All that glisters is not gold — — William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, Act II Scene 7
The Noble Peace Prize is given to individuals or institutions for their contribution or service to humanity; for their endeavour to bring peace and fraternity among societies and nations. And for Abiy Ahmed this was the premise under which the Nobel Committee decided to present him with the award, in 2019.
Indeed! — All that glisters (glitters) is not gold. Two years later he proved the international community that he was never worthy of such a great honor which has, for over a hundred years, been bestowed upon men and women who had made a real difference in the world. Today, in the eyes of millions, he is a war criminal. The blood in his hand will remain a stain on history. But we must not let it tarnish the works and reputation of institutions that continue to support all kinds of effort for peace and freedom in the world.
From 1901 until the present, the Nobel Peace Prize has been dedicated to those who advocated for the rule of law, freedom, justice, civil rights and peace, as well as for leading successful treaties among nations and for establishing institutions whose objectives are devoted to the preservations of human values. To name a few among the many recipients:
· Martin Luther king JR (1964)
· Mother Teresa (1979)
· Elie Wiesel (1986). He had seen and experienced one of the worst forms of genocide in history; he was a Holocaust survivor. But for decades until his death, he advocated for peace and harmony in the world
· Nelson Mandela (1993)
· Doctors Without Borders (1999) an organization three of its members (two of which were doctors) recently killed in Tigray.
The names above are just to give context to the true meaning of such an honor. The question is — where would the name Abiy Ahmed fit in the grand scheme of things. He is like an extra piece that does not belong anywhere in a jig saw puzzle…A man who won Nobel Peace Prize, may be, by accident?
In 1905, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Baroness Bertha Sophie Felicita Von Suttner: “for her audacity to oppose the horrors of war.”
In 2019, a year after becoming Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed was given that same award. Then within two years of his Prize he unleashed the very horrors of war that this magnificent woman had stood against.
In 1931, Jane Addams was awarded for her effort in the foundation of Women’s International League for Peace and freedom. One can imagine how she would have felt about the rape and killings of Tigryan women by Abiy Ahmed’s soldiers and his Eritrean allies. But one may wonder — How would she have felt knowing that the man responsible for the brutalization of women and the torture and massacre of innocent civilians was a Nobel Laureate just like her? How ironic!
Many Nobel Peace Prize winners continued their fight for justice and peace until death. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed while keeping the promise, the struggle for human dignity and freedom. In 1964, during his award, he gave the following acceptance speech:
“Nonviolence has also meant that my people in the agonizing struggles of recent years have taken suffering upon themselves instead of inflicting it on others. It has meant, as I said, that we are no longer afraid and cowed. But in some substantial degree it has meant that we do not want to instill fear in others or into the society of which we are a part. It seeks to secure moral ends through moral means.
Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it…But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert.
Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”
Below is taken from Nelson Mandela’s Nobel Peace Prize lecture:
“These countless human beings, both inside and outside our country, had the nobility of spirit to stand in the path of tyranny and injustice, without seeking selfish gain. They recognised that an injury to one is an injury to all and therefore acted together in defense of justice and a common human decency…Because of their courage and persistence for many years, we can, today, even set the dates when all humanity will join together to celebrate one of the outstanding human victories of our century.”
President Barak Obama’s 2009 award may have sparked some controversy, as it was early in his leadership. But he had this to say in his Nobel Peace Prize speech:
“…Compared to some of the giants of history who’ve received this prize — Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela — my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women — some known, some obscure to all but those they help — to be far more deserving of this honor than I.”
During a similar ceremony in 2019, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made the following speech: “…I accept this award on behalf of my partner, and comrade-in-peace, President Isaias Afeworki, whose goodwill, trust, and commitment were vital in ending the two-decade deadlock between our countries.”
The Nobel Committee, of course, did not recognize Isayas Afewerki as someone contributing to peace; but Abiy Ahmed certainly did share the award with his partner in genocide. In his speech he continued with outright blasphemy against the Christian Scriptures and the Holy Quran:
“I am inspired by a Biblical Scripture which reads: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Equally I am also inspired by a Holy Quran verse which reads: Humanity is but a single Brotherhood. So, make peace with your Brethren. I am committed to toil for peace every single day and in all seasons. I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper too. I have promises to keep before I sleep. I have miles to go on the road of peace. As I conclude, I call upon the international community to join me and my fellow Ethiopians in our Medemer inspired efforts of building enduring peace and prosperity in the Horn of Africa….”
