February 15, 2017
“I want to write so that the reader… can say, ‘You know, that’s the truth. I wasn’t there, and …but that’s the truth.’”, Maya Angelou
Critic’s note: I roughly translated and/or paraphrased my understanding of the writer’s narration from Amharic into English because my Amharic typing skills are rusty. Nothing is lost in a translation and/or in a paraphrase since I analyzed only the stories’ one aspect which is their settings’ locations. This critical analysis contains “competing nouns”. Thus, for clarity and specificity, I used a person or a thing name repeatedly instead of a pronoun. The images in this analysis were adapted from Google Images.
Reading Ato Nesibu Sebhat’s book titled “ፍጹም ነው እምነቴ” bugged me so much because its stories are incoherent with his situation that he was a detainee, and some of his dishonestly presented stories are personal to me. Hence, I objectively and critically analyzed his assertions concerning the Higher-15’s detention camp’s reign of terror in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
I aim to prove whether his description of the Red Terror he claimed to be his experiences are retold, imagined, speculated or fabricated stories. Thus, I will evaluate and compare only one aspect of his stories which is the setting’s location. I will demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Sebhat wrote something he never experienced and try to pass of as the truth and so by extension it means that he is dishonest. In other words, I will lay bare beyond doubt that Sebhat retold, he speculated, he imagined, or he fabricated the stories and dishonestly marked them as an honest account of his experiences.
To persuade an audience, he made an appeal to irrelevant authority, among others, known professors who don’t have any knowledge about the detention camp. Although his stories just didn’t add up, his endorsers made an appeal to emotion and praised the book without fact-checking and providing objective reason. They stood behind the book and asserted that it was a true story so that you, the reader, should also read and believe it too. And they endorsed it.
Since the book’s plots are riddled with “serial lies” and it is dishonestly labeled as true story, its narration cannot be corrected. It has to be rewritten. Therefore, I ask the book’s endorsers to consider withdrawing their endorsements, namely: Prof. Ghelawdewos Araia (pp. 381), Prof. Getachew Begashaw (pp. 382-383), Fantahun Tiruneh (pp. 384), Kiflu Ketema (pp. 385), Million Alemayehu (386), Girma Degefa (pp. 388), Konjit Berhane (pp. 389) and Tesfaye Woldeyohannes (pp. 392). I also encourage those who contributed their true history or their art work to the book to consider asking the author to stop selling their history and/or art work.
Within the 1966 E.C Ethiopian revolution context, Sebhat intended his book to be his autobiography. One of his plots was he was brutally tortured; he was incapable of using a toilet by himself, let alone to take a step and he was detained (pp. 179-198). And hence one expects his detention stories were his experiences at his detention camp’s cell. However, his stories were from across Ethiopia. How was that possible?
Well, Sebhat transitioned through time and space, appeared everywhere around the clock and he speculated, he imagined, he fabricated tales of terror using people’s worst nightmare scenarios of the Red Terror. Or he retold others stories. In other words, during the Red Terror, he was among his people in spirit twenty-four seven.
Moreover, he plagiarized, invented information and claimed they were his experiences and history. He failed to accurately write an executed detainee’s history (pp. 267). Making matters worse, he refused to correct and continued to sell his book. He portrayed real people as characters. He fraudulently explained his role in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations’ (H.S.I’s) immigration fraud case against Kefelegn Alemu Worku. A man sentenced for twenty years for unlawful procurement of citizenship, making false statements on immigration documents and identity theft. Sebhat hid a petition against Worku, which Sebhat received from Ethiopia, from everyone. He made up quotes and attributed them to his former detention mates. He also quoted and/or used a whole conversation he had with them without their permission. Some suspected he might have secretly record their chitchat.
Human Rights Watch has labeled [the Ethiopian Red Terror] it ”one of the most systematic uses of mass murder by a state ever witnessed in Africa.” according to The New York Times.
Every author has an agenda; what is Sebhat’s hidden agenda?
When I read the news that Sebhat published a book about the Red Terror, I didn’t intend to read the book because it wasn’t my genre. But I read some of the book’s reviews. I thought he did a good job because his reviewers gave his book good reviews. Based on recommendation and encouragement from a dear friend, I read a borrowed copy of the book in March 2016. I tried to make a purchase; I didn’t find it in market places a year after it was published, September 2014 Gregorian calendar (G.C), September 2007 Ethiopian calendar (E.C).
