LIFE FOR MENGISTU, DEATH FOR WHOM?

BY BABILE TOLA

The travesty of justice has not been lost on Ethiopians ever since the so called Red Terror trials started 12 years ago. Coming to an end of the charade, the courts controlled by the Meles Zenawi regime have sentenced former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam to life imprisonment along with his other top aides. Previously some of Mengistu’s ministers were sentenced to death while the main culprit, Mengistu, has been given life. A sentence he will not serve anyways as he is in exile in Harare. 

 What has made the so called Red Terror trials a farce is primarily the fact that judge, the Meles regime, has no moral or legal ground to make it the accuser and judge of the  criminals. The TPLF, the organization led by Meles and now in power, took part in the Red Terror when it was starting out as a guerrilla/rebel group. Moreover, the TPLF, as a rebel force and as a power holder, has been characterized by its ruthless campaign of liquidation against the very victim of the Red Terror, that is to say the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP). Hence, the essential “fakeness” of the concern allegedly exhibited by the TPLF for the victims of the Red Terror. 

From the outset, the TPLF and the media under its control have persistently tried to minimize the extent of the Red Terror, to reduce the number of people killed (some 2000 people were killed by Mengistu it is alleged while no less than 250,000 perished in brutal ways), with the intention of minimizing the struggle waged and the sacrifice paid by the EPRP to liberate Ethiopia. The victims are often identified as “people”, to avoid saying that tens of thousands of people were killed not for just being “people’ but for being members and sympathizers of the EPRP. The Red Terror was against the EPRP but the TPLF has consistently tried to deny or gloss over this by alleging that the Terror targeted all, including the TPLF, with same ferocity and intensity. This deliberate attempt at revising and even falsifying history has made the Red Terror Trials farcical. In addition, many Red Terror criminals were/are now members of the TPLF or its ethnic based gang. Other self declared liberation fronts and opposition organizations are also staffed by many Red Terror criminals while many others have slid into low profile exile in America and Europe changing their names in some instances.  

Sentencing Mengistu, the one man who ordered the Red Terror and vowed to kill thousands of EPRP, to life and sending his minions to the death row is not justice, notwithstanding what our position on the death penalty maybe. Actually, the regime of Meles arbitrarily defined genocide (the jailed opposition political leaders and others too are presently conveniently accused of genocide) while Mengistu and his henchmen did not make any ethnic difference when it came to killing the EPRP members who did originate from almost all the ethnic groups of Ethiopia. The Court that passed the sentence on Mengistu and his aides said that sentencing an old man to death is not jurisprudence but vendetta. This is laughable of course as Ethiopians know how many old people the Meles regime has slaughtered in the past fifteen years. Laughable because vendetta of the base and ugly variety has characterized the Meles Zenawi group ever since it was established. 

The Red Terror was a beastly carnage by a brutal regime against the EPRP. It symbolized a sad turning point in the history of the nation and, perhaps, opened up the road for the victory of the narrow nationalist and anti Ethiopian pests like the TPLF of Meles by destroying the hopes and flowers of the country. The valiant sons and daughters of Ethiopia were massacred by the dregs of society gathered around the butcher man Mengistu. The pests and dregs are still around, in power or yearning for a comeback. It is not clear that the lessons of the Red Terror have been learnt. We can say for sure that the Red Terror trial conducted by the criminals of the TPLF has sabotaged any possibility for a genuine nation wide examination of the Terror and its effects. The Meles regime is anathema to the rule of law and to justice. It is holding thousands of political prisoners and has murdered and massacred thousands. The similarity between Meles and Mengistu is very obvious; both cowards thrive in blood and repression. In their own way, they have both tried to murder a nation that has, however, refused to die.  

The real trial of Mengistu and of Meles has yet to come.

Published in: on January 11, 2007 at 8:51 pm  Comments (25)