Thursday, March 09, 2006

State terrorism as a way of life

Mild-mannered, erudite and legalistic, Birhane Mogesse doesn't look like your typical "terrorist". On February 18, at 4.00 am, security forces climbed over the barbed-wired wall of his illustrious villa in the prosperous Atlas Hotel neighborhood, sneaked into his bedroom and pointed a gun at him while he was fast asleep. When one of the men woke him and his wife up, the Volvo driving hot shot was rocked to the toe. He must have thought he was hit by a freak tornado.
The story wasn't a scene from the many Ethiopian movies that are now mushrooming our beloved capital. It was a closer-to- fiction reality. At the time Birhane was arrested, another group of feds was rounding up a replica mission on Goshu Mogesse - deputy editor in chief of the now defunct weekly Lisane Hisb.
The government claimed that they were both taken into custody suspected of terrorist operation. The journalists at the ETV proudly displayed a Swiss Knife (I am not joking!) and a hand gun (Licensed) the police allegedly seized at Berhane's house as a proof that a terrorist plot was on the way. It was an insult to the intelligence of the good folks of Addis Ababa. Many of us thought this was a stupid foul play. We suspected that Birhane was arrested because he frequented prison in his capacity as the attorney for Messr. Shawel, public enemy no.1 for the Meles government. As to Goshu, he apparently remained one of the most outspoken critics of the regime, airing his views in bars and meetings even after his paper was shut down.
So who could blame the doubters? Whenever a 75 birr grenade exploded somewhere along the compound of some hotel or government institution, without hurting Adam, a sweep of arrests and nighttime raids took place in the capital. Frazer Negash, the skinny and smiley correspondent for the Ethiopian Review, was detained in one such sweep. Call us dumb or dim-witted if you want, but we Addis Ababans are yet to be convinced about the existence of such "humanist terrorists". This, we believe, is a perennial Nazi style disablement tactic. Plot a bomb and blame it on your opponent. Here is the EPRDF script for Jendayi Frazer....Believe it or not, the CUDites, Onegaties and Tegbarians are Terrorists.
The practice is old-fashioned and conventional among the most extreme mass murderers. While they were busy destroying buildings with rat-bombs to implicate communists and wreaking havoc throughout Europe, the Nazis said they were protecting the population from terrorist partisans directed from abroad, while the Japanese argued that they were laboring selflessly to create an earthly paradise as they fought off "Chinese bandits", terrorizing the people of ManchuriaThe Nazis and the Japanese, however misguided their causes, used state terrorism as a means. If, however, we are well-acquainted with the current Ethiopian reality, we would, surely, know that the Meles government has daringly taken terrorism to unreachable heights. Terrorism is no more the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain political or ideological goals. It's become a way of life, just as corruption.

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