Before reading the book, whenever I heard of his sufferings from his former detention camp mates it broke my heart. I wanted to have an opportunity to meet him. Unfortunately, I never met him. But I had a chance to chat with him a few times over a telephone during Worku’s immigration fraud trial in Denver, Colorado. Based upon the book’s contents, it appears Sebhat’s agenda was to come across as an all-knowing character, to worship the EPRP and to claim every possible credit for himself. He did this by stabbing someone else in the back. Of course, this did not do him justice; let me explain:
- Although Sebhat was only an ordinary member of the EPRP’s youth league, he ended up plagiarizing or inventing and representing the party’s hierarchy as his own creation.
- Sebhat forced his political views down the readers’ throat, which would be deeply troubling for a sane mind. For instance, he claimed people loved the EPRP’s members. They hated MESION’s members because they worked closely with the Derg (pp. 318, pp. 320). He asserted that he played a role to reunite the reintegration of the MESION’s members in communities’ social activities such as weddings and funerals (pp. 324).
- Sebhat bragged about children under the age of thirteen (pp. 67) and fourteen (pp. 128) taking part in the EPRP’s military. He said they served as lookouts and messengers of notices to rivals (pp. 67, pp. 119 and pp. 128-129). Using children for military purpose was immoral then; however, it is banned in today’s world. He also said they participated in protest rallies under the party’s armed squad (teenagers) protection (pp. 146-147).
- When the U.S. Attorney’s Office, ICE and H.S.I went against Worku, Sebhat didn’t give credit for those who deserved it. He back stabbed someone else and claimed undeserving credits to glorify his ego, which is absolutely disgraceful.
A parenthetically heartbreaking story
A relative told me Mulugeta Kidane Mariam’s (one of the Higher-15’s best teenage table tennis players) gut-wrenching history when he was held prisoner at the detention camp. They inhumanly tortured him. A lack of medical attention turned his legs to green. Because they thought he couldn’t have survived his torture wounds, they executed him. They threw his body on a street in Addis Ababa to terrorize people. His neighbor, a girl less than fifteen years old, who was held captive, saw him suffer in despair which ended up traumatizing her. Then she lost her mind. When I think about them, I feel sad and angry. I used to play ping pong with them. The story’s essence is Nesibu Sebhat’s pain and suffering are typical stories of the Red Terror’s victims, including my brother, sister, cousins and dear friends.
The plagiarist, Sebhat, showed contempt for the EPRP
- From the EPRP’s revolutionary song titled “ለዘመናት”, Sebhat plagiarized the words “ፍጹም ነው እምነቴ” and used them for his own book title. Worse yet, he stole the whole song, and included it in his book (pp. XV), copyrighted it as his own creation to make a name for himself and for money (pp. II).
- Although Sebhat was the EPRP’s ordinary youth league member when he was in the tenth or eleventh grade (pp. 311), he explained the party’s and its sister organizations organizational structure as if he planned and organized them. He also graphically illustrated the reporting relationship in the party (pp. 59-68).
Fair judgments: “A charge of plagiarism can have severe consequences, including expulsion from a university or loss of a job, not to mention a writer’s loss of credibility and professional standing.” “Plagiarism is despised given that it is stealing someone’s mind, the manifestation of themselves.” Simply stated plagiarism is considered unforgivable theft in any form of writing.
Regrettably, the EPRP doesn’t have anyone to protect its creative works. So, under the watchful eyes of its founders and former members, including Kiflu Tadesse, a politburo member, Nesibu Sibehat not only robbed it of its writing legacy by publishing it in his book and/or on his website, but he also copyrighted it as his own creation to make money and a name for himself.
A person with genuine authority can generate information because he/she has knowledge. Based on the information Sibehat presented, he didn’t have authority or knowledge to regenerate the party’s organizational structure. He plagiarized or invented the party’s hierarchy he provided in the hope of being admired and also to make money. In other words, the party’s structure narrative and flowchart he published are not possible for his position or experience as an ordinary youth league’s member (the plot) of the youth league. Not knowing his own boundaries caused him to mismatch his plot (the scenes) with its narration (the texture).
“Any story or novel is, in essence, a series of scenes strung together like beads on a wire, with narrative summary adding texture and color between.”
I didn’t dress my writing up by resorting to technical explanations to appear more intelligent. In fact, I learned the literary words’ dictionary definitions, except for “setting” to articulate this analysis from Longman Advanced American Dictionary. The following are their definitions:
- A setting is the context [of a story] in which all of the actions take place. For example, what is the time period, the location, the time of the day, who is present?
- Plot: the events that form the main story of a book, movie, or play.
- Scene: a single piece of action that happens in one place in a movie, book etc.
- Texture: the way the different parts are combined in a piece of writing, music etc.
- Color: to influence the way someone thinks about something, especially so that they become less fair or reasonable.
Do I have to recognize others perspectives?
