Articles and Analysis


Ezana sehay 05/05/13

The folks at Human Wright Watch are at it again. They have come up with yet another misleading and intensely critical statement against the Ethiopian government - a gesture that follows on their persistent anti-Ethiopian tirade. The botched press release is of course entirely symbolic: HRW has no power, what’s so ever, to compel Ethiopia to take it seriously. Nevertheless, it has succeeded in bringing the whole issue of western civil societies’ obsessive paternalistic proclivity toward African countries back to the news, if only for a day or two.

Reading or listening to the rhetorical attacks the group emits, one would think that it is on the cusp of bringing Ethiopia to its knees. Yet, since 2004 – the period corresponding to the life span of the group’s anti-ethiopian campaign – the EPRDF government has become emboldened and became more assertive.

And so, before HRW operatives go back to debating issues that actually affect the lives of people they purport to support, let’s indulge them by asking the question: what exactly is the state of the anti-Ethiopian campaign by the group? As it happens, there is a web page that exhaustively tracks its achievements, but nothing related to its anti-Ethiopian activities. Over the years the HRW has been engaged in blackmails, fabrications and soliciting western government and aid agencies not to do business in Ethiopia - to no avail.

During those years the Horn of Africa has seen its share of political chaos and economic collapse. Yet to the HRW crowd’s chagrin, Ethiopia has kept rolling along. All of this makes the HRW campaign against Ethiopia appear not only bigoted, but also ridiculously ineffective.

Eight years in, HRW has accomplished nothing. Indeed less than nothing: for it is thanks to HRW, and similar gestures of anti-Ethiopian antipathy (in the west), that the Ethiopian people have become convinced that their country will always be the victim of a vicious moral double standard by some acrimonious west-based groups.

If the Ethiopian government has struck a more standoffish and uncompromising tone when dealing with western civil societies, it is largely because it has come to see the repugnance of its country as irrational and unremitting.

Last week’s statement is but one of many gestures – symbolic in effect, but toxic in tone – that cement this impression among Ethiopian political leaders. But like previous campaigns, it will accomplish nothing except spread ill will. HRW’s latest cursory clipped and resentful statement is another attempt to tarnish the country’s image. The focus of its latest campaign is the conviction of two men (Andualem Arage and Eskinder Nega), who espouse extreme political conviction. The crimes they are convicted for are serious and dangerous by any standard of criminal code.

But HRW is so blinded by its bias it doesn’t even bother to check the basic facts that are obvious. These men subsequently use free speech as an instrument of obstruction and to capsize the democratic principles that are in place; they use democracy to destroy democracy and endanger the unity of the people. They have openly called for civil strife and advocate sectarian conflict.

Another troubling mythology of HRW, at least in the African setting is that opposition is always right and victim. On the other hand, the government is invertebrate harasser and wrong. That is why it is acting as a mouth piece for every imaginable radical group in the continent. So its obsessive hostility towards Ethiopia is not an isolated phenomenon.

But in the case of Ethiopia; the strange and sobering world of HRW has introduced a new anomaly: a mob lynching professing democracy, and masquerading as human right advocate.

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