The “Right to Rebel” in international law; if not recognized, it’s acknowledged, Madam Sherman!

Although, majority of Ethiopians are inured to America’s hypocrisy on democracy and human rights as well as some of its officials asinine and reckless public utterance, the effrontery Wendy Sherman manifested recently in Addis is, however, unparalleled.

Kiflu Hussain Global News Centre

(DALLAS)   Once again Ethiopians in Ethiopia and Ethiopians scattered all over the world got so angry in the last couple of weeks. While the majority of Ethiopians who have left their country are relatively free to vent their anger without any repercussions, those hapless Ethiopians still living in their own country cannot do so without risking the wrath of the Ethiopian regime which has proven to be brutally deadly against any form of dissent in the last 24 years.

But what made Ethiopians angry this time? Well, Ethiopians have always been simmering with anger, especially, against the current regime which on top of violating human rights and disregarding rule of law with impunity, is viewed as a sellout of the vital interests of the nation. This regime which came to power on the pretext of liberating a minority ethnic group called Tigray have shown no compunction to pit different ethnic and religious groups against one another simply to perpetuate its minority rule and monopoly on resources. Because of this diabolical divide and rule tactic, the regime, despite angering all Ethiopians at different times in different degree, managed to stay in power.

In the last couple of weeks, however, Ethiopians have shown anger against the regime almost simultaneously. The anger which culminated to a boiling point due  to the beheading of Ethiopian migrants in Libya was first provoked by the xenophobic killings of other migrants turned entrepreneurs in South Africa. Irrespective of the hype on “fastest growing economy,” the driver of the desperate migration of these Ethiopians is the tyrannical regime that not only failed to provide but deliberately denied decent living opportunities. This, therefore, is slowly but surely reuniting in the detest Ethiopians feel for the regime.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander

Against the backdrop of this tragic saga of Ethiopian migrants set on fire by xenophobic hoodlums in South Africa; beheaded by terrorists in Libya; and kept on drowning in countless numbers, came the crude remark of Wendy Sherman, United States Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs.

Although, majority of Ethiopians are inured to America’s hypocrisy on democracy and human rights as well as some of its officials asinine and reckless public utterance, the effrontery Wendy Sherman manifested recently in Addis is, however, unparalleled. Sherman, after spouting the hackneyed phrase “fastest growing economy,” went on as far as describing the current repressive system as a “democracy.” She added too that election is getting “better and better” in Ethiopia. Thus, she warned that “no group including Ginbot 7 should she warned that “no group including Ginbot 7 should attempt to overthrow or speak of overthrowing a democratically elected government.”

There is no need to belabor how this asinine remark elicited a swift rejoinder from her own backyard ranging from Freedom House to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The focus of all these groups was to discredit Sherman’s assertion that Ethiopia is a “democracy” where election is getting “better and better” by reminding her of her own department’s damning reports against the Ethiopian regime she just extolled to the sky. Even Ginbot 7 which Sherman almost dubbed as a “terrorist” organization by echoing her counterparts in the Ethiopian regime did the same to justify its existence in the statement it released under the title “Partnership with a Dictatorship guarantees neither security nor stability.”

Understandably, the Rights group avoided making any comments on Sherman’s warning against Ginbot 7 supposed to have resorted to arms struggle. Since the core principle of human rights groups is to peacefully advocate for human rights and to condemn violence of any kind, they cannot afford to be seen defending Ginbot 7. On the other hand, though, they could have told Madam Sherman without appearing to condone Ginbot 7’s decision to resort to arms rebellion that the regime which came by the barrel of a gun and which still props itself up by the gun, brought it on itself, if indeed Ginbot 7 managed to have become a formidable rebel force worthy of mentioning.

After all, the Universal Declaration for Human Rights indicates in its preamble that a society like Ethiopia who is denied all avenues of “essential human rights” can be “compelled to have recourse as a last resort to rebellion.”Now people in Ethiopia have been denied their right to free expression; no right of assembly and no recourse to justice either since the judiciary is totally subservient to the ruling party. The last time Ethiopians turned out in record numbers and voted for their representatives, the results were rigged; their representatives were thrown in jail. And when they protested this blatant usurpation of power peacefully, they were gunned down in broad daylight. Out of this were born Ginbot 7 Movement founded by rightfully angry people against the tyrannical regime. Ironically, some of the leaders of Ginbot 7 who are educated in the United States and who are even unapologetically pro American failed to remind Madam Sherman that their resolution against the Ethiopian tyranny is no different than Patrick Henry’s who exhorted Americans to rebel against the British tyranny by saying “we must fight! I repeat it, Sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!”

Since America’s track record in hosting people who aspire for their freedom by getting organized from the time of African National Congress (ANC)’s struggle againstApartheid was dismal; on the contrary, it has the history of siding with egregious tyrannies such as Apartheid that forced ANC to make strategic alliance with nations like Cuba, Libya etc., Ginbot 7 of Ethiopia too appeared to have made that alliance with Eritrea that’s ready to host it. Since United States “strategic” alliance to stamp out terrorism with regimes like the Ethiopian one that promote state terrorism hasn’t turned White House to promote state terrorism domestically against its own people, ANC’s alliance with Cuba’s Castro or Libya’s Gaddafi did not produce a tin pot dictator in South Africa either. Seen from this perspective, most Ethiopians have little fear of Ginbot 7 leadership’s alliance with the Eritrean regime. The doubt is only on its leadership resolution and capacity to rebel Patrick Henry’s style or whether it has ANC’s determination to carry the struggle,no matter how long it takes. At any rate, Madam Sherman should have been told that what’s good for American rebellion is also good for Ethiopian rebellion just like the proverbial goose and gander. She should have been reminded too, that there is implicit “recognition” to the “right to rebel” in international law for people suffering under egregious tyrannies with little recourse except to “resort” to fighting.


Kiflu Hussain says his passion for writing came from reading, and that it’s inevitable that the more one reads, the more one develops the urge to write. Kiflu has published articles in Ethiopia on the English Reporter, then a weekly newspaper along with a few Amharic articles on the defunct Addis Zena. It was after he and his family found refuge in Uganda, that he began contributing writings to the local papers and various websites such as Daily Monitor, Uganda Record, The New Vision, Ethioquestnews, Garowe Online, WardheerNews etc.  Today Kiflu resides in the United States.

We at are honored to carry this gentleman’s work and we hope that in the process, western people may come to appreciate the struggle of refugees throughout the world.

You can write to Kiflu at: [email protected]

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