Response to Ben's Point of View: "Yederg Hangover" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ben   
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 14:50

(By: S. Aberra) - I listened to your ‘Ye Derg Hangover’ report and I was disappointed that this happened in the heart of Addis and at a sports venue. I have been visiting your website for over 6 years looking for unbiased ethical reporting. I admired you for you did not hesitate to point out the shortcomings of both the government and the opposition alike. I respected you even when I disagreed for I could see you had good intentions for saying what you say and doing what you do. I found your report on the stadium event to be courageous. But you stopped short of calling a spade a spade. You tried to argue that this was just an isolated incident; that this was not representative of the majority of Ethiopian army officers.

While there are many in the Ethiopian Defense Forces who are disciplined, dedicated and respectful, there are some in position of power that can do whatever they want on a whim. One can not help but wonder if they did not hesitate to do this in front of thousands of people, if they were not ashamed to act like thugs in front of a stadium full of people; imagine what they could do to somebody they did not agree with in a bar or a restaurant. The question is where is this confidence-where you can push and shove police officers in public-coming from? In Don Rumsfeld’s words, what’s the known unknown? If I (the average Joe) were to get physical with a uniformed police officer, I would have been hurt and ended up in jail. So what is unknown to us but known to those police officers that that took the shoving and did nothing.

If, as you pointed out, the constitution had your back; why didn’t you keep recording? If the rule of law was above all, why wasn’t the officer arrested and charged for assaulting a police officer? You had him on camera; you had witnesses including ETV journalists. Who is he to ask you why you are recording? Why did you need to tell him you were a journalist? So if you were not a journalist you can not use a camera in public places? Why didn’t ETV journalists dare tape the incident?

There is a system out there where some could do almost anything. They are the judge, the jury and the prosecutor all at once. There are precedents set forth from the early days of the regime. Andargachew Tsige once told us Tamirat (former Prime Minster) used to order: ‘put him in and rough him up for me’. The police officers knew their jobs could be on the line, they knew he was the ‘kind of person ‘you don’t mess with. That is why they were not happy about the recording; they would have been identified from among hundreds of police officers deployed at the game. Yes it is one small incident in the general scheme of things, yet it is a reflection of a system; a system where a few can do anything to anyone with impunity.

I believe you are a good family man, ethical in your reporting and patriotic. While I admire your courage to come out with the story despite the officer’s warning, I believe your attempt to paint this as no more than some rogue officer acting with impunity is unpalatable. Let’s call it what it is: balebetuan yetemamenech wesha chirawan dej tasadiralech.

Be safe,
S Aberra, St. Paul, MN



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