Selected Speeches Of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I
UNVEILING MONUMENT TO ABUNA PETROS
We have met today to commemorate by Our presence the martyrdom of an Ethiopian patriot who consecrated with his blood the place on which we now stand, in defence of the principles of religion and of uncompromising resistance against the forces of aggression.
The Monument which We have unveiled, distinguishes the square where the Church Leader, Abuna Petros, was shot by the Italian aggressors in July 1936. His crime was that of being an Ethiopian and leader of the Ethiopian Church, a leader that shrank not from condemning before the world the immorality of the Fascist and Graziani's regime.
His death which had been ordered amongst the first of those sought by the Fascists, marked the importance which the aggressor attached to the destruction of the basis of Ethiopian culture and standards of conduct. It also marked the culminating point in the bitter struggle in the course of which the enemy systematically burned and destroyed churches throughout Our Empire. The League of Nations and the International Red Cross as well as the civilized nations were witnesses to the widespread destruction of churches and the plundering of religious objects and shrines in Ethiopia. They were likewise witnesses to the confession of those same atrocities published as early as January 1936 by that war criminal Badoglio.
The death of Abuna Petros marked a significant point in a struggle characterized by the use of proscribed means of warfare, such as poison gas, the burning of villages and homes, the murder of non-combatants and the aged, and by attempting systematically to abase the moral standards and the culture of the country through terrorism, the slaughter of the educated classes and the total destruction of schools. His death likewise preceded the massacres of February 1937 and those that followed. The world was also witness to the brutality, lust and orgy which characterized the Fascist regime in the long months following the death of Abuna Petros. How many victims bear witness here today with broken lives to the depths of those atrocities?
In the teeth of this record, the enemy today, in callous cynicism seeks to justify his crimes by pointing to benefits which he claims to have brought to Ethiopia. If he speaks of material benefits, those who have been here before the invasion and who are in position to establish a comparison can place a proper evaluation upon the claim. The enemy built frantically in order to defend himself against a nation that refused resolutely to lay down its arms against the aggressor; he did not build in order to bring any permanent contribution to the country. If the enemy has, rather, the effrontery to refer to moral values, We leave to world conscience, chastened by ten years of war, the duty of replying, since Ethiopia refrains from detailing the degradation which the Fascist regime brought to the country.
It is a sad commentary on the state of the world of that period which tolerated the brutalities and the campaigns of unspeakable atrocities in Ethiopia. We ask, had the world refused to tolerate those immoralities, if it had reacted with energy against those violations of international law, might we not have spared the countless deaths and sacrifices of the last ten years?
This monument, although far from the battlefields of Europe, has, therefore, a significance that transcends the frontiers of Ethiopia and the confines of the Continent of Africa and unites the dead of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian and British heroes, with those of El Alamein, of Salerno, of Stalingrad, of Normandy and of Okinawa.
We are now on the eve of the Peace Conference. Ethiopia has given proof of great tolerance towards an enemy that for sixty years has brought her such untold miseries and loss. Thousands of enemy nationals live out peaceful lives amongst us. We have supported the decision to grant the assistance of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to Our vanquished enemy although such aid to Ethiopia, the victim of aggression, has been infinitesimal. As one of the United Nations We agree to the principles of working in peace with Our former enemies. However, that collaboration must be based on good faith and mutual confidence. Ethiopia has demonstrated and will continue to demonstrate her good faith in spite of bitter deceptions from those who have abused it. It is then for the enemy to proffer the hand of friendship. If he wishes the friendship of Ethiopia he must, however, sincerely repent of sixty years of injustices and declare himself prepared to rectify them. If that gesture is accompanied by the firm desire to work in peace without those thoughts of aggression which have motivated and guided Italian policies for sixty years, Ethiopia will accept that gesture in a spirit of friendship and mutual comprehension.
We will now turn to the period of peace at which we have by the Grace of God, at last arrived. It is necessary that the Governments of the United Nations who are now working for the reconstruction of World Peace should be guided by the principles of impartiality so that they shall lay down a solid and proper foundation stone for a system of peace which shall out-live generations.
If the condition of the peace is such as will satisfy the conscience and sense of justice of men, if it is assured to human kind that they shall toil and live happily under a just system in which no discrimination will be made between small and great, then the peace system that shall be laid down can leave a heritage for the coming generation which will be full of happy life and boundless prosperity.
We hope that the future generation will realize the magnitude of sacrifices that was required to accomplish all the works, that is in particular Our duty to achieve for Ethiopia, as well as the work of just peace so that it may preserve it as gain.
Although Ethiopia was among the ancient civilized nations, it is understood that she must struggle to take her place among the civilized nations of today. Modern culture is not a new vogue to Ethiopia, the door is wide open to her. All she needs are institutions and schools to filter and assimilate her ancient culture with modern culture.
As you all know, before Ethiopia was invaded by the enemy We did all that could be done to advance education in spite of all the difficulties that had to be encountered.
The products of Our schools have been put to trial both in peace time as in the time of Ethiopia's calamity. At this moment let us remember all those who have been hunted and murdered by the enemy.
Humanity by nature is gifted to think freely, but in order that his free thought should lead him to the goal of liberty and independence, his way of thinking must be shaped by the process of education. It is understood that the independence of mind created by education individually will have as result the creation of an independently minded nation.
When We compare the numbers of schools functioning in Ethiopia today with those that existed before the occupation of the enemy, We can view with keen satisfaction the advancement achieved within the past five years. We are sowing seeds on fertile soil and schools are springing up throughout the land attended by a youth of today who is thirsty for knowledge.
At the present there are numerous schools in function attended by thousands of youths. A large number of these youths are already showing signs that they shall some day be useful servants of Ethiopia. From amongst these will be chosen intelligent youth of worthy character to be sent abroad to complete their education. In addition We have founded special schools for the training of Cadets and Police as well as a school for aviation in order to help the good functioning of administrsation. We have not limited our programme to what has already been achieved, on the contrary, we are doing all We can to open thousands of additional schools all over the Empire. Preparation is well under way for the opening of a large University at Addis Ababa.
Education, work and diligence are the main foundations of our national existence. We call upon all Ethiopians to send their children to the nearest school, for, it is suicide and a crime against the responsibility which God places on all parents not to educate one's own children.
The catastrophe which was brought about by human hands during the past years can be avoided in the future by religion and hope in God which should be in the heart of the people. And this can be achieved by education which if not borne by the youth, the effort which is made for peace will be in vain.
We hope that at the Conference of the Peace which will be held in the near future those who will be responsible shall be inspired with the profound idea of justice towards human cause and human rights.
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September 13, 2017