By Alemayehu G. Mariam
Author’s Note: This is the third successive commentary I have written on the intensifying T-TPLF disinformation campaign in Ethiopia. On September 5, I announced that the T-TPLF would soon roll out a massive disinformation campaign to discredit the widespread popular uprising against its oppressive rule in Ethiopia. On September 18, I wrote a second commentary debunking the T-TPLF’s outrageous claims of an impending or imminent genocide in Ethiopia.
The T-TPLF disinformation campaign I announced in early September is now in full swing. In this commentary, I address the absurd and laughable claims of Debretsion Gebremichael, T-TPLF Chief Disinformation Officer (CDO).
I am acutely aware of the old saying that one should “never argue with someone who believes their own lies.” While I would much prefer to cross-examine liars in the courtroom, absent that I have no option but to argue against them in the court of public opinion.
I have crossed paths with some stone cold pathological liars in my day, and the one thing I recall most vividly about them is that they are all experts at deceiving not others but themselves. But CDO Debretsion and his T-TPLF gang take the cake when it comes to lying; they are in a class by themselves. They are the masters of lies, damned lies and statislies (statistical lies).
CDO Debretsion is the third T-TPLF big gun in as many weeks to slither out of the T-TPLF lair to wage a war of disinformation on the Ethiopian people. Abaye Tsehaye and Seyoum Mesfin, are the first two O.G.’s (original gangsters to use modern parlance) to crawl out of the T-TPLF woodwork a couple of weeks ago to circle the wagon around the T-TPLF Beast, cry havoc and verbally let loose the dogs of genocide in the face of massive popular uprising and resistance against T-TPLF rule in Ethiopia.
The T-TPLF disinformation game seems plain enough. They are playing good cop, bad cops with the Ethiopian people.
Abaye Tsehaye and Seyoum Mesfin are running around trying to freak out people with their ridiculous genocide claims. Like Chicken Little who ran around saying, “The sky is falling”, Abaye and Seyoum are running around claiming a genocide is about to take place in Ethiopia.
CDO Debretsion says there is no genocide. In fact, his very words are, “It is not possible to have a people to people conflict”(genocide?) in Ethiopia. He admits there are isolated “disturbances” and “conflicts” (not uprisings) caused by a few criminals and troublemakers, but no genocide.
Which one of the forked tongue serpents to believe? Abaye Tsehaye, Seyoum Mesfin or Debretsion Gebremichael?
CDO Debretsion seems to be out on a charm offensive. With the pentagrammed T-TPLF flag to his right, the Prince Charming of the T-TPLF said it’s all about mind over matter. The T-TPLF doesn’t mind, and the people of Ethiopia don’t matter. He said the Ethiopian people have the wrong perception about the truth of the T-TPLF. They are seeing things like the purple cow and pink elephant that no one has ever seen. They are making up stuff and stuffing their heads with made up stuff.
CDO Debretsion hectored that everything is perception. He said, “if someone calls a bright day is a dark night enough times, the bright day will be perceived as a dark night” by the people.
On this question I concede. I surrender!
Who knows more about darkness than the Prince of Darkness himself?
Who knows more about darkness than the master of the Dark Side?
Not those on the Light Side of the Force.
Interestingly, CDO Debretsion borrows his darkness metaphor from Nazi propaganda Reichsminister Joseph Goebbels’ who said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
But CDO Debretsion conveniently omitted the rest of Goebbles admonition:
The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
The truth is the greatest enemy of state disinformation.
CDO Debretsion’s Interview
In his videotaped interview, CDO Debretsion waxed repetitiously eloquent on a number issues and effectively told Ethiopians that they are just too dumb and too stupid to figure out the real deal about the T-TPLF. He heaped insult upon injury by caricaturing them as a people living in La La land. For the CDO, the Ethiopian people are incapable of distinguishing between perception and reality. What they see is not what they see but a figment of their dim-witted imagination. They need to be re-educated into seeing reality. Call out the media to get the job done!
CDO Debretsion’s interview is manifestly designed to achieve a number of propaganda and political objectives:
1) The current popular uprising in Ethiopia is a minor disturbance limited only to Gonder.
2) The disturbance in Gonder is the work of a few foreign agents and criminals. There is no popular uprising against the T-TPLF in Gonder or anywhere else.
3) The disturbance in Gonder is triggered by the incompetence of the local leadership and administration who failed miserably in their official duties. They should be replaced.
