The lion and the jackal
[originally appeared in Ethiomedia]
Ethiomedia | June 23, 2008
|Obang Metho (right) with his African American friends during an MLK Day in Atlanta, Georgia in 2006. Obang travels around the world as a staunch human rights defender.
|Canada closed its door to Meles Zenawi envoy and genocide suspect Olum Omut (photo) thanks to the relentless campaign by Obang Metho. He deserves our support.
Olum Omut, the “governor of Gambella”, recently rang the door bell to be let into Canada. But Meles Zenawi’s jackal was greeted by the door chime of the old song: “Hit the road jack(al), and don’t you come back, no more, No more. No more.” Canada said, “No visa for a genocide suspect!”
Meles sent Omut on a simple mission to North America: Buy off those Anuaks who are willing to sell, and divide and drive a wedge between those who refuse to be bought. Omut came loaded with bags full of lies, and hands sheathed in white gloves to conceal the blood of the innocent Anuaks he helped exterminate. His sales pitch was pathetic, and fell on deaf ears: “Come back to Gambella and invest,” pleaded Omut. “Ethiopia is a democratic country full of opportunities. Gambella is better today than ever.” Blah! Blah! Blah!
But Omut was stone silent about the hundreds of Anuaks who were massacred in December, 2003, or the fact that none of their killers had been brought to justice. Omut did not whisper a word about a sizeable chunk of land in Gambella that was given away to the Sudan, or the thousands of Ethiopians there who face certain expulsion from their ancestral homelands by the Sudanese occupiers.
The jackal and his pack were turned back at the Canadian border and sent back to their dens with tail between their legs. But Canada was safe from the jackal because of a patriotic Ethiopian of Anuak heritage, the young lion, Obang Metho. The Obang of the Anuak Justice Council who has been criss-crossing the globe for years publicizing the massacre and persecution of Anuaks under the mercenary regime of Meles Zenawi. The same Obang who led the fight for human rights in Ethiopia in the halls of the U.S. Congress and the European Union. The Obang who always declared his great pride in his Ethiopian identity and Anuak heritage. The same Obang who put us to shame for not inquiring, and for keeping silent about the massacre of our brothers and sisters in Gambella. The Obang who rightfully but tenderly chastised us for our shameful ignorance that the Anuak are second to none in their Ethiopian national identity. The same Obang who refuses to subordinate the pain, suffering and humiliation of all Ethiopians to the pain, suffering and humiliation of the Anuak. The same Obang who made us open our eyes to witness the horrendous massacre of the Anuak in the documentary, “Betrayal of Democracy.” That Obang!
The showdown between Obang Metho and Olum Omut was truly a morality tale of the lion and the jackal — of good and evil and of united-we-stand-divided-we-fall and divide-and-control. It was ultimately a tale of the triumph of good over evil. Omut was the latest messenger of the Prince of Darkness sent into the Diaspora to stealthily implement the diabolical plan of ethnic federalism. The same plan that has enabled Meles to control 80 million Ethiopians by dividing them into 80 million pieces. Just as Meles has created in Ethiopia ethnic islands in a sea of oppression, he is now desperately trying to replicate that same strategy in the form of divide-and-control-the-opposition by exploiting their apparent fragmentation in the Diaspora.
Jackals like Omut are sent as “leaders” of “ethnic groups” to sniff the political winds in the Diaspora opposition, and to facilitate a separate peace with each group for Meles. Omut came to America to make a separate peace for the Anuak, and he is not the last one. There is another “delegation” from the “Amhara kilil” making its way to Atlanta by the end of this month to make a separate peace for Meles with the “Amharas”. No doubt, Meles will be rotating the “ethnic leaders” like a set of worn out tires because he believes the opposition in the Diaspora is dispirited, splintered, fragmented and frustrated, with no chance of presenting a united opposition to him. What better time than now to make a separate peace with each “ethnic group”! But that is wishful thinking. When Meles has declared war on all, he can not expect to make a separate peace with each one.
But have we learned anything from the morality tale of the lion and the jackal?
The first big lesson we have learned is that no Ethiopian — no ethnic group in Ethiopia — is an island unto itself. We are all on the same boat adrift on a sea of oppression under the control of genocidal pirates. The Anuak can no more make a separate peace with Meles than the Oromos, Amharas, Tigreans or any of the other ethnic groups. The problem of the Anuaks is not the ethnic affiliation of their compatriots. Their problems are the very same ones that afflict all Ethiopians: Lack of justice, freedom, democracy and human rights. When the murderers of innocent Anuaks are still at large, that is not merely justice denied to the Anuaks. It is justice denied to all Ethiopians. When the murderers of 193 unarmed innocent protesters roam free, that is not merely justice denied to Ethiopians. It is justice denied to the Anuaks. When Ethiopians in the Afar region, in Beningshangul-Gumuz or in Oromia are persecuted, that is a problem of injustice for all Ethiopians. Injustice does not have an Anuak face or a Tigrean, Oromo or Amhara… face. Injustice has only one face, the Face of Evil. We have learned from this morality tale that we must never stand against each other in the Face of Evil. Rather, we must always stand together against it.
