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Mengistu Genocide, Ethiopia

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Chandrima Gupta

on 9 May 2014

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Transcript of Mengistu Genocide, Ethiopia

Mengistu Genocide
(The Red Terror)

Chandrima Gupta, Melissa Uwera, and...

Contributing Factors
Social Factors:
Emperor Selassie largely paid the military and police to the extent that 40% from the state budget went towards them and only 1% for farmers, who numbered 30 million compared to 100 000 in the military. Factors like this allowed the communism embracing Derg to come to power
Divide between rich and poor was great and the history of killing those opposed to the regime was not new as a corrupt and distrustful Selassie himself did it himself.
The youth and other highly educated Ethiopians attracted to left-wing philosophies wanted greater living conditions and career opportunities. Overthrowing of monarchy was therefore supported even through violent means as was orchestrated by the Derg.
The youth through the USUAA (University students union of Addis Ababa) revolted for better prices and lower taxes by stoning properties of the wealthy members, boycotting class. Over 2200 students leave university and begin to engage in underground activities

Political Factors:
The Derg rose to power after a coup against the Haile Selassie, the emperor and his monarchy. Selassie became unpopular for factors such as uncertainty in succession, border wars with Somalia, discontent in middle class over modernization, and larger factors over mishandling a famine and rising oil and commodities prices during the worldwide oil crisis in 1973
One of the reasons that the DERG was not popular among the EPRP and its supporters was because they had nationalized all banks and insurance firms and had ordered national collective ownership of land. They lost support from the country's left wing by excluding them from the decision making process.
There was also the Organization of African Unity (OAU) that played a role in the genocide. It aimed to ensure that all Africans enjoyed human rights, raise the living standards of Africans, and settle arguments and disputes among members. This meant that the people in Ethiopia were encouraged to think about what kinds of living standards they had and work to make them better. it also encouraged education among the population and the genocide at people who were more educated.
The Menghistu genocide was a genocide orchestrated by the Derg, or a military government that ousted the former monarchy of Ethiopia. Led by Menghistu, incidents were undertaken to primarily eradicate any counterrevolutionary or anyone with education really. Members or supporters of Ethiopia's main opposition party ; the EPRP were mainly targeted. The EPRP and later members of another political party, the MEISON or anyone with signs of education were targeted
Economic Factors:
The famine that occured in early 1970's
-an estimated number of 200 000 deaths in Wallo
- contributed to the fall of the emperor as the emperor refused to recognize the gravity of the situation.
The worldwide oil crisis of 1973
-rising oil prices due to war in the middle east caused mainly educated people protest
- These two factors were the main reasons for the emperors downfall in popularity and communism, popular amongst the youth to take play
Ultra-Nationalism and Genocide
Ultra- nationalism is the extreme pursuit of a nation’s nationalism for the interests of that nation
extremists with ambitions
intention of the development and betterment of the nation
These measures can often induce the mass elimination of a certain religious or ethnic group in effort to reach a pre-conceived notion
the fascist movements of expansionism ( japan ) , irredentism ( Italy; Mussolini) , and totalitarianism ( Germany; Hitler)
The leaders of ultra-nationalism are usually very charismatic leaders who appear just when a nation is struggling; and they promise to re-establish prosperity
Genocide is the destruction, in part on in whole, of an ethnic, religious, national, or racial group
The relationship between these two terms exists within the cause and effect model
Genocide is a potential result of all ultra-nationalistic pursuits.
Genocide is one of the lowest points that humanity has ever reached; and it wouldn't be able to occur without some very driven leaders. It is an event that requires incredible ambition, as all the ultra-nationalistic leaders possessed.
Ethnic Factors
The Derg was made up of mainly Oromo people that made up about 34.49% of Ethiopia's population.
The EPRP was made of Amharic people that made about 30.89% of the population. These two groups have never had a completely peaceful relationship.
Even though the genocide was not primarily based on these ethnic differences, these differences did end up increasing the conflict as they created divide among the people of Ethiopia and these two parties.
-racial, ethnic, religious,ect, groups - killing

Cause: Ultra-nationalistic pursuit
European powers and the Scramble for Africa. This period illustrates an example of superior nations pursuing their own nationalistic goals
The colonisation period lead to conflicts between ethnic groups in some parts of Africa due to the influence of Europeans and the desire for power
Europeans desired to expand their land and to gain wealth and prosperity through the acquisition of natural resources
Cause: Ultra-nationalistic pursuit
Cause: Ultra-nationalistic pursuit
The slavery movement in colonial times, specifically in America.
This period marked the economic ultra-nationalistic pursuit
It had the objective of using the slaves as working machines in order to improve the economy at that time
Cause and effect relationship between ultra-nationalism and genocide