4) The notion of Tigrean supremacy in Ethiopian politics and society is a figment of the imagination of diabolically misguided people. Tigrean supremacy is a perception that exists in fiction, not in objective reality.
5) The T-TPLF suffers from a failure of communication in not educating the people of Ethiopia there is no Tigrean supremacy. It is all a figment of their imagination. The Ethiopian people are so blind that they cannot tell the difference between light and dark just as they cannot tell there is no such thing as Tigrean supremacy.
6) There is a great need for a media (dis)information campaign telling the Ethiopian people how Tigreans do not practice ethnic supremacy.
7) The reality of Ethiopian politics is that each ethnic group in its own kilil (Bantustan) is supreme.
8) Ethnic federalism is the ultimate safeguard against ethnic supremacy and domination.
9) The only truth is the T-TPLF’s truth, everything else is mere perception. The Ethiopian people have the wrong perception about the T-TPLF whose only mission has been to pay untold sacrifices for the good and benefit of the Ethiopian people.
10) If the people of Ethiopia would simply stop believing their lying eyes and lying ears which render the T-TPLF as a bloodthirsty gang of criminals, they could see the kind, friendly, gentle, benevolent, loving and humane face of the T-TPLF.
In his interview, CDO Debretsion addressed a number of issues including the recent “disturbance” (uprising) in Gonder and the alleged displacement of Tigreans as a consequence, the “baseless” claims of Tigrean supremacy and ethnic federalism as the panacea to Ethiopia’s political and social ills (my English translation below):
(Concerning the “conflict”, “disturbance” in Gonder)
… I only know about (the situation) as a (top) leader. Those who know the details (of the conflict) are different bodies. I don’t follow that closely… I know there have been conflicts from Sudan and those that returned from Sudan.
How we have to see this. The main thing is, as has been explained in a different way, this is not a people to people matter (conflict). We know some of our people from Tigray and from the other places are suffering damage (in Gonder in the uprising). We understand there are some who want to spread the fire (of conflict). The people who live in the particular area (Gonder) are Amhara people. We know they are defending others (non-Amharas) so they do not suffer damage. There are many actions (criminal) that have been committed. A limited number of people have sought to inflict damage on the properties of Tigreans (in Gonder). Therefore (these actions) are not related with the people (of Gonder at large). There is no mobilization against Tigreans anywhere. But we know there are a limited number of people involved (in committing crimes against Tigreans). We know they (few individuals) have committed specific (criminal) acts against Tigreans. We know it is the action of a few. There is a movement with own aims. The government and killil (government) are following up on this.
But this is not the question that needs to be asked. As you have seen the analysis, the solution cannot be found only by focusing on the conflict (confrontation). We need to look at the broader situation, problems in the (local) leadership, denying proper governance to the people, answering questions in a timely manner, (failure) to recognize there are problems like this. And there are mobilizations around this. This has itself created problems, and as we solve problems around it, we solve other problems as well. Other administrative problems, development questions. And it is possible to entertain and solve political questions (as well). That is what we see.
The conflict (in Gonder) is a limited issue. It does not reveal the (the whole) situation. The (Ethiopian) society is very sad about the kind of discussion being conducted in different forums. This is not something EPRDF brought about. People (of Tigray and Gonder) have been living together (for a long time). Not only living together, but also married to each other and lived as one family… But there are few whose aim is to trigger people-to-people conflict (ethnic conflict). It is improper. There has been damage… That is what the recent discussions have been about.
It is not possible to have people to people (ethnic) conflict… We cannot have a special solution for the (little) conflict (in Gonder). There is no solution for the damage done to one Tigrean alone. The main thing is about peace and stability. As that is addressed, the other (ethnic conflict) issue will resolve itself.
(Concerning allegations of Tigrean supremacy in Ethiopian society)
There is no smoothing going in thinking. It is up and down. Perception becomes reality. Something (that is not) looks like the real thing. (For example), there is light in this room. If it is said (repeatedly) it is dark, (people will believe) it is dark. It is dark, even though there is light. The perception becomes reality. This is because there is something missing. It is because the proper response has not been communicated (to the Ethiopian people) and as a result a balanced (effective) job (in the media) has not been done. Something that is not being found as true (because too many lies about Tigrean supremacy have gone unchallenged).
Truth itself does not speak. It is necessary to reveal the truth in different ways through the media and other means. The (state) media has to do the proper job on this. It is the (state) media that should present the truth in different ways, to show (if there is) weakness, growth or going backwards and other issues. But they (media) must reflect (spread) the truth.