One may ask why a critic like me cares about the EPRP’s creative works while its members turn a blind eye to the fact they are plagiarized. One might argue the party is divided, and its creative works are abandoned. The endorsers helped Nesibu Sebhat preserve its creative works. So they need to be encouraged and credited instead of being accused of helping the plagiarist.
The potential counterarguments against me are fair. But my argument is stronger because stealing someone else’s creative work is not acceptable. The party’s original creative works are their creators’ treasures and, by extension, the party’s. They deserve a shelf’s space across Ethiopia’s schools. If one needs to use them, one should use them fairly, and quote with proper citation. One shouldn’t plagiarize them to use them to make a name and collect donations as Sebhat did. Moreover, I’m not accusing the endorsers for only encouraging the author to steal the song so many martyrs chanted, but also they allowed him to invent information about the party. I felt they let him disrespect my martyred brother, cousin and me so I’m mad at his contempt.
To explain, tens of thousands of people were sacrificed for the EPRP’s cause to create a new Ethiopia. I paid a heavy price just for singing its revolutionary songs, one of which “ለዘመናት”, which Nesibu Sebhat plagiarized and sold. If I imagined then (when in seventh, eighth or ninth grade) the party wouldn’t have anyone to protect its legacy, I wouldn’t have dared to risk my life by shouting its slogans and singing its songs, along with others, at its martyrs’ funerals; I championed their cause. Knowing the party didn’t lose its cause to create a “New Ethiopia”, I don’t understand why its members remain silent concerning Sebhat’s act.
Although the evidence presented above is adequate to encourage the endorsers to withdraw their endorsement of Sebhat’s book, I included additional proof to convince them further. Since my Amharic typing skills are rusty, I roughly translated and/or paraphrased the writer’s narration from Amharic into English. Nothing is lost in a translation, in a paraphrase or my understanding of the author’s narration because I analyzed only one aspect of the stories which is the setting’s location.
Nesibu Sebhat pulled the wool over the professors’ eyes
Plots: (what is really going on): Sebhat was tortured twice for a total of ten hours within a fifteen hour period (pp. 187-189), which disabled him. For months, he was incapable of using a toilet by himself, let alone to take a step (pp. 187-191). Nobody was allowed to leave his/her cell after midnight. And also prison guards closed the cells’ windows and doors, said Sebhat (pp. 206).
Dishonesty, self-deception and selfish motives led Sebhat to fail to relate his plot (collection plot of scenes) with their narration
Texture: (critic’s note: Sebhat speculated and gave the following specific visual details): everybody pretends they are sleep, but they eavesdrop to follow what is going on. One can hear a door open from a distance and a sound that isn’t distinct. Everyone suspects they opened room #3’s door. Around dawn 3 a.m. to 4 a.m., the chaos around room #3 and room #4 increases. Those to be executed get out by turn and get their hands tied behind their back. They used the garden to the left and the filed in front of the detention for an execution (pp. 206).
Since the killers get nervous after they spilled human blood, their subordinates are expected to help them mask their fears by providing them with happiness and hospitality. So they loudly chatter and roll with laughter to encourage the killers to relax. Following a long period of chaos, about sun rise, we (the detainees, including Sebhat) hear the sound of a truck. As soon as the truck arrives, the usual detainees kept on standby throw our brothers and sisters bodies on the truck (pp. 206-207).
Critical analysis: absolutely, one imagines the detainees eavesdropped to follow what is going on around the detention camp during an execution. However, the narration (texture) is Sebhat’s imagination; hence, it is a pack of lies. To illustrate, while being inside his detention cell, transitioned into time and space, dipped into the captives’ mind and described what they think. Then Sebhat moved into the investigation room, dipped into the killers’ mind and fabricated tales about their fear triggered by executing people, and their assistants’ effort to help them to relax. He then portrayed designated captives used to throw detainees’ remains on a truck. Put differently, since he was in a detention cell, his narration doesn’t reconcile with its scenes. Thus, it is his speculation concerning an execution. In all fairness, he illustrated his suspicion and called it a true story.
Nesibu Sebhat, in spirit, was among his people twenty-four seven
Scenes: Sebhat claimed that the gun shots from the executions were also intended to terrorize a district’s residents. He asserted, due to fear of the gunshots, children were alarmed and parents cried all night long (pp. 207).
Fair judgments1: the scene above is pretty bad because it is his speculation from his prison cell, which he presented as his experience. His story parents cried and the children were alarmed all night long isn’t believable. To make it sound believable, instead of saying the parents cried and the children were alarmed all night long, maybe he should have said they all cried all night long. Or the children cried and the parents were alarmed all night long.
Texture: (critic’s note: Sebhat imagined and wrote the following screenplay). After an execution, swarms of parents visit prisons (pp. 207).
