World Health Organization Director-General post contender Dr. Tedros Adhanom doesn’t have the backing of the Ethiopian people
Ethiopian Advocacy Network
“If the Ethiopian people have the opportunity to vote (in a free and fair election) for Tedros Adhanom for any position he wouldn’t get more than one percent of the vote.”
In a country struggling with a devastating drought, potentially evolving into a full-blown famine, the regime in Addis Ababa is spending millions of taxpayers’ money and resources for a campaign to install Tigraye People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) Politburo member for the post of Director-General at the World Health Organization (WHO). According to several international aid agencies, 18 million people are facing food shortage in Ethiopia while Tedros Adhanom is crisscrossing the globe and wining and dining in luxury, spending money that should otherwise be used to feed children. As a result of this developing drought situation, 500 schools across Ethiopia have closed because families are unable to feed their children. Instead of providing the urgently needed food aid to desperate and needy children and mothers, the regime is filling gift bags sometimes with lavish presents to potential voters within the United Nations system.
Furthermore, most Ethiopians under the regime of which Tedros Adhanom is a member of the top leadership have experienced state inflicted terror conducted in the form of torture, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and disappearances. These heinous actions of the regime are well documented by international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR). In the last 12 months alone more than 1000 innocent civilians were murdered and more than 20,000 peaceful citizens summarily arrested by security forces loyal to the regime. Political activists, human rights defenders, journalists and pro-democracy organizers are routinely intimidated, arrested and tortured under the orders of Tedros Adhanom and his cohorts.
The United Nations High Commissoner for Human Rights, Zeid Al Hussein, repeatdly called on the regime to allow international observers to investigate these killing and gross violations of human rights in the country. Unfortunately, his call has been rejected by the regime. This refusal to allow international bodies to investigate the situation in the country is further evidence that the regime doesn’t adhere to international norms and instruments of which any responsible and civilized governemnt should respect and observe. Given this, and other belligerent behaviour of the regime, how can one of the senior members of the ruling clique even be considered to run for this prominent UN agency? Wouldn’t this be an affront to the values WHO represents, and an insult to WHO staff, the Ethiopian people and to the world?
Ethiopia currently is under a suffocating state of emergency, although some argue that the unoffcial state of emergency has been going on for twenty-six years, under the rule of Tedros Adhanom and his clique. The response of the regime to every political, economic and social demands of citizens is to rule by force (state of emergency) instead of providing a rational response to legitimate grievance due to steady erosion of basic constitutional rights.
Tedros Adhanom’s TPLF party and North Korea’s Worker’s Party are the only two political organizations in the world to declare 100% “victory” in national elections 2014 and 2015 respectively. It is the hope of the majority of the Ethiopian people that individuals with undemocratic credentials and behaviors are not rewarded at the international stage. Thus, Tedros Adhanom should not be allowed near an inclusive, fair and responsible international institution. Moreover, the world is going through an unprecedented degree of national isolationism and violence. Hence, it is important to equip international institutions, such as WHO, with capable, inclusive and wise leaders instead of ethnic kleptocrats.
The Ethiopian people are watching Tedros Adhanom’s campaign with utter disgust and bewilderment. The fact that he is allowed to go this far is travesty of justice to those who are murdered, tortured, and arrested, under the orders of Adhanom and his group. “Rewarding agents of authoritarianism and those who participate in extrajudicial killings is nothing less than insult to injury,” said one mother, whose 18-year old son was brutally murdered by the TPLF paramilitary group called Agazi, a group in which Tedros Adhanom is one of the political chiefs.
Some of the United Nations agencies, such as the Human Rights Commission, already have troubling reputations as they roll out the welcome mat for representatives from authoritarian regimes, such as Saudi Arabia, even Libya. The World Health Organization must shield itself from such atrocious collusion with those who have no regard for the dignity and the sanctity of human life.
Most importantly, this position should not be a forum for horsetrading or “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” Quid Pro Quo games. The WHO is an international organization with a serious health, safety and security responsibility globally. Small mindedness, tribalism and ethnic extremism should not have a place at the international arena. Those who promote ethnic hegemony and domination today at the national level should not be allowed to get hold of power at the international level. As the world faces an unprecedented level of extreme polarization and violence, it is important to search for leaders with wisdom and for inclusion to guide humanity out of this turbulent period. Tedros Adhanom doesn’t have the wisdom, intelligence, compassion or the understanding of what is needed in this critical juncture of human history. Countries who are contemplating to use the WHO Director-General post as a horse trading opportunity should reconsider their positions because the responsibility comes with the position is too big for a small politics.
Tedros Adhanom and his group is outright rejected by the Ethiopian people because of their incompetence, small mindedness and also their addiction to violence and state terror. As one health care worker in Addis Ababa put it, “If the Ethiopian people have the opportunity to vote (in a free and fair election) for Tedros Adhanom for any position he couldn’t get more than one percent of the vote.” So we urge member nations not to allow Tedros Adhanom, a corrupt politician at the center of a regime with no regard for human life and basic human rights, to lead the ultimate humanitarian organisation on the globe.
Ethiopian Advocacy Network