War on Terror? US proxies Ethiopia and Rwanda terrorize their own people

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by Ann Garrison

KPFA Weekend News broadcast Aug. 22, 2015

Washington D.C.-based Ethiopian activist Obang Metho says that Ethiopian and Rwandan dictators have been allowed to terrorize their own people because they provide troops for the U.S. War on Terror. Metho is a founder of the Soldarity Movement for a New Ethiopia.

The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia puts humanity before ethnicity and says that no Ethiopians will be free until all are free.
The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia puts humanity before ethnicity and says that no Ethiopians will be free until all are free.

KPFA Weekend News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: Two hundred delegates from African governments and institutions met in Kigali, Rwanda, yesterday for a symposium on “democratization and development.” The symposium was organized by the Meles Zenawi Foundation and the African Development Bank.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, joined Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali, where both spoke of the primacy of state power and African agency in development. Washington D.C.-based Ethiopian activist Obang Metho spoke to KPFA’s Ann Garrison about what was wrong with this picture.

Obang Metho: Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. The whole picture is wrong. The whole picture is wrong being that Paul Kagame and then the former prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, these two gentlemen – we cannot talk about them and say that they can bring any new things to Africa.

Why? Because these are two men who came to power, not by the ballot, by the bullet. And if you look at it, these are people also who’ve been in power for long. Meles, he died in power. So the whole thing is wrong with the picture.

These are two men who came to power, not by the ballot, by the bullet.

Like they were talking about development democracy. Where is the democracy? Ethiopia is a country that, in just the election they had in May this year, the government won by 100 percent.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: I remember that. They won every single seat in Parliament. Now, are you saying that both these governments are minority dictatorships: Rwanda, dictatorship by the 14 percent Tutsi minority and Ethiopian dictatorship by the 6 percent Tigrean minority?

OM: Yes, yes, in Ethiopia the 6 percent is the Tigrean ethnic group.

KPFA: It seems that the United States military partnerships with Rwanda and Ethiopia, based on Rwanda and Ethiopia’s willingness to cooperate with American forces, insulates both regimes against criticism from the West.

Obang Metho, center, testifies at the U.S. House Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing – Ethiopia After Meles: The Future of Democracy and Human Rights – on June 20, 2013.
Obang Metho, center, testifies at the U.S. House Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing – Ethiopia After Meles: The Future of Democracy and Human Rights – on June 20, 2013.

OM: Correct. Correct. Yeah, because if you look at it now, Obama went to Ethiopia last month. When he was in Ethiopia, the speech he gave was that Ethiopia had the top soldiers. He went there for a specific reason. He said Ehtiopia had the top soldiers.

So, in other words, instead of sending the Marines over to die in Somalie to fight Al-Shabab or to fight these which they call the terrorists, actually they send the Ethiopians there, pretty much like a contract. So, in the name of security, the Ethiopians work for the West for what they call War on Terror, but these people are actually known for terrorizing their own peoples.

So for that, the Ethiopian government, the ruling ethnic apartheid regime in Ethiopia that terrorizes their own people, they are not being criticized because they are the darling of the West. They’re pretty much that from Bush till Obama. Anything that the West will ask of them, they will do that.

In the name of security, the Ethiopians work for the West for what they call War on Terror, but these people are actually known for terrorizing their own peoples.

And the hypocrisy, what Obama did when he went there! He called the Ethiopian government a democratically elected government. There’s no way – 100 percent – you know a group can’t win an election by 100 percent. There’s no way they can be democratic.

And then Obama called Burundi, the election there, illegitimate or not credible. Which one is that? The one that claims to win by 67 percent, or the one that claims to win 100 percent?

So my point is the Ethiopians, because of the so-called War on Terror, the regime has not been criticized in the West, not even by the media.

But in the long run, this thing will explode. So this kind of thing, where you side with a dictator and exclude the people, that will sooner or later haunt. If violence erupts in Ethiopia, and Ethiopians kill each other, that will be the legacy of Obama. There’s no doubt about it, because he’s the one who has supported this group that has isolated itself from Ethiopians.

So this kind of thing, where you side with a dictator and exclude the people, that will sooner or later haunt.

KPFA: That was Washington D.C.-based Ethiopian activist Obang Metho.

For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.

37 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Ann,
    I wish more journalists like yourself are willing to fact check and take a stand for human freedoms. Britain and the US especially have chosen to look the other way as millions of aid money is stolen, citizens are routinely sent jail or forced to flee. In less than a decade over a million young Ethiopians have fled to the Middle East and more are finding their way to North America and Europe. It is just sad and unconscionable. Thank you for taking the lead.

