Norway: Silence and indifference about Ethiopia
By Lemma Desta, Last updated: 05.02.2018
Source: Bistands Aktuelt Norway (Google Translation – February 6, 2018)
OPINIONS: After the Crown Prince’s visit to Ethiopia last autumn, it has been difficult to create debate on Norway’s relationship with Ethiopia. It is good that Norway’s relations with Ethiopia are normalized, business and organizations engage, but I would like to say that it was possible to ask critical questions.
I have no doubt that the Norwegian royal house has a social responsibility. They make a great effort. Nevertheless, the question is to what extent their commitment is weighed against human rights assessments? If such assessments are not made in advance, the royal house risks supporting values that violate both their own convictions and the Norwegian constitution.
Although the Crown Prince pair was central to the Ethiopian visit, many business leaders and organizational leaders were on the move. For the Norwegian civil society organizations (with long-term involvement in Ethiopia) this is a known dilemma.
Risks to be expelled
Should they talk about the conditions in Ethiopia openly and honestly, thus risking being thrown out of the country or tied up and adapting? Unfortunately, many of them have chosen to adapt to Ethiopian authorities requirements. Even though they represent themselves as ambassadors and defenders of rights and righteousness, they can not do it in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, service providers are working to relieve suffering to a few without establishing the power structures that hold people’s oppression being affected.
To help someone is a good goal in itself, but unfortunately not enough if overall structural injustice is not challenged. The danger is that they help to maintain violence and injustice. In recent years, unfortunately, we have witnessed that diplomats, politicians (both in government and opposition, regardless of composition), the royal house, business peoples and civil organizations repeatedly brag that they support human rights and follow “do no harm” principles. But it does not work in practice. The media should question this.
Where were the critical questions?
NRK’s reports on the Crown Prince’s visit to Ethiopia are typical. Suddenly Norway and Ethiopia are good friends with official dinners, shades, presents, appointments and a visit to the government-created human rights organization. Norwegian media reported on a successful visit. The fact that the country was in a demanding and lasting crisis situation did not occur.
Two days after the Crown Prince left Ethiopia, it was an important meeting of the government. There was a shocking report, where the authorities themselves admitted that the country is in a serious situation with popular rebellions. Although the document was to some extent honest with the country’s political problems, it is nevertheless scary that the National Security Council proposed strengthening the military as a solution.
Today I write to express infidelity and disappointment over the silence of the country of freedom of thought and thought freedom, Norway. Freedom of thought, freedom of speech, discussion and debate is one of the good and values I appreciate in Norwegian and Western culture. Of course, it is not always easy to safeguard these fundamental rights for all people and everywhere. But without defending these values, our policies and society are poor. We can easily end up in a situation where untruth, dishonesty, unethical and illegal ways to treat people and community resources become the norm.
I want Norwegian involvement in my country of origin, but at the same time asks that justice and the truth be promoted – that a more nuanced image is emerged in Norwegian media and in the public word change. Both good and evil. The Crown Prince’s visit to Ethiopia raised many relevant questions.