The Autobiography of Emperor Haile Sellassie I - Volume 2
A PROPOSAL TO EXPEL ETHIOPIA FROM THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS-THE DEATH OF DEJAZMATCH NASIBU ZAMANUEL-RELATIONS WITH OUR AUTHORITIES AT GORE-THE DEFENCE WE MADE AGAINST THE DIPLOMATIC PROBLEM THAT RESULTED FROM THE OCCUPATION OF WESTERN ETHIOPIA-THE READINESS OF SOME COUNTRIES TO RECOGNIZE THE OCCUPATION OF ETHIOPIA-THE OBJECTION OF THE SWISS GOVERNMENT TO OUR REQUEST TO RESIDE THERE
As if the blood they spilled in Ethiopia was not enough, the Italians were working to get Ethiopia expelled from the League of Nations.... Knowing that the issue would be raised at the Geneva assembly of Meskerem 1929 [September 1936], We left London for Geneva on Monday, Meskerem 12, 1929 [September 20, 1936], accompanied by Ras Kassa, Ato Wolde Giorgis Wolde Yohannes, Ato Taddesse Meshesha, Dr. [Jacovus] Zervos, and Abba Hanna. Azaj Workineh had left earlier with the report to be presented at the assembly, and spent the week working on it with Ato Lorenzo Taezaz.
First of all, on Meskerem 13 [Sept. 23, 1936] the assembly decided that the Credentials Committee should study the controversial matter as to whether or not Ethiopia had the right to be in the assembly. On the same day, a subcommittee comprised of six countries was composed and started its deliberations.
Italy was not at the assembly. The French lawyer whom we had assigned to discuss Ethiopia's membership on our behalf had been prohibited by... [his] government from attending the meeting and was absent. On our part we prepared and presented a document to the committee explaining that we had transferred our government to Gore... [from where it] was being directed... on Our behalf in accordance with instructions... received from Us by telegrams and letters.
Italy and her supporters put forward a suggestion that no country should retain its membership after its capital city had been occupied. On the other hand they presented a forged document which purported that the people of Ethiopia had contentedly accepted Italy's governorship.
The committee, after a long discussion based on the evidence submitted by both sides, resolved to accept Ethiopia's envoys and presented its decision to assembly [which] accepted the decision and forwarded it for a vote; out of forty-nine envoys, thirty-nine supported Ethiopia, four objected, and six abstained; and, as a result, a decision was made... [permitting Us] to send envoys to the assembly.
The countries which opposed Ethiopia were Austria, Hungary, Albania, and Ecuador. The six countries which abstained were Bulgaria, Panama, Portugal, Siam, Switzerland and Venezuela. The main points presented by the Credentials Committee to the assembly were the following:
1st. By a previous authority, Ethiopia's representatives had the right to be at the assembly meeting.
2nd. Thereafter conditions changed. It was now difficult to ascertain whether or not the previous recognition applied to the present administration... [in Gore], or whether or not the emperor could effectively exercise his authority.
3rd. No member of the committee questioned the legality of Ethiopia's membership and its conformity with the regulations. Rather, there was some discussion within the committee concerning the question of its acceptability.
4th. The committee cancelled as useless the motion that the case be presented to the Hague court, since its decision would not be ready for the present meeting.
5th. The committee unanimously agreed on the adequacy of Ethiopia's credentials and that its delegates should attend the meeting.
6th. The committee's recommendations concerned the present meeting and did not hold for future ones.
Our friends, who were happy at this decision, came over to the hotel where we were staying to congratulate Us and express their heart-felt love to Us and Our envoys. We also felt that We had surmounted one big hurdle in retaining Our membership seat in the League, although Our initial objective of acquiring military equipment and a loan of money had failed.
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We returned to London and continued to live in Bath. There we heard the death of Our faithful servant Dejazmatch Nasibu Zamanuel on Tikimt 6, 1929 [Oct. 16, 1936] in Davos... Switzerland while undergoing treatment, and stayed at home to mourn him. Immediately We sent Our Foreign Minister Blatengeta Herui Wolde Sellassie to Switzerland to attend the funeral.
Our friends expressed their sympathy to Us by holding a public gathering in the Chesterfield salon on Tuesday, Tikimt 10 [Oct. 20], praying in commemoration, standing for a moment of silence and making speeches of condolence. Among them were people such as Professor [Herbert Stanley] Jevons and Sir George Paish, the founders of the Abyssinia Association.