Fair judgments2: during the Red Terror, it is given that detainees’ parents’ swarmed prisons every day. But, in the above scene (action), Sebhat showed his carelessness. He used the truth he heard and created the scene to retell stories. To discover the truth, one needs to answer one of the following questions. Did Sebhat visit prisons across Ethiopia after an execution night? No, he didn’t visit prisons across Ethiopia because he was held captive. Did Sebhat receive reports from execution observers across the country? No, Sebhat didn’t say he received a report regarding executions. Thus, he made the scene.
Texture: Nesibu Sebhat claimed that the gun shots from the executions were also intended to terrorize a district’s residents. To pay their last respect, mothers take food with them to prisons. Since they weren’t allowed to cry, they stood near the prison and looked around at the fence, executioners, the prison’s gates… the parents don’t dare to talk among each other (pp. 207).
They paint their children pictures in their mind. They imagine a bullet ridden skull of their son or daughter’s whose body is thrown on a street facedown like a body they saw somewhere. Then they wake up from their nightmare; they call the Virgin Mary’s name and bow. They hear a sound your daughter isn’t here in their head, and imagine one throwing her clothes to them. They call Saint Urael’s name; raise their arms into the skies and pray. An anonymous’ father hears a sound in his head that an action is taken against your son. He says Allah Bismillah and kisses the ground (pp. 207-209).
Fair judgments3: as a spirit, Sebhat moved around Ethiopia, including Higher-15’s residents’ home and detentions’ cells. And then he surmised people’s frightening nightmares and portrayed it as his experiences. As if the detainees’ parents were his characters, he put words into real people’s mouths and made them say what he wanted them to say. And he presented his fabricated stories concerning their fear as an eyewitness account, and called it a true story to sow the seeds to his embarrassment.
Put differently, Sebhat snuck into everyone’s home and narrated what is happening in resident’s minds. He also snuck out of the detention camp’s gate and described what was going on around there. He forgot he previously said he was held captive, and was disabled and incapable to use a toilet without a help, let alone walk (pp. 187-191). Showing he isn’t even a good liar, he used his imagination to portray people’s worst nightmare and invented the play and engaged readers with visual details as if he eye witnessed the events. He called it a true story.
Did Nesibu Sebhat’s aunt buy him a cake?
Scenes: first, Sebhat stated “after the Derg nationalized his mother’s land and urban rental properties, the plentiful grains they used to have for their food were in scarce supply (pp. 36-37). His mother didn’t accept this so she moved to her farm in Yerer, Ethiopia. Since she didn’t like to sit idle, she started to sell tela and tej. When she had some extra grains, sometimes she brought some for them (pp. 37). His brother moved to his mother and became a peasant (pp. 295). His aunt’s husband is a father of eight who didn’t have much income (pp.180).
Second, Sebhat said the first time he brought his girlfriend home his aunt served them a cake. They ate the cake that his niece served them (pp. 104). Third, he said his mother took care of him since he was released. After he joined a university, he had a three birr daily allowance. His brother and his sisters generously gave him what they had (pp. 338). When he graduated, his mother gave him a graduation party that lasted for two weeks in which she entertained their relatives and guests with food and drinks (pp. 339).
Critical analysis: Since Sebhat’s cake scene appeared unexpectedly, it gave unanticipated color to his scene which is good. But it is ill-matched with its plots. To illustrate, he stated food was in scarce supply; his aunt was impoverished. Yet he claimed his extremely poor aunt served them a readily available cake.
If Sebhat’s reason to create the cake scene was to romanticize his moment – sweethearts losing their virginity together – matching it with his plots could have glamorized his moment. For example, using a food they eat often or maybe a treat his brother used to purchase for him, he could have romanticized his love scene by one of the following: my aunt/nice served us: bread and tea, Kolo and tela (pp. 11), boiled grain and water (pp. 181-182), or Pasti and tea (pp. 13), a pastry made of fried dough.
Sebhat’s claims he had a three birr daily allowance and a graduation celebration which lasted for two weeks lacked a plot. He needed to state his brother and sisters’ new sources of income. Based on his plot that his mother was barely able to feed her children, she couldn’t have afforded to give him that much allowance or to throw a party that lasted for two weeks. I analyzed this trivial scene because I was staggered when I read it. Every action counts and serves a purpose in writing. A minor distraction in a plot, scene, texture and color matters.
Aschalew said Nesibu Sebhat didn’t make an effort to locate Tufa in the Assimba paltalk room; he talked about him only once
Plot: Sebhat claimed that he always talked about Kefelegn Alemu Worku in the Assimba paltalk room for at least five years. Sebhat said, after he told his audience what Worku did at the Higher-15’s detention camp, Sebhat repeatedly told the audience that this notorious man, Worku, changed his name to “Tufa” and entered to Canada from Kenya. And Sebhat pleaded with the audience for information wherever they hear the name “Tufa” (pp. 357).
