Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ethiopian Civil War- Mengitsu

Ethiopian Military

The Ethiopian Civil War was a conflict that spread from 1974 into the mid 1990s and brought severe violence to the region. Originally a revolution in the 1970s, the war became a guerilla conflict between many political factions all trying to control Addis Abba, the capital of Ethiopia. In the early 1990s, the EPRDF, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Frontled a movement to overthrow the established Mengitsu regime, which spread organized warfare to the streets of Addis Abba. The Mengitsu's political policies are similar to many other militant African governments using far left communism as an excuse for power.

Castro and Mengitsu

Mengitsu Mariam was a high ranking officer in the Ethiopian communist junta that ruled between 1974 and 1991. During the revolution, Mengitsu moved his way up the chain of command from petty officer to colonel with street smarts and excellent logistical planning skills. After the revolution in 1974, Mariam controlled the military of the Communist regime and led several small scale genocides and ethnic and political cleansings against various tribes in Ethiopia. The man fled Ethiopia when the EPRDF descended on Addis Abba in 1991 and has taken asylum in Zimbabwe, supported by the government and safe of extradition back to his homeland for genocide. In this post, the Mengitsu ethnic and political policies will be debated circa 1991.

The Mengitsu government came to power when the idea of equality and prosperity were very popular in a time of famine and drought. They overthrew the existing emperor and established a militaristic government with the officers leading the revolution as the rulers.The Marxist leaders used ethnic cleansing and political imprisonment to destroy revolutionary groups, composed of students and members of o
ther juntas during 1977-1978, called the Red Terror. Thousands of men, women, and children were ruthlessly murdered because of political alliances and cultural backgrounds, leaving Addis Abba full of dead bodies. Mengitsu led this ruthless revolution by identifying "enemies of the revolution", like many Marxist states, and quickly eliminating them, leaving thousands, innocent or not, dead in the streets, to be eaten by dogs. This genocide, ultimately, would be the largest case that happened in Ethiopia's history, and the horrors of the Red Terror would fill many of the 8,000 pages of charges against Mengitsu for genocide. between 1994-2006, tried and convicted in absentia. It's very important to note that genocide in Ethiopia is defined as an attempt to wipe out either a political or ethnic group.
Ethiopian Citizen Patrols

Another ethnic conflict in Ethiopia near the end of the Cold War was the persecution of the Oromos. The Oromos, a very large ethnic group in Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, and other countries, was persecuted by Mengitsu starting in the late 1970s until his abdication. The Oromos controlled the Ethiopian government for centuries, but in the 1970s the Derg and the Amharas (an Ethiopian ethnic group) took control of the government, exiling the Oromos and leading a persecution campaign. The Derg removed many of Oromo's rights(not allowed to own land, important since the Oromos were an agrarian culture) and were often imprisoned or exiled from Ethiopia. Oromos could not make a living with the new rules, and by the late 1980s, many Oromos left the war torn country and moved to Australia, Canada, and the United States. A few Oromos have returned, but many have immigrated to the West and have a new life away from homeland violence.

In 1987, the communist Derg junta was dissolved and was replaced with the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia as an attempt to show the world there is a strong, stable democratic nation in Ethiopia. On the contrary, Mengitsu was elected as president despite there was no general elections in the crumbling nation. Mengitsu operated many political groups and parties to try to grow and expand Marxist communism and preserve the PDRE (People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia) for further generations. The PDRE did reform education and received excellent educational and medical advisors from Cuba and Soviet Russia and did attempt to better Ethiopian society. The PDRE still received aid from the UN which supported education in five major native languages (including Oromo). In addition, the constant presence of military police in the streets of Addis Abba greatly reduced the crime rate during the 1980s when the government was still stable. Unfortunately, the PDRE was an establishment by Mengitsu that couldn't do a lot of good because of a lack of resources and native hatred of the Mengitsu regime.
The Workers' Party of Ethiopia was another of Mengitsu's platforms from 1984-1990, a Marxist establishment started by Mengitsu and the Soviet Union to spread communism to Africa. The government tried to stop counterrevolutionaries from taking control in the mid and late 1980s, but slowly lost a long war against the EPRDF which ravaged the region around Addis Abba and beyond. Citizens who interfered with Mengitsu's defense were often imprisoned and those captured during battle by Ethiopia's Workers Party could face torture or death, although little is known about Mengitsu's treatment of prisoners. All that is known is Mengitsu attempted to hold on to power with vigor and violence. After the 1989 Battle of Afabet, in which Eritrean patriots inflicted 15,000 casualties on a join Soviet/Ethiopian force, effectively destroying Mengitsu's military force. From there, Mengitsu's army lost several other large battles against the EPRDF and the Eritrean patriots, and the EPRDF quickly took control of Addis Abba in under two years.

Today, Ethiopia still faces violence and political uncertainty. In 1993, the UN entered Eritrea and allowed the citizens of the region to vote on independence. The vote passed, and the state of Eritrea was formally established. In 1998, relations broke between Eritrea and Ethiopia and a small scale war broke out, leaving Ethiopia's economy in shambles. In 2005, a general election was held, despite alleged fraud and corruption, allowing the EPRDF to keep control of the government. The EPRDF still rules Ethiopia, however the country has faced political unrest and a large opposition party was created in 2009 in an attempt to oust the EPRDF, but did not win the 2010 election.

In conclusion, the Derg and Mengitsu regime came to power in a time of starvation and despair yet left the country in a worse state then before. Despite a few positive changes to society, including lowering the crime rate and increasing literary rates, yet the positives of the regime are greatly outweighed by the negatives. The widespread reign of terror and genocide nearly destroyed an entire generation of Ethiopians, and a few Ethiopian patriots have tried to murder Mengitsu in Zimbabwe to exact revenge. The ethnic conflicts of Ethiopia during and after the Cold War mark a disturbing time in which left wing communist and militaristic societies merged to create a violent blood bath in a third world nation.


  1. I love your blog. It enraptures the reader and makes you want to read more and also have an interesting selection of photos. One thing though, you may want to fix that one line on the second to last paragraph. on my computer, it does not condense into paragraph form, it is shown as one long line