    • Dear Alem, it is important that people like Ann take a stand for human rights in places like Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, South Sudan, etc. Despite her contribution, concerned people are the only ones to end the plight they experience. Without that, Ann cannot do much.

  2. It is interesting how activists distort facts to suit their own interest. Activist Obamg, not sure whom you represent, but you certainly do not respresent the Amhara, Oromo or Tigrae people. Instead of trying to bring positive change in Ethiopia, you would rather resort to placing blame on the people and government of Ethiopia and Ruwnda. Thank you, but no thank for your comments.

    For your information, I am Amhara and strongly support the current government of Ethiopia. Prime Minister Meles was a visionary and a great leader. Prime Minister Hailemariam is also a great leader that has brought positive change for majority of Ethiopians. It is unfortunate that you feel misrepresented, but social economic factors and external forces influence Ethiopian politics. Both Ethiopia and the United States have the same enemy. Ethiopia is fighting Somalia for her own interest while at the same time getting support from the US. This is no different than any arrangement between mutual friends with the same goal of peace in the world. There are many like you in Washington DC that would like to dictate to the Ethiopian government how the country should be run. If you want change go to Ethiopia and try to be part of the solution. Yes it is true that the current government took over the previous regime by the bullet. The previous regime of Mengistu slaughtered millions of innocent people and also took power by the bullet. do you et the picture?

    Ethiopia is beyond the past and looking forward. Ethiopian people and not the diaspora will dictate the future of Ethiopia. We Ethiopians (non dual citizens) understand that democracy is a process. We are willing to wait and stand behind those that are making an effort. If you want a voice be part of the solution.

    • Dawit, how do you explain the 100 percent vote for the ruling party that returned Prime Minister Hailemariam to power and filled every single seat in Parliament. That is not a plausible result in a democratic society.

      • In 2007 election many Ethiopians voted for the opposition party and at the end the opposition leaders refused to take their share of power saying that they wanted all of it. We were dissapointed specially in the capital as they completely won the capital city vote and when they refused we ended up with a temporary unelected city government that did not care at all. This time on the recent election, those who run against the government were leftovers of the past opposition and also other power hungry old people who are recognised from the communist regime of 20 years ago. You probably didnt know any of this anyway because you only have your own little agenda to mock barack obama, but Ethiopians were not stupid enough to vote for an opposition who is only interested in power. Barack Obama is well respected by Africans and he knows it, little ignorant californian girls like you will not get in between us, go to the beach if you can and let some stranger take advantage of you

      • Ms. Garrison,
        First of all the ruling party didn't won 100% vote. The ruling party won 500 seats out of 547 seats. The rest of the seats were won by parties that are friendly to the EPRDF. You are ill informed and uneducated about the issue you are talking about. Anyone can googgle it and understand how the Ethiopian parliament works. Second, Mr. Metho should be grateful for this government, which gave the Gambella region self-autonomy to run their own State. Mr. Metho's ethnic groups, in the old times, feudal Ethiopians used to sell ethnic Gambellas as slaves inside Ethiopia and outside the country. This government gave the ethic Gambellas's the recognition they deserve. Ms. Garrison you have no clue about Ethiopia or Ethiopian politics. I suggest you should stick to the subjects you know very well.

        • Mekdes. No wonder the article covers Ethiopia and Rwanda because of their similarities in oppressing their own people. I am surprised to learn from you that the parliament seats that the ruling party didn't get went to parties friendly to EPRDF. I would guess too that these parties never present a presidential candidade for election. How can you fight for political change when you adopt and conform to policies of the party you pretend to challenge? The situation is the same in Rwanda where RPF of Kagame has coopted satellite political parties which never oppose it on any issue. For that reason I think it is fair to say that when these fake parties vote, they are the same people as the representatives of ruling parties but with only different names. EPRDF or RPF fool only those who want to be fooled; the reality is that they are completely authoritarian and dictatorial in their political actions and others.

      • Ann,
        It is no different than the people who elected President Bush and Obama for a second term in office.
        Prime Minister Hailemariam was re-elected for a second term based on his performance. What matters in the end is not your definition of democracy, but the will of the Ethiopian people.
        Obang Metho represents the disenfranchised Ethiopians in the U.S. His publicity stunt attracts attention, but overall ineffective in capturing the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people.

