never be able to take power again, it has established a formidable force which would be used as a leverage to negotiate and be allowed to take over Amhara lands that it claims, and in return be willing to fall under an ‘Oromuma” empire with a degree of autonomy (until the proper environment emerges for secession). The Amharas are neither willing to be relegated to second-class citizens under an ”Oromuma” empire nor are they willing to cede their ancestral lands to the TPLF, and lose their culture, their identity religion to this marauding army of Oromo extremists who have a medieval mindset and TPLF forces who want to take over Amhara lands based on a fabricated narrative. Countless historical documents and living historians and observers prove them wrong. These killings and brazen invasion are the harbinger of the ‘’Oromuma’’ empire under the notorious Gada System.
The Alliance of Nilotic and Omotic People of Africa (NOPA), an African organization based in Kenya, brought to the attention of UNESCO categorically rejecting the gada age grade cycling system of Oromo pastoralists to be recognized as world heritage. A brief quote from the letter tell the historical truth of what the gada system is.
“The self-called Oromo (Galla) clans who invaded the Ethiopian Empire in the wake of Adal-uslim jihadist War in the first half of the 16th century began to become sedentary in the Ethiopian fertile highland. Subsequently they gave up their nomadic gada system and especially some of the clans who immigrated into Southwestern Ethiopia established a government by a monarchy same as their neighbors. The vestige of Gada system survives in the nomadic and pagan clans of Borana in southern Ethiopia and their siblings Orma (Tana Galla) in the Republic of Kenya along the Tana valley. The Gallas have displaced the indigenous Bantu tribes in the Tana, Juba and Shebele Rivers. Thereby they perpetrated an atrocious crime to Pokomo, Giryama, Nyika, etc. as it was systematically recorded in Arabic language in the chronicle of East Africa (Kitab- al Zanuj)
Currently Oromo nationalists are wishfully longing for the gada system. As a result they are manufacturing fabulous myths about an “indigenous democratic” social organization. The very recent construction of the pan-Oromo ideology has set the mark of an authentic Oromo identity and nationalism by taking gada symbolism. Your Excellency It must be noted that the most brutal expansionist War of the Galla pastoralists in Northeast Africa has resulted in the extinction of many developed states and communities in Ethiopia and Kenya. Therefore, the intention to inscribe the gada system in the lists of an intangible cultural heritage of the world will be tantamount to either an insult to humanity or to turn a deaf ear to the barbarity of Oromo pastoralists in Northeast Africa ever since the 16th century.
Age-grade or Gada system is one of the savage customs in the dark ages. Oromo clans treated their conquered enemies with greater savagery of emasculation and annihilation.”
This is just one of numerous archived materials in European and African libraries and Ethiopian history books (that are systematically being destroyed by this government) that have registered the truth about this primitive Gada system. The wishes of a great majority of Amharas are the opposite of this system that promotes domination, invasion and brute force to control the entire Ethiopian population. Amharas want a just and fair political system where all are treated equal under the law of the nation sanctioned by the people through transitional justice. They want to keep what is theirs; their land and their human rights. But Amharas are between a rock and hard surface vilified, attacked murdered, chased like wild dogs, burnt alive and traumatized and humiliated in every possible way both by the TPLF and the Oromo violent extremists. But they have a strong biblical and koranic passion to fight for what is right. ‘’Oromuma’’ empire is not going to happen and the TPLF will never take Amhara ancestral lands. Amharas will resist this attempt to exterminate or marginalize them in the nation they have built for over 2000 years. That much is certain. Amharas have vowed that these are the only terms that would enable the rebuilding of a country where people peacefully coexist and look forward to better days. Newly born Oromo elites think otherwise.