[There can be no Tigrean supremacy because of federalism.] Federalism means all people are equal. Everyone administers their own (affairs). There is no such thing as (one ethnic group being) above or below. It is not about having big or small members (of ethnic groups). Tigreans administer themselves. Oromos and Southern peoples and Somalis (administer themselves). That means they own their (government). The foundation is equality. It means administer your own administration… In Amhara kilil, Tigreans cannot be administrators. In Gambella, the administrator cannot be Tigrean. This (ethnic federalism arrangement) does not give others a chance to be supreme. Those of same ethnicity administer themselves. If you say (Tigreans) are supreme (bosses) here and there, it is baseless. But it is all perception. Everywhere including at the kebele (local) level. This (Tigrean supremacy) is not the reality. It is baseless (to make such a claim). It is like saying it is dark when the light is out. But if you repeat it, they could say it is dark. We have not done a good job educating the Ethiopian people on (federalism), how the country is administered. That reality has not been (conveyed). To say Tigreans are supreme (everywhere), that is not the reality. That is a zero. Zero. If there is a Tigrean person (outside Tigray kilil), he works as an ordinary man of wealth (investor). So we have a problem of perception, (not educating the people). It is not that Tigrean supremacy is true, but (our) media efforts have been deficient. The media have the responsibility (to spread the truth) that there is no Tigrean supremacy…
CDO Debretsion Gebremichael: Disinformation by doublespeak and doublethink
George Orwell in his essay on politics and the English language wrote:
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind…
There are few better examples of the doublespeak and doublethink than Debretsion’s.
The crocodilian Debretsion is a consummate political operator who is part of the all controlling T-TPLF state-within-the-state. He has held various positions in the T-TPLF government. He is reputed to be the current Minister of Communication and Information Technology (more appropriately Chief Disinformation Officer) and one of the three T-TPLF deputy prime ministers. He is also reputed to be the Board Chair of “Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation” and the former Director General of the “Ethiopian Information and Communication Development Agency” (EICTDA), an organization presumably established to “build a state-of-the-art broadband network that supports academic and research networking, improving the incentives for academic institutions and the private sector to promote ICT research and development and addressing.” Pursuant to T-TPLF Proclamation 691/2010, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology is an amalgamation of EICTDA, the “Ethiopian Telecommunications Agency” (ETA) and the “communications sector” of the T-TPLF Ministry of Transport and Communications.
CDO Debretsion is reputed to be the mastermind who introduced the use of spyware (“FinSpy) purchased from the Italian cybersecurity firm The Hacking Team to conduct surveillance on T-TPLF opponents in the Ethiopian Diaspora. In July 2014, an amended complaint was filed in U.S. federal court against the “Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia” alleging violations of U.S. wiretapping laws in the use of FinSpy. The matter is presently in appellate litigation and likely to reach the United States Supreme Court in the next couple of years.
According to one report, CDO Debretsion was one of the individuals who set up “Dimtsi Woyane”, a T-TPLF radio station in the bush. He is listed as having received a doctoral degree from an online university in Minneapolis, MN called Capella in 2011. His dissertation entitled “Exploring the perception of users of community ICT centers on the effectiveness of ICT on poverty in Ethiopia” presumably examines, “information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a development tool.” Interestingly, he seems convinced that his theory of perception in poverty works the same way in propaganda and disinformation campaigns.
CDO Debretsion is an Orwellian character in much the same way as the late Thugmaster Meles Zenawi (TMZ). Like TMZ, the CDO likes to play smoke and mirrors games with the Ethiopian people and the loaners, donors and international poverty pimps.
Like Big Brother TMZ, CDO Debretsion believes the he and his T-TPLF gang live in a world of truth and reality and everyone else in Ethiopia lives in a dreamy and foggy world of perception, imagination and illusion.
In the Orwellian Planet T-TPLF, “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Dictatorship is democracy. Ethnic federalism is ethnic equality. Ethnic supremacy is a conspiracy. T-TPLF plutocracy is an isocracy (where all people have equal political power). ”
CDO Debretsion wants to convince the Ethiopian people that their eyes deceive them, their ears lie to them and they have a malfunctioning brain to boot.
I have been writing about the disinformation politics on Planet T-TPLF for a long time.
