Images of Ethiopian Forces in Western Media: War-makers as Peacemakers and Containers of Ethnic Clashes in Moyale

July 31, 2012 (Oromo Press) – Reading news about Western media reports of the ethnic clashes in Moyale, a border area between southern Oromia-Ethiopia and Kenya, one cannot avoid noticing the conspicuous wrong framing of the “Ethiopian National Defense Forces” as ‘containers and peacemakers.’ These kinds of  narrative projections of a strong Ethiopia  plays and replays the age-old predominant, but flawed Western views of the Ethiopian state and ruling elites as dependable champions of stability, counter-terrorism and so forth in Ethiopia and the Horn.

Media outlets such as the BBC, CBS, and the VOA have rushed to  giving all sorts of dangerous credits to the ENDF as a stabilizing force. This is problematic not only for ignoring the composition of the ENDF, as a military force dominated by ethnic Tigire officers and commanders, but also because it makes it difficult for groups suffering massive human rights violations under the current ethno-apartheid regime such as the Oromo and  Ogaden to tell their stories. It makes it an uphill battle for us to prove our just causes for freedom, self-rule, democracy and all other basic human needs.  Our Ethiopianist friends opposed to the regime will be happy to see such international headlines on ethnic clashes since they affirm their “one-Ethiopia” narrative that the current ethnic federalism is not working. Yes, federalism is not working currently. But, the reason clashes happen is not inherently because of ethnic federalism,  but because the regime follows an outdated colonial policy of divide and conquer in Ethiopia–this has nothing to do with federalism or  the sacred article 39 and why they are not working.

What is shocking in this coverage is how the reports are hardly victim-centered. The reports portray the Ethiopian forces as “containers” and “stabilizers”, while most people in the Horn of Africa and Ethiopia know that this is not true at all. In fact, many of the Horn and the Oromian-Ethiopian populations groups know that Ethiopia is behind every major wars  (or inter-state) or ethnic  clashes such as the one that  just caused the deaths of tens of peoples and the displacement of 30,000 members of the affected communities. The framing of the ENDF as “the stabilizing force” hides the fact that the very same force is a force of instability engineered to uphold the mono-ethnic apartheid system in Ethiopia.

Have you ever seen reports in major international news media about the massive human rights abuses and crimes against humanity that have been committed by these forces over the last twenty-one years in major Western media such as CBS, BBC, the VOA, where the West has sided with the peoples/civilians who suffer the most? The story of the civilians who suffer the most are reduced to nothing more than numbers here. In contrast, the  ENDF forces are qualified and elaborately described to the levels of saintly “containers” of the so-called ethnic clashes! Oops!

The reality is that the regime wants instability at any cost in order to thrive by depicting itself or by getting depicted by the West as a “peacekeeper” nationally and regionally. Instability and terrorism will never go way from the Horn unless the current authoritarian regime is dismantled or unless serious changes are bought about by any means possible. How can a authoritarian-terrorist regime stamp out terrorism where it does not exist? Isn’t terrorism the regime’s main money-legitimacy maker even in places like Somalia?

–Full Text Story at Oromo Press