Amharas have been the flag bearers of Ethiopia for centuries. Together with the people of Tigray, the descendants of the Axumite civilization they have made what Ethiopia is to today: the epi center of a rich and ancient culture, the source of a unique written language, the birthplaces of the two great religions (Christianity and Islam) and a country that prides itself for defeating colonialists and making the nation the bastion of freedom and a promised land of all black people across the world. The Oromos, the second largest population in Ethiopia are late comers in the ascension of the Ethiopian Empire. They originated from the Southern end of present-day Ethiopia. Their quick integration with highland people of Tigray, Amharas and other ethnic groups have enabled Ethiopia to be stronger more invincible nation and created a collage that overtime made Ethiopians a tolerant and diverse society. The Oromos have come to the center of Ethiopian politics overtime and been active participants in the protection and defense of the territorial integrity of Ethiopia and in all aspects that introduced Ethiopia to this modern world. The roles that each ethnic group played in the making of Ethiopia and the sequence of their arrivals to the center (highland) does not and should not matter in determining the rights of all citizens. It is irrelevant. After all, all humans who established nations did not arrive at one place at the same time. In the process, historic wrongs have been committed (like slavery, land grabbing, genocide, and conflicts) which are acts that should be studied, acknowledged and used to help build a country at peace with itself. They should not be distorted and be used to bring back medieval classification of people based on their tribes and religion. This government is trying hard to bring back this defunct primitive system loathed by all which in the 21st century should only be talked about as a subject in the study of primitive society.
This nation will either be for every Ethiopian or for nobody: It will be a failed state run by war lords and pose as a permanent threat to peace and security in the region and indeed in the Horn and beyond since the stakes are too high. It will be a land of an endless proxy war. How can the Oromos extremists and TPLF expansionist miss this point? This Ethiopia is an intricate web of cultures and history and continuous intermarriages regardless of ethnicity, that it will indeed be impossible to carve out independent sovereign ethnic based states that conforms to the illusions of a few elites who emerged in the last 50 years. Simple elementary logics can remind us that the only way that Ethiopia can exist and people live in it in harmony is through the acceptance of logic and common sense implemented through transitional justice. There is simply no other way.
The Creeping Genocide is about reducing the demography of the Amharas through forced birth control (Genocide Convention Article II, d) displacing by force people from their ancestral lands, kidnapping children and creating an atmosphere of insecurity and permanent threat (Article II e and c), torturing, slaughtering, killing. any person known to be the group and raping women in
front of their husbands and children, Christians and Muslims (Geneva Convention. Article II a and b) that is taking place in Ethiopia, has not been given the attention as the fate of the people is being determined by medieval leaders who believe in the domination of one ethnic group over all others. All above have taken place in present day Ethiopia. Such unhinged exercise of power and flagrant violations of people’s rights is taking place in full knowledge of Western leaders who claim to be the champions of human rights and the custodian of the Genocide Convention. All incidents are being stored waiting for their day in court.
The perpetrators know that they will never be able to exterminate Amhara as people and their culture language religion and their place in history. This exercise is about distorting the demography, traumatizing and humiliating people and in the end make them bow their head and surrender to the hegemony of the extremist Oromo invaders who have politically already taken 1/3 of the country with their partners in crime, the TPLF which has some more land it wants to snatch from the ancestral ownership of the Amharas. But the Amhara as dignified as ever have refused to submit and instead advocated for the reconstruction of Ethiopian politics on the basis of equality where no one would be seen as more equal than the others.
“In 208 AD, the Roman warrior emperor Septimus Severus arrived in Britain with the intent on subduing the tribes in the northern part of the island. These are the tribes which occupied modern Scotland. When Severus realised that when these tribes (now Scottish) refused, he designed a policy of extermination now known as genocide.
