|Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia and "Defender of the Faith" has, during his long and |
beneficent reign in every way buttressed Ethiopia's ceneturies-old Christian Religion. His
solicitude for the Ethiopian Church has never been abated. The most significant
contribution in this phase of the nation's culture has been the successful conclusion of the
long-drawn-out demand of the Ethiopian Church for its independence frm the Alexandrian
Cathedral. This was achieved during His Imperial Majesty's reign and through his wise
intervention. Today the Ethiopian Church is autocephalous without any rupture in the
spiritual relations with the mother Church.
Though a devout Christian, His Majesty the Emperor has fostered and encouraged religious
tolerance throughout his long reign. In his own words: "Religion is personal; the state is for
all." In Ethiopia, under his forthright leadership, freedom of conscience is guaranteed to all.
|Unveiling Monument To Abuna Petros|
Nov. 18, 1962
|... 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 have met today to commemorate by Our presence the martydom 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, it 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 fo the Contienent 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...
|Haile Selassie the First - November 18, 1962|