Fair judgments: based on my experience reading Sebhat’s book, he habitually likes to take credit for himself by lying. Hence, to discuss his assertion that he made an effort to locate Tufa for five years, I contacted Aschalew – who administered the Assimba paltalk room along with Sebhat when he claimed he always asked the paltalk room’s attendees’ information on Tufa.
Aschalew said Sebhat only once he told us (the room’s attendees) a person named Tufa, Kefelegn Alemu, attends various paltalk rooms. Aschalew added he replayed Sebhat’s statement on Tufa when they (the writer and him) interviewed Kiflu after he identified Worku in Denver. Aschalew underscored, as all the other discussions and interviews of the paltalk room over the last ten years, this interview is also recorded and archived.
Nesibu Sebhat hooked his readers with a dishonest surprise
Scenes: Sebhat claimed his plea for information on Worku in the paltalk room wasn’t wasted (pp. 357). When the time came, his phone rang and Tufa was found. Sebhat said he got angry and started sweating and shouting when he heard the news from Samuel who called him and told him Worku was found. After a brief exchange of some words with Samuel about Worku, Sebhat said he took Kiflu’s phone number from Samuel and called Kiflu immediately (pp. 358).
Sebhat asserted that, beforehand we (Kiflu and him) exchanged greetings, he asked Kiflu to tell him how Kiflu found Worku… (Critic’s note: the two people never spoke with each other (pp.363)). Sebhat narrated Kiflu’s statements on how he identified Tufa in a five-page in which Sebhat made Kiflu sounded as if he reported to his superior how he identified Worku. Sebhat added that they conferred (Kiflu and Sebhat), and then he permitted Kiflu to pass on his information to authorities (pp. 359-364).
Critical Analysis: Sebhat did a great job in hooking his readers with a surprise. He engaged them anew and launched or started his screenplay “my phone rung and Tufa was found”. Yet Sebhat has fallen prey to his dishonest mindset and narrated a web of lies. He manipulated the story’s chronology, which when he heard the news about Worku, and presented it inaccurately for effect and to dramatize his plot, collection of scenes.
His blatant lies made me angry because I knew important details about Worku’s situation before reading Sebhat’s fake stories. Moreover, I didn’t like Sebhat’s narration tone of how Worku was located and identified because Sebhat was unfriendly to Samuel and Kiflu in which Sebhat portrayed them as his inferiors and dishonestly drew attention to himself. Also his statement that he conferred with Kiflu before he passed on his information to the authorities triggered my curiosity about what they conferred. In addition, I wondered why they (Kiflu and Sebhat) didn’t exchange greetings before they talked about Worku. To find the truth, I discussed the issues above with Aschalew and Kiflu.
Aschalew told me he and Sebhat weren’t on good terms when Sebhat’s book was published. Hence, Sebhat’s claim that he heard the news about Worku from Samuel is a lie which is intended not to give credit to Aschalew. He added since he knew Sebhat was detained at the Higher-15, he told Sebhat about Worku that he was located and identified in Denver. And those who identified him needed the former Higher-15’s detainees to testify against him. Because Sebhat wanted to testify, he gave Aschalew permission to pass on his information to those who needed it. Aschalew then gave Sebhat’s full name and telephone number to Kaleabe, who told Aschalew about Worku and asked Aschalew to find former Higher-15 detainees.
How I Discovered Aschalew
I reached Kaleabe – Dr. Samuel Ketema’s friend and I asked him how he found Nesibu Sebhat’s, information. Kaleabe said he received it from Aschalew. Kaleabe added his long time friend Samuel told him about Worku, and asked Kaleabe to try finding one who knows Worku at the Higher-15’s detention camp. Since Aschalew knows many members of the EPRP, Kaleabe told Aschalew about Worku and asked Aschalew to find somebody who knows Worku at the Higher-15’s detention camp. Aschalew called Kaleabe back and gave him Sebhat’s full name and telephone number, and then Kaleabe gave it to Samuel.
Kaleabe said for many years he participated in the Assimba paltalk room, where he met Alulla (Sebhat) Kaleabe never knew Sebhat by his full name until Aschalew gave it to Kaleabe. He said he only knew Sebhat by his nick name, Alulla. Kaleabe told me he never heard Sebhat mentioning Worku’s name in the Assimba paltalk room through the years Kaleabe participated. He added, if Sebhat mentioned it as often as he claimed he did, Kaleabe would have remembered it given that he knew Worku in person in Nazreth, Ethiopia before the Red Terror. At the end of the review, I posted a story Kaleabe told me about Worku’s father.
