By Prof. Alemayehu G. Mariam
When someone is faking grief and sorrow, it is said they are shedding crocodile tears.
What should it be called when someone is faking contrition, repentance and remorse?
That is exactly what Amnesty International offered Ethiopia last week.
A phony apology.
Amnesty International’s “apology” is as fake as Donald Trump’s hair.
Amnesty International, caught in its web of lies, fake news and disinformation on Ethiopia, had to grudgingly step up, hold its head down in shame and “apologize”.
That is if you call jive talk, forked-tongued twaddle “apology”.
On August 17, 2020, Amnesty International on its Twitter page posted a 64-word “apology”.
Actually, the real apology consists of 19 words.
The remaining 41 words were essentially defensive chaff words about Amnesty International’s commitment to “the human rights of all Ethiopians”, its new-found understanding of the “complex and evolving nature of Ethiopian politics” and use of evidence and fact-based reporting.
In broad and vague phraseology, Amnesty International acknowledged the “negative impact of our recent media output and apologise for posting it in error.”
The totality of the “apology” casts doubt on Amnesty International’s sincerity and good will.
It is not an apology at all.
It is what I call, “Cover Your Ass Quick Because You Got Caught Red-Handed Apology”.
It is called apology without meaning it.
It is called apology by distraction.
It is called apology by trying to confuse and blur the issue of false and slipshod human rights reporting by talking about how they support human rights of all Ethiopians.
It is called apology by adding insult to injury.
It is called preemptive apology because Amnesty International can see the wrath of the Ethiopian people to be visited upon them for dragging Ethiopia’s good name in the mud.
Amnesty International seems to confuse apology with excuse.
What Amnesty International offered Ethiopia is an excuse, words which are calculated to lessen the blame and indirectly seek to defend or justify its slipshod human rights reporting.
Now, let us compare Amnesty International’s real “public” apology of December 2018 for a magazine cover published in the Netherlands!
In its apology for the Dutch magazine cover, Amnesty International said they accept full responsibility for their actions and inactions. What they did was a huge mistake for which they are “profoundly sorry”. They screwed up big time and what they did was “hurtful”.
Now, that is a real apology!
There are three elements to any sincere apology: “We are sorry. It is our fault. Here is how we are going to make it right.”
Amnesty International offered a sincere apology in the Dutch case.
Let me break it down.
First, in the Dutch case, Amnesty International offered its apology for the magazine cover on its Twitter page and website. Only a twit for Ethiopia. (Could it be because Amnesty International thinks Ethiopians are nitwits?)
Second, Amnesty International devoted 208 words on its website, all related to the apology and no evasive words to make an excuse including an oversize boldface title, in its apology for the Dutch magazine cover compared to 19 words in a tweet for the Ethiopian apology.
Third, in its Dutch magazine apology, Amnesty International came clean by
1) “apologizing unreservedly for its publication” of the magazine cover;
2) admitting the “magazine, produced by Amnesty International Netherlands, was extremely poor taste and entirely at odds with our values and objectives as a global human rights movement”;
3) admitting the “magazine trivialized the suffering and trauma refugees have experienced fleeing their homes, particularly women”;
4) acknowledging how harmful the magazine depiction was insofar as the “images also compounded sexualized gender stereotypes that harm and objectify women, specifically women of colour”;
5) pinpointing how the “use of life jackets as a prop was particularly hurtful to people who have depended on these for their survival, and
6) stating, “We are profoundly sorry for this and never intended to offend anyone and deeply regret the choices that were made in relation to this magazine.”
Most importantly, Amnesty International specifically stated how it is going to fix the problem caused by the Dutch magazine cover so it does not happen again:
Amnesty International are reviewing the process which led to this magazine being to ensure that lessons are learned. We will be issuing renewed guidelines to national sections to ensure that will not happen in the future.
The Netherlands has some 17 million people. Ethiopia has an estimated 115 million people.
With all due respect and concern for refugees, the Dutch magazine cover is merely a picture which is “in extremely poor taste.”
The video and report Amnesty International recklessly and maliciously released about Ethiopia could have, and likely contributed, devastating effects on lives lost and property destroyed in the weeks after the publication of the report.
While Amnesty International fully admits its “profound sorrow” and offered “deep regrets” for the magazine cover, no such expression is offered to Ethiopians for the false report.
While Amnesty International announced it will “issue renewed guidelines to national sections to ensure that will not happen in the future” in the Dutch case, it offered no such assurances that such false “media output a negative impact on Ethiopia” will not be repeated again.
Let’s face facts!
Amnesty International is evasive in its apology because it has no plans to change its reporting on Ethiopia. It simply cannot change because it is against its business model.
If Amnesty International plays fair, it will go bankrupt.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the rest of the HUMAN RIGHTS PIMPS build their warchests by trading on and merchandizing the miseries of African and other Third World peoples.
Amnesty International will continue to issue its slipshod reports on Ethiopia because who is going to hold them accountable?
How many Ethiopians donate to Amnesty International?
How many Ethiopians have the guts to apply pressure on Amnesty International’s crooked leadership?
Amnesty International will not change a damn thing about its reporting on Ethiopia because Amnesty International believes Ethiopians
Do not have the will to fight back.
Are suckers who will fall for a crocodile apology.
Are not as important as the Dutch and do not deserve a sincere apology.
Deep down, Amnesty International believes Ethiopian lives do not matter as much as Dutch sensibilities.
I rested my case against Amnesty International in my June 8, 2020 commentary, “AmNasty International’s Hatchet Job “Human Rights” Report on Ethiopia”.
While Amnesty International preaches human rights to Ethiopians, it trashed the human rights of its own employees.
