Paul Schemm of the Washington Post report on Ethiopia is sluggish at best co-opted at worst (by Teshome Debalke)


It is about time to call on western journalists covering Ethiopia and the region to fulfil their basic journalistic duty by reporting the reality and the responsible parties than narrating the ruling regimes’ propaganda and help end the suffering of millions of people.

November 2, 2017

Ethiopia is in a mess more than an eye can see and a foreign reporter allowed to report. The crises is not by ‘ethnic strife’ or ‘regional rivalries over artificially created ethnic boundaries. Nor ‘hidden war’ over land dispute or anything else resembling ethnic cleansing going as we are led to believe outside the ruling Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) party instigated crises via ethnic apartheid Federalism to sustain its political, economic and military dominance.

Therefore, by the 100% ‘democratically elected’ regime endorsed by the President Obama became ‘key ally’ of US to ‘fight regional terrorism’ and a de facto US policy in Africa that paved the road for many more governments, nongovernmental and private parties to give-aid-and-comfort for a rogue ethnic apartheid regime at enormous political, social and economic cost to the people of Ethiopia and the region in the last decade as the world witness when the crises unfold with no one taking responsibility for it.

When Paul Schemm of The Washington Post October 21, 2017 article titled “They Started to burn our houses: Ethnic strife in Ethiopia threatens a key US ally” came out, it showed how correspondents for mainstream US Media are still on the bandwagon of the false narratives the ruling party propagandist feed them in the comfort of their hotel rooms and offices to pass on half-baked report to the world.

Could such imprudent report happen because no one is going to verify the accuracy of the report as long as it satisfies the ruling regime’s expurgation and the appetite of the home offices for sensational story? How about pure journalism incompetence or corruption?

Whatever it may be, Schemm report is beyond sluggish journalism bordering conspiracy to cover up the reality of the regime as it is often the case with state-owned Media starting with the title of his article — “They started to burn our house:” followed by “ethnic strife in Ethiopia” followed by ‘threatens a key US ally’ skipped the “Liyu police” that perpetuated the crimes as told by the victims themselves. Thus, instead of following up on the “Liyu police” (the ethnic paramilitary force TPLF  organized under its command to instigate ‘ethnic strife’ one Ethiopian against another in a cover of ethnic Federalism) that ‘burned down the house’ to displace 1000s, he went on a rant by glamorizing a rejected apartheid regime  that fit the regime’s narrative and previous US Administrations’ policy of ‘look the other way’ — echoing by Susan Rise, the Former Senior National Security Adviser of the Obama Administration and a stanch enabler of the ruling TPLF she nurtured since the mid-90s when she was the Assistance Secretory for African Affairs under the Clinton Administration.

As tragic as it is when mainstream Media become echo chamber for third-world depot and a policy of legitimizing a minority ethnic apartheid regime in Africa allover again; four statements in the article stood out to point; the report appears staged as it would be expected from previous experience with the regime. Whether Schemm is part of the conspiracy or victim of it is hard to say. But, it clear he is complete ignorant of the reality of a well-orchestrated propaganda machine designed for gullible foreigners even for trained journalist like him.

1st. the fact Schemm reported what was said from refugees in what he referred as “makeshift camp near the Oromo city of Adama” (about 45 miles from his base in Addis Ababa) 250-300 miles away from the crime scene says; his report was based on the people presented to him as refugees of the Somalis-Oromo ‘ethnic strife’ — consistent with the regime bamboozling foreign journalists, government officials and investors.

2nd Schemm’s reliance on ‘local Media’  to report “at least 150,000 Oromos have been expelled from the Somali Region and are living in camps”  but, failed to name the Media and left the link that leads to Addis Standard and went on to claim’ “the federal government has declined to give exact figures, pending an investigation, but admitted that “hundreds” have died” again sourced from unnamed Agence France Press (AFP) local correspondence.

Quoting ‘local Media’ (Addis Standard) “according to one source” with 150, 000 displaced persons in nation ruled by the most intrusive and repressive regime what the press can report is not only laughable but, more indication; Addis Standard appear to be a conduit for the regime’s deliberate leak to foreign journalists  Schemm failed to pick.

But, the actual Addis Standard’s source came by the way Breaking News of the resignation of Abudula Gemeda, the ‘Speaker of the Federal House of Representative’ and the Former President of the Oromia Region representing OPDO in the EPDRF collation government. It reads;

According to one source, Abadula has “submitted a resignation letter to the federal government in protest over recent political developments including the federal security handling of the ongoing violence in eastern Ethiopia”, which has displaced about 150, 000 Oromos from the country’s Somali regional state.”

Our source further said that in recent weeks tensions have risen to a high level between Abadula and other senior members of the ruling coalition regarding the federal security forces’ intervention in Oromia regional state.”