In 210, he assigned the job of extermination to his son Caracalla, a mass-murdering lunatic who would later assassinate his own brother Geta in front of their mother. It likely was only Severus’ death in 211 that cut the operation short and saved Scotland from a complete holocaust. Caracalla always is listed by historians among the worst emperors of Roman history. In ancient Rome, genocide was seen as an acceptable military tactic if it was directed at indigenous peoples.8
In a speech denouncing the Romans the Scottish leader reportedly told his troops before a battle:
“Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace.” The last sentence has been widely circulated and quoted because it: “perfectly captured the mindset of genocidaires the world over, then and now, who always imagine themselves to be improving a society by annihilating it.”9
Today every sensible Ethiopian believes that the leader of the Oromos extremists PM Abiy, and TPLF expansionists are indeed psychopaths. How else can a sane mind understand this killing spree? How else can anyone understand the virtual impossibility impracticality of carving out independent states from this ancient land civilized mind takes diversity as a strength with respects and protection of the cultural and linguistic differences. What is being propagated today is nothing else other than imposing an imaginary state which will have brutal consequences. Leo Tolstoy in his book;” The Law of Love and the Law of Violence” wrote:
“Understand then all of you, especially the young, that to want to impose an imaginary state of government on others by violence is not only a vulgar superstition, but even a criminal work. Understand that this work, far from assuring the well-being of humanity is only a lie, a more or less unconscious hypocrisy, camouflaging the lowest passions we possess”10
False and imaginary or manufactured narratives are the root causes of hate and subsequently genocide crimes against humanity and war in Ethiopia. The government sees the civil war in Ethiopia as a necessary process to root out evil and install a benevolent government that will pave the way for a prosperous Ethiopia under the Prime Mister’s party, Ethiopia’s Prosperity Party. (EPP)
Until the end of the second world war genocide often was justified as the cost of “progress.” In the 16th century, Spanish colonists reduced the indigenous population of their Hispaniola colony from 400,000 to 200 within the space of a generation. The Belgian rape of Congo reduced a population of 20 million to about half that number. Stalin’s forced starvation of Ukraine killed about five million. In all cases, the killers believed that these genocides presented a net benefit to the civilized world. Hitler, who slaughtered six million Jews, thought that the entire planet one day would lionize him for ridding the world of what his diseased and evil mind conceived as a uniquely destructive pestilence upon humanity.”11
Complicity and Denial
Why did the group under attack fail to bring it’s case to the international legal intuitions and to the world at large? One major reason is the indifference of those who can and the collaboration of many elites and the defending of many other elites in and outside the country who have acted as the fifth column in the struggle to stop the genocide and crimes against humanity. There are more Ethiopian medical doctors more PHD holders and professors and intellectuals in the US than in Ethiopia. The least that they could have done was to be advocates for the victims and do what can be done from a free environment in America and Europe. A great majority of these are men and women who had free education both in Ethiopia and in America where they benefited from being Ethiopian refugees. Besides the remittances they send to family members a great majority have been silent observers of the unfolding tragedy in Ethiopia. Many are cautious in naming the crimes being committed in Ethiopia and very reluctant in condemning the polices of this regime. They have not been able to mobilize American, European and global sentiments in favor of the victims of genocide and crimes against humanity. Many position themselves on fence or on the other side of the fence, in the regimes camp, because of fear of losing what they have or want to have in Ethiopia. They would rather indulge in an academic exercise that is not grounded on the reality of Ethiopia that write and talk about the truth. Genocide negation in the name of self-interest and a misguided concept of freedom of speech forgetting about the equally important political and moral aspects of genocide denial is an act of complicity.
The International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda define complicity as “all acts of assistance or encouragement that have substantially contributed to, or have had a substantial effect on, the completion”10 of a crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. As the ICTY Appeals Chamber suggested in reference to this:
“Although only some members of the group may physically perpetrate the criminal act … the … contribution of the other members of the group is often vital in facilitating the commission of the offence in question. It follows then that the moral gravity of such participation is often no less–or indeed no different–from that of those actually carrying out the acts in question.” 12
Indeed, according to Professor Schabas:
“Complicity is sometimes described as secondary participation, but when applied to genocide, there is nothing “secondary” about it.
The “accomplice” is often the real villain, and the “principal offender” a small cog in the machine. Hitler did not, apparently, physically murder or brutalize anybody; technically, he was “only” an accomplice to the crime of genocide”13
…the drafters of the Genocide Convention recognized that it was essential to include “a provision authorizing prosecution for complicity” in order to capture “those who organize, direct or otherwise encourage genocide but who never actually wield machine guns or machetes.” 14. In other instances, however, the accomplice to genocide may be a subsidiary villain and may lack the genocidaire’s specific genocidal intent. Instead, genocide may merely be a foreseeable result of his actions. That is, the complicity provisions of the Genocide Convention and the Statutes of the ad hoe Tribunals appear designed to capture two very different classes of criminals: those who planned genocide but did not kill, and those who lacked a genocidal plan, but knew that genocide was the foreseeable result of their actions. 15
According to this if the case of Amhara genocide eventually reaches the ICC it is possible that accomplices to this crime could be added as criminals in the commission of Genocide which may include those Ethiopians in and out of the country who had the knowledge that such crimes were being committed, had the means to do something about it and yet turned a blind eye, or supported the regime who is active participant of the genocide or through their silence and indifference encouraged the commission of genocide. While it is very clear that the regime has some support within the country, either ethnic based or of people’s fear of losing what they have and could have, they have knowingly been shielding the government and some officials from being accused or charged or condemned for some of the crimes. While the fear to be seen exposing or condemning the government from inside Ethiopia is understandable, what is not understandable is the high number accomplices within the diaspora. Justice will catch up with them because no one could be neutral or supporter of the regime in the face of these brazen crimes.