There are countless men and women who had made a tremendous contribution to humanity and peace. One of them is a man who gave the world a weapon-of-mass construction: the principles of nonviolence to resolve disputes. And that was the great Mahatma Gandhi. He was nominated five times for Nobel Peace Prize, but was never awarded even posthumously. He died in 1948, a few days after his last nomination. Then there is Abiy Ahmed, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, who won the award on his first nomination. Though, today, the world has begun to see him for what he really is — nothing but a criminal.
Abiy Ahmed came to power during events of civil unrest and politicized ethnic tensions. Perhaps nobody suspected that there was such a vile man lurking in the shadows; only to be born in a vacuum, or when opportunity knocks. On his ascent to power, he recited the words of hope and prosperity to earn the Ethiopian’s trust and that of the unsuspecting observers around the world. Soon he reached out to the Eritrean leader, Isayas Afewerki. A man he admired; a man known for being devoid of any sense of justice, peace and stability in East Africa.
It was then that Abiy Ahmed was nominated for the coveted award. But, unbeknownst to the world, including the Nobel Committee, the seemingly-honest jubilation with Isayas Afewerki was, in fact, the time the two men were about to seal the deal to conduct a concerted, full-scale attack on the people of Tigray in the coming year or two. He accepted the award with humility, as though to reassure the members of the Committee that they had made the right decision. In his Nobel lecture, he was profuse in promises, to live up to the principles or ideals of the very diploma he was holding in his hand. But what truly happened on that day was that he usurped the honor that has been reserved for the real heroes of peace, justice and human dignity.
This article is not in any way to criticize the Nobel Committee’s decision; after all, Abiy Ahmed had fooled millions of peace-loving Ethiopians. The atrocities and the long-lasting damages he had inflicted on innocent Tigryans cannot be undone. But, rescinding his status as a Nobel Prize Laureate must be quite feasible. This may not have been done before, but it must begin, now. A ruling to take away his Prize may even serve humanity more significantly than (erroneously) attributing to him a status with which his true character is at odds. In other words, not only does the Nobel Peace Prize serve him personally, in name, but also to hide himself in the illusion of being a ‘peace-maker’. History is a witness that he has used his Nobel Prize as a shinny shield to blind the world from the mass killings and rape conducted by his soldiers. And sadly, this may have resulted in a slow response from the international community to his crimes.
Being a ‘Noble Laureate’ may have given Abiy Ahmed a misguided sense of impunity for all the war-crimes he is responsible. When he and his self-serving supporters/groups that continue to empower him, as well as their forces and militias invaded Tigray, worst of all, they were joined by an Eritrean army. The appalling atrocities Abiy Ahmed’s soldiers and his allies had committed are unheard of, and unimaginable, in the Abyssinian (Habesha) history and culture. And the enormity of the war-crime and the abomination of it all will always shock Tigryans for generations to come, as Tigray is at the heart of Abyssinian’s rich history and culture.
At present, the world continues to watch that in the war he had started, Abiy Ahmed is defeated and humiliated in ways that had never been seen in the history of Ethiopia, or of many other countries for that matter. But men like him do not take defeat lightly. They tend to plot more and more vengeance, especially when they know that their heydays of power are coming to an end. Now he is using the old tactic of revenge — inciting others through propaganda of hate, fear and panic. That is, to fully arm men with ethnic-oriented animosity as much as with real weapons, so that they can get him the kind of retaliation his disgraced ego aspires. While being unhinged and disturbed duo to an overwhelming sense of humiliation and anger, he is now adding a new set of fertilizer to the seeds of ethnic-hate sewn by Mengistu Hilemariam in his final days (more than thirty years ago in a similar situation) before fleeing to Zimbabwe.
Many may not be aware that they are fighting for Abiy Ahmed’s badly bruised self-image and his greedy/self-serving supporters; that they are deployed in a conflict from which they would never benefit one way or the other. But as he tries to mobilize innocent civilians to save himself, such a desperate act can only lead to a massive damage at a national scale. Abiy Ahmed and his allies must be stopped from spreading fear and hatred as they are frantically trying to garner more support from peace-loving Ethiopians. Unrestrained, their plans might escalate into a far worse human disaster. Therefore, it would not be presumptuous to make a logical and pragmatic statement that revoking his Nobel Peace Prize would help thousands of Ethiopians open their eyes…It might help avert any further crisis.
It would mean doing justice if the Nobel Peace Prize Committee rescinds Abiy Ahmed’s award. If this is not possible at this time, I hope the Committee suspends his Nobel Laureate status until further investigation…Such an action may set a precedent for future controversies. But most importantly, it would help the healing process.
I would like to finish with the following quote from Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Prize Laureate:
…And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.
God bless those who stand for justice and peace for all.
W.T. J. Daniels