The Desperate Acts Of a Dying Regime: Invoking the Rwanda Genocide to Jam VOA-Amharic Service
March 25, 2010
Five years ago, when the TPLF regime lost ground in the general elections, Meles Zenawi went out of his mind and compared the captivating Ethiopian opposition to the “Interhamwe”, a group of young Hutu males who carried out the Rwandan Genocide.
Five years later, and as recently as last week, Meles Zenawi once again brazenly compared the VOA Amharic service broadcasts, to Radio Mille Collines, the infamous Rwandan radio station that incited the Hutus to kill the Tutsis. The Voice of America that brodcasts programming in 45 languages and that is fully funded by the U.S. Government, and has to abide by the highest standards of journalistic ethics, of course, does no such thing.
Meles Zenawi’s insensitivity of using the Rwandan genocide, one of the greatest crimes against humanity in the second half of the twentieth century to instill fear among people, especially during elections, is not a coincidence or slip of the tongue. It is his typical way of warning the Ethiopian people that unless his party is “elected” Ethiopia is doomed to follow the Rwandan path of inter-ethnic blood bath of Biblical proportion. In fact, this is the same deceptive and extremely unsettling message Zenawi has been sending to the International Community that without his blessing and without his party’s control of power, Ethiopia will disintegrate and the Horn of Africa will be a safe haven for Al Qaeda and Islamic extremism.
In the aftermath of the tragedy of September 11th and the start of the global war on terror Meles Zenawi has been using Ethiopia’s strategic importance in the Horn of Africa to secure financial assistance, dodge criticisms on his abysmal human rights records and conceal his Stalinist domestic policies which are wreaking havoc on the lives of the Ethiopian people.
Zenawi’s war on the hapless Ethiopian media and independent press is predictable and has a long sordid history, but his recent comparison of the VOA, a radio station that preaches democracy, to the infamous Radio Mille Collines that preached genocide in Rwanda is beyond the pale. Even the usually staid U.S. State Department was so outraged by Meles’ reckless temper tantrums that it was forced to issue the following strongly worded statement:
“The United States opposes Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles’ decision to jam Voice of America’s Amharic Service and condemns his comparison of their programming to Radio Mille Collines of Rwanda. Comparing a respected and professional news service to a group that called for genocide in Rwanda is a baseless and inflammatory accusation that seeks only to deflect attention away from the core issue.”
Radio jamming is the preferred technique that dictators use to stifle the free flow of information. What is mystifying and what is uncommon is that Ethiopia’s dictator and international pariah, Meles Zenawi, who publicly vowed to jam the VOA, is the same person who shares with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown the honor of co-chairing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing.
The recent rapid political developments in Ethiopia, particularly, the sudden turn of events in the regional state of Tigray, have exposed the true face of Meles Zenawi. At the end of 2009, Zenawi called the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva an “idiot”. Recently, when he made a speech in his home state of Tigray, he insulted the entire Ethiopian opposition as “muddle heads”. Last week, Zenawi pushed the envelope even further and compared America’s voice of democracy to the former voice of mass murder in Rwanda. We believe, by now it should be very clear, that Meles Zenawi is not only a devious meglomaniac but an outright dictator. The million dollar question is why the West is still embracing this international pariah while bitterly condemning dictators like him around the globe?
In his recent press conference, Zenawi tried to explain the media law of the U.S. in relation to the VOA, and used his own explanation of the U.S. law as a justification to jam the VOA. If Zenawi’s respect to his own law is as good as his knowledge about the laws of other countries, the constitution he wrote clearly states that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression without interference, and this right include freedom to receive and impart information regardless of frontiers without censorship.” Therefore, we believe, Ethiopia’s dictator must first read his own constitution and affirm to respect the laws contained, therein, before pointing his bloodstained finger on the laws of other nations.
In the last couple of years, Ginbot 7 has repeatedly exposed the crimes of Meles Zenawi which includes, but not limited to, crimes against humanity, ethnic divide and rule, endemic corruption, extra judicial killings and all out assault on the independent press. We believe it is time for the international community, especially the U. S., the UK and the European Union to turn their back on Zenawi’s regime and join the freedom march of the Ethiopian people.
Ginbot 7 is determined to lead the historic freedom march of the Ethiopian people until every breathing soul is free; and most importantly, Ginbot 7 strongly believes that it is up to the Ethiopian people to decide whether they want to tune in or tune out the VOA Amharic broadcast. It should never be Meles Zenawi’s duty to choose for the people which radio station they should listen to.