Back in 2009, Meles explained that winning all but three of the 3.6 million seats in local elections the preceding year was supremely democratic and claimed that “democracy is about process, it’s not about outcome… If the process is clean and you get zero, tough luck.’”
Today, CDO Debretsion says, “Ethnic federalism is equality. T-TPLF supremacy is nothing but a conspiracy. To say Tigreans are supreme (everywhere), that is not the reality. That is a zero. Zero.”
It is quite interesting that the CDO and TMZ have a thing about “zero”.
They love “zero”, especially playing “zero sum election games” (where they always win everything and everybody loses everything). They have been playing and winning one zero sum game after another for the past 25 years.
Let me make it plain. Who won 100 percent of the seats in the T-TPLF parliament in May 2015? That’s what a zero sum game is!
CDO Debretsion says today, as did TMZ regarding the local election of 2008, that Ethiopians have got it all wrong about the T-TPLF.
TMZ said Ethiopians have got it wrong about democracy. They have got it wrong about elections, the rule of law, good governance and federalism.
CDO Debretsion today says Ethiopia have got it all wrong about T-TPLF’s democracy, federalism, “Tigrean supremacy”, development, good governance and democracy.
The CDO says Ethiopians need to wake up from their slumber in La La land and smell the roses, or is it the coffee?
TMZ told the Ethiopian people in 2009 that elections are “about process, not outcome”, namely a duly constituted constitutional government.
For TMZ and the CDO, it is all about perception and it is done with smoke and mirrors. It is about window dressing, going through the motions and putting on a good show.
The result of doublethink and doublespeak on Planet T-TPLF is: “War is peace, freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength; dictatorship is democracy; poverty is prosperity; famine is feast; government wrongs are human rights; rigged and stolen elections are peoples’ choices; terrorizing the population is enrapturing them; and a cascade of lies is a torrent of truth.”
In T-TPLF doublethink and doublespeak, elections are about process. Due process is about the arbitrary process of depriving citizens of life, liberty and property. Governance is not about accountability and transparency; it is about the exquisite process of clinging to power like blood-sucking ticks on a cow. A constitution is not about the rule of law; it is about rule by an outlaw. Federalism is not about a clear division of constitutional power but creating a fictitious process called “ethnic federalism” for the purpose of creating deep ethnic, cultural, linguistic and regional cleavages to facilitate dictatorial rule.
Double speak and double think as disinformation techniques
In Nineteen Eighty Four, Orwell wrote :
[Doublethink is] the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them….To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.
CDO Debretsion and his T-TPLF gangsters have jailed all independent journalists and shuttered the independent press which dares to criticize them. Now he complains about the media doing a poor job of informing the people about T-TPLF’s true accomplishments. If he is complaining about T-TPLF media doing a poor job, he is barking up the wrong tree. No Ethiopia (except perhaps T-TPLF lackeys) pay any attention to T-TPLF media. The people of Ethiopia are sick and tired of being sick and tired of T-TPLF lies, damned lies and statislies!
CDO Debretsion is not saying anything new. His predecessor “comical” Berket Simon used to complain time and again about the fact that nobody watches T-TPLF TV or other media.
The people of Ethiopia are glued to ESAT. The people of Ethiopia tune to ESAT radio. ESAT is the independent media forum for the Ethiopian people. I call on all Ethiopians to support ESAT financially and otherwise.
CDO Debretison says the problem in Gonder and the other places where “disturbances” have flared up is rooted in the corruption, abuse of power and maladministration of the kilil (Bantustan) officials. It has nothing to do with the T-TPLF.
The fact of the matter is that the T-TPLF runs an internal colonialism in the kilils (Bantustans) in much the same way as the British colonial masters and the white minority apartheid regime in South Africa. The T-TPLF created “sole native authorities” in the kilils with full allegiance to the T-TPLF. The T-TPLF installs its own compradors, coopt local leaders and give them the illusion of autonomy and self-governance while maintaining tight control over the kilil governments. The kilil officials do not even go to the outhouse without T-TPLF permission, let alone run their own government. Yet CDO Debretsion wants to absolve the T-TPLF from any responsibility by throwing the local kilil officials under the bus.
CDO Debretsion denies that the T-TPLF has little or no control to critical and essential political and social institutions.
Let me put it another way: Who won the May 2016 parliamentary election by 100 percent? Who has a chokehold on the economy? Who has total control over the military? Who has complete control over the civil service? Who totally controls the security services and the judicial process? Who totally controls all the loans and aid given by the loaners, donors and international poverty pimps?