          • Hi Patriotic “White” Ethiopian girl :-)

            A "smart" Blondie like you shouldn't compare Bush’s and Obama’s case to that of EPRDF. Bush stood for the rich Anglo Protestants. Those unlucky African Americans and wet back Latinos never liked him. So he can’t by any means win the vote 100%. Likewise, everyone knows how Obama is hated by those Jews, Anglo Protestants and mainstream Catholics. So he can’t again by any means win by any close to 100%. None of the leaders responded to people quest adequately and didn’t save the country’s economy from sliding and borrowing penny and dime from China.

            EPRDF, however, as the name implies is “The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front”, born from the people to the people; a coalition representing each and every ethnicity, culture, language, religion, etc. Plus you have seen the economic miracle and self esteem surfacing in the country.

            Why should you then wonder if everyone loves the EPRDF and vote for it? Those handful who hate the EPRDF and recruited to serve the neo-liberalism underhandedly (some of them being trained at Kennedy School of Government) are all in the U.S. and elsewhere in Europe – most of them fearing the prosecution for the hundreds of thousands life they are responsible during the fascist Derg regime.

            Plus, as my sister, Mekdes, articulated above, EPRDF didn't won 100% vote. She could be a "black" girl and inferior to you, but please read her article well and do more research before making the same mistake your "smart" uncle did in Rwanda in 1994.

            Don’t try to educate us just by the fact that you are simply a “Garrison”. Would you shut up now, please?

  3. Simply put, Obang is "Trojan Horse" of neo-liberalism. Very old tactic. Africa is no more fool nor weak. Thanks for our gallant sons Nukurma, Lumumba, Zenawi, Kagame, etc. for educating our people, and the "no strings attached options" we have from ideological brethren from the Far East! Long live Africa! Amanda!!!

    • Dear David, please never insult Panafricanist Heroes Nkrumah and Lumumba by comparing them with genocidaires and authoritarian late Zenawi and Kagame. Ethiopia and Rwanda are US and or UK proxies. Our African heroes were against tribalism, and unfortunately that's what Zenawi and Kagame have been promoting. Their policies are ethnically based with a fundamental purpose fo excluding other communities. They run aparheid-like segregations in their respective countries, but officially claim there isn't discrimination of any sort. They can fool foreigners on the subject but not their citizens.

  4. Ann Garrison,

    What exactly is your point here? Who is this so called “activist” you interview? I am an Ethiopian and i have never heard of him, whats his credentials? Who does he represent? I can assure you that we Ethiopians dont know him. And yourself, how much do you think you know about Ethiopia that you are confident enough to judge a government that is getting the country out of poverty and is strong enough to manage a country of 90 million people to run it? What makes you qualified to stick your nose in to either Ethiopias or Rwandas ethnic politics and make assesments on ethnic politics saying this is minority, that is majority etc?

    Do you not have other things to write about? Maybe try doing a biography on Donald Trumph, it could probably give you a more sensful purpose to live in this world.

  5. The dead-end of neon-liberalization has become the reality. It is dead not only in Africa but also the whole world. He heroes who killed neon-liberalization are Meles and Kigami. If you called them dictatorship for doing this, we Africans will support them. Africa is already Awake

  6. You poisonous witch how dare to u write for an issue you have no idea. It was people like you who Incited conflict in Rwanda during the genocide. You are attempting to do the same. We already aware of what ever you say there is poisonous string attached in it. Say some thing on the inhuman treatment of black people in you country. The whole world have some thing to say about it.

      • Old woman, Regarding to Ethiopia, It is not what it looks like. Ethiopia is situated in a very hostile region, the horn Africa. You may get misinformed by few individuals from some of the hostile countries. So, don't rush to conclude for extremely complicated realities, while you dont have enough information.

  7. Racist patronizing neo liberal BS. These so called liberal but fools think they know better for us than ourselves. They want us to always be “authentic savage” Africa for their touristy amusement so they can talk about how “poor but happy ” we are with their friends while sipping their $12 moka frappe latte.
    The white girl should cover stories about white police killing African Americans in her own backyard.
    Eprdf won 100% of the vote? So what? The opposition is poor weak and with no clear vision and they are the real proxy of these neo liberal whites.

  8. the TPLF is nothing but a terrorist group, I am not sure what development they are talking about with out social justice freedom, in Ethiopia you do not have even academic freedom, there is nothing in Ehiopia but a bunch of criminals Within Ethiopian government

  9. Poor Ann Garrison, I know you are writing this article just to make money and pay your bills. Uncle Sam who cuts your check is, however, has a bigger agenda on Africa that you may or may not understand. If I were you, to my peace of mind, I would not put my hands to write such an evil article that may contribute to situation that perished half a million Rwandan. Have you seen the movie “Hotel Rwanda, at least, young Blondie?

