In a recent must-read article ("Fallout from war on terror hits Ethiopia") by a foreign correspondent of the Chicago Tribune, an article that deals with the repercussions of Ethiopia's interference in neighboring Somalia in the name of the war against terrorism, an Ethiopian government official was quoted as saying:
"We don't see any basic violations of human rights," said Bereket Simon, an adviser to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. "Abusing the people doesn't make sense. You abuse people and they look to the subversives. It's counterproductive."
For those who are an uninitiated in Ethiopian politics (or those who are ill-informed) such talk may come across as straight talk and sound refreshing. Unfortunately, the true nature of the people who are currently ruling Ethiopia and the state of human rights in Ethiopia could not have been any further from the truth. The truth is, the human rights record of the current rulers for the last 16 years is diametrically the opposite of the image the above quote is intended to project.One thing the current rulers have excelled at in the last 16 years has been in the PR game. Their talk has always been designed to hoodwink the international audience about the reality in Ethiopia and give an image of a political leadership that is cool-headed and rational. The international audience pretty much had bought into their propaganda up until two years ago. Fortunately for Ethiopia, that game is over.
This Bereket fellow and his master, the prime terrorist Meles Zenawi, can try all they want to say the right things while doing the exact opposite. But no matter how skilled they may be in the PR game, one thing they can't control for sure is the reality on the ground. The reality in Ethiopia, including the Ogaden, is human rights abuses that rival the record of the Dergue regime, the regime Meles and his terrorist friends replaced.