By Robele Ababya
It is fitting, on the occasion of the 3rd Anniversary of the Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America (EHSNA) to pay tribute to the outstanding contribution of the Great Patriot and Spiritual Father His Holiness Abune Petros who had set an extraordinary example in defending the freedom of His fellow Ethiopians and the independence of Ethiopia by condemning the Fascist Italian invasion. His Holiness sacrificed His life for adamantly refusing to succumb to the pressure of the Fascist murderers in cold blood pointing a machine gun at Him to force Him to accede to their demand of calling on Ethiopians and liberation fighters to accept the government of Mussolini. He expressed His defiance in these immortal words:-
“The cry of my countrymen who died due to your nerve-gas and terror machinery will never allow my conscious to accept your ultimatum. How can I see my God if I give a blind eye to such a crime?”
Ethiopians restored their freedom and independence after a bitter struggle from 1936-1941 during which: over 1 million citizens including men, women and children were brutally killed by orders of Field Marshal Rodolfo Graziani nicknamed “The Butcher of Ethiopia”. Other heinous crimes committed by Fascist the Italian soldiers under the direct command of Graziani include: 30,000 massacred in only three days in Addis Ababa; reprisal killings of the entire monastic community at the historic Debre Libanos Monastery; 2,000 churches and 525,000 homes destroyed; indiscriminate bombing and spraying poison gas on freedom fighters; countless number of citizens maimed or wounded; rampant raping; physical and mental tortures; dropping captured patriots live from airplanes; killing captured freedom fighters and dragging their corpses along the road for public display; damage to the resources of Ethiopia.
It was against the backdrop of the above listed atrocities committed by the invaders in the guise of civilizing Ethiopians that His Holiness stood His ground for principle and gave His life thus leaving behind an enduring exemplary courage and lesson in Christian morality to the Vatican, which blessed the Fascist invasion.
These were the eternally inspiring last words of the incomparable Patriot Abune Petros before His execution:-
“My fellow Ethiopians, do not believe the Fascists if they tell you that the patriots are bandits, the patriots are people who yearn for freedom from the terrors of fascism. Bandits are the soldiers who are standing in front of me and you, who came from far away to violently occupy a weak and peaceful country. May God give the people of Ethiopia the strength to resist and never bow to the Fascist army and its violence. May the Ethiopian earth never accept the invading army’s rule”.
The monument of His Holiness, which is a symbol of pride for the Ethiopian people, has recently been removed from its cherished location by the ERDF regime under the pretext of development, promising to return it to the same place where He was machine-gunned by the Italian Fascists.
I would like to believe the government will honor its pledge to return the monument of His Holiness to its original place where it stood in majestic grandeur for 76 years. So do the Ethiopian people and all freedom loving citizens in our global village that have noted the promise.
Honoring the invaluable Legacy of the Iconic “Martyr of Conscience” His Holiness Abune Petros is a rare privilege and moral duty of the highest order; and I congratulate the Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America and its entire leadership for their noble undertaking to that effect.
I wish EHSNA a Happy Anniversary from the depth of my heart.
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!