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Because the letters and telegram messages of Our patriots were not reaching Us in a timely way, we found it very difficult to make known the situation in Ethiopia in order to win the favor of world public opinion. However, We continued to receive some written documents that assisted in Our struggle, directly or indirectly. At a time when fascist propaganda flooded the whole world, We received a telegram from Bitwoded Wolde Sadik and Ras Imru [which] We passed on to the Secretary General of the League of Nations. The words of the telegram were as follows:
The Italians occupied Gore in the middle of Hidar 1929 [Nov. 1936], and continued to be successful both politically and militarily. The province of Gore was very close to the Sudanese border, and it was an opportune moment for Italy to make her presence felt and to threaten British authorities.
Italy's political advantage appeared to block the chances We had to present Our case at the League, since Our claim was that We had moved the seat of Our government to Gore and continued to administer from there through Our representatives. Besides this, some of Our officials lost hope and submitted to the Italians. Our top military leaders were killed, and Ras Imru was captured.
Politicians in Rome tended to believe that the occupation of Gore would tempt London, Paris and Geneva [to] speed up the recognition of Italy's suzerainty over Ethiopia. Their predictions came true... and many countries gradually ratified Italy's overlordship. Germany and Italy were in the vanguard to do so.
When Italy recognized the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, Japan in turn recognized Italy's occupation of Ethiopia. Thus the two vanguard invaders, Japan in China and Italy in Ethiopia, became mutual supporters.
Speaking of these diplomatic maneuvers, Italian politicians confirmed that Japan had been motivated to convert its legation in Addis Abeba to a consulate and to recognize Italy's government of Ethiopia, above all, to expand its trade to... Africa. Likewise, they indicated that Rome's decision to locate a consulate-general in the Manchurian capital was the culmination of Italian interest in the "Far East," the development of which she had been keenly following for some time.
Italy had hoped that the fate of Japan would be resolved in conjunction with the situation in Europe. Rome and Tokyo were always at loggerheads, as if giving truth to the myth that yellow and white people would never get along. Later, however, finding a common ground in the issue we mentioned above, they were able to put aside their mutual suspicions.
Following a conference in Vienna between Italy, Austria and Bulgaria, We heard in November 1936, that Austria and Hungary had repudiated Ethiopia's independence and recognized Italy's occupation. Objecting to this hasty measure taken against Us, we sent the following message to the League of Nations through the Secretary General Mr. Avenol:
While the struggle in the political front was going on as such, We heard that the King of Belgium, the Queen of the Netherlands, the Kings of Sweden and Denmark as well as the Duke of Luxembourg and the President of Finland, were almost ready to recognize Italy's occupation, and sent each one of them the following telegram:
The signatories of the Oslo Agreement failed to agree on a proposal sponsored by the Netherlands government which called for a meeting with France and Britain in order to discuss and eventually to recognize Italy's claim to Ethiopia. In reply to Our telegram and in reference to this, the King of Norway His Majesty Haakon notified Us that he had not complied with the Dutch government's proposal. Also, the Queen of Holland, Her Majesty Wilhelmina, sent Us a telegram expressing that her country maintains diplomatic relations with Italy because, in principle, it has an interest in association with powerful governments and seeks cooperation with its neighbors. She claimed, however, to have no intention of recognizing Italy's claim over Ethiopia. Nevertheless, after a little while all [the Oslo signatories] had entered into an obligation gradually to recognize Italy's claim over Ethiopia.
Those countries who refused to recognize Italy's occupation [and] respected Ethiopian independence and the legitimacy of Our authority were:
Apart from these, all of the European and Asian countries one after the other recognized Italy's occupation.
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The Swiss government, which was host to the League of Nations, rejected Our request to reside in Switzerland.... We did not want to magnify the issue because We thought that was the result of the current crisis. However, when it seemed that the situation had reached a stage where Ethiopia's independence would be destroyed by approving Italy's suzerainty, in a letter written on Tir 12, 1929 [Jan. 20, 1937], We made known to the League that the same Swiss government which willingly permitted the League to make its headquarters in Geneva, now used a heavy rod to strike people suffering from the agony of martyrdom.
Believing that it would be convenient to pursue Our case at the League if we resided in Switzerland, We submitted Our request to the Swiss government. Through its Minister in Paris, it was communicated to Us that the Swiss government had rejected Our request, because the government needed to foster good neighborliness and peaceful coexistence, avoiding conflict. Moreover, the foreign minister Monsieur [Guiseppe] Motta, who was ethnically Italian and had been in the position for no less than twenty years, believed that a great crisis would be created if We resided in Switzerland. This person had often expressed in every possible way his friendly attitude towards Italy.
Subsequently, the Federal Council of the Republic of Helvetia, breaking all international agreements, decided to recognize Italy's suzerainty over Ethiopia. As if the Ethiopian Consulate based in Bern had never existed before, a letter signed by Monsieur Motta effectively blocked its functions.
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August 13, 2017