The second lesson from this morality tale is that our oppressors would have us turn our heads backwards and fight over historical grievances while blindfolding us from seeing the glory that is in our future. In the past, and even today, our Anuak brothers and sisters have been oppressed, persecuted, mistreated, ignored, discriminated against and made to feel that they are not “real” Ethiopians. When the Anuaks were being slaughtered in 2003 by Meles, few of us stepped out to protest. Shame on us! For good reason, some Anuaks feel embittered and betrayed by the long history of mistreatment and indifference. They have every right to feel that way. Some may even feel that they no longer want to be part of Ethiopia because the pain they feel is so deep. We are heartbroken.
But for all those who feel bitter, we want to say there is a better way. It is the way of the future; a future that we can build together on a strong foundation of democracy, freedom and human rights. It is a future where we can guarantee and safeguard the right of every individual – regardless of ethnicity, language, region, gender, language, class and so on – to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We aspire to a future where government governs in trepidation of the peoples’ sovereignty, and is fully accountable for its actions and omissions. So as Ethiopians of all ethnic stripes we have a choice to make: Languish and blindly stumble in the darkness of the past and let the ghosts of a bygone era determine our destiny while making ourselves prey to the jackals of divide-and-rule; or take bold steps together into a brave future firmly in control of our destiny united in the common cause of democracy, freedom and human rights. This is the most important choice that we will ever make in our lives; and we must make it carefully, and fully aware that future generations will hold us accountable.
The third lesson comes out of what Canada has done to advance the cause of human rights. Canada by refusing to admit Omut and his pack has irrevocably taken a bold stand against all genocidal murderers and torturers. Canada has set a shining example of what a democratic government committed to human rights can do to uphold the rule of law and promote human rights the world over. Canada denied a visa to Omut because there was substantial evidence that implicated him in gross human rights violations and genocide against Ethiopians. Canadians today stands shoulder to shoulder with Ethiopians because they feel our humiliation, pain and denial of basic human rights.
But there is also a much larger lesson to be learned from the Canadian experience. Now Ethiopians in every Western country can do what Obang did in Canada. If human rights violators and genocide suspects can be kept out of Canada and banished with the stroke of the executive pen, they can also be barred from entering England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia and …. Well, Ethiopians! Let’s get busy!
The fourth lesson in this morality tale is the realization of one of the most important objectives of our labor of love, HR 2003. In Sec. 5 (a) (2) of that bill, we tried to do legislatively what the Canadians were able to do with a simple executive act: Deny visa and entry into the United States to any Ethiopian government official, security personnel or any other person involved or suspected of involvement in the massacre of peaceful demonstrators, prisoners at Kality prison or any other gross violations of human rights. We thank Obang for helping implement this important provision of H.R. 2003 in Canada, and proving to Ethiopians living in the West that human rights abusers from Ethiopia can be prevented from setting foot in democratic countries.
The fifth lesson is the power of collective action. It is amazing what results can be obtained when the people act together. The web editors, the radio talk show hosts, the commentators and even mainstream media representatives and others joined hands to expose the pack of jackals masquerading in sheep’s clothing. Obang Metho did not do it alone. He had full support and backup not only from Ethiopians in America and Canada, but also from Canadian human rights advocates, parliamentarians, lawyers, clergymen, community leaders, academics and ordinary citizens. All of them deserve credit and our deepest appreciation, because without them, Obang would have been powerless to keep the “jack pack” out of Canada.
There is also a lesson in TRUTH in this morality tale. Omut brought five sellout cadres and one Ethiopian patriot with him to North America. Omut returned with four of his henchmen. The patriot stayed in America. That was Obang Oman, a young Ethiopian who had suffered years of persecution in Gambella for standing up for the rule of law and human rights. Omut put him in his pack to lend credibility to his shameful mission; but in the end Obang Oman’s allegiance to the TRUTH and his country was far more compelling than any riches he could have received had he returned and delivered a crock of lies to the people. Obang Metho and Obang Oman, we salute you!
In nature, the jackal is a scavenger and thrives by consuming carrion. The lion is the symbol of dignity and pride. Obang and the Anuak Justice Council (AJC) deserve our praise and admiration, but need our help even more. Obang has sacrificed his career, family and personal life for the cause of justice and human rights in Ethiopia. We know. We have worked with him over the years. But for Obang and the AJC, we would not have known the stark truth about the savage massacre of our Anuak brothers and sisters, and their continuing plight. But for Obang’s pounding of the halls of Congress, endless visits to congressional offices and coordination with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and all the rest, H.R. 2003 would not have gone as far as it did. Let us never forget that Obang and the AJC have given us one of the greatest victories we’ve ever had in the Diaspora. Only time will show the enormous contributions Obang and the AJC have made to the human rights struggle in Ethiopia. Yet, even young lions need a little help from their friends from time to time. If we like and appreciate what Obang and the AJC have done — and if want a big bang for our buck — we have to help.
Let’s visit the AJC website and make a contribution.
|So, we say, begone Omut! Mass murderers, torturers and human rights violators, beware! Today, Canada has closed its doors to you. Tomorrow England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia and… will slam the door in your face. And everywhere you go, you can count on the Obangs of Ethiopia waiting for you with a song, “Hit the road jack(als), and don’t you come back no more. No more. No more. No more…”