Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

The Politics of Genocide Denial in Ethiopia

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

The Politics of Genocide Denial in Ethiopia

Article excerpt

"We Oromos naively think that this world cares, and somebody in it is going to help us solve our political problems. We fail to understand that we only get support from others if we first help ourselves and convince others that they can benefit by helping us."

----Asafa Jalata


Genocide is the intentional act or attempted act of destroying a defined group of people. Slow genocide is the intentional destruction of a group without the rapid mass murder that is so globally shocking. Denial of genocide, whether by perpetrators or observers, is an attempt to deny intent to destroy a group in order to avoid the shame and responsibility of charges of genocide. Confusing the political reality of intent to destroy a group can continue decades after the violence ends. Because the UN Genocide Convention definition of genocide requires proof of intent to destroy a group, genocide does not exist without such proof although other horrendous illegal acts can be present.

The problem for a nation which commits genocidal acts and multiple human rights abuses, like Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (hereafter referred to as the government of Ethiopia) which shares borders with Eritrea to the north and northeast, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south that includes over 102 million inhabitants, making it the most populous landlocked country in the world, as well as the second-most populous nation on the continent of Africa whose leaders are enamoured of the plunder of foreign aid, stems from the need to prevent knowledge of mass atrocity from leaking into global awareness, so that the reputation of its ancient grandeur might not be sullied, and aid would continue to flow. This aid, as we shall discuss in is about 3.6 billion US dollars per year, about one half the budget of the government of Ethiopia and about equals the amount stolen by government of Ethiopia officials.

Since financial aid funds both slow genocide disguised as development and the amount available for theft, government needs to carefully control the narrative. There is an information blackout, and the minimal information that escapes into global awareness is excused by the donors who have been fooled into believing that aid purchases Ethiopian loyalty.

Such donor denial enables government to freely continue to commit heinous genocidal acts upon the populace. In a slow genocide, there is no sudden outbreak of rapid mass murder that forces at least some global notice, and we shall argue that foreign governments and other donors are complicit in the cover up and in the funding of the violence in return for friendship.

At the present there are two sides to the denial of genocide in Ethiopia. The first consists of the minority Tigrayan group who rule and the second consists of the global elite cronies of the Tigray rulers, including foreign governments, media, aid agencies, and some human rights organizations. These two groups have engaged in denial for decades. While denial is a stage of genocide usually placed after the genocide, at a time when it has become generally recognized as genocide, according to Dr. Gregory Stanton (1) of Genocide Watch, these stages of genocide are predictable. Stanton elucidates that the stage of denial can exist simultaneous with ongoing genocidal atrocities.

In Ethiopia, denial is a way of life. The elite do not desire a violence free society with a thriving public because they are a minority people who have made many enemies. And they fear being overwhelmed by those enemies if there were to be a wealthy, educated, thriving, democratically run society. They believe that their only method of survival is to continue as they have. The gullible expectation of donors and the UN that the government of Ethiopia actually desires to control internal deaths and violence is unfounded. "We have your back, so please fund our development, but don't watch" is the cry, while the corrupt elite steal donated funds and destroy the human capital of targeted civilians. …

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