Opinions & Features October 04, 2021 at 08:00 am

The Nobel Prize Committee should call back the diploma and the money from Ethiopia’s president

Alexander Opicho | Contributor

Alexander Opicho October 04, 2021 at 08:00 am

October 04, 2021 at 08:00 am | Opinions & Features

Photo: Reuters

Ethiopia has a very beautiful history of territorial sovereignty, from the day it defeated Italian expansionists at the battle of Ottawa to its current swiftness and effectiveness in its manner of managing security in relation to Islamic terrorism. I salute the people of Ethiopia for this success. But, on the other hand, Ethiopia has been persistently failing when it comes to the question of human rights, tolerance to otherness, and recognition of the virtues in the diversity of religion.

I think the world should also know that there is zero percent tolerance to transgender and non-binary sexuality in Ethiopia. This was very evident in the manner in which Ethiopian government officials were frustrated with the promise of violence at the East African Cultural and Literary studies Conference that was supposed to be at the University of Wadia in Lalibela in August 2019. The conference was brutalized by the government for no other reason but for having a session on  Queer Literature.

The experience of Ethiopian violent reaction to the supposed discourse about the literature of Queer identity was so extraordinary. It was so it beats all kinds of logic to have an existence of state-sponsored hostility on human sexual diversity in the post-modern world. All these razzmatazz happened under the leadership of the Peace Nobel Laureate President Ahmed Abiy. That was that.

In the month of September 2021, the same president Abiy through the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet that five members of the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, including senior leaders, are ordered out of the country, as well as the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF Representative, and a team leader from the UN human rights office, OHCHR. The reason given by the Ethiopian government is that the UN is meddling in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. Ethiopian government makes these arguments as if it is not aware that the UN is an intergovernmental organization enjoying special ‘intergovernmental sovereignty’ and moral rights as well as unfettered privileges to meddle into internal matters of any state as long as the state-level sovereignty of that particular state has degenerated and hence, failed to protect basic or fundamental human rights of the people.

It is an empiric fact that the government of Abiy has failed to care for the people in Tigray, a region in Northern Ethiopia. It is true Tigray region is home to some armed groups that are against the government of Abiy, a fact which has made Abiy declare full-scale war on the region. But this should not be a justification for the government of Abiy to subject six million unarmed civilians in the region to hunger, malnutrition, raping of girls and women, dirty drinking water, absence of medical care, military brutality, sleeping in the open, homelessness, denied access to vaccination against Covid-19, religious discrimination, environmental degradation, looting of private property, and emasculation of all rights of access to basics of social justice.

In a nutshell, it is this extreme state of poor conditions in the state of human rights for the unfortunate civilians of Tigray, living as victims of war that the UN was concerned with. It was a timely concern, it cannot be dismissed as ‘meddling in internal matters’ of Abiy’s government. Instead, it is just a simple duty of being a brother’s keeper. And the world cannot keep quiet when the people of Ethiopia are languishing under the tyranny of military brutality.

A paradox of all is that Abiy was given the Nobel Peace Prize some two years ago. I think there was an oversight. This oversight is now evidently unfolding in the manner in which Abiy is now mistaking the effectiveness of Territorial Sovereignty to be peace. Peace means keeping the powerless people, like those un-armed women and children of Tigray, free from external and internal military brutality.

Peace means giving clean water to the poor. Peace means state-enhanced dignity to Homosexuals and the transgender. Peace means giving absolute freedom to the Muslims to pray five times in the city of Addis Ababa. Peace means freedom from hunger and malnutrition. Peace means children going to school. Peace means handling refugees from political unrest with decorum. Peace means zero percent chances of a woman getting raped.

Anything in contrast to the above is not peace; it is an anti-thesis to peace. It is this anti-thesis to peace that is coming out as a dominant motif in the political narratives of Abiy, a proper testimony that Abiy is not a man of peace. Let him return the money and the peace diploma he got from the Nobel Academy through a mistake. Abiy only qualifies for a War Nobel Prize, if at all it will ever be there.

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