Some deniers make numbers as an excuse for not naming the crimes what it is: genocide. But there are no specific numbers attached to the definition of Genocide in the convention. It states groups without qualifying it with numbers. When the UN Director of the UN Prevention Commission was asked ‘’What numbers are we talking about for it to qualify as genocide?” She answered:
“It doesn’t matter. It’s really not about numbers. When we get into numbers, then we begin to complicate issues because for example, in Bosnia Herzegovina, over 8,000 people were killed. In Rwanda, a million people were killed within three months, and in the Holocaust, six million people lost their lives. If you go to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, as you walk out there is a plaque at the door with an inscription: “Often, people think about genocide in terms of numbers”. People are waiting to hear one million people have died. What they don’t realize is that it’s six people dying here, three there, 20 others tomorrow, the day after another five and so on. All these numbers add up, such that one day, you will have the one million people you’re looking for on your hands. So long as those conditions, which can lead to genocide exist, we should be very careful. Those initial three or 12 deaths could just be the beginning of a genocide”16
In other words, if we count the mass forced birth control, forced displacement, and the torture and murder of the group across the country for the past 30 years the numbers will indeed be in millions. The question in a war and conflict-ridden Ethiopia is how to save this nation from a complete anarchy. The struggle to rebuild the nation has not yet started. The fear is that it might even never start. The question therefore is what should be done to an ongoing genocide crime against humanity, war crimes that have not been judged or even acknowledged? As told by wise people “The wheel of justice turns slowly but grind exceedingly fine.” Even though justice may not be achieved quickly when it finally happens perpetrators will quickly get the punishment they deserve. That is why evidence collection and identifying the perpetrators must be the endless tasks of activists and human rights organizations so that when the day of judgement comes, we have all what the international court of law requires. The pressures and the efforts of those who had the power and the means to commit the genocide could be very strong. It begins with their denial and the destruction of evidences and rounding up of independent journalists like last month when over 6000 journalists were rounded up and taken to prison or to some unknown places. Ethiopians should be vigilant in these very much needed pre trail tasks without which perpetrators will not be made accountable. It will be a challenge to human rights organizations and independent investigators in and outside the country. As Ethiopians look forward to judgement day, it will not be only the perpetrators that will be judged to rot in jail, but also the deniers and those accomplices charged for not doing enough when they could to stop the genocide. The charge is Complicity with Evil. They will be forever in the history of infamy.
Denial of genocide is what Elie Wiesel has called a “double killing.” Denial of genocide is the final act of the brutality and clear demonstration of hate towards the victims. Their lives and the lives of survivors and their identities are all thrown to the dust pin of history with the intent of abolishing even memories. Those who have been slaughtered like animals, burnt alive, cannibalized, roasted alive on fire, raped sometimes in front of their children and husbands, humiliated and displaced from the only village themselves and their ancestors know of, the Amharas refuse to be exterminated in a world which has turned a blind eye for political expediency. But in this digitalized age someday the truth will be at the disposal of international law and human conscience and once again the promises of Never Again will be challenged.
