By Dilwenberu Nega, Oct. 20, 2012
This week a member of the now defunct WPE (Workers Party of Ethiopia) and a former Deputy Administrator of Gondar, Comrade Abebaw Yigzaw, passed away aged 70 after a long illness. Last night, his body was flown to Ethiopia – to the very country which he had portrayed as a “basket case” during his 20 years self-exile in London. At the time of his death, the national carrier, EAL, which transported his body and members of his immediate family to Addis Ababa, was one of his boycott targets.
Personally, I seize this opportunity to express my heart-felt condolences to his family and friends and wish his soul eternal peace. The fraternity of former Derg officials and WPE members have, indeed, lost an intellectual mentor who, through his lectures and writings, had kept them in hock to their vainglorious hope of restoring the exiled Derg and its exiled patriarch.
As my intention, here, is not to write an obituary of this remarkable and learned, yet puzzling son of EOTC (Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church) - who, after turning EOTC into a robot of the Derg, had succeeded in becoming a genuine Marxist-Leninist cadre for the Dreg - I will, instead, dwell briefly on the significance of his burial taking place in the land of a revamped union of nations, nationalities and peoples – a galaxy away from the Ethiopia Abebaw Yigzaw and co had fled from 21 years ago.
Comrade Abebaw Yigzaw was no run-of-the-mill Ethiopian opposition figure in London. He had opposed tooth and nail every change that had transformed Ethiopia over the past two decades. He was in the forefront of the “Stop Aiding Ethiopia campaign in the United Kingdom.” His hate for EPRDF knew no boundary. For instance, last month Comrade Abebaw- cabalist par excellence – fought from his sick bed in hospital a memorial service for the late Patriarch Paulos and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi from taking place at St. Mary of Tsion’s Church in Battersea, London. Yesterday Abebaw’s Requiem Mass took place in the very church he denied a memorial service for his opponents to take place. It really seems that God pursues a no nonsense policy for avengers!
The death of the Comrade in London has unveiled the presence of hypocrisy in the world of followers of the politics of hate. In Abebaw Yigzaw, we witness a manifestation of double standards of the worst kind. On the one hand, he is seen lecturing on how bad Ethiopia has turned out to be under EPRDF, while at the same time he himself has no qualms in having an “Ethiopian Origin Identification Card.” On the one hand, he discourages every Ethiopian from visiting Ethiopia, while he is seen at Heathrow Airport seeing off his wife to Addis Ababa. If we , therefore, were to buy the never ending toxic Diaspora’s claim that the EPRDF government is propelled by a sense of vindictiveness when dealing with exiled opposition figures, we would have witnessed Abebaw funeral taking place here and not in Ethiopia. Unlike the Government of the State of Eritrea, the Government of FDRE does not bar the remains of exiled opposition figures to be repatriated to their place of birth.
The magnanimity of mind shown by the EPRDF government in the repatriation of Abebaw, therefore, deserves commendation. Moreover, the fact that exiled opposition figures are entitled to exercise their constitutional rights as long as their opposition is peaceful goes a long way to prove to supporters and opponents of EPRDF that what matters in the eyes of the Government is not who is right or wrong, but what is right or wrong. You must not lose sight of the fact that the only reason why Abebaw failed to visit Ethiopia during the past 21 years is not because of his opposition to EPRDF, but it is because his name is among the Special Prosecutor’s list of “Wanted former Derg Officials.” The one and only reason why Abebaw did not return to Ethiopia alive, was because his name is in the Special Prosecutors’ list of “Wanted former Derg officials.”
For those of us, who fled Ethiopia during the Derg’s 17years nightmarish rule, the repatriation of the remains of an opposition figure in exile marks a welcome departure from the policy of revenge pursued by the Derg against refugees in general and exiled opposition figures in particular. And thank God for that! Without a shadow of a doubt, the death of Comrade Abebaw would leave the trans-border fraternity of ‘kakitocrats’ (the former kaki-uniformed WPE members) all the more decaffeinated.
In the great scheme of things, however, the passing away of someone who had failed miserably to differentiate between opposing a ruling party and standing against the national interest of Ethiopia can be viewed as advantage EPRDF. However, Abebaw’s death and his burial in a very much alive and kicking Ethiopia, must serve a lesson to the politically bankrupt section of Ethiopians abroad: EPRDF is there to serve equally those who voted for it and those who voted against it. In as far as Ethiopians abroad are concerned EPDRF government is seen to be following only one strict “zero tolerance”: the full weight of the law will be unleashed only on those who wish to circumvent the Constitution of FDRE. This is nothing new as we have come to live under it in richer democracies too.
Meanwhile, three cheers for EPDRF are in order!
Three cheers to EPRDF are in order.