Do I know Kaleabe?
I contacted Kiflu Ketema to discuss the book. A subject we talked about was how he found Nesibu Sebhat’s telephone number. Kiflu said his brother, Samuel, received it from his friend Kaleabe and gave it to Kiflu and asked him to call Sebhat because Kiflu was detained at Higher-15 and Sebhat wanted to testify against Worku. So Kiflu called Sebhat and asked/confirmed if he would be willing to testify. He expressed his willingness so Kiflu passed on Sebhat’s information to the FBI or the H.S.I. Kiflu advised me to call Kaleabe, and gave me Kaleabe’s telephone number to let me learn where Samuel found out Sebhat’s telephone number.
Who called Sebhat first Samuel or you I asked Kiflu? Kiflu wasn’t certain. Kiflu thinks Samuel didn’t call Sebhat to tell him about Worku because Samuel didn’t know Sebhat, or Samuel wasn’t detained at Higher-15. Since Kiflu was the FBI, CIA, and/or H.S.I’s contact person concerning Worku’s case, Kiflu thought he called Sebhat.
Kiflu also told me Dargie, called and told him that Dargie received Kiflu’s telephone number from Sebhat and expressed Dargie’s willingness to testify against Worku. Kiflu added, Sebhat called him at another time and told him that Feleke also wanted to testify, and Sebhat gave Kiflu the telephone number of Feleke (pp. 364), which Kiflu passed to the FBI or the H.S.I. I noted Sebhat didn’t provide important details about how Dargie and Feleke information reached the authorities. Why did Sebhat remain silent on it? From his silence, I inferred that he wanted to appear and that he is the one who passed on their information to authorities.
Kiflu said he didn’t tell Sebhat the whole story how Worku was located and identified during their first telephone conversation because Kiflu didn’t know Sebhat to talk with him like that. Furthermore, Kiflu said he noticed the story’s timeline inaccuracy when he proofread Sebhat’s manuscript but ignored it. He added he gave Sebhat more than twenty-pages of major corrections, including important dates in Ethiopian history corrections and let go some minor inconsistencies such as their first telephone conversation.
I also mentioned to Kiflu that Sebhat’s tone of voice during their conversation was an authoritative way of speaking which assigned Kiflu an inferior quality. I asked him why he let it happen. He said other people who read the book gave him similar feedback that the writer portrayed himself as a superior. Kiflu explained his motive to make Worku to receive justice wasn’t to gain recognition or fame.
Since Sebhat said he conferred with Kiflu before letting him passing on his information to authorities, I asked Kiflu what they conferred. Kiflu said they didn’t conspire anything against Worku before they witnessed against him because there wasn’t anything to plot about.
A witness who saw Worku killing detainees said didn’t make an effort to reach Nesibu Sebhat
Scenes: “for unlawful procurement of citizenship, making false statements on immigration documents and identity theft” case against Worku, Sebhat claimed that it was necessary and so he was looking for a witness who saw Worku killing detainees. Sebhat also said while he was looking for a witness who saw Worku killing captives a witness who saw Worku killing detainees made an effort and reached Sebhat. And then he made an arrangement for the witness speak with the authorities (the FBI, ICE and/or H.S.I) and testify against Worku (pp. 367).
Fair judgments: THIS IS A SHAMELESS LIE that led me to conclude Sebhat is a compulsive liar. I have facts to prove my statement against his character. If I need more evidence, I will go to great lengths to provide. I challenge him to refute my statement against his moral fiber!
Why Nesibu Sebhat hid a petition against Kefelegn Alemu Worku from everyone?
Plot: the writer, Sebhat, said to strength the ICE and/or H.S.I’s case against Worku the author contacted the former Higher-15’s detainees in Ethiopia and asked for their collaboration to gather documents about Worku that would show he was sued due to his participation in the Red Terror and sentenced to death in absentia (pp. 365).
Critical analysis: did the FBI, ICE or H.S.I request Sebhat to gather information against Worku from Ethiopia? Did Sebhat inform the FBI, ICE or H.S.I that he received a petition against Worku? Why didn’t Sebhat tell those who testified against Worku with Sebhat that he received the petition? Why didn’t Sebhat mention it in his book?
An anonymous source told me that to strengthen the case against Worku he gathered a petition from 28 living witnesses who live in Ethiopia. Then he mailed it to Sebhat in the USA via DHL. To confirm that Sebhat received the mail, he emailed an anonymous. From Sebhat’s silence on such important document, the petition is strange. I inferred that he didn’t discuss the petition in his book because he didn’t want to give credit to an anonymous and, by extension, the petitioners.
