By Tsegaye Tadesse
ADDIS ABABA- Ethiopians who fought against Italy’s invasion in the 1930s urged the United Nations on Thursday to force Rome to pay compensation for the 500,000 lives lost at the hands of Fascist forces.
Seventy years on, memories are
still fresh in Ethiopia of the 1935 invasion ordered by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, whose forces used mustard gas and other chemical weapons on Ethiopian troops in the country then known as Abyssinia.
When Addis Ababa fell a year after the invasion, Ethiopia formed part of Italian East Africa with Eritrea and Italian Somaliland until its liberation by World War Two allies in 1941.
Italy paid Ethiopia $5 million in war compensation after a 1947 peace treaty, although the then government of Emperor Haile Selassie had demanded $600 million.
“We appeal to the United Nations secretary-general to force the current Italian government to pay the amount demanded by Emperor Haile Selassie,” said Wrokineh Tegegne, vice-president of the Ethiopian Patriotic Association.
Former resistance fighters plan to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the victory against Italian Fascist forces on Friday.
Wrokineh said Mussolini’s troops torched 2,000 churches and killed 5 million cattle, 70 million sheep and goats, one million mules and horses, and 700,000 camels during the campaign.
He also described how in one incident in 1941 Italian soldiers in Addis Ababa ordered 30,000 people to enter their homes before setting them on fire.
“The amount they paid was not commensurate with the loss of lives,” Wrokineh added.
There was no immediate comment from the Italian embassy in Addis Ababa. — Reuter