Addis Standard itself is a questionable Media for ignoring “Liyu police” (the instigator and offender of the crime as the victims testified on Schemm’s report) and failing to investigate on the crime sense and its relationship with “the Federal Security Force” knowing; Liyu Police in every ethnic Region of the country is the extension of the Federal Security Force under TPLF command.    Instead, it put out the number of displaced at 150,000 based on unnamed “one source” and summed up; the problem is “the federal security handling of the ongoing violence in Eastern Ethiopia” narrative to say; Federal Security Force and Liyu police are not one-and-the-same and the crime of the ethnic parliamentary force organized by TPLF is an ‘ethnic strife’ between Ethiopians is absurd at best libels at worst.

3rd Schemm reproduced the argument; TPLF led EPDRF collation government of Ethiopia or “the rebel movement of Tigrayan ethnicity that overthrew the communist regime in 1991”“in an attempt to recognize the aspirations of the country’s main ethnic groups reorganized Ethiopia into a federal state made up of nine ethnically defined regions with a degree of autonomy” without independently verifying TPLF’s political, social and economic motives when, how and why the ethnic Regions were drawn – unforgivable blunder for a supposedly professional mainstream Media journalist.

If Schemm did his homework as he should, “the rebel movement of Tigrayan ethnicity overthrew the communist regime in 1991” are Founders and members of the Marxist-Leninist league of Tigray (MLLT) that vow to bring about Albanian version of Marxist rule that brought the ethnic Federal Nations and Nationality to Ethiopia per Marxist philosophy; not “in an attempt to recognize the aspirations of the country’s main ethnic groups reorganized Ethiopia into a federal state”

4th To make matter worst, Schemm sought two experts for his article. Fekadu Adugna, “an expert on ethnicity and identity” and Assefa Fiseha, “an expert on Ethiopian politics” both from the controversial Addis Ababa University where TPLF ethnic Federal academic propaganda is generated since it came to power. In fact, the same University was the battle ground for TPLF instigated ‘ethnic strife’ between Oromigna and Amharic speaking Ethiopians it rapped in two ethnic groups that represent two of the nine ethnic Federal Regions it creatfekadu

Likewise, Fiseha spent most of his adult life in Addis Ababa University as a student of Law and lecturer and ‘researcher’ at Center for Federal Studies that created the nine ethnic Regions to the liking of TPLF.

How Schemm conveniently picked the two ‘experts’ from the same University out of many independent experts around the world ‘on ethnicity and identity’ and Ethiopian politics respectively alone appears; the report was staged to put out a false narrative of ‘ethnic strife’ to the regime’s liking while legitimizing ethnic apartheid arrangement to sustain the status qua.

In addition, Schemm’s attempt to glamorize the highly corrupt and brutal minority ethnic apartheid regime by ignoring the economic and political clout it conciliated in all Regions of the country where it instigates ethnic conflicts at will further indicate; ignorance of the reality may not be the only thing at play in Schemm’s article.

Schemm of Washington Post is not alone.  Bloomberg William Davison’s article; Ethiopia losing Foreign-Investment Appeal as attack spread on October 2016 and “How long can Ethiopia’s State of Emergency keep the lid on anger? on February 2017 are some of the many articles where blaming the victim instead of the rogue regime by the way of made-up ethnic ‘attack’,  ‘anger’ and ‘strife’ is standard coverage of mainstream western medias’ that sustained the status qua.

In the last two decades, mainstream Media coverage on Ethiopia can only have described as appeasing the ruling regime as a diplomat than reporting the reality as journalist. For that reason alone, millions of Ethiopians suffered under brutal ethnic dictatorship empowered by the blank check as we witness the death and destruction mount, so the plight of the people displaced, hungry and sick continue unabated.

Morality aside, western journalists have professional responsibility to report the reality of brutal regimes and their enablers that are causing havoc on the people they rule for decades than act like diplomat to appease.

In the case of Ethiopia, the ruling ethnic minority regime that perpetuate ethnic rift to sustain its rule was made possible by US government officials like Susan E. Rice and Gale Smith for over two decade without any oversight from responsible authorities nor investigation from the mainstream press for their role to embolden the ethnic Apartheid regime of Ethiopia. The last time the Rwanda Genocide happened under their watch, they blamed it on everybody but, themselves because the mainstream Media failed to investigate.

It is about time to call on western journalists covering Ethiopia and the region to fulfil their basic journalistic duty by reporting the reality and the responsible parties than narrating the ruling regimes’ propaganda and help end the suffering of millions of people.

Schemm of The Washington Post and his colleagues covering Ethiopia will do the US and the rest of the world great service if they focus their coverage on the cause not the symptom of the problem. The highly corrupt ethnic apartheid TPLF led regime masquerading as ‘democratically elected’ Federal government is the problem and will remain to be so not the solution. Nor it could ever be ‘key US ally’ if the mainstream Media correspondents do their job as they should to inform Americans what is being done in our name.