“I was there for the battle of Afabet — walking among dead bodies, witnessing the pillaged Ethiopian army headquarters …” Peter Worthington, May 17, 2013
By Dawit Solomon,
I do not live in Canada, and have very little knowledge of the country but I have travelled throughout Canada like to Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Québec City to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Niagara Falls. As a tourist I found the country very peaceful, beautiful and the people very friendly.
However in recent years, I started reading some hostile media reports aimed at Eritrea(ns) and I was wondering, Why?
Last week, through various Eritrean online news sources, I was introduced to a Canadian journalist and founding editor of the Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington’s visit to Eritrean and his eye witness account on the Eritrean struggle more than two decades ago. I was also able to watch his subsequent interviews.
Certainly, We already knew several countries, small and big, including but not limited to including U.S.A, the then USSR, Yemen, Libya, Cuba, Israel, and East German were all helping Ethiopia, but it never crossed my mind Canada too was an active partner with the Mengistu Hailemariam’s regime in destroying the Eritrean struggle until I read the eye witness account of Peter Worthington in his 1988 Birth of a Nation article.
On the very first public speech Mengistu delivered to Ethiopians in 1974 right after he took over power by killing General Andom, he boasted to raise 6,000,000 soldiers to crash the Eritrean resistance. Mengistu’s threat was soon to be realized when USSR replaced USA as the major arms supplier for his army. He diverted trucks donated by western countries to distribute drought relief, to collect his army from all parts of the country and shipped them to Eritrea, most never to return. Mengistu kept such a huge standing army of 500,000 strong at any time of his rule, and was sending 200 – 300,000 soldiers as reinforcement to Eritrea since 1976. How did Mengistu managed to feed such a huge army?
Ethiopian agriculture was devastated by the drought that swept the region in early 1970s, which lead to the unprecedented famine in the country and became one of the factors of the downfall of Emperor Haile Sellasie, and the ascending of Mengistu, and throughout Mengistu’s time, agriculture had never recovered, not only drought but also his disastrous collectivization programs ruined the Ethiopian subsistence agriculture completely. The Ethiopian peasant subsistence farming system could not have produced a surplus grain to enable Mengistus rule in the country for 17 years. The answer to the mystery question is revealed by Peter Worthington’s testimony on the battle of Afabet when the EPLF destroyed Ethiopian Mechanize Divisions in Eritrea and captured a number of weapons along with 10,000 Ethiopian soldiers and three Soviet army Generals that came to lead the battle.
“I was there for the battle of Afabet — walking among dead bodies, witnessing the pillaged Ethiopian army headquarters where Canadian food aid for refuges had been diverted to army kitchens for soldiers. As well as Canadian wheat flour marked for refugees being in army kitchens, they were also on sale in Afabet’s stores, along with donated cooking oil. Strangely, Western countries sided with Ethiopia – probably because it was bigger. Even the Red Cross boycotted the EPLF, and sided with Ethiopia”.
The above testimony clearly reveals Canada’s active and secret involvement with Mengisu’s barbaric war against Eritrean and Ethiopian people. Without the unlimited grain and cooking oil supply for his 17 years rule under the guise of Foreign Aid, Mengisu’s army could not have survived that long. The Soviets were able to supply weapons, trainers or even man power to direct the war in the field, but not food. At the time the Soviet Union was unable to feed itself and it has to buy wheat and corn from U.S. and Canada, so there was the Canadian farmers that enabled and sustained the war in Eritrea as long as it lasted. Canada was hand in glove with Ethiopia secretly to crush the Eritrean aspiration.
Peter Wothington also described the historic Afabet battle as one that changed the course of history in the world. According to Eritrean fighters, Afeabet war was the first sign of Eritrean labor where the water of independence broke, the sign for the birth of a nation. The labor continued at the battle of the port city Massawa known ‘Operation Fenkil’ that uprooted and guaranteed the end of Mengistu’s power and Ethiopian occupation in Eritrea. The Massawa war cut the umbilical cord of the Mengistu’s army life line from Canada’s wheat.
When he realized he could not continue the war without the free Canadian food aid, the war game was over and he decided to flee by ordering ordering a frenetic aerial bombardment of the port city. Those who replaced him also knew the army cannot fight with empty stomach and soon gave up their lifelong dream of ruling Eritrea, which made EPLF entry to Asmara a cakewalk on May 24, 1991, the most joeys day for Eritreans throughout the world. On the contrary the same day May 24, 1991 is remembered as the saddest day for all the enemies of Eritrea who dreamt and wished Eritrean people to be wiped-out of the face of the Earth.
After realizing Canada’s secretive and active partnership of the barbaric war of Mengistu, which is revealed and became available to the world for all to know by an eyewitness we are forced to ask several fundamental questions. The first question that came to my mind is why Canada, a country in North America located physically ten thousand miles from the Horn Africa be involved to suppress Eritrean people effort to free themselves from a barbaric colonial power?