The USA and The Politics of Human Rights
At an international level the USA which prides itself as the vanguard of human rights across the world has failed in meeting the standards that is expected from it. Besides its history of slavery and the treatment of the indigenous people, the world was ready to accept its leadership on human rights. But repeatedly, over and over again, with its credibility at its worst during the period of the Trump administration, it has lost the little moral credibility that it had. While the United States perceives itself as the leader in the fight against genocide and human rights abuses, it only ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide– forty years after the convention’s unanimous adoption by the UN General Assembly. Samanta Power wrote:
“…..the last decade of the twentieth century was one of the most deadly in the
grimmest century on record. Rwandan Hutus in 1994 could freely, joyfully, and systematically slaughter some eight thousand Tutsi a day for one hundred days without any foreign interference. Genocide occurred after the cold war; after the growth of human rights groups; after the advent of technology that allowed for instant communication; after the erection of the Holocaust Museum on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Either by averting their eyes or attending to more pressing conventional strategic and political concerns, US leaders who have denounced the Holocaust have themselves allowed genocide.” 17
America’s reaction to Turkey’s killing of close to a million Armenians is shocking along with the Holocaust, Pol Pot’s reign of terror in which some two million died, Iraq’s slaughter of more than one hundred thousand Kurds, Bosnian Serbs’ mass murder of some two hundred thousand Muslims and Croats, and the Hutu attempt to eliminate the Tutsi is not that the United States refused to deploy its ground forces to combat the atrocities. For much of the century, even the most ardent interventionists did not lobby for US ground invasions. What is most shocking is that Washington’s policymakers did almost nothing to deter the crime. Because America’s “vital national interests” were not considered to be imperiled by mere genocide, the United States has consistently refused to take risks in order to suppress genocide” 18
Once again, a US president is making the usual pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia to bow to the King and assure him of the continued support of the USA. President Biden is visiting Saudi Arabia despite the fact that Saudi Arabia is the leading human rights violator in the world. US intelligence report released in February 2021 said that Mohammed bin Salman had approved the 2018 murder of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Despite this, the US government did not take any measure to make Saudi Arabia accountable for this crime. Biden said during his presidential campaign that his administration would seek to make Saudi Arabia “the pariah that they are” and indicated that “they have to be held accountable.” Biden’s campaign comments were hollow since no meaningful steps have been taken to make Saudi Arabia accountable for all its human rights violation including that of Kashogi. His visit to Saudi
Arabia, like all his predecessors is an assurance that the strategic and economic alliance between the two countries will prevail over all Human Rights violations and other issues. Saudi Arabia has been a country with one of the most serious human rights violations consistently since its creation 70 years ago and is the source of almost all Jihadist movements across the globe (through its Wahabi ideology) Thirteen human rights organization including Human Rights Watch sent a joint letter to President Biden that his visit risks encouraging new abuses and encouraging impunity. The paramount consideration is self-interest and not the message that comes out from this meeting. Saudi Arabia will be more emboldened and do whatever is wishes so long as it pumps the oil and guards against expansion of Iran influence.
Human Rights Council
The United Nations is a political organizations and decisions are made based on individual members’ interest. The most powerful, who contribute the larger portion of money to the UN, those who have the military and economic prowess easily buy or influence decisions. The Human Rights Council has with enormous difficulty and after lots of joggling condemned some governments for the violation of human rights. But such resolution has rarely had any impact. For specific actions the recommendations have to be sent to the security council where in most cases it is dead on arrival unless all the five permanent members agree on it. The UN Human Right Council is a paper tiger with no power to bring justice or stop genocide and crimes against humanity. As of 2013, the State of Israel had been condemned in 45 resolutions by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Since the UNHRC’s creation in 2006, it has resolved almost more resolutions condemning Israel alone than on issues for the rest of the world combined. Laws Violated: Israel has violated 28 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (which are legally binding on member-nations. U.N. Charter, Article 25.) The United Nations is a political organization and we can’t expect fairness or justice without fighting for it and doing what needs to be done. The UN Human Rights Council is toothless and is highly politicized like its parent body, the United Nations General Assembly. The UN decides what its members want and UNSC decides only when all the five permanent powers want.