The Derg were a committee of low ranking military officers who took advantage of the emperor’s unpopularity. They ousted the monarchy through a coup in September of 1974 and imprisoned and killed members of the monarchy. The Derg perpetrated the genocide so there would be no question to their rule
The EPRP (Ethiopion People’s Revolutionary Party) is the first modern political party that initially called for the overthrow of the monarchy, creation for a democratic republic and later went in a war against a hostile Derg that took power.
The MEISON was another party that was targeted by Menghistu and the Derg for having differences ideologically. It was similar to the EPRP as it supported a revolution against the monarchy and embraced communism. This party as well as the EPRP made efforts for a democratic Ethiopia.
NOTE: Although the Scramble for Africa was not a genocide period; it was still a period that resulted in the deliberate infliction of difficult life conditions as many nations in Africa were under harsh power.
An example of the cruelty of Menghistu can be illustrated as he gave officials of Kebeles (a zone or district) military arms. These arms were used to get rid of any EPRP or anyone who seemed like being against his regime through house to house search. Little evidence as cameras or typewriters in a house was regarded as dangerous in identifying who was and isn’t against the regime. Many times, if the individual was young and even slightly educated was proof enough that they were involved in counterrevolutionary activities.
Menghistu gained rule as the undisputed head of the ruling Derg as 58 top Derg officers were killed in a meeting in 1977. No one opposed his rule after this event.
The internement period in Canada of citizens of Japanese decent
This period is another example of an ultra-nationalistic pursuit
Happened following the attack on Pearl Harbor; as anyone with Japanese decent was suspected of being an accomplice in the attack
removal of people from their homes; and exposed to undesirable living conditions
This was an attempt at maintaining the country's defense; however, it was done from merely speculations of espionage activities, which were not really proven
The Red Terror and Ultra-Nationalism
The Derg, established with the intent of abolishing the aristocracy and the imperial regime that ruled Ethiopia under emperor Selassie’s governing.
They wanted reforms and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy
Their goal was initially supported by the general public who demanded change in Ethiopia
adopted the philosophy, “Ethiopia Tikdem”, meaning Ethiopia first. Here we see the start of ultra-nationalism, as their interests now began to go far beyond their initial goal of reforming the country; now they wanted more lasting changes, and more is ultra-nationalism in action.
Violence began: the arrest and imprisonment of emperor Selassie .
They proclaimed themselves to be the new ruling body of government, the Provisional Military Administrative Council;
notice that, although the public was finally witnessing change, the Derg was not officially elected.
Mengistu seized power, as we saw earlier.
his power began to brew after Ethiopia was officially declared to be a socialist country. As his power grew, so did his extremist endeveours
change was supported by the people of Ethiopia; and even the major powers in the world warned the socialist movement to remain moderate
Mengistu chose to follow his own agenda to become a one party ruler.
What began as a revolution, resulted in an era that came to be known as genocide. Mengistu not only killed members of his opposition ( EPRP); he went as far as silencing even the most helpless of the population, children and youth.
The EPRP engaged in the elimination of some of the Derg members in the White terror, effort to halt the radical Derg movement. We see how ultra-nationalism here, between the two groups, lead to violence as one party fought for its goals and doing so by resulting to desperate measures


In the case of the Red Terror in Ethiopia; what began as a pursuit of change and reform from the imperialistic legacy of Ethiopia, lead to a war, and eventually a genocide caused by a nation pursuing its national interests ( a revolution towards socialism).
On one hand, ultra-nationalism and pursuing interests allowed Ethiopia to come out of the famine, high prices, inequality within land ownership, and corruption period.
the period between 1974- 1991; which saw the most advances in the pursuit of a socialist Ethiopia; also saw the most bloodshed and deep ruptures in the country and its people.
For fear of opposition and the chances of a revolution being stopped, the pursuit of national interest can unleash very extreme leaders who get too caught up in this ideology of “country first”, and “ we must be better”
It is estimated that between 30 000 - 500 000 people were killed over the course of the red terror.
During this time, the DERG also conducted house - to - house searches and convicted people for having typewriters or computers as they were thought to be used for espionage. They even confiscated gasoline.
Main method of killing people was by shooting them.
They were herded into churches and burnt down.
Women were raped.
People were tortured, drowned, strangled.
1000 children between the age of 11-13 were murdered.
Corpses were publically displayed in order to punish the victims' families and persuade them to support the red terror and DERG.
Families of the victims' were also required to pay for the bullet used to kill the victim before releasing the body for burial.
"During one week of the Red Terror of 1978, [Mengistu's] secret police and army security squads murdered 5,000 high school and university students and imprisoned 30,000 others" (Report 23 May 1991).
Prisoners taken for membership in EPRP or suspicions of resistance to government were burned, flogged, hung by the arms, had their fingernail ripped out and men had their testicle removed.
Ugly incidents occurred even after these two years and Menghistu was charged for the lives of over 1 million

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