My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress Vol 1 (Ch 34 pt 2)

Later on again, on 6th Pagumen 1927 (= 11th September 1935), We spoke to the peoples of the world by letting them hear Our voice over the radio. The speech was as follows:


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‘At the time when, according to the Ethiopian era, the year 1928 (= 1935/6) begins, We wish that this new year may bring the peace which is essential and which Our people and the world desire with a warm heart; and it appears to Us right to remark upon and to recall the principal events which have occurred in the days of the past year.

The clash which took place between Italian soldiers who were found to have entered Ethiopian territory unlawfully, together with much equipment, on 26th Hedar 1927 (= 5th December 1934) at Walwal, in Our Ogaden region, upon Ethiopian soil, and who are still there up to now, and, on the other side, soldiers who had been ordered to escort the personnel who were under instructions to delimit the territory of Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland-because this clash was a serious matter according to the basic provisions enshrined in the covenant of the League of Nations, it was proper to settle it at once according to the text laid down in the special treaty which Ethiopia had concluded with Italy on 20th Nahase 1920 (= 26th August 1928).


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This Walwal clash, which Our government had demanded to be settled by arbitration as the attack occurred, was recently adjudicated on 28th Nahase (= 3rd September 1935). While Ethiopia was striving to bring matters to this outcome and to settle the Walwal incident by peaceful and legal means, Italy was strongly opposed, and it was therefore necessary to get the League of Nations Council, assembled in session, to institute an investigation on 11th Ter (= 19th January 1935), 17th Genbot (25th May), and finally on 28th Nahase (= 3rd September). The five men, i.e. the two members of the Italian Government together with the other three arbitrators, who had been appointed to examine the Walwal incident reached the following unanimous verdict: neither Ethiopia nor Italy can be held responsible for the attack which occurred at Walwal. As the Walwal incident was thus closed, Italy was made to stop humiliating Our government, by demanding payment of compensation and salute to her flag; and to brand Ethiopia as an aggressor before the world. As it was the Walwal clash which Italy had made the pretext to wage war upon Ethiopia, this pretext has now been removed by the verdict.

The Council of the League of Nations has done everything necessary and possible for the arbitrators to dispose properly of the matter which had arisen between Ethiopia and Italy. Nevertheless, the Italian Government was strongly opposed.


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The primary cause of the present conflict between Ethiopia and Italy is that the interpretation of the treaty of 8th Genbot 1900 (= 16th May 1908), concluded between the two governments about the Somali territory, has remained unsettled. At the January session of the League of Nations Council the Ethiopian Government requested that the interpretation of this frontier treaty should be examined, and in particular it asked that the question be investigated and decided as to whether Walwal was situated within Ethiopian or Italian territory. The Italian Government, however, opposed this for fear that the arbitrators might find against her. When it was even claimed that the map officially published by the Italian Ministry of the Colonies, showing Walwal to be within Ethiopian territory, was insufficient, this action on the part of the Italian Government was persuasive enough.

By Our Government’s firm stand to obtain an outcome through the authority of the League of Nations, by the application of law and by following the path of peace, the clash which occurred at Walwal was adjudicated by arbitration, although Italy had meant to wage war against Ethiopia since August last year-irrespective of the Walwal incident. She now went on realizing the intention she had formed when, five months later, she discovered a pretext in the Walwal clash to make this war. Since Nahase 1925 (= August 1933) Italy had begun sending equipment to Eritrea and her Somali colony, and she continued consolidating her position by despatching uninterruptedly soldiers, material, various war machines, and ammunition. While the Council of the League of Nations and the arbitrators were working to settle peacefully the matters that had arisen between Ethiopia and Italy, the latter never interrupted the despatch of men and material.


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Since the Walwal incident has now been settled and Italy is somewhat short of reasons to make war, she has been active in preventing other governments to sell to Ethiopia the equipment she requires for her defence; she is working to make Ethiopia an object of hatred and to cause the peoples of the world to believe that, since Ethiopians are like wild beasts, they need a civilizing agent.

History will judge Italy’s behaviour. While Italy claims to be the very essence of civilization, she is making unjust war upon a people that is peaceful, which has first been prevented from obtaining military equipment, and which lives trusting a treaty which Italy publicly signed on 20 Nahase 1920 (= 26 August 1928), so that peace and friendship should persist. Italy, who is planning to incite a future war against the Ethiopian people, with her soldiers being victorious without suffering too many casualties, seeking to convince everyone that the useless work she is preparing to carry out against Our people is fully justified, while she is striving to prevent Ethiopia from obtaining equipment and thus to become weak.


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Hence, to the legally well-founded evidence which we submitted, to the effect that Italian soldiers had unlawfully crossed the border and seized our land, the Rome Government gave no reply. It made its representatives accredited to Us give assurances, many times and in public, that Italy had a cordial and inextinguishable friendship for Ethiopia, while for a long time past it had been collecting information which its employees, whom it scattered in some strength over our territory and whom it paid a large salary, were supplying to it. Now, at the last moment, the Rome Government presented its submission to the League of Nations Council.

As the memorandum, with which the Italian Government presented its rude and mendacious accusations to the League Council on 29th Nahase (= 4th September 1935) has not yet reached Us, it is only a very short time since We have become aware of these accusations and, therefore, there is no time now for Us to give a detailed reply. However, Our government is pre­pared to provide evidence and to return an answer point by point to these accusations which have arrived at the very last moment-as well as the reason for which they have been revealed to the peoples of the world. It is sufficient to announce only that We are transmitting instructions to Our envoys, now at Geneva, clearly designed to request the League Council to set up an international commission to examine the matter.


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It is this international commission which We have asked for that will be able to decide by examining the accusations which the Italian Government has submitted and by looking at both cases.

The Ethiopian people emphatically seeks peace. Moreover, it loves its country dearly. Although it does not possess sufficient military equipment and although, through Italian political machinations, it has been prevented from obtaining it, it will resist by defending itself against the enemy, protecting its chest in which there is a proud heart burning with love of country.

Our peasants, who live tilling their land in peace, whose arm is strong, and who are jealous of their freedom, will rise up with their spades and lances to wield them quickly, overturning their ploughs to stop the enemy invading their land. We do not like war. But in war we shall not let our enemy pass without defending ourselves fiercely and without strong resistance. As Ethiopia’s faith reposes in God, she knows that God’s judgement will prevail over that of man. New weapons and guns which man has devised to destroy his kind are not a mark of civilization.


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Thanks are due to all the statesmen who, in the troubles which have come upon today’s world and despite their vast and boundless work over many months now, have been striving to strengthen peace lest it be extinguished, while Italy, thinking only of herself, rose to destroy peace.

The Imperial Ethiopian Government, the Ethiopian Church, and the people are unceasingly bringing their prayers before God, that He should be their leader and that He should grant a fruitful result to the exertions which all those in government are making to preserve peace.


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Ethiopia is always conscientiously honouring and fulfilling any and all the international obligations upon which she has con¬≠tractually entered, and she is seeking a way of conciliation, consonant with her honour and dignity, so that the conflict which has now arisen between her and Italy may be peacefully resolved. Her conscience will not rebuke her. As this act of aggression which Italy, who is called a great nation, is committing causes anxiety to all governments of the world, great and small, who are putting their minds to this in the conviction that it is peace that will improve living conditions and offer civilization to all mankind, Ethiopia desires and hopes that, with the assistance of the League Council, the quarrel which has broken out between Ethiopia and Italy may be resolved by law and proper judgement in consonance with the League of Nations covenant.’

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