For countries like Ethiopia the only international organization that can bring justice to perpetrators of crimes is the ICC. The ICC is not a subsidiary of the UN or any organization. While under current circumstances the ICC seems to be the only avenue to seek for justice and stop the madness in Ethiopia, the fact Ethiopia is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC makes it difficult to seek justice through the ICC. A way that the case of the Amharas can reach the ICC is through the pressures from the United Nations Human Rights council which can bring the case to the UN Security Council which could make a referral to the ICC like it did in the case of Darfur, with the hope that all five permanent members will either agree or not veto the resolution making a referral to the ICC. A lot of work has to be done by the diaspora to bring the world with Ethiopia. It will not be to the best interest of any of the powers to see a fragmented Ethiopia. On the contrary a failed Ethiopia will be a threat to the region the continent and the world. The challenges of Ethiopians particularly the group is to have the unity the skill and the wisdom to bring to the attention of the powers to be who can help Ethiopia. This can only be done by genuine non state actors who stand for peace and stability in Ethiopia. This non state actors can only operate effectively within a free society.
Hence the active involvement of the diaspora who has two choices: leave a legacy of infamy or rise up in unison and support the peaceful resistance of Ethiopians and create pressures on the international community, pressures that would leave them with no choice but to react. This is a strategic imperative.
Realpolitik in international arena is about states who act in pursuit of their own interests. Morality and human rights outside their own nation is also seen most of the times in the context of their own national interests or national interest disguised as moral concerns. Ukraine is a perfect example. On the scale of human suffering Ethiopia has the most severe complex humanitarian crisis ranging from genocide to starvation. Aljazera asks; “why hasn’t the world shown a fraction of the concern that’s been on display over the past weeks or so for African suffering?” (March 6, 2022 Viewpoint). Such double standards are dictated either by racism or geo political interests which is called realism in international relations. The Responsibility to Protect -known as R2P- is an international norm developed at the World Summit in 2005 with lessons learnt after the Rwanda Genocide. It seeks to protect populations from genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. It is recognized as an important global principle. R2P has three pillars of responsibility. The third one is:
“If a state is manifestly failing to protect its populations, the international community must be prepared to take appropriate collective action, in a timely and decisive manner and in accordance with the UN Charter.” 19
The world and Africa have to see the problem in Ethiopia as a global strategic, humanitarian and moral dilemma that needs to be addressed at the level of the global community. Let it be and let the world save broken Ethiopia from itself. But Ethiopians have work harder and more united to be heard. I say Ethiopians because justice for Amharas is justice for Ethiopia. The survival of Ethiopia comes only with justice for Amharas.
“How Much Carnage are we willing to Accept?” Biden in the aftermath of mass shooting in America. (June 3, 2022) Ethiopians ask: How much carnage is the UN willing to Accept? be and let the world save broken Ethiopia from itself. But Ethiopians have work harder and more united to be heard. I say Ethiopians, because justice for Amharas is justice for Ethiopia.
The survival of Ethiopia comes only with justice for Amharas (Muslims and Christians). This Prime minster is a psychopath killer resembling Hitler. He must be removed and brought to justice before he becomes even more dangerous. “How Much Carnage are we willing to Accept?” Biden in the aftermath of mass shooting in America. (June 3, 2022). Ethiopians ask: How much carnage is the UN and the US willing to accept in Ethiopia?
Dawit Wolde Giorgis
Executive Director of The Africa Institute for Strategic and Security Studies
*Creeping Genocide: A slow, continuous painful deliberate extermination of people belonging to a Group as defined in the Convention.
- Angela Y Davis, June 19, 2020
- The Crime of Complicity in Genocide, DM Greenfield 2008
- Definition of crime of Genocide by the UN
- Rome Statute, by Z. Wenqi and Rome Statute Part 9
- Tacitus: Calgacus’ Speech to his Troops (A.D, 85)
- How a Canadian Inquiry Strips the Word “Genocide” of Meaning, June 3, 2019
10.Leo Tolstoy from his book The Law of Love and the Law of Violence
- How a Canadian Inquiry Strips the Word Genocide of Meaning, June 3, 2019
- ICTY records
- The Crime of Complicity in Genocide by: Professor Schoba as quoted in the journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Spring 2008
- The Crime of Complicity in Genocide: by Daniel Greenfield
- Reject genocide deniers and war criminals: Africa Renewal: Alice Wairimu Nderitu; UN Special Adviser on the prevention of genocide
- Genocide and America:
Samantha Power: March 2014
- The Responsibility
to Protect ( R2P) Jan 14, 2021