I thought I should hear about the petition because I followed the case against Worku. Out of curiosity, I asked Kiflu Ketema whether he knew about it. Kiflu said he didn’t hear about the petition. I also asked Kiflu whether Sebhat was assigned by the FBI, ICE or H.S.I to gather information against Worku. Kiflu said they both took the initiative and looked for Worku’s pictures, but he doesn’t remember whether Sebhat told him his attempt to gather documents from Ethiopia. Kiflu added, since the FBI, ICE and H.S.I handled the case, Sebhat’s self initiated effort to gather legal documents against Worku from Ethiopia appeared unnecessary. To clarify, Kiflu said the FBI through the State Department obtained legal documents against Worku from the Ethiopian government and let Kiflu read it at its office in Denver.
It appears that Sebhat didn’t share the petition with Worku’s prosecutors. His silence on the petition led me to assume he didn’t want the petitioners to have a chance to testify against Worku, their torturer. Thus, Sebhat didn’t do his best to strengthen the case against Worku, the notorious man who tortured Sebhat inhumanly. I inferred Sebhat’s intent for contacting his former detention mates in Ethiopia was to set up a scene for his book (I heard he was in a process of writing the book). He briefly mentioned his effort in his book to appear as if he put the most effort into the case. Since he hid the petition from those who participated in the case against Worku, he wasn’t a good team player.
My friend, Sebhat Attributing invented quotes is lying
I spoke with some real people Nesibu Sebhat used in his book. They told me he used his unpolished writings as a weapon to spread lies and fake stories, which stunned them. They also told me he also used their names and stories without their permission and attributed to them his invented quotes.
Nesibu Sebhat doesn’t like tell it like it is so he deceived, including known Professors
Prof. Ghelawdewos Araia: in his endorsement texts, stated Nesibu Sebhat presented his stories in a theatrical historical narration which makes them a good read. I giggled at Araia remarks because Sebhat’s stories are nothing but a mixed bag of conflicting true historical narrations and fake screenplays. I tried to reach Araia without success.
Prof Getachew Begashaw: in a two-page letter, Begashaw highly recommended the book as the main evidence that reveals the EPRP’s youth league’s members’ commitment for the struggle to create a democratic Ethiopia. He suggested the book be used by Ethiopian history students and the new generation (pp. 382-383).
I contacted Begashaw and briefly discussed my observations regarding his remarks. And asked him why he highly praised and endorsed the book. He said Nesibu Sebhat, the author, gave him a manuscript and told him it is a true and accurate story. As a result, he took Sebhat’s word for it and then endorsed the book. Begashaw told me not to be concerned about sharing my observations with the reading communities. He also advised me to write a professional review to make it widely readable. Incidentally, he said he joined the EPRP’s fighters in the Assimba Mountains and fought against the Derg. I’m glad he told me this story because it is a great story.
Kiflu Ketema: I asked Kiflu why he endorsed the book. He said suggested about twenty-pages of major corrections on the Sebhat’s manuscript. And he let go, ignored, some of the stories and endorsed it just to please the writer. He encouraged me to present my thoughts about the book.
The book could have been of significant value if the author wasn’t dishonest
If it didn’t contain plagiarized works and invented quotes, if it wasn’t written with an inconsiderate mindset that worships the EPRP, if it wasn’t meant to glorify the writer by deceiving people, if it wasn’t meant to undermine people mentioned in the book, if it wasn’t meant to disinform, misinform and mislead novice readers and to make money and a name for himself, the book could have been of significant value.
The author’s worst lies are the ones he told to his family members. He deceived his sister, who was tormented by watching him being tortured (pp. 187). She cared for him as a sister and as if she was his mother (pp. 103-104). Though he said she supported him through thick and thin (pp. 378)), he fooled her by telling her his book is a true story. He told her to use it to teach her children. He misled his brother who was more like his father and his friend (pp. 378-379) by the same lies with which he deceived his sister.
Nesibu Sebhat’s contribution
I heard Sebhat’s stories regarding Worku’s crime broadcasted by a FM radio in Addis Ababa on the internet. I thought the message’s theme – human rights abusers will be served justice no matter how long it takes – was great although the stories were inaccurate. To clarify, the stories were manipulated facts by which Sebhat blurred the truth with his fake stories to glorify his role in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, ICE and H.S.I’s case against Worku.
A word about Kefelegn Alemu Worku’s father
Kaleabe said he knew the Higher-15’s detention camp’s executioners, including Worku in person for several years before the Red Terror began. Worku and his parents lived in Nazreth, Ethiopia. Worku’s father was a good man. He established a respected social organization that helped people during a family member’s death. Members of his communities had a high regard for him.
