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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Haile Selassie: The position of Ethiopia

Haile Selassie gave this speech after Ethiopia was threaten by Fascist Italy in 1935.

Five months before the pretext found in December in the Ualual incident, Italy had begun the armament of her colonies, armament which since has been intensified and increased by the continuous sending of troops, mechanized equipment and ammunition during the entire duration of the work of the Council of the League of Nations and the work of the arbitration board.

Now that the pretext on which they planned to make war upon us has vanished, Italy, after having obtained from the powers their refusal to permit us to purchase armaments and ammunition which we do not manufacture and which are necessary to our defense, seeks to discredit the Ethiopian people and their government before world opinion.

They characterize us as a barbarous people whom it is necessary to civilize. The attitude of Italy will be judged by history. We will see whether it is the act of a nation that prides herself as being the epitome of civilization to make an unjust attack on a pacific people, recently disarmed and which placed all their confidence in her promise of peace and friendship which the civilized nation had previously given in a treaty made on her own initiative seven years before, to be exact, August 2, 1928.

Italy seeks to justify the unworthy act which she prepares to commit against our people. To this end, instead of replying to the legal argument which we have presented to demonstrate the violation of our territory, and the armed and illegal occupation of our territory by Italian troops, her government presents at the last moment a documentation against our people patiently and slyly assembled by numerous paid agents distributed throughout our territory under the guise of diplomatic representatives.

It is not the place or the moment here to reply legally or quarrel with Italy on their accusation, which as yet is known to us only by hearsay. To this memorandum, presented on September 4 to the League of Nations, which as yet has not had time to reach us, our government is able to reply point by point and to answer the league on all these accusations formulated at the last hour against us and to sustain the court of world opinion which now ought to judge.

Our delegation at Geneva has received our formal instructions to demand of the Council of the League of Nations the institution of an. international commission of inquiry, the only organ competent to decide such a question after having heard both parties to the dispute.

The Ethiopian people are firmly attached to peace, but they are at the same time animated by a deep love of country. Whatever may be the state of disarmament in which they unjustly find themselves through the diplomatic manoeuvres of Italy, our people are jealous of their independence and know how and will use even swords and spears in defense of the acres they have cultivated and which they love.

We do not want war. Ethiopia puts her confidence in God, and she knows His justice transcends that of man. She knows that the modern methods of war invented by men to dispose of others have never been a true symbol of civilization.

She gives thanks to those statesmen who, in spite of the immensity of their problems, have given months of their efforts to assure the maintenance of a peace which the demands of Italy disturb.  

The Ethiopian Government, the Ethiopian church and all her people pray to God that he may assist and direct them in their efforts for the maintenance of peace. Ethiopia is conscious of having always fulfilled all her international obligations and having until now made all the sacrifices compatible with her honor and dignity to assure a peaceful solution of the present conflict.

She wishes and hopes with all her heart that an amicable and peaceful settlement, in accordance with right and justice, will intervene, and the officers of the Council of the League of Nations, in conformity with the pact, will compel all the nations of the world, great and small, who hold peace as their ideal to halt this crisis which threatens to stop all civilization.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I appreciate your writing. The Italians had been a late-comer to African colonization, and by the 1930s Fascist despot Benito Mussolini was anxious to grab any chance to pick up a decent footing on the mainland and exhibit Italy's rising force. Italy had battled the Ethiopians before: in the wake of seizing control of Somaliland in the 1880s, they endeavored to build up a protectorate over the Ethiopian domain in 1895 and were unequivocally crushed.