    To Uncle Sam’s dismay and burial let me quote core sayings from the High-Level Meles Zenawi Foundation Symposium Held in Rwanda.

    New generation African leaders are in the process of adopting the "The African Democratic Developmental State" to help Africa break away from the prescribed Western models.

    Africa should stop being bullied into "accepting policies that misrepresent us and do us harm in the end."

    “Time has come for Africa to stop being "a place where experiments are being carried out."

    “Africans needed to shape their own destiny by "doing things their own way."

    "Those who tell us the state is bad for us mean that they will fill the void and become the state and run the markets."

    Adios Gringa!
    Don't mess with Adwa!
    Ask Italians – and your "Fascist Derg" friends in the Bay Area

  10. Ethiopia is occupied by the thugs from Tigray province (TPLF).
    This group a self declared Stanlinist and separatist group once listed
    as a terrrist by the US State Department.
    All those how support this 100% dictatorial regime are
    benefiting from the misery of Ethiopians and doing money
    laundering business in the west and at home.
    ALL Ethiopians are mobilised against TPLF.
    Ethiopia will be free sooner than later.

    Down to TPLF and their cronies !

    LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!

  11. Dear Stupid journalist Ethiopia is not for sale we are not those former colonies of the western emperialist you can’t force on as your ideologi we have are own way to govern our contrary we was do that when you Europeans was living in caves, so dear stupid journalistt before you going to write about any subject do some research.!

  12. ” I believe the developmentalist paradigm is beginning to gain political traction. It is no longer an idea that academics toss around. It is an idea that we in Ethiopia are trying to implement. As the neo-liberal paradigm continues to show very little prospect in Africa, more and more people are searching for alternative paradigms” .meles zenwi.

  13. . The dictatorial regime in Ethiopia is a group of tribalists. Some are eritreans. Meles Zenawi was an eritrean. So are most of the leaders of EPRDF. America should rather support the democratic forces in Africa. Supporting EPRDF in Ethiopia is supporting terrorism.

  14. Dear Ann Rwanda has become an obsession to u , do u even have anything Else to write??
    Problem is u always spread false information u don't even bother To support genociders (FDLR) and genocide denials in your articles a simple research shows what these poeple did most of them are tracked by international justice if u are really a journalist u should know that.
    I understand u don't like Kagame but that doesn't mean u have to desort Rwanda history by spreading false info on what really happened or what's happening now

    • What else u what her to write? she always got her feellings hurt every time she sees her goneciders and genocide deniers friends loose battle on thier demonic propaganda.
      Rwanda is moving in wright direction she should find nother place to get a paycheck

  15. this kind of rubbish propaganda is aimed at creating a disorting narrative that nagates the facts of the development of a people of the two great countries with descent of haters of the leadership of the two countries. in Rwanda, this propaganda is aimed at criminalising the leadership of President kagame, to change FDRL a terrorist group that have been terrorizing us for years into victimes and victimes into criminals.
    if i may say, Ethiopia and Rwanda are two leading developing countries with visionary leaders who works with their own people to address problems that affects yheir lives day to day.
    one may wonder why negative forces like FDRL are not yet disarmed?…the only reason is, France is paying taxmoney to protect her allie from being disarmed.

  16. If u really care about human wright i would suggest u start writting how black poeple are being killed and incarcerated by police in your country and leave Rwanda & Ethiopia alone these countries are showing tremendous economic growth and stability on African continent .The fact u always target them in most of your articles mostly Rwanda shows that your intention are not only human wright .
    Remember this is 2015 it's easy to fact check what u write or said so stop spreading your divisive agenda .

  17. Its like Minorities have no rights at all. Tell us the Majority who rule America? Your telling us that Tutsi are 14% of the total populace but where do you get those statistics. I don't remember when Rwanda has carried on a censor counting hutus,tustis and Twa…can you post any document to prove that tusti are 14% of the total populace??????stop brainwashing ignorant people

  18. Looks likes u spend your time investigating what's happening thousands miles away that what's happening in your backyard.
    U write so many negatives pieces on Rwanda ( most of them are lies) than horrible human abuses done by Police on daily basis on Blacks and Litinos in your country .
    And seriously where did u get those Tustis percentages ? Did you count them ? I've never heard or seen any census of that kind in Rwanda This shows who always feed you what to write …same people who killed million in Rwanda whom u've chosen to become a spokeswoman for some obscure reasons

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