How can Amnesty International change its “negative impact” to positive impact in Ethiopia?
In its “apology”, Amnesty International acknowledged the “negative impact of our recent media output”.
The simple question is whether Amnesty International is willing to change the lemon of its apology into a lemonade of human rights progress in Ethiopia.
Or paraphrasing the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whether Amnesty International is prepared to help “transform the jangling discords of the Ethiopian nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood and sisterhood.”
I have zero confidence Amnesty International will do any such thing.
The sad fact of the matter is that Amnesty International will talk the talk but NEVER walk the talk.
Where has Amnesty EVER walked the BIG talk on human rights?!
As they say, “Money talks and bull_ _ _t walks. Amnesty International will never put its money where its mouth is.
But there are many ways Amnesty International can do right, do better by Ethiopia.
I will mention two things.
For starters, how about Amnesty International pausing its wind bagging, carping, lies, fake news and disinformation and orchestrating a letter writing campaign in the U.S. Congress with its terrorist fellow travelers to get its dirty work done by proxy?
So, unlike Amnesty International’s self-righteous, holier-than-thou grand pronouncements and somber recommendations, I will give them a boatload of simple, practical and timely action items to change the negative impact they have inflicted on Ethiopia into a positive one.
Amnesty International could
- Establish a human rights institute at an Ethiopian university.
- Help develop human rights awareness programs in various Ethiopian languages.
- Help develop curriculum for use in Ethiopian primary and high schools.
- Help build up capacity for homegrown human rights institutions including civil society organizations.
- Help existing human rights organizations build capacity.
- Help organize human rights conferences and bring together scholars, civil society and government representatives to develop a common agenda.
- Engage Ethiopian diaspora in its work and NOT rely completely on the little clique of local toadies, lackeys and go-fetchits.
- Sponsor radio and television programs which provide human rights education and information to the public.
- Build up human rights research and monitoring capacity throughout the country.
- Help Ethiopian lawmakers improve human rights laws by providing technical assistance.
- Help train Ethiopian law enforcement officers on human rights not just criticize them.
- Be transparent- Tell Ethiopians exactly how your data collection procedures, the qualifications and training in human rights of your local representatives, methods of vetting your local reps for bias and hidden agendas and safeguards.
I know what the do-nothing Amnesty International windbags will say. “It is not part of our mission. We don’t do this or that. Blah, blah, blah…”
My reply in advance is this: Doing something is a whole lot better than wind bagging and running around like Chicken Little crying out, “The sky is falling on Ethiopia!”
Action speaks louder than words in a report or in an apology.
Second, I say to Amnesty International, “Practice what you preach!”
In its 87-page 2002 “Monitoring and Reporting Human Rights Violations in Africa” , Amnesty International has spelled out in detail its guideline for monitoring and reporting on human rights in Africa.
I don’t want to teach Amnesty International its own guidelines.
I just want to ask them to dust it off and put it into action Ethiopia!
Fighting the Axis Gang of Five and my offer they can’t refuse
Regarding Amnesty International’s crocodile apology, I don’t want it.
They can take their apology and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine!
Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega tweeted his disappointment regarding Amnesty’s apology:
I expected high professional standards from a major global rights group. I hope this situation will be a teachable moment for AI. I trust AI going forward will strive for impartiality, fairness and neutrality in reporting on Ethiopia.
Unlike Ambassador Fitsum, I have no expectations Amnesty International will maintain high professional standards. Nor do I expect Amnesty International will take this apology as a teachable moment or strive to be guided “impartiality, fairness and neutrality in reporting on Ethiopia.”
Truth, facts and evidence are against Amnesty International’s business model.
They get donations by trading on our misery.
They get more attention by trashing the names of Ethiopia and Africa.
Let there be no mistake.
If Amnesty International and the other members of the Axis Gang of Five develop evidence of human rights violations in Ethiopia that are credible, convincing and founded on demonstrable facts, I will be the first one to champion the cause of justice for the victims.
Unlike Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the rest of the members of the Axis Gang of Five, I am not a once-in-a-few-months human rights warrior for Ethiopia.
I have been in the trenches fighting for human rights, democracy, freedom and the rule of law in Ethiopia day and night (literally) since early 2006!
What I know for a fact is that Amnesty International and the other members of the Axis Gang of Five will continue to wage a determined and relentless propaganda war on Ethiopia.
What I know for a fact is that Amnesty International and the other members of the Axis Gang of Five together with their terrorist partners and their sympathizers in and out of Ethiopia and wage a determined and relentless propaganda war on Ethiopia in the halls of the U.S. Congress and wherever they can find anyone foolish enough to listen to their lies and disinformation.
What I know for a fact is that Amnesty International and the other members of the Axis Gang of Five will continue to champion the causes of terrorists and criminals masquerading as “opposition leaders”.
What I know for a fact is that Amnesty International and the other members of the Axis Gang of Five will lay low for a few weeks until the dust settles and will rear their ugly heads once again with their usual lies, fake news and disinformation campaign against Ethiopia.
What I know for a fact is that when Amnesty International and the other members of the Axis Gang of Five rear their ugly heads to continue their propaganda war to demonize Ethiopia, I and many others like me will be there waiting and ready with our pens and keyboard to use as sword and shield.
Let Amnesty International and the other Axis Gang of Five take note.
The Ethiopian black lion never backs down in a fight with a whole clan — an axis of — hyenas.
So, it shall be with us!
Here is my olive branch the Axis Gang of Five cannot refuse: If you stop telling lies and spreading fake news and disinformation on Ethiopia, I will stop telling the truth, the facts and real story about you.
Amnesty International: Don’t be nasty. Don’t be evil.