Another executioner – now residing in Florida his mother was married to a royal family member after she gave birth to her executioner son. She lived her life for the moment. When the Derg nationalized her income generating properties, she wasn’t able to feed her family. Hence, her killer son didn’t have much to eat. Kaleabe used to feed him at his parents’ home. When Kaleabe was detained in Addis Ababa, the monster killer came to the prison where Kaleabe was arrested when looking for a certain prisoner.
Conclusion, I needed to be a loud voice to the EPRP, my dear friends, my family member and myself. So I lay bare what they/I think privately and made my case. That beyond a reasonable doubt I proved Nesibu Sebhat dishonestly marked his book as a true history and, by extension, he is unethical and dishonest. I also proved that he intended to disinform, misinform and mislead novice readers and to make money and a name for himself at the expense of others reputation, including his endorsers. I accused him of plagiarism and dishonesty. I blamed his endorsers for encouraging plagiarism and helping to spread fake stories as true stories. I asked them to consider withdrawing their endorsements to correct history, discourage plagiarism and dishonest writings. I used vicious words like: plagiarist, unethical, lied, dishonest and manipulate for the lack of better words to make my points.
Some of the book’s context doesn’t match with Sebhat’s experience. Even worse, he expressed his feelings as an all-knowing character, which worships the EPRP and demonizes other political parties of the day, and in which he failed to draw a lesson from his teenage experiences. For example, to discover a better understanding of his experiences, answering questions like the following might have helped him to find the truth: would the EPRP or MESSION have been any better than the Derg? Might they have governed by the rule of law? Might they have been democratic, transparent and accountable? Is using children for the EPRP’s military purposes such as lookouts and messengers something to brag about or to be embarrassed and ashamed?
The book’s great message though the facts were manipulated to glorify Sebhat is that Human rights abusers will be served justice no matter how long it takes. For a casual reader, the book appears to contain true stories. For a critical reader, it is an irritating read. It is like “sleeping on a mattress with its springs broken” because Sebhat’s authority, his experiences, his setting’s location and his stories’ locations don’t match up. I encourage my readers to consider reading the book with a big grain of salt because a reader would learn Sebhat’s ethical standard and how not to write inconsistent lies.
“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.” – Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind
Lastly, at my parents’ home, one early morning about 8 a.m. during the winter time, my youngest brother, who was eight years old, was playing in the front yard. As I was walking to a gate, I heard gunshots from an automatic weapon. I also heard my little brother letting out a scream of terror, mommy, mommy (እማማ, እማማ) as he was running towards the backyard where his mother was. Feeling or trying to appear brave, I tried to encourage him not to be afraid instead of attempting to ease my brother’s fear.
Then through a fence, I overheard someone shouting save me, save me. I also heard onlookers saying they hit him, but they didn’t kill him. I didn’t try to figure out who shot at whom, but suspected the EPRP’s squad might fire at their enemy. I had mixed feelings about the situation. Shortly afterwards, I forgot what I experienced and went back to play table tennis. About a year later, I realized my mistakes: not making an effort to comfort my brother from his traumatic moment ever. And not showing deep sympathy for the person who was hit by bullets. A decade later, I told my brother what happened and what I did. I asked him if he remembered it. He said he didn’t remember anything. I wished he had remembered it because I wanted to apologize. Not being able to apologize made me live with regret. Even worse, my brother’s scream and the guy’s voice, who begged people to save him, still frighten me.
Although I wish I didn’t need to write this critical analysis, I reacted and wrote it in honor of the Higher-15’s detention camp detainees, my high school friends, tutors, teachers and my family last year. From reading the book and writing the analysis, I learned that one doesn’t know what makes one react. I always feel shocked and angry when I hear about the brutal crimes committed during the Red Terror. But I never imagined writing this piece concerning the Higher-15’s detention camp’s Red Terror horrors. I never expected one would attempt to dishonestly glorify her/himself with the terrifying experiences at the detention camp. Oh, I forgot Commander, Asnake used to torture his friends to save his life.
When a dear friend told me about the book’s stories and recommended and encouraged me to read it, I reacted and wrote an unpublished commentary before reading the book. The piece isn’t published because my friend whom my article defended told me the author admitted a mistake and apologized.
I’m thankful for the hospitality I received from my dear friends. I’m grateful and deeply indebted for the free education I received from my sophomore to senior high school tutors and teachers, including my music, drawing and painting teachers. I’m also deeply indebted for the life time friendships we have although sometimes I take it for granted.
Sebhat, Nesibu. ፍጹም ነው እምነቴ. September 2007 E.C
The writer LJDemissie can be reached at LJDemissie@yahoo.com