The peace dividend: justice - Berhanu Zergaw

The peace dividend: justice

Berhanu Zergaw


 While the specter of a probable civil war is haunting our country, the dark cloud of sorrow, grief and agony seem to create a yearning for peace to be delivered by almighty God sitting above the highest place looking down on us with His bountiful mercy and justice. The ruling class in Ethiopia does not seem to care much for the opinions of the very people it claims to rule. If it had done so, many changes including the avoidance of the senseless war could have been forthcoming.   In addition, it would refrain from imprisoning those critics who are voicing their opinions imploring and pleading for a change of direction to avoid a disastrous outcome. But no, the elites know what is good for the country! Sad affair of things.

The most striking quality of the peace moment in Ethiopia is the arrogant display of hubris and hypocrisy. The hubris is in exercising excessive pride and the hypocrisy is in claiming to have superior moral standards than that of the great people of Ethiopia who despite all the devastation remain humble. Pride cometh before the fall.

There are, to my mind, three groups or agents in the catastrophic war operation that allegedly claimed over 1.4 million agonizing and dead Ethiopian victims. The internal actors, the alleged perpetrators of the war, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Prosperity Party (PP) as a ruling government. The third is the party of enabling foreign actors whose involvement during and after the war became crucial to both during the execution and conclusion of the war. First among the third group is the United States of America. Others may play peripheral but important role. The thrall of Washington, DC gripped the warring parties and took them to South Africa, and then to Kenya to conclude a cessation of hostilities toward negotiations for peace. But then one ought to question what kind of peace? These parties act in such a way that no consequences await them for the hubris and hypocrisy they are exercising. This gang of three, one master, two vassals, has no qualms about the daily tragedy the people are facing because of the war.

It is intriguing to me why the USA forced the Ethiopian warring parties to make peace. Who benefits? What is their interest? I understand it is a geopolitical ploy at the cruel annihilation of the youth, the young, the women, and the elderly. That is the cost, the collateral, Ethiopians should pay to manage their interests.

It is interesting to see the warring parties are wooed, God knows by what, but they seemed interested in concluding a peace agreement. One of the rumors spreading around is that more effective than the carrots the US dangled to these parties was the warning of spine-chilling terror if these leaders were to be prosecuted for genocide. You get some million and you will not be prosecuted for genocide for killing, raping and pillaging. This is quite an incentive to conclude negotiations. How profitable it is indeed. Unfortunately, the USA, the TPLF and the PP failed to see the casualties their actions brought about on the people in Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions. They are being rewarded. The victims on the other hand be damned. What is the peace dividend for the people? Where is the restorative justice to restore what the people lost in lives and property? Where is the retributive justice for the perpetrators of these crimes? When and where will they stand for trial? Who shall compensate the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, and children for their losses? Who will bring the leaders of the warring parties in front of their victims to see to it that they should pay for their crimes? Who should pay for the group hallucination that brought devastations in lives and the economy? Where is Lady Justice when we need her? What would the rape victims say about this?

As a people, are we satisfied with the circus masquerading as peace? Don’t we just want just peace? Are we going to accept the continuation of the absurd pretense of peace and reconciliation? When are we going to demand for just deserts for all the evils that befell the country? Should not the Ethiopian people demand it for the perpetrators to stand for trial in the court of justice? Are we happy with the performance of our “anointed” leaders? Do we really believe they are accountable to us the people? Are they capable of bringing security, and a lasting peace? Who are they accountable to? Who do they listen to? Are they listening to you? Obviously, they listen to whoever butters their bread. This peace deal shows that. The people be damned. The mockery of justice and peace.

I do not intend to become a party pooper on the peace party that is hosted by the criminal elements while ignoring the over 1.4 million souls and their families. But someone, anyone, should say justice is not being done. So, without justice, peace will hardly come by. For just peace to happen in Ethiopia, there should be certain steps taken. Some criminals who schemed the war over the people must first also be brought to justice. There must be prosecution before there is reconciliation. The families of the dead, the afflicted, the maimed, the raped, all of them must witness justice being done. The voices are calling for justice.

I am afraid there is a high probability the peace agreement will not hold and there will be a renewed war tragedy again. The agreements concluded by the two belligerents might hold temporarily. But there are other parties who have been terribly wronged and ignored and are waiting in the wings to gather some strength contemplating on their options. I am alluding to the people of Afar and Amhara. They have been abused, badly damaged, robbed, and their enterprises and industry destroyed, and their development has been purposely set back decades. Who will pay for this sheer wanton destruction? Worse yet the TPLF will not forget its devastating defeat at the hands of its own handiwork and will be scheming for revenge as well. Prime Minister Abiy may forget, the TPLF won’t. How about the demands by the TPLF to retake what it, the PP, and the USA call western Tigray? What would the indigenous Amharas think? Will there be war waged by the three (USA, TPLF, PP) against the one (Amhara)? I am afraid they will. If they did not think they would manage the situation, they would not have ignored them at the negotiating table. They would need to pay Paul by robbing Peter now. Yes, that is what the TPLF desires, and PP obliges. But what would be the cost? God forbid, another war, of course.

It is my fear that Ethiopia’s agonies will not be over soon. I thought the prime minister would have brought peace and tranquility within the time he was given by the good graces of the Ethiopian people. Unfortunately, his team could not deliver.  Apparently, the ruling elite can embezzle but it cannot lead. His team cannot provide security anywhere in the country. His team cannot bring prosperity trickling down to the people. His team has a voracious appetite for stealing and robbing. So, this will add more chaos and woes to the faut peace – peace without justice. The failure of the ruling elite seems to lead down toward a calamitous civil war in a hurry. Where there is no justice there will not be peace. So, I am asking again. Who benefits?  Who is responsible? Would Ethiopians have the stomach to see these elites in power again? Remember the good old slogan: The people united will never be defeated! Bring them to justice in order to get peace!

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