Skip to comments.Guilty of genocide: the leader who unleashed a 'Red Terror' on Africa
Posted on 12/12/2006 4:08:25 PM PST by MadIvan
Ethiopias brutal Marxist dictator, known as the African Pol Pot, became the first fallen leader to be found guilty yesterday of genocide in his own country after a 12-year trial.
Mengistu Haile Mariam, the former President, who fled to Zimbabwe in 1991, was accused along with top members of his military Government of killing thousands during his 17-year rule. The period was marked by vicious crackdowns on opponents, disastrous wars with neighbouring countries and rebel groups and devastating famines in which starvation was used to force peasants into submission.
Members of the Derg [Government] who are present in court today and those who are being tried in absentia have conspired to destroy a political group and kill people with impunity, the presiding judge, Medhen Kiros, said.
The genocide verdict, which carries a death sentence, was passed two votes to one by the three-judge panel. Human rights groups welcomed the verdict, although President Mugabe of Zimbabwe has made it clear that he is not prepared to entertain any extradition requests.
Verdicts such as this build up pressure and send the message that leaders who are bloodstained must not be allowed to retire in comfort, Peter Takirambudde, Africa head of Human Rights Watch, told The Times. He stressed that Mengistu would find it impossible to travel to neighbouring countries, even for medical treatment, without facing the danger of arrest.
This man and his followers committed monstrous crimes against humanity, and international justice demands he be brought to face justice. The cycle of impunity must and will be stopped, he said. Charles Taylor, the former Liberian President, was in exile for many years in Nigeria, but was arrested this year and will go on trial next year in The Hague.
The Soviet-backed revolution that brought Mengistu and a group of other young army officers to power in 1974 ended the feudal rule of Emperor Haile Selassie, treated as a deity by millions of dirt-poor people in Africas second most-populous country.
The court was told how the ageing Emperor was suffocated to death with a pillow and his body buried under a lavatory in the royal palace, where he was under house arrest. Mengistu and other hardliners had decided that his presence was an obstacle to rural peasants making the leap from feudalism to Marxism without a process of industrialisation and creation of a proletariat.
Mengistus henchmen devised a Red Terror, modelled on the Chinese Cultural Revolution, to bring the reluctant populace into line. Hundreds of thousands were killed. Others fled into exile or joined rebel movements. In the mid-1980s it was not uncommon to see students, suspected government critics or rebel sympathisers hanging from lampposts each morning. Ordinary people were too terrified to talk to Western reporters.
Other people were executed in the notorious state prison on the edge of the capital, Addis Ababa. Families had to pay a tax known as the wasted bullet to obtain the bodies of their loved ones. At the height of his power, Mengistu himself frequently garrotted or shot dead opponents, saying that he was leading by example.
The Soviet Union poured $18 billion in military support into Ethiopia as President Mengistu built up what was then black Africas largest standing army. With the collapse of communism, it was clear that the bankrupt regime would not last. It had already received worldwide condemnation for its role in creating and prolonging the 1984 Tigray famine, in which at least a million people died.
For months before the scale of the famine became known, President Mengistu denied its existence and flew in planeloads of whisky to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the revolution. Eventually a coalition of Tigrayan and Eritrean rebel fighters crushed an army disillusioned by numerous purges of its best officers and marched on Addis Ababa.
In a deal brokered by the United States, President Mengistu fled ten days before the city fell sparing it a much-feared bloodbath. Mr Mugabe, who was then lauded by the West, accepted Mengistu, who has since spent much of his time at home, where he is rumoured to drink vast amounts of whisky and beat his wife and members of his entourage.
He was found guilty along with 73 others, including Fikre Selassie Wogderesse, the former Prime Minister, and Fissiha Desta, the former Vice-President. About 40 officials are in jail, while 27 were tried in absentia. A few have died since proceedings began in 1992, and the trial formally started in 1994.
Mengistu sought to right the wrongs made by his feudal predecessors but in the end he committed far greater wrongs than they did, Ephraim Zwede, a businessman, said.
The dictator and other former officials face sentencing this month. They could be given the death penalty.
# Idi Amin - Dictator of Uganda from 1971 to 1979, an estimated 400,000 killed under his rule. He cultivated a bumbling personality and once reputedly sending the Queen a telex saying Dear Liz, if you want to know a real man, come to Kampala. After being forced out of power by Tanzanian troops he fled to exile in Saudi Arabia where he died in 2003
# Charles Taylor - Led one of the factions in Liberias 1990s civil war, before winning a 1997 presidential election using the slogan He killed my ma, he killed my pa, I vote for him. In 2003 a rebellion forced him into exile.
# Jean-Bédel Bokassa - In 1976, ten years into his rule over the Central African Republic, Bokassa decided he needed a coronation. The resulting ceremony cost the countrys annual GNP. In 1979, after a massacre of civilians, the French ousted him from power. He was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1988, but released in 1993. Died of a heart attack three years later
# Mobutu Sese Seko - For 32 years Mobutu Sese Seko was the extravagant president of Zaire. He issued bizarre edicts about permitted clothing and reputedly kept leopards as pets. Deposed in 1997 by Laurent Kabila, he died from prostate cancer a few months later in Morocco
# Hissène Habré Leader of a Chadian rebel group. He seized power in 1982 and wielded control using a feared secret police and underground torture chambers. After being deposed in 1990 a commission established that there had been 40,000 political murders. He is currently under house arrest in Senegal
For the Africawatch list...
But...but....Pinochet was much worse don'cha know?
One good thing. The Ethiopians got lots of practice for the wars in their future.
They always do this. Allende pulled the same stunt in Chile. Bread lines, ration cards and the whole bit. If you bought illegally you were subject to being shot out of hand.
After the coup of September 11, 1973 the army found warehouse after warehouse of food that was being held back from public and released it. Funny, Chile never had a famine after that.
*****although President Mugabe of Zimbabwe has made it clear that he is not prepared to entertain any extradition requests. ****
This has to be a joke. Why isnt Mugabe being tried.?
They try a bunch of people in abstentia and convict them and say they will get the death penalty. LMAO
I will be a thousand years old when this farcical pack of dipwads executes their first guilty felon.
I trust that is British understatement. We need more than a few pining for the fiords.
But this is good news, even if he's safely inside another hell-hole. I'd completely forgotten about that sonofab*tch Mengistu holing up in Harare.
I'd love to visit Zimbabwe with a couple of pikes as my carry-on luggage.
"Two Pikes - No Waiting"
Please notice that it's Blacks (Not white people)that commit genocide against other Blacks. Plus these genocides are usually inter-tribal warfare
And what did the African Kofi Annan ever do to stop these genocides. Instead he slams the USA and Israel. Kofi is as rotten as any African dictator
I suspet that not even one in a thousand Americans could even tell
you who Mengistu is. Or what continent he did his deed in.
So, here info for the forum...
A profile on Mengistu
The Leftwing Monsters Club (of which Mengistu is one)
(click on the pretty pictures for more info)
bookmark ping-a-ling , for another read , & THANKS MadIvan
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