This article is a response to the news in the most popular Norwegian newspaper ‘Aftenposten’ about the expulsion of Norwegian diplomats under the title “Norway ’shocked’ over diplomatic expulsion”.
By Leoul Mekonen
August 29, 2007 — It was so amazing and surprising for many Ethiopians why Meles’s reaction shocked the Norwegian authorities. “Why is that the Norwegian ministry of foreign affairs got shocked?” was a popular and spontaneous question among thousands of Ethiopians. Why would a rich country like Norway get shocked when a brutal and oppressive regime expelled diplomats? Isn’t it the nature of dictators to attack, accuse and insult those who oppose them or have different ideas and attitudes? Wasn’t it clear for the Norwegian authorities all these years that the Meles Zenawi regime has been constantly attacking opposition groups? Haven’t they seen or heard how the European Union election observers were rudely insulted for telling the truth about the election regularities? What has amazed many of us Ethiopians in exile is the short memory of Norwegian authorities when it comes to their cooperation and collaboration with dictatorial regimes like Meles Zenawi. I as a refugee who got the opportunity to save my life and my freedom in Norway, I consider Norway as my own country and I am worried by the Norwegian foreign policy when the authorities don’t take adequate measures to sanction dictatorial regimes. It was countless times Ethiopians all over the world cried out for the injustices they suffer in the hands of brutal security forces. A reaction which didn’t come at the right time will always jeopardise the accountability and the image of my beloved second country, Norway.
Norway’s reaction was too smooth towards the Ethiopian government even after 193 peaceful demonstrators were massacred following the may 2005 election. Then, the Norwegian ministry was neither amazed nor shocked when unarmed citizens were gunned down in a broad daylight. Writing reports about the political condition in Ethiopia was not enough, there was a very high expectation and dismay among Ethiopians all over the world when the Norwegian government wasn’t willing or unable to denounce the brutal actions of security forces. The massacre and the brutality didn’t happen only that time. Since Meles Zenawi came to power in may 1991, opposition groups suffered a lot due to his rule with the rod of iron. Meles Zenawi crushed mercilessly both nationalist groups who support the idea of unity and separatists who claim secession and independence. Playing the ethnic card, he was able to practise the old and popular “divide and rule” policy. The hilarious part of this story is that, the Norwegian authorities weren’t amazed or shocked all these years the way they do now. The magnitude of the shock was supposed to be higher when human beings die like flies rather than the expulsion of six healthy diplomats. What will Norway lose by stopping cooperation with the Meles Zenawi oppressive government and what will Norway achieve by regretting and maintaining cooperation? What is the interest of Norway in a country ravaged by war, poverty and internal conflicts?
When such shameful reactions came from the brutal dictator, we Ethiopians have expected bold and strong reaction from the Norwegian government to quit the diplomatic relation at once. But what is displayed in the tone of Norwegian ministry of foreign affairs is “regret”. Where does that regret come from? Is it from the wrong and unethical cooperation they had with the dictator or from what? “Regret ” belongs to the wrong doers, murderess, human right violators, oppressors etc. So it is a puzzle for many Ethiopians to hear the word “regret ” from Norwegian authorities. The context of that “regret” is blur and unclear. “what does darkness has to do with light?” says Bible. A wonderful democratic and prosperous country like Norway shouldn’t have any cooperation with Meles Zenawi regime in the first place. A war lord who came to power by Gun shouldn’t get a single penny from the Norwegian tax payers. While the dispute is a shock to the Norwegian authorities, many Ethiopians are pleased by the event and we will pray hard until that unpleasant cooperation crumbles. The donation given to the Meles oppressive regime emboldens him to strengthen his military power and use all means to squash his opponents. As long as the Norwegian money flows to his party and government, why would a dictator like Meles Zenawi give up his power through ballot, instead he will maintain it by bullet.
Regret is good and productive only when one learns from its mistakes and plan to do something good in the future. It is Ethiopians hope and wish that the Norwegian authorities regret come from their unethical cooperation with the dictatorial regime and their reluctance to denounce and act in favour of the oppressed Ethiopian people.
* The author is based in Oslo, Norway. He can be reached at email@example.com