To get any clue or hint to this mystery, I started to read Canada’s history. I learned that Canada was a British colony that was allowed to exist as an ‘independent’ country under the British Crown, with the Queen of England as the head of the country. Therefore we may conclude that Canada was taking an order from the British to be involved in the side of Ethiopian side against Eritreans. The British government never supported Eritrean independence since 1940. Therefore Canada being a subordinate of British Crown, acting as a subcontractor of the British foreign policy may have adopted to oppose Eritrean Independence. But, apart from simply adopting and following British foreign policy, was there any substantive reason for Canada’s National interest to oppose Eritrean Independence?
Canada’s population is made up of a Anglophone groups who speak English as their native language and Francophone who speak French who live in the North-Eastern part of the country in the province of Quebec.
“Tension between the francophone, Catholic population of Quebec and the largely Anglophone, Protestant population of the rest of Canada has been a central theme of Canadian history, shaping the early territorial and cultural divisions of the country that persist to this day”.
The above statement reveals a clue to Canada’s Proxy War in Eritrea, because Eritrea’s success against Ethiopia would have direct ramification on Canada’s national integration by boosting the morale of the Francophone population who were agitating to secede from the British dominated Canada under the British Crown. To the French Canadians, whose ancestors were the first people in history to abolish their monarchy during the ‘French Revolution’ and now are forced to live under the British Monarchy. They resented this forced marriage and were seeking legal divorce. To this effect French Canadians had two referendums.
“The province-wide referendum took place on Tuesday, May 20, 1980, and the proposal to pursue secession was defeated by a 59.56 percent to 40.44 percent margin. The second referendum took place in Quebec on October 30, 1995, and the motion to decide whether Quebec should secede from Canada was defeated by a very narrow margin of 50.58% “No” to 49.42% “Yes”.
Looking from the result of the two referendums, it is understandable why Canada is worried on the subject, to deal with its civil war within its territory but why engages in a genocidal wars in the Horn of Africa?
From the brief Canada history, we can conclude that the involvement of Canada in Eritrea must have been a secretive proxy war fighting its civil war 10,000 miles away from its territory. It is understandable for Canada to pursue its national interest at any part of the globe, giving openly political support to Ethiopia, in UN or any international forum, because the success of Eritrea would be a ‘Bad Example’ for the Canada’s Secessionist sentiments in the country. But to be secretly engaged directly or indirectly with a genocidal barbaric military campaign by feeding its army is a shame and must be condemned as crime against humanity.
“I was there for the battle of Afabet — walking among dead bodies, witnessing the pillaged Ethiopian army headquarters where Canadian food aid for refuges had been diverted to army kitchens for soldiers. As well as Canadian wheat flour marked for refugees being in army kitchens, they were also on sale in Afabet’s stores, along with donated cooking oil. Strangely, Western countries sided with Ethiopia – probably because it was bigger. Even the Red Cross boycotted the EPLF, and sided with Ethiopia”
That was secret history revealed today. Therefore Canada’s feeding program of the Ethiopian army did not stop the Birth of the new Nation. But what is Canada’s stand towards the new Independent Eritrea whose existence came 22 years ago? Does Canada realized its shameful secret history and refrained from its past criminal deed? It seems there is no prove for that, but Canada has renewed its commitment in feeding the Woyane army still involved in other genocidal wars in Ogaden, Gambela and other parts of Ethiopia. The Woyane army is also occupying sovereign Eritrean territory by defying the Security Council and UN charter.
Canadian aid to Ethiopia has increased in recent years..
“In 2009, as part of Canada’s new aid effectiveness agenda, Ethiopia was selected by CIDA as a country of focus. Canada is the third largest bilateral donor in Ethiopia. CIDA’s programs in Ethiopia support the vision set out in Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan. During 2011-2012, Ethiopia received $207 million worth of Canadian aid, tops among recipient countries, and up about $31 million from the previous year”.
Therefore, Canada’s Proxy War in the Horn of Africa, has not changed from the last Century, instead it significantly increased because Ethiopian empire is still threatened by the Ogaden people movement to form an independent state lead by ONLF and other Oromo people lead by OLF etc.
Some Canadian policy makers and media outlets seems to have intensify a new wave of coordinated hostility towards Eritrea and eritrean-Canadians, the very people and country that were victims of Canada’s systematic proxy war. Many of them were displaced from their native land by the war in Eritrea.
The new fabricated accusations of “raising money to fund terrorists to kill Canadians” by its national media outlet clearly is a threat to its citizens of Eritrean origin. Such irresponsible statements by Canadian National media must be designed to hide the shameful history of Canada’s past and present Proxy wars in the Horn of Africa by directing the blame to Eritreans and Eritrean Government?