If there is any question about these questions, we can certainly lay out the data and debate them at any time.
Most amazing admission by CDO Debretsion
For ten years, I have argued and provided evidence that the T-TPLF’s ethnic federalism system and its kilil governments are bogus and represent nothing more than a kinder and gentler version of South Africa’s homeland (Bantustan) system.
Now there is conclusive proof from Debretsion’s mouth that the T-TPLF killil (ethnic federalism) system is the exact duplicate of apartheid’s Bantustan or homeland system.
This past April I wrote a commentary entitled “The Bantustanization (Kililistanization) of Ethiopia” and demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that the political system created and maintained by the T-TPLF in Ethiopia is a slightly kinder and gentler form of the racial apartheid system practiced by the white minority regime in South Africa before the establishment of black majority rule in 1994.
CDO Debretsion in his interview said:
In Amhara kilil, Tigreans cannot be administrators. In Gambella, the administrator cannot be Tigrean. This (ethnic federalism arrangement) does not give others a chance to be supreme. Those of same ethnicity administer themselves. If you say (Tigreans) are supreme (bosses) here and there, it is baseless.
That was precisely the case in apartheid Bantustan homelands!
Only Zulus could run and hold office in the KwaZulu homeland.
Only the Xhosa people could run and hold office in the Ciskei and Transkei homelands.
Only the Tswana people could run and hold office in the Bophuthatswana homeland.
Only the Pedi and Northern Ndebele people could run and hold office in the Lebowa homeland.
Only the Vendas could run and hold office in the Venda homeland.
Only the Shangaan and Tsonga people could run and hold office in the Gazankulu homeland.
Only the Basothos could run and hold office in the Qwa Qwa homeland.
But who held the ultimate power in South Africa? The apartheid white minority regime.
How independent were the independent homelands in South Africa?
Only to the extent the T-TPLF says they are independent.
How independent are Ethiopia’s 9 Bantustans in Ethiopia? Only to the extent the T-TPLF says they are independent.
In a true federalism, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, ideology, etc. have no relevance in the exercise of political rights.
For instance, Hillary Clinton spent a good part of her professional life in Arkansas before she became a U.S. senator from New York. Mitt Romney was born in Michigan, attended college in Utah and became Governor of Massachusetts. Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, attended college in California, New York and Massachsetts and became a U.S. Senator from Illinois.
I thank CDO Debretsion for providing irrefutable evidence that the T-TPLF ethnic federalism system is the latest and greatest version of South Africa’s apartheid regime.
The Force is with the Ethiopian people: T-TPLF resistance is futile
The massive and spreading uprising and resistance to T-TPLF rule is unstoppable by massacres, disinformation or any other means.
In the lyrics of Andy Williams, “It’s impossible, tell the sun to leave the sky/ It’s impossible, ask a baby not to cry/ It is impossible to stop the ocean from rushing to the shore/
So it is just impossible, impossible, impossible to stop the Ethiopian people from securing their human rights and establishing one democratic nation under the rule of law, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
It is just impossible to stop the Ethiopia people!!!
The reason is simple.
There is a national political awakening occurring in Ethiopia occurring today in the same way Zbigniew Brzezinski talked about a “global awakening” occurring in 2008. Brzezinski argued:
For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive… The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination… The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening… That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing… The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy…
The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well… Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious “tertiary level” educational institutions of developing countries….
[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.
The lessons for the T-TPLF are simple:
The young people of Ethiopia who constitute 70 percent of the population are leading the uprising and revolution, not the opposition political parties, leaders and the rest.
The young people of Ethiopia are demanding human dignity and human rights. That is non-negotiable.
The young people of Ethiopia are restless and resentful. They can’t take it anymore. They can’t be bought or sold.
The young people of Ethiopia are sick and tired of being sick and tired of living as second class citizens under T-TPLF tyranny.
The young people of Ethiopia are far more radicalized than anything the T-TPLF leaders can think of in their wildest imagination.
It is infinitely easier for the T-TPLF to kill one million Ethiopians than to control one million Ethiopians.
The lethality of the military might of the T-TPLF is greater than ever, but in the face of Ethiopia’s Youth Power it is like a feather in a tornadic storm.
Such is the fate of the T-TPLF.
The T-TPLF will be vacuumed and deposited in the dustbin of history.
There is an immutable iron law of history the T-TPLF should know.
Mahatma Gandhi articulated that law:
There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall – think of it, always.